Remember the local confusion between Halloween and St. Barbara? Wooden Bakery just added some fuel to the fire... What's a pumpkin (known Halloween symbol) has to do with "hechle Berbara el 2am7 bel mghara" (the song children sing as they go from door to door dressed in their attires "berbara is running away, and the wheat is in the cave")... And well, if you are not Lebanese you wouldn't understand that Atayef is the traditional sweet which is offered on the occasion.
Fun fact, there are so many versions of the song depending on where one comes from: Bissiye Berbara, Hechle Berbara, Chahle Berbara ta ma tfoutic el ziara, etc... Some of them end in a rather impolite way if the woman of the house did not compensate the kids adequately...
Let's go out tonight! Let's go to all those defunct places, let's go down memory lane, let's try to unearth a past which is no longer there and which might never have been. Let's live the legend and go with the myth and be oblivious of the tragedies lurking below. A series made from the ne-on lights of ne-off places. "3attamou el charat" sings Feyrouz... "They extinguished the neon lights".
One of the advantages of being Beirut/NTSC is that sometimes the news ends up chasing you (and not the reverse). So someone dropped this in my lap and I am thankful for it. Well, sure, this is not the first "gadget cum t-shirt cum mug" producing venture in Lebanon - the market is flooded with them as it is. But the twist with Khouza3balet (a purely slang Arabic name to indicate "trickery with wit") is that this time there's the advantage of customization.
So if a small boy has a girl to impress and she happens to like smurfs, they are capable of turning her into smurfette, and if your first date was while watching Shrek, you can commemorate your anniversary with a customized Shrek-themed photo (applicable to many media).
I like their mug of a very angry Santa Claus, which, when filled with coffee, shows him smiling instead... Based on their facebook page they are contactable on 03094470 have an email.
Those of you in Beirut, please make a detour to Station and attend Leila Alaoui's beautiful, mesmerizing exhibition "Natreen" or "waiting" which was commissioned by the Danish Refugee Council to raise awareness as to the plight of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Next to every photo is the story of the people who are featured in it. What is most amazing about this exhibition is that, whereas one expects those usual photos of despair and sadness and haggardness related to such situations, Leila shows up a totally different angle - one based on dignity, resilience, and dare one say it? Hope.
The images capture the refugees not as some lump sum vague politicized entity but rather as individuals and people who are trying to rebuild shattered lives within harsh conditions. Leila is also using daily items such as hanged laundry, makeshift sinks, pieces of textile as a separator between "kitchen" and "living" room, or even large duvets with repetitive motifs, or - that stroke of genius from her sensitive eye - a converted vinyl ad into a wall.
But all these signs of normality do nothing but emphasize the oddity of the situation, the lack of intimacy (while pretending there is an illusion of one), and a notion of an ongoing daily life when obviously, a major breaking point has occurred.
Again, the beauty, sensitivity and humanity of the images is truly very touching. Do yourself a favor and see the exhibition. As a final note please notice that the photos above do not do justice to the originals and were taken (rather amateurishly) by myself.
Christmas ads have started to trickle in the market as seen with this Khoury home sample... Fake it till you make it? Not so! As the ad says "the days of pretending are gone!" because the stuff you can find at Khoury Home are amazing!
A belated independence ad from Laundry Spa (what kind of a name is that?) which suggests that the only time colors should be separated is while doing the laundry (mind you colors in this case refers to the political colors which have been appropriated by different currents and parties in Lebanon). A good one, but I still do not like their name or their self-referral as laundry!
Nesquik hits a jackpot here... "Chareb" means both - "mustache" and "has drunk" - so the people in the ad (including women naturally) all have "mustaches" because they "have drunk" power, energy, etc...
The syndicate of tyre importers and agents in Lebanon ends up with a hit. Lebanese expression goes that, when someone is going somewhere and asks "do you want anything?" the polite reply is "noo, just your safety"... And this is what these guys are saying! "Badna salemtak" (we just want your safety)... Good one.
And what's a week in Lebanon without the umpteenth commemoration of someone who died. This time it is president Rene Mouawad - the slogan they picked "we and moderation are the majority" which is actually based on a song "Sayyidi el Ra2is" (Mr President) by Majida el Roumi as written by Habib Younes and Henri Zougheib which originally goes "fa nahn was ardana wal hak akthariyya" (for we, and our land, and right are a majority). The booboo here is that this song has been "appropriated" by the offiicial Syrian TV as a song pro-president Assad even if it was never intended as such from either the writers or the singer.
"Behind every cold winter a sandwich to warm it up" - a reminder from Picon about their melting blocks prior to winter.
And here comes Touch one of our cell phone providers putting a positive spin on the lyrics of REM (from
the song Daysleeper) "I'm the screen, the blinding light I'm the screen, I work at night" - except in the case of Touch "call us, we're enjoying a late night" (for their 24/7 customer service).
I couldn't get this one outdoors so I took the above the Silkor facebook page. Well-manicured hands stacking up in the form of a tree - nice, clean, smart and effective!
