Sunday, July 1, 2007

Little men with big powers

After blogging pretty much non stop about the political life in Lebanon, the reader can now expect a bit more variation. Sure, most of our daily lives are ruled by the current mess in the country, but there’s still plenty more to write about. Like, enjoying a nice, relaxing day at the beach.

Well, think again. Anything that could, however remotely so, be a relaxing experience is bound to be ruined in this country. You see it in the big events, you can also see it in the little events. I’m not a psychologist or sociologist or whatever “ist” one would need to explain it, but there must be something in the water that affects most if not all Lebanese.

Take this Saturday. We have a beach house, or chalet, as the Lebanese say. Interesting enough, I always associated the word ‘chalet’ with a little Swiss mountain house, but no, in Lebanon a beach house is called chalet and a mountain house is called, well, a mountain house. Same thing with the word ‘boulevard’: Dutch people (and others?) associate this with a road that is along the seaside in a city. The Lebanese, however, call this the Corniche and a boulevard simply means a road. No problem, after a while you get used to it.

Anyway, all the beach houses have one parking spot above ground. Some owners have also bought a parking space in an underground parking. This parking is usually rather empty because quite a few people rent a chalet for the summer and have thus no underground parking spot.

This Saturday, we were with two cars, so what would be more logic than to park both cars in the underground parking? Sure, we only have 1 dedicated spot, but since there are so many other spots available, what’s the harm of parking the second car in an empty spot?

Oops, that simple act made us into people who break the rules. As by magic, within 30 minutes one of the guards came to us to ask if we could please remove the second car because the owner of the spot in which I just had parked happened to need his spot. Honest to God, I have never, ever, seen a car in that spot. That’s one fully deserted, never used spot. In fact, it’s a spot to feel sorry for: nobody wants to park there.

Needless to say, there was never an owner who wanted to park, it was a supposedly polite way of telling us HOW THE #%$@ DARE YOU USE TWO SPOTS IF YOU ONLY HAVE ONE!!

So there we were, lying on the beach, ready for a relaxing Saturday afternoon, a nice time to forget about our worries…until this concierge came to give us a hard time. And how he enjoyed it: he, little man, had found a stick to beat the dotorra (that’s Brigitte, if you’re a doctor or Ph.D they call you doctor or dottora for women) and her foreign husband with. I’m pretty sure we made his day..or perhaps his whole month.

He was fully in his rights of course: we were not adhering to the rules. But for a country where rules are hard to come by, a basic ‘give a little, take a little’ approach is equally hard to find. As said at the start of this article, others would be able to explain this sort of attitude and extrapolate this mini-event to the much larger events that currently take place. It would be interesting to see how much the attitude of this concierge is somehow also present in the various political leaders.


Sander said...

Overal in het Midden-Oosten is de Corniche de boulevard langs het water, alle waterkanten hebben er een.
Overal waar Frans gesproken wordt is een boulevard onderdeel van het stratensysteem- van klein naar groot, allee of cheminee, dan rue, dan avenue, dan boulevard, etc.
En is een chalet een klein huisje, maakt niet uit waar dat kleine huisje staat. Een nog kleiner huisje is een paillotte.
Goh, beetje reizen en je hele wereld staat op z'n kop, niet?