Showing posts from October, 2018

It's That Time of Year Again

Ever since I can remember, this time of year casts a certain spell over me. And it all starts with Halloween.

Growing up, the holiday meant costume competitions at school, plastic Jack-O-Lantern buckets brimming with candy, and eerie music. Our teachers would dress up in classic witch outfits, parade us around campus as we strutted our festive garb, and throw a classroom party festooned with black-and-orange cupcakes and a cauldron of dark punch. Though my costumes were terribly unoriginal and sometimes unrecognizable – my ninja suit one year puzzled a lot of spectators – Halloween always found me animated.

I cringed to see the day come to a close, but the one consolation I had – besides the inordinate amounts of candy to last me through the New Year – was my birthday the next day. Indeed, Halloween marks the pre-party to the real party in the quirky life of Danielle. And last year, on my birthday, I was blessed to welcome my first child into this world. How amazing is that? It seems th…

Top 10 Overlooked Household Cleaning Products

A few weeks ago, I confessed to thoroughly enjoying housecleaning. Well, “thoroughly” might be a bit of a hyperbole, but let’s just say the act of scrubbing, mopping, ironing, and polishing instills in me a fair measure of satisfaction. Not only is the process therapeutic, requiring me to work with my hands whilst granting me time to daydream, but I in turn feel renewed and cleanly.
And I was impressed to find many of you aligned with me! A poll featured on my Instagram stories revealed that 5 out of every 8 surveyed readers insist on cleaning their own homes rather than hiring outside help. Even in this part of the world, where housemaids charge minimal fees for a few hours of elbow grease, a considerable chunk of us prefer getting our hands dirty in the endless effort to achieve “cleanliness is next to godliness” status.
I promised you I would proffer a list of my favorite household cleaning products, but why preach to the choir when I can perhaps enlighten you and in so doing lighten…

Lebanon's Modern and Contemporary Art Museum

Last week, I spent the better half of a day becoming acquainted with the Modern and Contemporary Art Museumof Lebanon situated on the hills above Qartaba in a town called Alita. A mere seven-minute drive from the freeway, this art sanctuary is nestled in a pristine cradle of verdant Lebanese nature overlooking the Adonis Valley and the Mediterranean Sea.

How is it we never hear of these wonderful bastions of art, culture, and creativity that decorate our storied landscape?
Allow me to fill you in. The story of MACAM begins with a sprightly art lover and prolific writer named Cesar Nammour. For years, Cesar, now 81, found himself collecting and storing art pieces that would otherwise have been cast into the dark dungeons of oblivion. With no appointed home or master, these relics needed a foster parent to preserve and oversee their safekeeping.
Eventually, Cesar was actively sought out by artists to adopt their artwork, and tight on space, he set his sights on a decommissioned factory in …

Raw Café Delivers a Fresh, Natural Culinary Experience

If you ask me, it’s unfortunate that cafes in and around Beirut have no recourse but to brand themselves as arguileh hangouts in order to effectively draw a crowd. Yes, I vehemently oppose second-hand smoking. Yes, I strive to avoid settings where smoking sullies the breathable air. I’m there for the food – am I part of a dying breed?

While newly opened RAW Café, sibling venture of the nightclub RAW next door, may boast Lebanon’s favorite pastime, the hookah, I have news for you, folks: their cuisine doesn’t cut corners or make compromises on taste, quality, or aesthetics. Even the menu prices are an ode to affordable dining out, something the F&B industry is finally starting to promote in this wretched economy we live in.

Last Saturday, we pushed past the large glass doors and into a space whose industrial motif, high ceiling, lightweight aluminum chairs, and all-glass façade found us hopeful that maybe, arguileh aside, this café would dazzle on the alimentary side. Joanna, our gen…

Housecleaning, Anyone?

Who else finds some degree of satisfaction in doing their own housecleaning? Seriously, now. In this day and age, where everything seems rushed and we're all scrambling for time, does anyone else seek release in scrubbing their bathrooms, hosing down the balcony or veranda, mopping the floors, dusting the furniture, and ironing their clothes? Or am I perhaps part of an esoteric breed?

Here in Lebanon, hiring help is extremely cost-effective. Whether it’s a live-in maid or a housekeeper who drops in once a week, most folks in my immediate entourage outsource the cleaning to the cleaning specialists. At just 7,500 – 10,000 LBP ($5-6.67) per hour, it’s an offer you can’t resist, especially when you work full-time outside the home, have a family to tend to, and can afford to allocate your free time more productively.

While I do opt for that route on occasion, particularly when it comes to cleaning the windows and accordion glass doors, I don't mind getting down and dirty and working…

The Unlikely Well-Paying Job in Beirut

Last week, I slipped into a Careem car. For those of you residing outside the Middle East, Careem is the #1 ride-hailing app in MENA, Pakistan & Turkey, with operations spanning 100 cities and 14 countries. I was first exposed to Careem (which means "kind" or "generous" in Arabic) two years ago while in Amman, when I discovered it would cost me a whopping 50 Jordanian dinars (US$ 70) if I booked a cab from my hotel at the Dead Sea to Queen Alia International Airport versus a meager 20 JOD (US$ 28) via Careem. I even scored a rookie’s discount of 5 JOD, and that inaugural trip paved the way for my incessant addiction to the transportation network company here in Beirut.
A social creature by nature, I like to strike up conversations with Careem captains. One unmistakable pattern I’ve noticed is that many of them are well-educated, multilingual, and worldly. I kid you not. On this particular trip, Fadi* opened up genuinely about his profession.

I asked how long he’d…