Beirut is hot. Beirut is humid. Beirut is big and busy.
It is old houses and modern buildings, broad highways and narrow streets.
Beirut is Hamra and it is all those people who are extra friendly to the German hijabi. Are they Sunni? Or just generally friendly?
Beirut is bushes of pink majnounieh, those flowers I know from Palestine.
It is people advising me not to tell others that I have worked in Palestine or that my husband is Syrian because politics ... and me talking about it anyway because what the heck.
Beirut is full of Syrians, young people, families, poor rich, big cars with Syrian number plate parked outside of the 5 star hotel, and Ahmad who is going to the camps in the North, where thousands of Syrians are
Beirut is Sanayeh with all its greenery. An urban jungle. Trees, bushes, palm trees, flowers. Green against the yellow and grey of the houses. Beirut is beautiful.
Beirut is the current waste management crisis, communication between the municipality and its waste collection company going wrong.
Beirut is secretly guessing which sectarian group he / she / they belong to ... as if it mattered. It is seeing a cross, a picture of the Dome of Rock, a painting of Nasrallah, a hijab worn a certain way and thinking 'aaaaaaah!'.
Beirut is sitting in a restaurant near the sea and realising that, even sitting so close to the water, does not really bring any relief from the heat.
It is sitting in a café with a former combattant, speaking about his past and the reconciliation work he is involved in now, before he buys Lieschen a fresh orange juice.
Beirut is full of foreigners. It is meeting an American-Lebanese family who used to live in Germany on the playground, it is Syrians, Syrians, everywhere, it is Italian tourists in Gemmayzeh, French volunteers in Dawrah, and all those Africans, Filipinos, Sri Lankans, Indians and Thais who came here for work.
Beirut is haggling with the servis drivers and making use of all those tricks you learned in Palestine.
It is answering again and again, 'where are you from?', 'are you Muslim?', 'are you married to a Muslim?'.
Beirut is seeing, from your roof-top balcony, a mosque and a church ... and the sea.
Beirut is airconditioned rooms smelling of cigarette smoke.
Beirut is barely coping with the humidity and wondering how on earth they manage back in the days, without fan, no AC, God, what on earth did the French want here?!
Beirut is hearing Arabic in the streets, English and French, marhaba, ahleen, kifak, ca va, yallah bye.
Currently doing fieldwork in Beirut. More pictures and texts to come inshaallah.