Children run in between narrow alleys making their way through women buying their daily needs and some tourist taking pictures. The sunrays peep through plastic sheets that hang from one building to the other protecting the souk from the harmful sun. The hustle and bustle of every day life unfolds in this maze like souk. The smell of spices whiffs in the air trailing from one alley to the other. The butcher hangs his fresh meat on display next to the small coffee shop whose freshly brewed Arabic coffee invigorates the air around it. The laundry of the families living on top hangs dormant as the sea breeze lulls it to dryness. The kids wave from their tiny gridded balconies with their legs hanging out, happy to take part in this scene.
There is certain poetry to the awakening of cities, the way they move, sound, and smell at the break of dawn. Beirut a city with many facets wakes up to its own rhythm; tattered, humbled yet alive and surviving. There is something quiet uplifting about a morning run. There is the sound, the feel, and the slow movement of a city waking up to a new day. The lazy movement of people leaving their homes while their freshly sprayed perfume lingers in the air behind them.
Every city wakes up to a different rhythm, a different beat. As the darkness turns to light Beirut, like every old city, wakes up a bit shaky at first and gains its crescendo throughout the day.
The river flows and brings life back to this soil. It tells tales of life in a never-ending flowing pattern of liveliness. Calm and fast-flowing but unsuspecting of the path ahead it flows and ends up in the Mediterranean Sea, where it tumbles with its glorious white droplets of pure life soon to be immersed in uniformity with it as they mend as one.
Upheaval of the present takes you back to nostalgia. Fragments of memories play in your mind. Incoherent thoughts edited. There is a certain place in the past where a part of you lived and no matter how far you have come, nostalgia takes over. It’s a romance with the past. These vintage images in black and white or in faded colors revived from imagination in full color. Vivid colors surface haunted memories of a buried past.
“Had I not known it to be the kamoa hermel, I would from afar have taken it for a tower. And in fact it has much resemblance in form to that. Two quadrilateral masses rise, the one above the other, and are covered with a kind of pyramid, while the whole stands on a low pedestal of three steps, and rises to a height of about eighty feet. Hamath itself lies at a considerable distance further to the north, but the entire northern plain seen from the monument of Hermel was called after Hamath, the capital, “the land of Hamath.” At the kamoa hermel, in fact, a new district is entered and that point is the natural gate of the high plateau of Coele- Syria with its huge mountain walls. It is there that the Lebanon and anti-Lebanon ranges may be said to begin.” (from the book; Narrative of a journey through Syria and Palestine in 1851 and 1852, Volume 2)
Coastal mist settles on the mountains facing them as shadows begin to flood the valleys below. The air is mild yet in winter, its history and many tales fight against the roaring wind and against the past. Ehden, located 1,500 metres above sea level is a famous summer resort and touristic center, often called “The Bride of Summer Resorts in the North of Lebanon.”
“Sheikh Abu Ali Sayyagha was one of the most respected and honest men in his days. He was capable whenever he met someone for the first time to guess immediately what type of person he was, whether smart or stupid, generous or stingy, honest or not, by just staring at his face, a science called those days physiognomy.
Lebanese salesman: “min el ekheir, 200$ 3al el kil” (from the end, my final price is 200$ for all of them).
Lebanese buyer: “tayeb yalla akhadton” (ok Yalla, I’ll take them).
Hasroun lies in the mist, serene and calm it hangs on the cliff. A village all forgotten, somehow time had missed. Slightly hazy in the mist, its red rooftops peeking out in between the trees that ignore them, like poppy flowers tall and straight they peep out of this colossal surrounding of mountains and cliffs that seem to embrace them.
Beirut, always vibrant and bubbling with an air filled with a heady mix of urban pollution and orange blossom, is a city where streets are a living collision of history and glamour.