Back home…

After a few busy weeks work-honeymoon-reunion-holiday in Belgium, I made it back to this country, which has managed to not have a government yet in the time Belgium got five of them together. Meanwhile, Irael is upping the threats of another war, which is being taken seriously by nobody but the most paranod (on the grounds that barking dogs don’t bite, and on the grounds that it will mean the virtual end of ‘Israel’).
Some titbits that did happen and characterise this of this wonderful country full of contradictions in a superb way: ‘On a nice Sunday afternoon, one Mercedes ML350, a big black SUV, is heading towards Faqra. On board are two couples planning to have lunch in a restaurant in the area. The car has black dimmed glass all over– remember that this type of glass has been ruled illegal on civilian vehicles. Passenger #1: “Cool ride dude.” Sami (a Typical Lebanese): “Thanks man. It’s my dad’s you know, but all of the extras are the handy work of yours truly.” Passenger #1: “What extras?”And on it roared.For no more than $100, Sami had managed to buy himself the most outrageous, and illegal, of gadgets. He had in his car a police siren device complete with a public address system and a sound amplifier. Is there a need to mention that such a device should belong exclusively to Internal Security police cars? Sami pushed the siren button which instantly started to wail in the most atrocious of ways. He held the microphone to his lips and mimicked the line usually repeated by internal security forces (ISF) when “someone important” is blessing the commoners with his presence among them on the streets. “Silver Toyota move to the right!” And the poor woman driving the Toyota actually moved to the right side of the street. The incident had a surrealist quality: Typical Lebanese– Sami had actually perfected the aggressive tone of ISF officers who always sound like caffeine addicts deprived of their daily dose of the drug. He was maniacally speeding down the sloping hills of Rayfoun, pushing the siren on and on again (the image of a laughing Joker from Batman movies comes to mind), and cars around were obediently moving away from this important-looking death machine.’
Ben Gilbert, in Executive Magazine, writes a comprehensive article on the state of prostitution, which strangely enough turns out to be legal in this country, albeit in typical Lebanese fashion: ‘Siranossian calls the super nightclubs
a “fantastic” solution to the problem of prostitution, because it allows the government to regulate and oversee the industry, somewhat akin to the way escort services operate in the US or Europe. Charbel verifies this, noting that
police usually stop in three or four times a week. “They’re checking to see if the woman is in the club, and hasn’t
gone out with a customer,” he said. Even then, it appears that circumventing the law is relatively easy. Policecorruption in Lebanon is nothing new, and several people acquainted with the industry said that in the past, law enforcement has often looked the other way if enough money is offered. “The law was permitting us,” he said. “When the police come, we’d pay a lot of money, and they’d forget everything for one week, two weeks,” he said.’
(pdf of the article via Qifa Nabki, here).

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