Beirut Notebook: Easter and embassy, last year

I tell her in my bad French, "Magnifique, tres belle, tres jolie" and she smiles and gives me a kiss.
by T.K. Maloy English

12 January 2018 | 11:44

Source: by Annahar

  • by T.K. Maloy
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 12 January 2018 | 11:44

This undated photo shows colorful graffiti in Gemmayze, Lebanon. (Annahar Photo/Sara Trad)

BEIRUT: It is the last day of the long Easter Weekend Holiday in Beirut and I am waiting with Jeanane's purse while she enters the U.S. Embassy to get her visa stamp. 

I lounge under a shade tree waiting with cool-eyed Marines and local contract security looking at me, and everyone else outside, over. This is SOP.

Jeanane emerges smiling, kisses me... takes her purse back and proudly shows me her new visa stamp. We are both leaving for DC soon. It had eluded me before but she is wearing a “Too Cool for School" t-shirt that must have gone over well inside the embassy. She doesn't like her passport photo and announces she is changing her hair style --immediately -- and as we look for an open salon I begin to absent-mindedly examine the various entry/exit stamps in her passport.

Numerous Charles De Gaulle airport stamp for visits to Paris and France; several Belgium, Australia, two prior trips to U.S.; Cyprus, Athens, Italy, Morocco, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and of course, quite a few reentries to her home country of Lebanon.

She calls one salon; it is closed. We stop at the nearby cafe down the road from the hilltop embassy and have coffee while she returns endless text wishing her a Happy Easter holiday.

We find a salon, and she asks if they can shave my head and trim my goatee -- my expatriate look -- while she has her hair done. The salon owner would be glad to oblige and they even wash my head afterward though there seems little reason to wash a shaved head, but who knows.

I sit and begin to read Paris Match (and practice my French) -- it is the usual array of celebrity watching and fashion articles -- watching with fascination while the hairdresser pins bits of Jeanane's hair up and begins to blunt cut it, which I rather like, somewhat like a pageboy.

Miss "Too Cool for School" emerges rather gammon and very, very, pretty.

I tell her in my bad French, "Magnifique, tres belle, tres jolie" and she smiles and gives me a kiss. We return to the ongoing jam that is Beirut traffic and discuss the strange accident we saw the night before.

Later we meet Claude S. by a mosque off the Corniche, near the former Hard Rock Cafe and McDonald's (we always meet outside this mosque) as the Corniche itself is always too crowded to drive down by Claude's apartment.

The prayer call starts and I close my eyes, sinking into the hum and chant of the call.

Traffic roars by, but for a moment the centuries roll back.

---

Annahar is featuring an occasional series of personal essays, entitled "Beirut Notebook," from our readers, citizen journalists, and our own correspondents, on their life experiences, ranging from work, travel, encounters, Lebanon living, solutions, fashion, cuisine, culture, family, tech, sport, study, and more. No politics, just Life.

Submissions welcome, send to: Tkmaloy@gmail.com


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