Tuesday, August 08, 2006

On my way to work, I crossed the street to see, for the second day in a row, a long line of more than 400 cars waiting for their turn to fill up fuel (see picture attached). It reminded me of the previous wars in Lebanon, when I used to sleep in the car next to a fuel station to be one of the first to fill up the car's tank. Now, maybe maturity plays a big role in my decision, I prefer to use my feet.

  • The 20-pages Daily Star newspaper is now 4 pages only.
  • One year ago, Fadi Toufic, a Lebanese young writer, published a book entitled: "Bilad Allah Al Dayika" (God's narrow nations) about the social life of the people of Dahiyeh. He told me today that he is wanted to make three seminars about his book. "A sudden interest", he said, "But I swear I have nothing to do with the war". A great book by the way.
  • How about a cat story? Two weeks before the war, Nour, the responsible of the silverware shop just next to Cafe Younes took a small cat from the streets and kept it in her shop. One week later, she asked me if I can home it because she is guilty that the cat is staying in the shop alone at night and on weekends. I took it and I called it Lupa (wolf in Italian). A week and $200 worth of cat equipment later, I returned Lupa to its initial owner after I discovered that I had a severe cat allergy. Lupa turned out to be the street's mascot, a tourist attraction for all of Cafe Younes's clients. The war kept Lupa in the closed silverware shop because Nour, who lives in Dahieh, couldn't come to Hamra. My clients, seeing Lupa through the shop's glass window, were crushed. Two days later, Nour showed up, saying that she had to bear all the risks to come for Lupa and she took the cat with her. A week later, Nour, her family and Lupa left their apartment in Dahiyeh to a relatively safer place next to Dahieh. I saw Nour and Lupa today. When I asked her why she brought Lupa with her, she replied that the poor cat is terrified from the sound of the bombs and it is better to keep it at a neighbor's shop till everything is over. "I prepared food and water supply for three days", she added, "I even added some aspirin in the water to ease up Lupa's tension!"
  • A displaced family from the South, living in the building nearby, came down with five chairs, three nargilehs and some fruits. They installed the chairs on the sidewalk in front of some closed stores, near the coffee shop, and started smoking and eating. A client I hardly know looked at them with despise and said: "That is the last thing we want. Due to this shitty war, we have to see more of those. They will add garbage in our streets and sidewalks and bad influence to our kids." Unfortunately, we still can witness comments like these among Lebanese citizens. After thinking that I should serve him an espresso with a sneezer, I told the man in a rude manner that they are people like you and me and they deserve every respect we can show. And, of course, he didn't reply. An hour later, the displaced family gathered its stuff and the woman took a broom and started cleaning the sidewalk, putting the left overs in a bag, to throw it later in a garbage disposal. I wished the client was here to see that, but I will be sure not to spare any detail when I see him again.
  • Two American photographers came in and ordered two "caaaaappuccinows". They started telling me how they went yesterday to the collapsed building in the Shiyah area, next to Dahieh. "It is the worst massacre of all", one of them said with a Californian accent, "Even worse than Qana. We have never seen something like that... And we've been in Irak." And when I asked them if they are staying in Lebanon, the other photographer answered: "We have nothing to do when the war is over, we are leaving tomorrow night". A small hope that the war might be over soon?
  • My best friend Abbas passed by for a visit. He was waiting for his nephew Bahige to fill up the car with fuel. "He will wait an hour for his turn", he said. And he calls him to see if he is still in line and the station is still open. (You could easily be waiting for three hours and the station would be out of fuel and you will be screwed). "I have around a hundred cars in front of me", Bahige answered. The story of "Bahige In Line" was the interest of all the clients at Cafe Younes. When the latest info revealed "twenty cars left", clients started laughing and shaking Abbas's hands. Bahige returned victoriously with only 15 liters of fuel in the car, because the station allows just LL 15,000 of fuel per car.
  • This was Marcelo's, the Brazilian reporter, last day in Lebanon. He came for his final espresso, "to keep the flavor in his mouth". In the morning, he had a three hour meeting with Dr. Kamal Salibi, an AUB professor, a very well known historian specialist in the history of Lebanon and the Middle East. Marcelo was more than pleased with the interview. He told me about his last question that deals with the fact that some Lebanese Christians are in conflict with Lebanese Shiaa due to Hezbollah's war against Israel and their role in the present conflict. Salibi answered: "What we need are good manners. If you hate Nasrallah, you do not have to shout it out loud to all the Shiaa you encounter". After having our picture together taken, Marcelo said: "I wish you and Lebanon the best". And we promised to stay in touch. Although I have known him for a week, I will miss this extremely nice guy.
  • It was the day of good byes. First there was Samer, a daily client who is in love with Cafe Younes. He came to tell me, with tears in his eyes, that it was his last day and he is leaving to Canada for good. And to top it all, the very sad news of the departure of Latifa and Amale to Colombia. Those two, the nicest girls you can ever meet, will be extremely missed. So, Marcelo, Samer, Latifa and Amale, I wish you the best.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please forgive this brief post, for all that's happening: but if it isn't aspirin in the cat's water, but acetominophen, Lupa will get sick.

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Blogger CAFE YOUNES said...

Thanks for the tip. I will transfer the info to Nour. Lupa owes you one.

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