July 3, 2013
ecsTAXIc

I met the best taxi driver this morning!

He went bizerk when we had to stop at a red light and kept honking frantically for the car in front of us to move. What was weird was that he did it with the coolness of a serial killer and even joked “that guy is probably cursing at us right now, but seriously, who stops at a red light?”

uuuuummmm… everyone?

A few meters later, we encountered a lady driving up a one-eway street in the wrong direction. That was one of those narrow old Ashrafieh streets and he seriously shook his head and told me in a grave and solemn voice “I’ve been a driver for fifty years and I have never, and I mean never, driven up that street in the wrong direction”.

WoW. I mean WooooW. He serisouly blew my mind! And then it happened…

"I don’t really know why. It’s just this street. I just never ever drive up that street in the wrong direction”.

Ah, phew. Scared me for a moment. The end of the world is not today.

9:50pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/Zx2zDwooDa1U
Filed under: beirut lebanon taxi 
July 3, 2013
Crash Course in Chinese:
How do you say Black in Chinese? 
Blue.

Last night, we had dinner at Chopsticks in Hamra, Beirut, Lebanon. 
I arrived first and told the waitress we were a party of three. My two friends came with a third guest which means that we ended up being four at a table with three plates and their respective cutleries.
The starters came and we were still missing a plate, a fork, a knife and a glass. We had to mention them to finally get them because apparently, our friend was invisible. In their defense, she is on a strict diet and it could be that she is starting to fade away. 
A couple of hours later, as the evening came to an end, we asked for the check. My friend and I decided to pay by card and the rest was settled in cash. The total, with tips, amounted to a 100 dollars.
My friend E needed to pay for two, 50 dollars using a blue credit card, I was to pay 25 dollars using a black credit card and finally our friend paid 25 dollars in cash. 
When the waitress came, we felt she might be confused so we repeated about five times that she was to retrieve 50 DOLLARS FROM THE BLUE CARD and 25 DOLLARS FROM THE BLACK CARD. 
When she raised the BLUE card and said "yes, yes, 25 dollars from the BLACK card" we knew we were going to be in trouble.
So we repeated again, and for the fifth time, while shaking the right card respectively: "BLACK 25, BLUE 50".
Naturally and as expected, the black card was charged 50 and the blue card 25.
So when we told her she mixed them as we were staring at our receipts, waiting to sign, she innocently and very seriously asked: "can’t you switch?" 
And E, who funnily enough happens to be a lawyer, to legitimately wonder and enquire: "what should we switch, identities?"
And we are still seriously wondering. So, anyone out there has any idea what else she could have meant for us to switch?
Because I hope to God she didn’t mean that by me signing another person’s receipt (which would be forgery and identity theft) the amount would magically not be retrieved from my account anymore. 
lak akhhhhh….

Crash Course in Chinese:

How do you say Black in Chinese?

Blue.

Last night, we had dinner at Chopsticks in Hamra, Beirut, Lebanon. 

I arrived first and told the waitress we were a party of three. My two friends came with a third guest which means that we ended up being four at a table with three plates and their respective cutleries.

The starters came and we were still missing a plate, a fork, a knife and a glass. We had to mention them to finally get them because apparently, our friend was invisible. In their defense, she is on a strict diet and it could be that she is starting to fade away. 

A couple of hours later, as the evening came to an end, we asked for the check. My friend and I decided to pay by card and the rest was settled in cash. The total, with tips, amounted to a 100 dollars.

My friend E needed to pay for two, 50 dollars using a blue credit card, I was to pay 25 dollars using a black credit card and finally our friend paid 25 dollars in cash. 

When the waitress came, we felt she might be confused so we repeated about five times that she was to retrieve 50 DOLLARS FROM THE BLUE CARD and 25 DOLLARS FROM THE BLACK CARD. 

When she raised the BLUE card and said "yes, yes, 25 dollars from the BLACK card" we knew we were going to be in trouble.

So we repeated again, and for the fifth time, while shaking the right card respectively: "BLACK 25, BLUE 50".

Naturally and as expected, the black card was charged 50 and the blue card 25.

So when we told her she mixed them as we were staring at our receipts, waiting to sign, she innocently and very seriously asked: "can’t you switch?" 

And E, who funnily enough happens to be a lawyer, to legitimately wonder and enquire: "what should we switch, identities?"

And we are still seriously wondering. So, anyone out there has any idea what else she could have meant for us to switch?

Because I hope to God she didn’t mean that by me signing another person’s receipt (which would be forgery and identity theft) the amount would magically not be retrieved from my account anymore. 

lak akhhhhh….

July 1, 2013

My Lebanese mobile isn’t working.

So I searched online for a customer service number to get help from alfa from an alternative phone, since, well, my Lebanese mobile isn’t working.

I called their number (03391111) and got an answering machine that let me know all the lines were overloaded and I had to call back later. I wasn’t even requested to stay on hold. 

