Lebanese; You are Racist!

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Monday mornings. Gym time. A wonderful week has began full of energy and positivity, however cut short. While I was sipping my coffee, drenched in sweat after a good hour workout, I stumbled on a post on my friend’s Facebook wall. “We’re not racist, but she’s black” By Myra Abdullah intrigued me to read the incident that took place over the weekend at a well- known retail shop in Lebanon and share it on my wall as well. However, I could not not share my opinion on the subject matter in general.

Lebanon is a third world country. We have a lot to achieve so as to acquire a reasonable civilized status quo to the eyes of the world. However, we, as Lebanese, like to live our lives and behave with one other, especially foreigners, as if our family ancestors are royals and we are continuing the sacred lineage. We all have two or three cars parked underground. A driver to take us around the city for our appointments because we dread finding parking spots or ruin our manicures along the way. A maid or two taking care of the household and children, if applied. You can afford it, fine by me. Yet, attitude that comes along towards your staff is what makes you human, not all the bling that you own.

Lebanon is a haven for people from the Philippines, Ethiopia and Sri Lanka mainly to come and work for a minimum of a decade, insuring a flow of money to the families they left behind, sometimes young children and siblings. Few are the Lebanese families that treat them as part of their family and help them to integrate the norms and culture of their new surroundings. We have heard of so many suicides among these working immigrants and cases of rape and brutal violence. Misjudgment is what Lebanese people are best at. Looking suspiciously at colored human beings upon entering stores and coffee shops. Labeling them as whores while standing waiting for a cab to take them to their homes on their day off.

I do not understand nor will I give reason for low life people who mistreat other human beings because of their race and status. Most, if not all, of these people have built villas in their country of origin. They have sent their siblings to school and even university. They have helped their parents, usually farmers, with acquiring equipments for their farms. They have put aside enough money to retire when back home.

Can any of you state the same accomplishments?

I don’t think so.

And its pitiful to be taking it up on the rest of these hard working individuals.

A few posts back in Instagram, I shared the above picture of Salam & I hours before she travelled back home to Ethiopia. The following is what I wrote as a caption:

“If I were to be selfish (which I am most of the time) I would consider today a sad day because Salam is leaving us after 9 years (and 16 in Lebanon) to Ethiopia. We grew close, and I learnt a lot from her wise words and Ethiopian taste dishes. However, after a long time working her ass off so as to pay for her siblings education and her parents survival in harsh conditions, I wish her all the best and a bright future ahead. I want to stop a bit and emphasize on the equality of treatment most of the Lebanese society commit to consider towards the help. I have seen so many unjust behavior through the media and the increase of suicide attempts among the Sri Lankese, Phillipinos and Ethiopian immigrants. Take a second and put yourself in their shoes; they have left their families, their loved ones, as well as their home country so as to work hard and benefit from the perks that a “life/work” abroad would offer them. I am sure that many of you have a sibling, a child doing the same abroad. Would you have wanted them to go through any kind of mistreatment due to their line of work or race? Definitely Not! So be humble and treat one another as you would want to be treated in return. And get that racial mentality out of your head. We are in the 21st century for crying out loud.” 

The end.

ps: I think you should get out of your bubble and look through the internet the country of origin of the staff you mistreat and look down on. Most, if not all, are more civilized and advanced than your lovely third world country!

 

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Arz – Ehden; through Her & I

On Sunday, we decided to visit the mountain side of the country up North. Lebanon is famous for its coastal shore, beach resorts however people tend to forget its mountainous aspect during summer. Hence, Ranya suggested we go explore the Cedars of Bsharre (Cedars of God) and Ehden village of Zgharta. I am going to admit to you something. I have never ever seen a Cedar tree in my life. Except for the one on our flag! Oops yeah I know, shame on me! but you know what they say, better late than never!!

