Showing posts from December, 2013


Remember the picture of the felled tree I posted just 12 days ago? When the tempest by the name of Alexa descended upon Lebanon, unleashing high-speed gusts that struck down trees like this one? Do you recognize the street in which this photo was snapped? How about the landmark behind it on the left?

Shaken Up By Yesterday's Bombing

It was around 9.40 am. I was sitting at my desk, sifting through the morning news online, replying to a few stray emails, and chatting with my mom back in California on Google Talk. I had been trying to schedule an after-work rendezvous at Uruguay Street downtown with a friend visiting from Paris. Suddenly, the building shook fiercely, as if writhing from an earthquake. It lasted several moments before a big boom was heard. I was certain a plane had plummeted into Beirut Souks, just a few hundred meters north of my office. The explosion felt so close by. And in fact, it was. Minet el Hosn, across from where the new Hyatt Hotel is being erected, next to the fountains of the Starco Plaza, a few meters past the Balthus and Park Avenue restaurants. 650 meters away by foot, Google Maps confirmed. A bomb had taken the life of Mohammad Chattah, former senior adviser to Prime Ministers Fouad Siniora and Saad Hariri, along with several others and tens of casualties. For an hour, my body s

Holiday greetings

On this sunny day of December four-and-twenty, The occasion for food and feasting aplenty, I want to wish you my fans a wonderful holiday season, Full of fun and laughter, toasting and teasing. Thank you for your faithful readership and care, You’ve animated Beirutista beyond any compare. Please stay tuned in the coming year for more, New material and topics sure to be explored. Merry Christmas!

The Latest In and Around Beirut

Here’s the latest on what’s come under my survey the past week: 1.        The Alexa storm, which at first admittedly wasn’t as headline-worthy as the media made it out to be, evolved into a nasty little tempest. Temperatures in Beirut and its immediate suburbs plummeted to the low 40s (for my metric-system readers, that’s 5C), and gusts blew up to 15 mph (25 km/h). Schools were cancelled over three days in an effort to ease traffic—if you’ve ever been to Lebanon, you’ll quickly discover that the infrastructure can hardly withstand a mild drizzle, let alone a real storm. Here’s what winds in Beirut did to one tree in the downtown Minet el Hosn area: 2.        Driving courtesy in this country continues to reach new lows. Michael Young, columnist at Lebanon’s English-written newspaper The Daily Star , eloquently captured this along with other misdemeanors from which this country suffers in his December 12 editorial entitled “Lebanon is no country for young men.”   In it, he

The Power of Perspective

Last week, I attended TEDx Beirut ’s event at Minus 5, a repurposed industrial warehouse hidden in the basement of the Mkalles 2001/Bou Khalil complex. (How often does my family stop to shop at Bou Khalil, en route to our Mansourieh home, but never before have I noticed Minus 5.) For those of you readers who are unfamiliar with TED, it’s an international forum where speakers are invited to recount “ideas worth spreading.” These talks are filmed before large audiences and uploaded to for access to international viewers. TEDx Beirut, which is officially licensed by TED, organizes independent events fostering dialogue at the local level. At the TEDx Beirut Salon last Thursday, the theme was “Shifting Perspectives,” and a few TEDTalks videos exemplifying this motif were played. One such speaker we listened to was Rory Sutherland , Vice Chairman of Ogilvy Group, a veritable advertising guru. He spoke at length of the power of perspective and how it supersedes reality. To illust