The honking horns. The cars passing by blasting loud trashy music. People shouting. Motorcycles whizzing by, each one louder than the next.
These are the unmistakable sounds that one is in the very heart of Beirut. Sounds that no matter where you go in the world, you always come back to. They even start the minute you land in the airport.
These are the sounds of the city that I love and have grown up in. They are the sounds that I somehow always look forward to hearing after a long trip (as weird as that may be) because they remind me of the comforting and familiar.
But ever since we returned from our little break in the majestic island of Sri Lanka, I’ve been having quite a hard time adjusting back to Beirut and Lebanon- and that has never happened before.
The sounds that have become background noise after living here for so long seem to echo louder and louder now. And I think it is finally hitting me that this city is not as ideal as I have always made it out to be.
When you travel, you gain plenty of insight and knowledge to how other people live and work and make a living for themselves. It makes you rethink what you know about the place you come from.
During this trip, we almost interrogated our guide to give us as much information as he could about his home country-one he was speaking so proudly about no matter what we saw or where we went.
Through all the conversations we had with him and from all the observations I made sitting in that bus, I came to a conclusion that this is a country that thrives because of its relationship with nature. The locals, especially in the most rural of areas, depend on the environment around them for everything. They take what it gives them, rather than the opposite way around. They live harmonious lives with nature, trying as hard as possible to preserve what they have.
And this is something we are so severely lacking in Lebanon.
On the day after we returned, we went to the supermarket to pick up some much needed items for the house, and on the way there, I couldn’t help but look to the surrounding mountains which in a few short years have become an expansion of the concrete jungle that is now Beirut. It was a sight that I had not missed in our time away and one that I wish didn’t have to be. Like I said, it is such a vast contrast from where we had been just the day before.
I always thought that noise and expansion were a sign of development and growth, a sign that things were happening and people were moving. I disliked the quiet because it always felt like everything was stagnant and nothing was changing.
But I am not so sure about that now.