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Showing posts from August, 2014

Taanayel: A Local Company Profile I Admire

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It's pleasant to see local companies adopting international standards in product quality, customer satisfaction, and exceptional service delivery. Few succeed to capture all three elements so seamlessly, but when they do, it almost always cascades back to the corporate values and culture of the institution. If the company believes wholeheartedly in its offering, and the employees convey that same spirit of self-belief, it’s the customer who at the end of the day gets rewarded handsomely.
For me, one such gem is Taanayel. The (Bonjus-)Taanayel brand is well-known in Lebanon, and not by accident. It was perhaps their labneh baladieh that first took Lebanon by storm and found its way into every household fridge. With quality ingredients free from preservatives, there's something uncannily homemade about the snow-white strained yogurt. 

Venture into the cheese product lineup, like Taanayel's baladeh cheese cradled in a cute bucket with desalinated water, and you will be equally …

How to Spot A Lebanese Abroad

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When I was living abroad, I sought out Lebanese people actively. In my mind, only fellow Lebanese could truly understand me, my habits, rituals, thoughts and demeanor. Something about a shared language and identical values creates an immediate sense of belonging and, occasionally, relief. Everyone else, no matter how respectable, was "foreign" to me.
How does one spot a Lebanese abroad? It's actually fairly easy, as their behaviorism and idiosyncrasies are so nuanced, so particular, they stand out like sore thumbs:

1. Appearance. Lebanese guys and girls leave their homes in the morning as if going to greet a royal monarch or on their way to a $1,000-a-seat gala dinner. No joke. They bathe heavily in perfumes and colognes; coif their hairdos--gel for the boys, straightening or curling iron for the girls; and coordinate every article of their attire. Girls cake on the makeup and thick eyeliner, step into their stilettos, and strut around with designer handbags in tote. Boys …

Moti Mahal: Luxurious Indian Cuisine In Our Own Backyard

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I’ve been meaning to write a thoughtful review about Moti Mahal, and after at least a half dozen visits to the Zaitunay Bay outlet, it was sorely overdue to say the least. Indian cuisine is hard to come by in Lebanon. El Hindi at Palm Beach Hotel and Jaipur at the Monrovia are decent dining options, but they pale in comparison to Moti Mahal’s traditional cooking methods, flavors, and restaurant feel in general. Established in Delhi, India, in 1947, Moti Mahal eventually became a destination for world leaders and tourists because of its luxurious Mughlai food. The restaurant was the first to introduce the world to the classic clay tandoor, dating back to the early 1920s, as well as its signature dish, butter chicken. When I was living in Boston and Paris, I sampled South Indian cuisine at modest eateries, but the food on offer was humble and heartburn-inducing. Stews would be brimming with every spice in the book; meats were strewn with skin and bones; and the impression you’d form of …

No Country for Aspiring Young Folk

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that, if you put in the time, effort, and diligence, success is bound to come, sooner or later. In proverbial terms, you reap what you sow. And you don’t have to be a genius to light upon achievement: it’s a combination of hard work, talent, and good luck. At least that’s what I was taught growing up in the US.
As a “grown up,” which I suppose I must own up to now that I’m a so-called professional, I still like to believe in that storybook truth. Lebanon however hasn’t proven to be the model backdrop for this “American dream” ideal. Day in and day out, I witness struggle without consummation, tragedy devoid of triumph, battle giving way to, at best, a fragile truce. And it troubles me. When I first arrived in Lebanon four summers ago, straight out of business school, I made it a point to reach out to more seasoned graduates of my own alma mater—MIT—assuming they’d readily relate to my journey and appreciate the value of my degrees. Some from the g…