I was 18 years old when I started taking driving lessons with my father’s driver. I was not to keen to learn ‘manual’ and opted for the easy ‘automatic’ because like most Lebanese drivers I wanted to buy my license. However to clear my conscious (and that of the driver/teacher) we decided that I would get my license only after he didn’t feel threaten for his life on our daily lesson. And the day came and I graduated from “Anto’s Driving Academy” with flying honors and started cruising in the city in my mom’s car (to the rather arched eyes of hers).
Flash forward 13 years, after three car change and a promise of a Bentley Continental GT as my wedding gift, I made the drastic decision of selling my car as I was moving out of the country for good. For someone who has, all her life, been used to being chauffeured around and driven herself from a place to another, the mere thought of being car-less brought a panic attack onto my pampered ass.
Abroad we are all use public transportation whereas in Beirut we do not acknowledge them, which is understandable when looking at those filthy buses roaming the roads of the capital. Thankfully, the ‘service’ has upgraded itself from the famous 1980s Mercedes. But then again, we think twice before riding one (rather I do).
I learnt a lot from letting go of my comfort (place/toy/zone) and here is what I have come to realize:
We are way too attached to material things. We think that we will not be able to survive without them in our life. That they are what keep us going everyday. Slight wake up call guys! We can do without them and there are alternatives to ease us around (Uber? Private cab?).
We only acknowledge BMW, Audi and Mercedes in this country. These cars bring status. As a previous owner of one of this brand, I admit that was my sole reason behind owning one, although the gift came unexpectedly one spring day 6 years ago. I realize now that this is so over rated given the number of people who can afford one if their credit history permits them through the bank. + you cannot buy class through material things (thats a proven fact. Look around you!).
The country’s infrastructure is not too well developed to be parading with the latest model of any given high end car. I know too well how many times I had to change a tire because a nail had ruptured it. It is only these past couple of years that I came to realize how much money is thrown on unnecessary luxury when we can all do well without (what if you owned a Honda?). Here it is wise to mention that with each passing year, the price of your car depreciates. My 51K straight from the dealership merely brought me back 13K. Talk about fairness (and another panic attack).
Too much traffic. Yes. Too much due to unnecessary cars on the roads. Carpooling anyone? Or has that concept not reached the shores of Lebanon? I guess it hasn’t yet.
Now that I am back for a couple of months I am happy that I do not own a car. Why? well for the simple fact that I got my sanity back from this stressful sport. I gotten used to being driven around in Canada, (hey!!) subway station everyone. Buses too. More importantly I walk walk and walk. Just a few days ago, I walked under the rain to get to my appointment. 40min walk daily > what better way to keep your blood flowing. And I realized once again how shallow and Lebanesey I was by driving from X to Y instead of just walking the 15min trajectory (and instead of drowning in traffic for 30+min). If those reports of 500K tourists visiting Lebanon in a few weeks true, I wish you luck my fellow people.
Btw did I tell you how addicted I have become to Uber? Yeah that too.
Good Week to you all 😉