Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Fatigue - Emotional Overdrive - Jet lag - Rituals

One day has passed since my arrival. After longing to return to Lebanon ever since Valentine's Day of 2005, I am finally back. I have to admit; I hadn't announced my return earlier because I was afraid. I was afraid that with all the bombings and all the talk about "uncontrollable security services" (which even I contributed to), something would happen to me at the airport. I would be pulled over to the side and made aware through unpleasant means that my words in this blog were not welcome and forbidden.

Could this have been a bit egotistical of me? Was I assuming that I was larger than what I really am? Most likely, yes. But after growing up under the fear of people carrying guns, who have no compunctions against using them, I believe my behavior was understandable.

Now that I am back and feeling a bit safe, I have begun to conduct what I recently termed: My "Rituals". Since its around 3 o'clock in the morning, and I'm in this miserable zone that is somewhere between being asleep and awake I'm going to type up these rituals and share them with you. Hopefully, by the time I'm done, I'll be able to sleep, and you'll be able to enjoy a detailed recollection of some parts of Lebanon (specifically, Beirut).

My Rituals: A Drive Down Memory Lane

Today, I went down Beirut's Corniche and jogged from the Movenpick in Raouche to the Mc Donald's in Ain Mreiseh and back. For some reason, I am left with an unbearable headache for the rest of the day almost every time I finish the jog. In fact, the rest of the day is usually ruined after I'm done (especially after going through it for the first time in a long time). Nevertheless, I can not stop myself. Jogging down the Corniche is part of what defines Beirut for me. The waves... the people... the breeze... the smell of the Mediterranean. There's simply nothing like it. The memory of the jog is one that lasts months and even years after leaving the country. I cherish every second of it.

The other rituals include a visit to my wonderful Almamatter - AUB. Entering campus through the Main Gate, and the Hardees Gate are a definite must. The Hardees Gate brings back some strong memories because I used to park my car next to the Smith supermarket and walk to campus. I especially remember Math classes... probably because they were so close to that gate. The benches and trees in its proximity are also harbingers of powerful memories....

The other spots in AUB that I will visit are those benches next to Jafet library that overlook the tenis courts, soccer field and the Mediterranean Sea. The number of times I selfishly wished those benches were empty during my college years so that I could be the one sitting down and enjoying one of the most beautiful views in this planet are simply innumerable. It is so easy to take certain things for granted, as I do with most.... However, I made it a point never to dismiss the wonder of that view - which on certain harsh days almost had a therapeutic value.

A walk down the long corridors of Nicely Hall and a visit to Jafet are other things that I long to do.

Analytic Skills: Down to Naught!

I am a wreck! One of the temporary downsides of traveling to Beirut (or anywhere 7 time zones away from where you currently reside) is the messed up sleeping habits and the consequent numbness, or heaviness of the mind.

A more permanent downside of being in Beirut, however, is that "I'm basically in the thick of it". I'm no longer thousands of miles away with almost zero emotional interaction with other Lebanese. Now, I speak to cousins, friends, uncles and parents. Each is emotionally involved in political developments. Each rubs off on me. Unfortunately though, the division lines are clear - sectarian. Furthermore, I am a party in that conflict (whether I like it or not).

Firas made a distinction between politics of power and politics of agenda in his last paragraph of his latest post. Thus far, I see a clash inside of the people I talk to. A clash between their desire for reform as a means of change, and the political loyalties which are accompanied by their own rhetoric. Unfortunately, the latter supersedes the former in almost all discourses.

This is not going to change while I am here. It is unfortunate. Extremely unfortunate. Okay… I think I’m ready to go to sleep now… it’s 4:06 AM


ThinkingMan said...

Raja- I am glad you are safer and happy there now. If anything would have happened to you, all the bloggers would have revolted for your release!
Get us more stories from the street about what people think, how they think about things, what conspiracies they hear about, and the good and bad stuff, etc...

Doha said...

Thank you Raja for walking us down your memory lane, especially that of AUB.

