18 July 2006

voice from Lebanon

just got off the phone with my good friend Mona who lives south of Beirut in the suburb of Saida. turns out the last bomb hit only 15 minutes' drive from her house, and she's planning to evacuate by the end of the week. tough decisions all around--Lebanon has become, according to my conversations with her over the past few years, a place where people live, work, party, and raise families once again, after a long stretch of rebuilding in the early 1990s. The last year or so, since the assassination of former prime minister Hariri, has meant that things like shopping, clubbing, and other pursuits of Beirut's middle and upper classes have slowed, although not entirely stopped. Life was normal but slightly more caution was in order. Mona said Sam and I should come and visit them, see the beach. Now that's all changed, of course. so she and her family have built a life there, and now they must uproot, again. at least they have the means and the opportunity to do so.

my mother found Beirut to be one of the most beautiful places on earth when she visited there--in the early 60s. now--after all of that rebuilding, the tourist economy, the beaches, the mountains, the lovely baklava Mona brought me when she visited. soon gone.

we kept getting cut off on the phone, which became rather comical. first: der. of course you're going to get cut off every 5 minutes. second: I had trouble getting through to her phone again each time we got cut off (see the first thing--der). You'd think these countries under attack could at least keep the phones going. sheesh! and then the inevitable jokes about the NSA tapping every call into Lebanon--at which point Mona started singing "God Bless America" and we got cut off. right then.

She's fine, her family is fine. Lebanon, not so fine.

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