I have always found taxi drivers as great sources of knowledge as regards to how actual life is in an area. I also know from a journalistic perspective, they are a no-go, but I disagree. Beirut is no different. We live way off the center of the city, so depending on when we travel, it takes between 20 minutes to 1 and a half hour. Yesterday we did the latter and got talking to a fella who spent four years as a carpenter on the Cayman Islands nd therefore spoke fluent English more or less. He loved it but felt cheated by the lebanese company who signed him up. They earned much less then others. He wasn´t to happy with life as it is today either. Syrian refugees had taken his job since they charged a third of what he normally earned so he was working as a taxi driver today.
“It is hard to be happy when you have to work with things you don´t like. But this is Lebanon today.”
He was with the Lebanese forces during the latest war, but didn´t want to talk about it. He only thought about when he came across people who he knew from that time, but said life was better back then compared to today. At least just after the war, when most of his friends left for Sweden and had become rich since then. He had to stay to look after his mother. Life hadn´t been easy since then. But he said, when we talked about Trump and the US election:
“We used to have a middle class, but now it is 10% rich and the rest is poor.”
Like most of the Lebanese they have no trust in politics or politicians. None. We have so far not met one person who have any trust for the political establishment.
He also talked about Russian prostitutes that he used to go to when he was single. 80 dollars for a glass of champagne before any nogotiations took place. He fell in love with one of them, but couldn´t afford their high maintenence so he choose a local teacher of art.
It was refreshing talking to him in many ways, he was Christian like most people we met, but up until then it felt like we had lived in a kind of a facade which wasn´t even close to reality. A very interesting one, but i find it amusing the amount of money spent on plastic surgery among many of the ladies we have seen. As funny as all these gadgets like brand shoes and stuff. i don´t get that at all. But i have no real opinions. Everyone can have their own choice of their own life, but i did find this still existing bride dowry thing sad.
As you can understand, indeed a very interesting time!
What to say, what to say…. early morning at the airport…..we have been up and down the Bekaa Valley, spent some great time with great people. Film-Lars, Abdulkarim and one of the most hospitable and generous people on earth, Asmath Al Beiruti!
We had a rest and then off to an exclusive show which just ended, Beirut at its best!