Candia has a new opening - apparently with a twist. Prior to that I believe it was a full opening. Maybe the milk remains more fresh this way? Whatever it is, the ads are a bit self-defeating. In ALL three situations the person would want more than "one twist is enough" as the line suggests. Doing the hula hoop? You would it to last forever. Doing a ballet pirouette - same thing. Your dad is play-pretending with you playing "airplane"? (I know form my nephews that the classical reply is) "encore!"... So one twist is not enough. Unless I am not getting it.
There are currently, not one - but TWO - different campaigns running which aim at defending beaten or threatened women. One cannot but be very enthusiastic about this. But this being said, I never understood the difference between ABAAD and Kafa - for me they are the typical "I want to work on my own instead of pooling resources and achieving synergistic results with someone else who have the same target as myself"...
On all accounts, the ABAAD campaign is about "God help her, doesn't help her much". So yes, lamenting a woman's case (who is beaten) is not of practical effect. Now, Kafa aims to highlight their partnership with the Internal Security Forces (ISF) and invite threatened women to call 112 on such occasions. Sadly, and very much so, we live in a very oriental society whereby the ISF memebers themselves are also part of a chauvinistic culture just like anyone else. Will a woman's call to 112 be taken seriously? Will the ISF be complicit with the woman or the man? And worse, what if the man in question is notified, which would make him even more violent which would require 140 and not 112 (140 is the immediate number for the Red Cross)?
I wish to be optimistic, but then one better be safe than sorry, and in this case it implies calling 140 after calling 112.
Photo credit - Helen Mackreath and Patrick Sykes
While seeing the beautiful photo essay on Beirut by Helen Mckreath and Patrick Sykes, one specific pictures pulled me. It was the one that featured that unique car which keeps being parked in the driveway of a private residence right in the heart of Achrafieh (and we all know how those private homes became more and more rare as their owners sell them to developers for obnoxious amounts of money.
For those interested, the car is a mint condition Buick Grand Prix which is a rare sight among those who admire vintage cars. The only reason I got interested in vintage cars was when I started Publishing the series "Carcheology" for my friend Herbert Bos (See Carheology and (RE)Carheology here) and then I started realizing how full Beirut is of such gems!
So here are the photos of the Buick Grand Prix!
If interested in seeing more beauties from way back yonder, please head to Herbert's page here!
Somebody missed the memo! Between Almaza and LG - life might not be so good (TM). Yes I know, the Almaza ad was created under very specific circumstances (when Lebanon was playing against Korea in the world cup qualifications) but the headline was repeating what Lebanese say among each other "el kouri ma bidayen" (Korean made does not last). And ooops! LG is launching a full campaign emphasizing that their TV division is Korean made, as a sign of trust and quality. Somewhere, somehow... The whole thing got lost in translation.
This is a blog post about the new Lebanese Blogs which will appear on the Lebanese Blogs which will refer traffic to me to read about Lebanese Blogs, and maybe Lebanese Blogs will feature this in the top posts which will even drive more traffic from Lebanese Blogs to read about the Lebanese Blogs. Talk about a vicious circle.
Oh, and the new Lebanese Blogs is here, why not check it out? Thanks Mustapha for all the effort.
Leila Alaoui will be opening her exhibition "Natreen" a labor of love documenting a photography exhibition commissioned by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) with the support of the European Commission (ECHO). Leila is a French-Moroccan multimedia artist she works on cultural identities and migration, using portrait photography, video installations and short films. She fell in love with Beirut as soon she set foot in it.
Leila shared with Beirut/NTSC some of the stories she collected:
Ahmed is blind. So is his father and two of his three siblings - a genetic disorder. The family of six fled Syria to Lebanon in October 2013 with the help of their mother, their older sister, and "God's will". For two weeks after their arrival, they lived in a small room in what used to be a school in South Lebanon. They shared the ground floor and one bathroom with four other families.
"They can't go to the bathroom alone, I have to be with them," says Maha, the mother. "But the bathroom at the school was too small to fit more than one person. So I stood in the doorway and tried to help, while the neighbors' kids ran around and played in the hallway behind me. It was humiliating"
Below is also part of Yazan's story as told by his mother:
"The night we decided to flee our house, we were running around frantically packing the important documents, clothes, and some food. But Yazan wouldn't leave without his desktop computer, and on it, his computer games. He insisted and refused to budge... We unplugged it, carried it with whatever energy we had left and ran."
Lama is another one such person, different story, same outcome:
Lama's husband disappeared a few months ago in Syria, and she decided to leave with her daughter and join her sister's family in South Lebanon.
They now all live in a room located in the backyard of a local businessman's home, and separated from it by an agricultural field that her sister's husband tends to. "[The local businessman] lets us stay here for free, and we take care of his land. The kids have somewhere to play and when it's warm enough we take our mattresses and sleep outside under the trees."
Speaking to Beirut/NTSC Leila said "The exhibition is called Natreen. After spending 10 days traveling around Lebanon to meet with Syrians refugees, all I can recall is people who are “waiting”. They are waiting to get help from NGOS, waiting for news from there loved ones… waiting to go home, waiting for the war to stop. Most of these refugees had a normal life back home. They owned land, houses… They had jobs and their kids were in school. From one day to another they lost everything. And their lives are simply "pending" now."
All images by Leila Alaoui. Opening on November 29th between 6 and 9 P.M. at Station.