End of a (Jdeideh) Era

Today is my last day at Bank of Beirut's head offices in Jdeideh. For a year and two long months, I occupied a corner cubicle on the fifth floor with a splendid view of, you guessed it, cubicle walls. Occupying my own office, though, instilled in me a feeling of self-importance, as most of my other office mates, young and old, sat in open space by unit or section. I, however, the only staff dedicated exclusively to the Bank's strategy management, had my own "thinking space". It is here that I pored over banking management text books, learning the basics of flow in a bank and about each indispensable element from compliance to risk to marketing. It is here I spent many a long hour mulling our Australian subsidiary's performance, brainstorming new campaigns to appeal to a broader customer base. It is here that I benchmarked our products and services with our competitors' in an effort to gain an edge.

Jdeideh had its charm at lunchtime: each street is brimming with tiny grocery stores, snack shops (Hawilo is a must), bakeries (I found the best kaak in Lebanon), hair salons (where I coiffed my hair either on my lunch hour or after work), and clothing boutiques. You could literally find everything within Jdeideh's walls. When I really wanted to get away, I could, and often would, stroll over to City Mall and spend my hour scanning the aisles for goodies at TSC. You could even find me lapping the mall inside as if it were a track, all while reading from the BBC news app on my iPhone. I bet many a worker staffing the boutique stores and kiosks inside the mall thought me crazy.

One rare occasion, I walked to the heart of Bourj Hammoud (it takes 25 minutes each way from the Bank at a brisk pace) and treated myself to a Mano basterma sandwich. In the opposite direction, I trekked to Zalka, Jal el Dib, and a bit beyond when the weather was cooler and I was feeling nostalgic about my walking days in Paris.

Sometimes Mom would meet me at our favorite patisserie L'Arome, and we'd relish a fresh Paris-brest or gateau au chocolat. The owner of L'Arome is a sweet man who'd insist on treating us to his chocolates, baklawa, and store-made ice cream. We often spoke of our lives in the US before having moved to Lebanon, and he'd listen with fascination, all respect for my cultured and sheltered upbringing.

We're moving to our other head offices in Riad el Solh, which, at the heart of downtown Beirut, will make for a more upscale and walking-friendly experience. I love that area--the Souks, TSC Signature, the Biel boardwalk, Place des Martyrs, the proximity to Hamra, Achrafieh, and the Manara. It is a pedestrian's dream, and I will be reveling in it every day. While the journey to and from my home in Mansourieh won't exactly be easy, I'm still looking forward to a fresh change of pace and new scenery.

Jdeideh, you will be missed, but there are new frontiers to pioneer!

Comments

  1. Hope you like your new location wlee!

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  2. I wish you all the best Dandoon! I'm sure you'll love being in downtown! I can picture you waltzing down to the Haagen-Daz if its still there.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's still there, Michael, but I've got to introduce you to Sweet Tea...think perfect French desserts...

    ReplyDelete

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