So I went to the next best ting: social media. I twitted alfa:

Anyone at that can assist me? I tried calling 03391111 but got a machine saying the lines are overloaded & need to call later.

And got an immediate response!

  1. Hi, yes sure we are here to assist you, just submit your number: and we will contact you :)

  2. You can’t contact me because my line has been disconnected. I just came back from Dubai & found my Leb number which I have been

  3. (…) using for years doesn’t work. The phone won’t even turn on! A friend told me it’s because this phone was bought in Dubai

  4. Apparently I was supposed to register it. IT WOULD’VE BEEN NICE TO KNOW THAT! I was at the airport yesterday & no sign of this!

  5. Now how can I make this LEBANESE number work again please? Also, what do I do with my UAE number? How can I register it please?

  6. please provide us with any lebanese number to contact you

  7. You need my number here or on the link you sent me?

  8. please send it on the link that we provided before

  9. Done. When can I expect a call back please?

Less than a minute later, a get a call to the number I left in the online form! Less than a minute!! Needless to say I was impressed. That was just outstanding! 

And I am greeted with a “welcome back to Lebanon”; that person knew who he was talking to! Turns out the same person who answered my tweets, Nizar, also called me to follow up. Nice.

He explained to me the new law and told me that they had been informing customers though Facebook and Twitter (I missed those announcements as my social media was probably filtering and prioritizing all the updates from Dubai) and that there was a sign at the airport arrivals, near the hotel kiosks. Honestly, that was my mistake, I did not notice it but with two babies, one half naked (poop accidents on airplanes suck) and another asleep and after about 40 minutes of waiting for our luggages, needless to say I wasn’t seeing anything anymore! All I wanted was to get out! So I missed that airport desk too…

Bottom line, in case you’re coming from abroad:

1) If you are to use a LEBANESE SIM in a phone you purchased abroad, you will need to register that phone. Do it immediately at the airport as it will be easier or you will have to go to an alfa or mtc office later on. This law has been initiated to control mobile phones thefts. If you fail to register your phone, your phone/line will be unusable.

2) If you are using a phone with a ROAMING SIM, you do not need to register anything.

3) If you want to put your LEBANESE SIM in an already registered “Lebanese” phone, you need to know what SIM was in that phone for the past two years and “release the phone” from that SIM before you place another one in it. That can be done by sending an empty text to 1014 (free of charge). Then place a call from the newly installed SIM and you should be good to go. Note that if you attempt to install a LEBANESE SIM in a phone that hasn’t been used for over two years, you will need to consider that phone unregistered and go register it if you wish to use it.

4) If you purchase a new phone from Lebanon now, it should already be registered and when you install your SIM you should be able to place a call immediately, and by doing so, this phone will be assigned to this SIM. The most important tip alfa gave me would probably be to always get a receipt from the mobile phones shop because some are selling unregistered (illegal) phones. By keeping a receipt, you can make sure you are not fooled into buying a blocked phone. 

So, thank you Nizar for the prompt Twitter feedback, the super prompt call back and the useful and comprehensive support. Now that’s what I call customer service.

I am liking alfa right now ;)

10:42pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/Zx2zDwoeOoQN
Filed under: beirut lebanon alfa 
April 11, 2013
Nicest studio in Beirut!

A few days ago, I asked for some help on Twitter: I forgot my camera’s charger in Dubai and I was hoping someone would kindly lend me theirs. Instead, my sweetest @lnlne gave a more long-term solution: apparently there is a photo studio in Hamra that provides this service and will charge camera batteries for customers:


PHOTO PALLADIUM on Sidani street (+9611745326 - +9611744266)

And they were so nice they categorically refused to take any money!

They have chargers for most professional cameras (and a universal charger just in case) and my Nikon was treated with the best of care.

Also, and if you’re a fan, they have a nice Lomo collection.

I will definitely use their services again and will print all my photos there from now on. They absolutely deserve my business!

2:53am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/Zx2zDwiOe4CA
  
Filed under: Beirut Lebanon Hamra Photo 
May 29, 2012
Zoology

Seriously now, has “rude” become the new “normal”? I think I should update my dictionary because everywhere I turn, it seems to be the same: just plain old incivility.   

SHORT STORY

On our way to Dubai, I decide to take Mia to Beirut Airport’s LAT Lounge operated by Lebanese Air Transport where it will be more comfortable for her to take a nap since we had to check in early in the morning. We usually stay at the Cedar Lounge but this time hubby was not with us, in other words, no Gold Skywards and we were flying economy so we had to make due with the one other alternative available at the airport. And off we go up the stairs to the mezzanine and ask around. We get redirected to a shady hallway. Well it’s not like I expected some serial killer to suddenly lock the doors and eat us alive but it did look like some abandoned construction site. Actually, many of the rooms we passed were under construction. Finally we see a roll-up banner with airline companies logos in front of a door and figure this is probably our destination. We enter and all we see is an empty desk and a cleaning lady. So I ask her if we are in the right place and she simply replies “she is in the bathroom, she’ll be back soon”. Ok then. I decide to sit at a small table near the door, facing the front desk to make sure we see whoever “her” is when she gets there. A few minutes later, a fifty something lady comes in, eating off a plate she’s holding with one hand, and a fork in the other. She sees us so I stand up:

"Hello, is this the LAT Lounge?"