It's funny, but I wanted to ask you in an email a question that you might want to answer for us on the blog; I'll actually do it over here:

I don't understand why Jumblatt is taking the course he is taking right now. He has something personal with Aoun which is spinning over their political deals and jeopardizing genuine efforts for cooperation. I also don't understand this new thing about not accepting 1559.

Could you give us a better understanding of Jumblatt's justifications? If he portrays himself to be that geostrategic, political analyst, what is the meaning of what he's doing? Do you think he is pushing for not including accomplishing what 1559 dictates in the government agenda? And if so, why is he standing now in the face of the US?

I'm not asking for an interview;) A feel of what people are saying on the ground would suffice.

Thanks again and don't forget the memory lane down Hamra Street.

Anonymous said...

Welcome home Raja,

- Pat

Mustapha said...

I have a great plan for your headache, concentration problems and time lag:

Step 1: go to the green oval and lie on your back (see my picture for an example of how to do that)

Step 2:stay like this for 7 hours

Step 3: It should be fine by now but if problems persist, i would recommend a jog alongside the chemistry stairs (upwards), this should also be good for your leg muscles in case you want to run away from some informer.

Step 4: Answer Doha's questions

Welcome to Lebanon

hummbumm said...

Raja, running in the soup of a beirut summer is guaranteed to give you a headache. Here is the solution,go run in the mountains, anywhere above 700m.

ThinkingMan said...

Re: Headache:
I bet you didn't drink enough water on the plane.

Drinking lots of water can also help jetlag because it fools your body into thinking that you must be awake since you are drinking.

Raja said...

Guys, thanks for your responses.

TM, thanks for the reassurance with regards to my personal safety. I'm sure that if any of us were to stumble into some trouble with the authorities we'd all do our best to help in whatever way we can. Also, with regards to your recommendation of water as a remedy to jet lag, I've heard that advice before. Unfortunately though, I tend to gravitate towards alcohol in airplanes (especially in 6 hr. trips)!

Doha, Mustapha, in the environment I'm in, I really don't want to bring the issue of Jumblatt up. My reason for hesitating to do so is because i'm afraid of what i might come up with. Actually, what I'll do is give myself a few more days of meeting and talking with people. I still want to meet up with Makram, Hassan, and others.

Mustapha, as for steps 1 through 3, I'll say the following: your wisdom seems to have no bounds my friend!!! ;) I especially liked step 3 - I'm not so sure how my knees feel out it though....

Pat, thanks for your kind words. I know you've asked me questions that I am yet to answer. I don't mean to ignore you, but your questions were serious ones that I continue to give thought to. I hope to come up with a post soon.

And finally, Hummbumm; I'm definitely going to try and start jogging in the mountains. One of my favorite villages is Sawfar. A really nice feature in the village is that it has a "Corniche" that is long enough for jogging. The problem is that I don't have a house there yet, and it'll probably be years before I do manage to get a house there. We'll see how things work out...

Hassan said...

Hi Raja. Welcome home.
To Everyone else: I'm done with my "sensitive job in Lebanon that forbids me from expressing my political opinions", blekh.
So I hope to be able to contribute more to this particular blog.

Doha said...

We look forward to your contribution, Hassan:)

Hassan said...

Thanks Doha, um by the way, if anyone still wants me to answer anything about the "Other Perspective" that I sent Raja in April, please let me know.

Doha said...

Hassan, I copy-pasted this question which was asked by an anonymous person in another post about the Other Perspective: Part III.

"Specifically it seem to me in hindsight that M. was mostly right about the election and splitting of the opposition. But more importantly "the end results of the movement will shock them, disgust them and make many of them doubt the idealism of youth which now moves so many of them" was almost prophetic!

What M. said turned out more than "half-true" and I feel it was not as "narrow minded analysis" as you guys thought, or am I wrong?"

Hassan said...

Doha, I hope to be proven wrong, to see the people currently in power going for real change. That, in many ways, will help bring some hope back to many of our youth.