Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gemayzeh: A secret affair

I have some special connection to Gemayzeh, some sort of a love hate relationship. Let me be frank, I am not going to tell you that I hate Gemayzeh at night because it is too fake and too snobbish, although it is. I do like Gemayzeh on a Sunday morning and better on a Saturday when I can enjoy a Fasulia plate from "Le Chef". Gemayzeh in the day is my love in the open, in the legal if you wish. Saturday night is a different story. Gemayzeh can then be hated for its loud and clumsy Valet Parking people, for the traffic, for what it represents as a fake replica of a small French avenue, for you can be microwaved in one of its bars where the bar is most likely taller than you. For that and many other reasons, yes it can be hated. But it can also be an enjoyable experience. Apart from the wine effect (or whatever you choose), I enjoy watching the street on a Saturday night. For some reason, you feel the rush, everyone is rushing for one reason or another, they are always running late, walking fast, as if running from someone -of course Valet Parking people are running all the time, where do they park all those cars by the way? why can they find parking spaces and we cannot?- They are all rushing to get to a place where they can sit and wonder if maybe they shouldn't have gone somewhere else. In a country where everything is slow, it is amazing to see this place where everything moves fast, except the cars maybe, but who cares, just leave it with the Valet and run. Everyone is looking at everyone. Some looking for familiar faces others avoiding them. You remember that this place might not be the same anymore in few years, or maybe a few months if they keep buying the old houses at this rate. You remember and you hate it again. You want to be part of this mixture of lost souls in the darkness of Beirut and you want to tell yourself that you are not, that you do not belong and that you are there only to watch. But you keep coming back, you keep loving it, and you keep denying it. That's it. My love for Gemayzeh is something more like a secret affair.

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