Rana picked me at noon and we set on our road trip. I prefer not to drive up hill as I am scared from heights. Trust me when I say I am not a good road trip companion when on the roads of a mountain. Ask Ranya. On this trip my figure turned every color of the rainbow (#lovewins. not! ). Ranya is a very meticulous person. Whenever you say road trip, she says google map on speaker. Trusting that technological device we drove as Miss Maria (yes we named her) suggested. Let me tell you one think; never trust technology 100%. Its a device after all. She led us through dodgy routes and all I could notice is that we were being swift away towards the sky. Remember I am scared as hell from heights. Many times, our guide told us to turn right, straight to a ditch and God forbid the valley to our death. And if you don’t comply, her voice takes it a notch. She even yelled at us one time. I swear!!! We lost two hours of our time listening to Maria, ditched her sorry tech-ass and drove the old fashioned way. However I took this lovely picture on our way:

IMG_20150706_004944We arrived at Bsharre on time to explore the Cedars of God reserve where the last of these kind of trees are preserved. I was flabbergasted at the site of such greenery (lacking in the city) and serene atmosphere it emanated. The reserve is open from 9am to 6pm, last entrance being at 5:30. A few stops after absorbing the scenery and taking pictures, we wandered trough the pop up boutiques nearby selling hand crafted wooden souvenirs.

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Next stop:Ehden. This time we decided to ask as many locals we met on the road for the right directions and we arrived safe and sound to Ferdous, a local Lebanese restaurant with a view for a dinner. Honestly, I loved this place. Trust me when I say that’s a big thing, considering that food isn’t my cup of tea. We ordered the following and we were both fulfilled.

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The food was delicious, the staff overly friendly and welcoming. Value of price vs food correct. I would suggest anyone visting that part of the country to stop at Ferdous and have their meal. You won’t be disappointed (at all).

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Coming down to Beirut was tricky. It was pitch black. We were high up 1500m+ from the coast. I was scared. Literally scared. We passed through the village of Ehden. The ambiance was amazing. Youngsters were hanging at the cafes- restaurants. Women and children were wandering around the streets. I noticed many families gathered on their terrace drinking coffee/tea chattering and looking at the passerby. You could feel that everyone knew one another and the atmosphere was of a big happy family.

We took the highway down to hell (Beirut). We were following a driver who was heading back to the city, since we were both new to the surroundings. He was kind and reflected the hospitable citizens of Zgharta. I was livid and praying the whole trip back. Ranya even got me an ice-cream for my better behavior downwards (although deep inside i was in a worse state!!!)

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Three words to the people of Zgharta and specially Ehden; I love you!

xo

 

Where did The Courtship Go?

Disclaimer: Directed to the general “manly” Lebanese public. Those who do not feel concerned, do not need to take it personally by trying to defend the below mentioned majority out there. Thank you in advance for your understanding!

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Today, I decided to listen to the classical french songs while reading, writing and doing my morning work out. Reminiscing? Maybe. Hearing the romantic lyrics emanating from artists such as Michel Sardou, Jeanne Mass, France Gall, Charles Aznavour (etc..) I realized how rich and fulfilled our parents must have lived their life back in the days. Back in the days where courtship had a meaning and the respect we, these days, are seeking in future relationship, lacking.

Alas, nowadays the full meaning of dating is non existent. Ten years ago, women and men went on dates because they felt a certain emotional/ physical attraction towards one another. They used to give time for a relationship to blossom through two, three outings, meetings each other’s circle of friends and then take the final step of being together as a couple. Men used to respect their love conquest whether privately or/and in front of the public.

Flash forward nowadays, dating is inexistent. Forget being taken out to dinners. Trending is going out for drinks, toppled by a few shots. Conversations are superfluous. The end game? Getting you drunk, in bed and done. Their inspiration for such behavior? The over exaggerated american movies depicting over rated lifestyles, the ‘Cool’ girls out there who have approved and developed the hook up culture in our society as means of going out to trendy clubs free of charge. If they only knew how foreigners, and I emphasize on the word because I am not including Middle Eastern men, really treat their women, they would be shocked because such courtship is no longer available in their 21st century vocabulary.

What is a niche of men abroad is major in our city. By that I mean those who are going out within the norms of the hook up culture. It is a shame really for women in this city. I am not surprised that the majority of us are dedicated into pursuing our ambition passionately rather than investing our time in looking for A MAN.

Lebanese Men, you are over rated and I am not falling for your tricks. Top it, you are as rich as your upbringing (which is none) and not the money siphoned from your parents businesses.

