Showing posts from June, 2021

In Beirut, Shopping Around Is Key To Beating The Huge Play on Prices

It’s no secret: prices across Lebanon for the vast majority of goods and services have witnessed an unprecedented spike as the lira continues to plunge against the dollar. Though the official rate is around LBP 1,500 for USD 1, the lira is trading on the black market for LBP 16,000 (current as of June 24, 2021), which translates to a whopping 967% surge in the exchange rate. Over the past four months alone, I’ve seen prices of local goods double. For example, Master Kettle Chips (144g) were selling for LBP 8,000 in February , whereas now a bag goes for LBP 15,000. Candia Lait 1-L TetraPak of milk are priced at 15,500 LBP, nearly double the LBP 8,000 tag they fetched at the start of the year. The other day I tweeted that “walking into a grocery store in Lebanon is like getting back a graded exam. Your heart stops as you scan the numbers on the price labels. It’s a harrowing experience.” But even more harrowing is the huge spread in prices you’ll occasionally witness across retaile

When Inspiration Runs Dry

The other day, I bumped into an old acquaintance I’d met in Paris a dozen years ago. After some quick catch-up and gushing over each other’s kids, she asked me about the blog and whether I was still penning as Beirutista. I told her I’d become far less prolific the past year on account of “being uninspired.” The moment those words left my mouth, I felt insufficient and foolish. A deluge of thoughts swept through my mind as I braced for a personal awakening. Does one really need inspiration to get a word out on paper? Even if one commits to writing about what one might perceive as mundane nonsense, the very thought process that engages the gears in the noggin would qualify for a fruitful writing exercise. Right? We can’t possibly attribute a perpetual flow of inspiration to the celebrated early 20 th -century author William Faulkner, for example, can we? Have you read – nay, attempted to read – The Sound and The Fury ? It is a lesson in "stream of consciousness," or unfilte