Michel Aoun's Party, The Free Patriotic Movement, which is politically allied with the Hezbollah, displays a minute-by-minute news ticker on their website. Yesterday, they listed the evacuation of foreigners from the south: 300 Canadians, 250 Spaniards, 11 Samoans, 9 1/2 Sudanese, and "300 Russian women". No, not Russian people, Russian women. In case you're not familiar with one of Lebanon's greatest peace time attractions, it's sex. If you're a foreign woman and someone asks you if you're from Russia, it means, "Can I pay you for sex", which is why its recommendable to introduce yourself, right off the bat, as "Hi I'm [name], and I'm not from Russia".
Russian women "perform" in institutions called "Super-nightclubs". They have a visa classification all to themselves: the Artist's visa. And no that doesn't include a stipend from the Ministry of Culture, it means you are required to be on the job 6 1/2 days per week, can only leave your house between certain hours accompanied by your pimp. You may not marry, you should not mingle with Lebanese off the job, and you may not visit Lebanon within a year of completing your contract.
Ironically, the Lebanese disdain for Bangladeshis, Srilankans, Sudanese, Syrians, and other service industry workers (of a darker complexion), is backfiring. Even the maids, many of whom were fired on the spot when their employers fled the country, are being evacuated by their respective governments. I wonder if some people are begging their maids to take them to Srilanka or Kashmir or Darfur. And many of the Lebanese are now dependant on the hospitality of the Syrians, who have proven to be very generous hosts to the hundreds of thousands of refugees.
And now this on my news ticker:
"Israel resumes its bombardment of Beirut's southern suburbs, ending a 24-hour lull that coincided with Rice's visit to the region." Lull, did you say? Doesn't that make it sound kind of dull, like running out of conversation material at your promotion party? To be honest, the "lulls" are almost unbearable, stifling. That's when the exhaustion sets in, and its impossible to drag yourself out of bed in the morning. When the bombing picks up again, you don't even need coffee in the morning.
I am throwing a birthday party for my roommate tonight. Alternative plans in case of a blackout include sitting in the dark, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey (no blindfold necessary), spin the bottle and looting the stores in our neighborhood.