Et sur ce, “elle court, elle court, la maladie d’amour….”

xo

 

 

Batroun; through Her & I

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First and foremost, this new segment came to life over lunch on the shores of Batroun. You see, we decided, Ranya and I to discover Lebanon over the weekends (on sundays), instead of lazily spending the day under the sun at some beach resort, drinking cocktails and gazing at God sent Middle Eastern men(Not!).

Whenever we travel abroad, we tend to take part of tours so as to get to know the city we are visiting in- depth and explore its culture/ history through ancient ruins and past civilization. We tend to forget, often dismiss, that our country is rich with history and holds many villages with their own custom and unique way of life. I have been living in Lebanon, more or less 20 years now, and I admit I do not know pass its capital, Beirut. Yes, it’s a shame. But it’s never too late, hence wanting to share my experiences with you, each and every time we set to head somewhere. Enough introductions.

Batroun, here we come!

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Leaving Beirut around 11am, it took us merely a 50minute drive to enter the Northern City of the District of Batroun. Batroun is located on the coastal shore. It is one of the oldest city in the world blending Phoenician, Greek and Roman ancestry. Rich with culture and history, you can say that Batroun is a little heavenly place for a weekend-scapade.

Driving within the narrow streets is a skill an urban person will find hard to master. However, Ranya managed to find a spot to park. Since it was a Sunday (lunch time), we noticed many houses with doors wide open; the men preparing the food on the charcoal grill on the street, while children were running around. The aroma of grilling meat was distinct and the atmosphere around the family gatherings heart warming.

We started walking towards the famous Phoenician Wall. The Batroun docks is separated by a 225m long wall built by the Phoenicians in the 9th century. Its purpose was to protect the locals from attacks from the Assyrians. This fortification stands still until this day and is a famous spot for tourists form all around Lebanon. You can take amazing panoramic shots of the view.

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Just before leaving, I noticed a modest door leading to a chapel. The Chapel in question is called  Saydet el Baher which was built on the ruins of a Byzantine Church. Her icons date from 1813. I was attracted to this peaceful refuge instantly and lit a candle while praying.

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I personally am a person who loves to take strolls and discover new places. I usually do that in and around Beirut and I am always amazed at what I see. Same goes within the streets of Batroun. Of course, the souk was closed, it being a Sunday. I felt abroad. The whole time we were walking, I felt I was taken back to Pafos (Cyprus) and Rodos (Greece) simultaneously. The old architecture, the port itself, the whole vibe was out of this world.

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Do not forget to visit the famous Church over shadowing the docks; St Stephen. I am sure many locals celebrated their blissful wedding in that Church. I imagine future generations to be officiating their weddings and children’s Baptism traditionally there as well.

So far the day was flawless. We decided to have lunch in a restaurant located along the sea shore. It was very windy yet the temperature exhilarating. I had seen a lot of pictures of Chez Maguy, the local restaurant we decided to dine in, yet never took the time to read the reviews. I remember one local person warned me against going there. Said it was over rated. I wish I had listened to him. And I had read those reviews. The food we had was average. Not mind blowing at all. Your typical fattoush and hummus were served along side warak enab. The hummus tasted like those fresh out of a can, not even decorated like in your typical Lebanese restaurant,whereas the fattoush was too acid Furthermore, the fish we selected was average and the main pieces burnt. The staff was friendly and the bathroom clean. This place is your typically endorsed over rated restaurant. The price for the food intake is mind blowing. I know I would try another local hidden gem in Batroun but never again Chez Maguy. Oh and will use Trip Advisor more often.20150628_155232_resized

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This is my second time in Batroun. I know it won’t be my last. It’s a gem of a city. Cosy and full of nice  welcoming people.

I am a person that is much attracted by the sea. I imagine myself living in a small coastal town, curled up on a chair, comfortably sipping my coffee, watching the blue-ish never ending waters and listening to the waves crush onto the rocks and sand. Picture perfect right? One day… That dream will come true. Till then let’s enjoy Batroun more frequently.

MEA Frequent Flyer and Proud…

Disclaimer: I am 100% positive that this post is going to have more counter attacks than positive feedback. I have read so many bad reviews about MEA that I decided to give my opinion on the airline as I am sure that there are many content and happy Cedar Miles travelers around the world, yes Lebanon included.