"First of all, where are you going?"

Excuse me? Are you really answering my question, with a  question?

When I have Mia around in unfamiliar places, I try to keep calm.

"Dubai. Is this the VIP Lounge please?"

"What airline are you flying?"

OK, now you’re just deliberately provoking me.

"Emirates Airlines, can we enter the lounge?"

(Without looking at me) “Show me your boarding pass and credit card”.

Oh my God, I am going to slap the rude out of you, woman!

It appears she had never heard of the magic word. In her case, I would have loved to throw a magic sentence her way, along the lines of “Fuck you, bitch. Please.” But again, Mia. So in my most coerced calmness I hand her the boarding pass, credit card and our passports which she did not ask for, but I preferred not leaving her the chance to “kindly request” anything more. She pushes the passports away with one hand as she writes down my name with the other.

(Looking down at the credit card in her hand) “This is your credit card, right?”

"Yes."

(Still not looking at me) “Because you know, you cannot stay here under someone else’s name name like…”

"Like my husband, I know. This is not his card. It is mine."

(Staring at the card in her hand) “Yes, you know, we have to make sure of these things.”

Implying some nasty people outrageously dare to abuse the system she so bravely guards. I don’t bother to reply and just wait. She finishes writing whatever her super-tight NASA regulations require her to type and she directs me towards the lounge with a gesture of her hand and still not even glancing at me, says:

"The food is over the there."

Oh. My. God. Bitch.

Not “the lounge” or even “the buffet”. “The food”. “The (freaking) food is over there”. She was lucky Mia was sleeping on my shoulder that whole time. I take a deep breath and walk towards a couch to lay Mia there. We are closely followed by Mrs. Sunshine who sits on the couch facing the flat screen where a Turkish drama series dubbed to Syrian is playing. With her little plate in one hand and her fork in the other. She simply left her desk and sat in front of the TV. In her defense, it is the tiniest lounge I’ve seen ever, and I’ve seen quite a few. There is only one TV and one seat facing the screen. So really, she didn’t have the choice. Well, she could have chosen to stay at her desk, where is she paid to sit but I’m not the one paying her now, am I? Within seconds Mia wakes up so I do my best to keep her occupied, looking out the window, waving at the planes and cars. And she gets hungry so I go over to “the food” and pick up a yogurt, biscuits, a piece of cake and a croissant. I know Mia is not going to eat any particular one thing so I keep my options open. And I end up eating the rest. Without being vindictive or exaggerating, “the (now infamous) food” was probably a day or two old. To think I paid for that “service”. That’s it. I’ll take the uncomfortable chairs at the boarding gate any day versus The Food Lady. And Mia can sleep on the floor. Thank you.

TINY STORY

I was standing alone (with no shopping cart) looking at a shelf of hair products in TSC Verdun when all of a sudden, a trolley hits my leg from behind, and without stopping or even slowing down, this woman shoves her way, literally on my knee. The aisles are narrow in this place, I know. But really, I swear, a simple “Sorry” would have sufficed. It was only me. No cart. No nothing. Just a single person, standing. A word would have been enough and I would have gladly moved away. Instead, that awful excuse of a woman just kept walking, on me (I insist) and without apologizing or even looking back, she continued shopping as if nothing had happened. Makes you wonder: would settling down with a pack of mad wolves in the middle of wilderness be more pleasant? Because right now, it feels like I am living at the zoo. On the wrong side of the fence. 

2:33am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/Zx2zDwMKBhHZ
Filed under: beirut lebanon airport 
May 27, 2012
Beirut Designers

An online shop that features stunning Lebanon designers including our fav’ Nadine Zeni.

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May 22, 2012

#Lebanon #Beirut #Tripoli - It seems a slap is in order every once in a while for our countrymen and women to wake up. No offense, it’s just that we tend to forget a little. And by little, I mean a whole fucking lot. Goldfish have the bad rep. 

April 23, 2012
My favorite newspaper kiosk in #Hamra, #Beirut, #Lebanon

My favorite newspaper kiosk in #Hamra, #Beirut, #Lebanon

April 23, 2012
#Beirut #Lebanon #StreetArt #Graffiti: ”short story in blue”. 

#Beirut #Lebanon #StreetArt #Graffiti: ”short story in blue”. 

April 23, 2012
Street Art in #Hamra, #Beirut - #Lebanon: “Don’t Be Judgemental” graffiti
Source

Street Art in #Hamra, #Beirut - #Lebanon: “Don’t Be Judgemental” graffiti

Source

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