Beirut never asks you to come back to it. It entices you to and makes you come back out of your own volition. If Beirut were a person, it would be irresistibly charming, more than anybody you would ever meet. Someone you would keep falling hopelessly in love with, even though you’d always know it would be a tumultuous, love and hate relationship with no future whatsoever. If Beirut were a force of nature, it would be a glorious sunset after a furious storm, though you’d always be left guessing when the next storm will hit, because it always does and stronger than the one before. Continue reading “Ungrateful, Beirut”
They said people would take to the streets because parliamentary elections would be cancelled. “We are a democracy,” they said, “people won’t let that happen.” But people did let elections be cancelled, twice.
They said people would not let the garbage crisis go without a fight. “People may not care about democracy and holding politicians accountable,” they said, “but this is about garbage and their health.” But people also gave up, protesters couldn’t keep the demonstrations together, and the garbage crisis continued and a sustainable solution has yet to be found. Continue reading “So They’re Gonna Raise Some Taxes”
Late Lebanese legendary filmmaker Maroun Baghdadi once said, “I come from a world where, strangely enough, the image has difficulty in spreading. It’s a world that has problems with its own image.” He went on to say that in Lebanon and the Arab world, the image can be considered a taboo, complaining that he had been sometimes accused of giving a “bad image” of the region in his movies. “This excites me,” he lashed back, “and encourages me to transmit my message through images even more.” Continue reading “When looking back hurts, really hurts”
No year is ever complete without the cliché of the clichés’ “year in review.” Here at Eye on the East, however, we don’t like clichés and there will be no year in review. We are a blog that doesn’t focus on what I like to call “bulk posting” (posting just to boost numbers and those cliché year in review charts) or so-called quantity, but rather hope to be targeting quality instead. Continue reading “Eye on the East Wishes you a Happy New Year (this is not a Year in Review)”
Note: this is the second and long overdue post on the Lebanese disappeared and arbitrarily detained since 1975. The first post, Prisoners to Oblivion I – posted by Eye on the East in 2012 – can be found here. Not surprisingly, no progress in this tragic issue has happened since.
When a 10-year sit-in comes to an end without achieving its main objectives, it doesn’t mean that the sit-in has failed. It simply means that those who were supposed to deliver have failed, terribly, horribly and shamefully. On December 10, the families of Lebanese disappeared and detained since 1975 (many of which are believed to be arbitrarily detained in Syria) decided to end one of the longest, if not the longest, sit-in in Lebanese history. They decided to keep a symbolic tent in place – in Beirut Downtown’s Gebran Khalil Gebran’s garden – where they steadfastly remained for 10 long years, announcing they would continue their struggle through different means. Continue reading “Prisoners to Oblivion II: the never ending tragedy of the Lebanese disappeared and arbitrarily detained in Syria”
It was my first time in Asia ever since my Japan days over 15 years ago. Of course every country in Asia is different and Japan’s uniqueness within Asia goes without saying. However, there is something that is present throughout the continent that all countries share: the seamless blend of old and new, the subtle pervasiveness of religion that isn’t suffocating, the ritual of experiencing the local cuisine and the language barrier, which may limit the travel experience but pushes travelers to use all their senses to uncover the adventure, along with that of the spoken word. Continue reading “Going Further East: Cambodia and Vietnam”
“I’m here to get your blessings,” I began, delicately raising my voice to grab the attention of the man lying on the hospital bed in front of me. “How many kilos would you like?” he asked in a rather serious tone, which lasted as long as it took a smile to appear through the sparkling of his eyes. “As much as you can give me,” I replied, hardly able to contain my smile in return. Continue reading ““Your Time is Now””
On September 16, yet again, Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square and some of the main roads leading to Lebanon’s Parliament building came back to life. The families of the Lebanese soldiers kidnapped by Daesh were reiterating their endless calls for the government to bring their sons, brothers and fathers back alive. Others were protesting against the government’s failure to resolve the garbage crisis in a sustainable and environmental way. But everyone was there demanding that the political class meeting under the guise of an unconstitutional, worthless, ineffective so-called national dialogue, start listening to its people, be held accountable, even step down and have mercy on a country they have used and abused for far too long. Continue reading ““Please Don’t Forget Me!” “!بشرفكن ما تنسوني””
“We have been sleepless for years,
We decided to wake up today,
Oh homeland, do not blame us,
We are now beyond the realm of blame.”
– ‘Anthem of the Revolution,’ (Arabic), Ziad Al Rahbani
You may call the life that has suddenly exploded on the streets of Beirut whatever you like. You may call the energy spreading throughout the veins of its youth – which had started to believe in the sense of defeat inherited from their forefathers as a fact of life – whatever you like too. But we cannot deny that during the past two weeks, as popular protests triggered by a shameful garbage crisis have gained momentum in and around Beirut – from the August 22-23 protests (see Eye on the East’s post “Live from Beirut…“) to the biggest demonstration in Lebanon’s history organized independently of sectarian parties on August 29 – something has broken and something has been revived. Continue reading “With the Stench of Garbage comes a Breeze of Hope”