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A week ago as I was boarding my flight back to Lebanon, I came across an article written by a fellow blogger on Middle East Airlines. I was intrigued and I read it, although the title made it clear that it was another same old rant on the crew and everything related to MEA.

We, as Lebanese, have one default that we carry everywhere we go. That default is that we like to nag and we tend to follow the mass’s opinion. MEA feedback, unfortunately, fell into this category.

Since almost everyone has a personal grudge against MEA, I would like to take the time and opportunity to share my experience with the aircraft institution itself. Beware, its shockingly positive.

First and foremost, they attack the crew. Female employees, especially in the customer service hub in the Middle East, have never been recognized for their full work potential. I know I have been there. They have always been seen as sexual objects, especially when presentable and good looking. According to most of the ‘men’ traveling with MEA, most of the air hostesses are flirtatious. Furthermore, they claim that they are of no help when passengers are boarding and during the flight. I travel MEA and I have always witnessed the helpful interaction between the hostesses and the passengers. Yes, most of them are gorgeous and the rest presentable and impeccable. Now if you are a horny person (as most Lebanese men are) traveling to a certain place, you are bound to be attracted to one of the crew member. Their job description consists of smiling and being courteous. Anyone working with customers know this rule. If they weren’t, you would label them as arrogant and rude. And when they do cater to your every whim, they are whores on air. Please, before labeling employees in any kind of work environment, make sure to use your head and no, not the one dangling in between your legs. Respect to the women working in customer service and taking crap from customers, with a smile.

Second of all, they nag about the entertainment system provided in the carrier. I have never had any problems watching two movies and a set of comedy shows while traveling from and to Beirut. The system never stopped nor my movie went unfinished. I mean come on, seriously? 50% chance that your station will not be working? No one ever on any airplane I used had that problem. They make it sound as if the whole Airbus has gone Awol technologically speaking. There is a wide range of english and arabic speaking movies to chose from, 21 min sitcoms and cartoons for children. With common sense, and mathematical skills, you would time your flight hour and accordingly watch a full set of movie or two. Now if you are flying for three hours and you started your second round of movie (each one being approximately close to two hours) of course you are not going to finish it in the air. Do the math and don’t blame your unfinished business on an external factor (as usual Lebanese made).

Furthermore, some people think that traveling means being upgraded de facto from one’s every day life to a few hours of luxury whim. They expect to be eating 5 star meals prepared by some notorious chef. They expect air hostesses to be enslaved to their every minute comment and add to that to be enamored by their Middle Eastern chivalry. The meal you are receiving is a meal catered to your journey. You have the choice to pre- order a special meal based on your diet. Yes some other aircraft company have contracts with Michelin star cooks, yet one cannot compare the services of each and every aircraft. The money that is channeled to MEA cannot be compared to the wealth that is behind Emirates Airlines. One cannot compare The Waldorf Astoria in New York to The Intercontinental chain of hotels in Lebanon. Yes they are within the same industry, yet they have a certain difference in the details in services and so on so forth. You can put up a few minutes of adverts during the beginning of your flight. Shouldn’t you be proud that MEA is promoting your country to the many tourists using the airline? Patience is a virtue. Last but not least, gone are the days that a crew member is asking people to shut their phone off. We have reached a point that we, them included, know that there is a switch on any smartphone that enables the plane mode on. Hence, I have never seen them ordering phone closure on board.

I am a person who has a fear from flying. However, I have an unprecedant trust in MEA captains and crew. Yes I have traveled with many other airlines and witnessed the rude hostesses who act all high and mighty. The turbulence I went through and the way the captain handled the aircraft was amateurish at its best. When I board MEA, all my fear go away.

This year MEA celebrates its 70th Birthday and the posters that are up around the city reminds us, citizens of Lebanon, that we should be proud to have a fully fledged and up and working airline serving us all. I am sure that there are many out there who share my opinion and have had a good experience flying on board of Sky Team. However, their voice is over shadowed by the frequent unhappy flyers who blow out of proportion their dislikes. And as everything Lebanese, added are the ones that tag along and exaggerate their experience.

The good thing with everything in this world is that people are given choices to chose from. And if you are discontent, your choice lies with another airline.

I am happy to fly with Sky Team.

And that is a personal choice.

Thank you