A Typical Day in Lebanon

A typical day in Beirut is one that starts with a traffic jam so long and so insufferable, it starts at your front door and continues all the way to the workplace. Even the tunnels, which are meant to facilitate traffic and reduce congestion, are all backed up because there’s a traffic light at the end of it. How’s that for excellent city planning?

So you arrive to work late and frustrated, and it’s not even 9 AM. You proceed to deal with people who think they know everything, so they refuse to cooperate or learn something new from you. There’s nothing quite like a Lebanese person’s ego, so big it leaves no space for teamwork or admitting they were wrong.

And if you manage to escape that, you inevitably find yourself dealing with people who make you feel like you’re in some kind of interview, poking and prodding until they get you to reveal your deepest and darkest secrets. It would be unlike ourselves if we stopped being nosy.

When the day finally ends and you’re finally going home, you end up waiting over 20 minutes in the freezing cold for a taxi to decide to pick you up. Lebanese cab drivers have earned the right to be picky and they will never take pity on you and change their course just because you’ve been standing there looking like a cold, lost puppy.

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A main tunnel in Beirut without any electricity. Typical.

Thankfully though, someone eventually agrees and on you’re on your way to your destination, one which shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes. Except the car’s wheels never really turn- the traffic more early morning is back again, but even more vicious! Yay!

Why’s that? No one really knows. You spend close to half an hour stuck in one street only to find out when everyone gets moving that there was nothing there. Absolutely no reason.

But how I wish it ends there. It only gets worse. And I’m not talking about getting stuck in the elevator.

You come home, anxious to jump into the shower and wash away all the day’s frustration. But you have to turn on the water heater first because you can’t keep it on all day long or you risk your power bill increasing. So after about three hours of waiting, you’re ready for the shower. But the amount of water heated only lasts 5 minutes, so you find yourself shuddering cold as you try to salvage the situation.

How could it get even worse?

Easy. The power cuts off just as you’re about to blow-dry your hair. I guess having hot water, a heater, a blowdryer, and the contact grill all on at the same time is too much for the power source to handle.

And yet, ma fi ahla men Lebnen (there’s nothing more beautiful than Lebanon)!

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