This is a series of episodes on my interactions with the Lebanese Common Man while I was back home.
He's wearing a decent black suit; he's quiet and composed. He's in his twenties, for sure. Me, a northerner; him, a southerner...meeting in Bhamdoun El-Mhatta. What is the likelihood of such a meeting in the everyday life of a Lebanese?
He, in fact, is working as a supervisor in a hotel, a summer stint before he starts looking elsewhere for a job on the coast at the end of vacation season. He is also a student, studying for a degree in Hotel Management but is doing it on a credit-by-credit basis—the option that many students who work to pay for their courses seek. So, of course, he probably is enrolled in one of those affordable, American-curriculum-based, non-accredited colleges that have mushroomed lately around the country, but that have indeed been a blessing for many ambitious youth who found in the Lebanese University an obsolete educational option and are unfortunate enough to attend the high-end private universities.
I asked him for his age; he's 23. He's younger than me! His life story is different than mine; the signs of a self-made man are on his face and looks like he's a 28-year old. But even if he was different, he still, like many Lebanese youth, values education so much that he would rather earn a degree in seven years, than simply seek the path of least resistance.
And like many Lebanese youth, he dropped the famous line: "I'm looking to go to America!" He wants to continue his education there. His uncle has been there forever, but he doesn't want to be a burden. He simply needs him as a sponsor and from then on, he can figure his way out in life. I smiled, because I live in America and my uncle has been there forever...Haven't we heard that famous line a thousand times before?...But again, at least this person is productive while he waits...for Godot!....
He lives in Dahieh, south of Beirut. He told me that he visits his village in the south perhaps every 3 years. He thinks there is nothing to do there, no prospects. Many well-to-do southerners have returned from abroad, mostly Africa, with great ideas up their sleeve for investment in their area, only to find out that each politician/party wants a sort of "tax" on the profits. Those ambitious businessmen would lock their dreams back in their hearts and return to estrangement. The South: many lost opportunities. He thinks it's a closed society, not open for change or prospects.
We talked more about the economy, the crazy driving, and tourism. We're from the same world, creatures of the same generation, yet what divides us is simply the differing nature of opportunity...nothing more, nothing less!
"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."