Thursday, October 05, 2006

Tomorrow I set sail for the old world, Phoenicia, via the not-quite-so-old world, old Europe. I am visiting the Frankfurt book fair, and will spend a few days with my family in Berlin.

Beirut.
I look forward to seeing the sea (polluted or not), riding in precariously delapidated servises, instant coffee with condensed milk at Uncle Diek's on the Corniche, drinking beer on the cliffs at Raoche, all the iftars and Ramadan delicacies, rude awakening at the hands of the batata salesman, stray cats in lieu of New York City rats, call-to-prayer induced insomnia, my roommates' "Arab Lesbian Liberation Army" t-shirts, rallies and counter-rallies, sectarian bigotry, responding with stone cold silence to Abu Abed jokes, flying the Palestinian flag in Achrafieyeh, Cafe Younes iced cappucchino sans ice, and late summer grime and sweat.


Yesterday while driving on the BQE highway through Queens, two F-16 fighter jets flew overhead, breaking the sound barrier. Perhaps this is customary in the post 9/11 era, but it scared the bejayzus out of me. I instinctively merged onto the nearest exit ramp off the highway, only to find myself in a neighborhood full of Hacidic men who refused to answer my plea for directions. Perhaps they didn't speak English, or maybe I wasn't wearing the right stockings and wig. Finally a friendly plump Russian Orthodox girl offered me useless directions: "Go strayt, strayt. Nyet left, nyet right."

And now for a little music. While thoroughly irrelevant, this amused me. The North Korean Defense Hymn. The Wizard of Oz's "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" meets a Red Army anthem. They sound deliriously cheerful, those poor malnourished North Koreans.

11 comments:

Guthman Bey said...

You are funny. Besides, you were right in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, in Williamsburg Brooklyn. Though I don't live on the South side which is home to the Satmar Hassidim. I live on the North side which is an old Italian neighborhood and still teeming with Tony Sopranos, social clubs and all.
I used to live in Beirut myself, how come it is always Germans who get lost in bizarro places like that?

Guthman Bey said...

your Korean hymn link doesn't work.

EDB said...

For some reason it only lets you access it if you go back to the main menu on that website and click on the 'hymn' link. http://www.korea-dpr.com/defend.htm
It's worth a listen.

Spirit said...

I've certainly got some way to go before the site about Visa Travel meets the standards of your blog.

Byron Raum said...

I think the Hacidic men are not allowed to talk to women during the time you happened to ask them for direction. Probably nothing personal.

euroarabe said...

i want a t-shirt like your roomates. is she selling?

Anonymous said...

See more information on Travel World here.Very good idea. Similar to a discussion I saw on this Travel Writer.

doch said...

but i still don't understand why the wigs.

Guthman Bey said...

Hasidic women, like men, have to keep their head covered. Wigs became a generally accepted solution.

Anonymous said...

how i'm envious! how i miss beirut you can't say! i wish you continu to write your lovely articles that are in complete accordance with the spirit of the city, as i see it.

Anonymous said...

Good to have you back. We missed you