In a country full of juxtapositions, the Lebanese function beautifully as a community. The thing that I love the most about Lebanon, and I have to emphasize that it is a big part of its benefits, is the fact that we are a child loving nation and as a neighborhood we live together as one big affectionate family.
As the city starts to wake up to another busy day, at home the morning rush of getting dressed and ready to go to school is a daily routine that never somehow seems to be organized. By the time my eldest son’s bus arrives, I am preparing to take my youngest to his nursery, which is a 10 minutes walk from our house and is by far the nicest time of the day for both of us.
8:30 am as the streets begin to fill with people rushing about their daily lives, Neel and I, on the other hand, walk in a slower pace then the rest of the herds of people around us. Well, even if we wanted to we couldn’t; being that we are stopped around 4 times on the road by our neighborhood’s friendly people wanting to give him a high five, to carry him, to ask him something, and the nicest one of them all is giving me blessings. Their daily blessings have such a positive impact on my every day that I dread next year’s change of routine, as he will be taking the bus with his elder brother Adam to school. I will miss our daily “marhaba,” the smiles, the blessings, and the friendly “a3mmo” who wants to check out my 2 year old’s muscles.
Never have I been outside my house without someone offering my kids cookies, sweets, smiles, candy, blessings, stickers, love, and most importantly attention. We are a child-loving nation. There are a couple of beautiful saying that we use that accentuate our feelings towards children; “l’ wleid zinet il beit” (the children are the decoration of the house) and “ma fi aghla men el walad illah walad el walad” (there is nothing more precious then a child, then the child’s child)
Here are the many blessings and hellos I have received over the years, and honestly my daily life in Beirut would not have been the same without them:
“allah ykhalilek yeh” (May God keep him for you)
“smalla” (in the name of God)
“yirba bi 3izkon nshallah” (may he grow in your wealth and care, God willing)
“bonjour habibi” (good morning my love)
“ykhalikeh fo2 rasson nshallah” (literally translates to may you stay on top of their heads, god willing)
“allah yihfazo” (may god keep him)
“allah yihmih” (may God guard him)
“allah y3aysho” (may God keep him alive)
“ahlan ahlan bil zghaytour” (welcome, welcome, little one)
The young mind and the young heart in the making of a life is like a green plant awaiting love and attention to grow into its own being. These bonds are what make the fabric of our society so special and are built around a bond of kindred hearts in a city with ties of love and growth.
To my Beirut and its loving people