Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Early Reminiscence

Ten days into my vacation, I was somewhere in Sodeco and thought I'd take a cab back to my place in Hamra, through the populous Basta area. The street was packed and the traffic slow, so I mechanically started to look around and observe what I thought was a rather familiar scenery. A scenery that, for so many years, was hiding behind its familiarity. I looked, and as if for the first time, I saw it. The old patchwork houses, the denuded cracked walls, the people with sunburnt sweaty foreheads and wandering eyes, the proud white and ochre mosques, the mysterious almost rundown antique shops, the vibrant "souk el khodra", the bashful grocery stores, the broken sidewalks, the rusted and rackety cars, the wilted small trees, the colorful rubble, the wonderful chaos. Everything. A box full of marvels. Why hadn't I opened it before?

The very next day, I put my camera strap around my neck, and slowly walked through the streets and alleys of the lower Basta. Brick by brick, cobblestone by cobblestone, I tried to take as much of it in as I could. From the little piece of yellow plastic hiding in the trash behind a stone fence, to the old bent antenna still elegantly waltzing with a branch on the edge of a roof, everything was prey to my starving lens and gaping memory. I kept walking and taking pictures for three hours under the same blazing sun, until my head was a bonfire and my legs two pillars of concrete.

But the pictures I took, I thought, were worth every second I spent taking them.
Because they weren't just pictures of houses and people. They were mostly pictures of me, Fouad, hiding between the roughened hands and the bruised ribs of the kaleidoscope country that gave me life, one friday morning, almost thirty one years ago.

I will share some of these pictures with you, probably one picture a day, until it's time for me to move on to another memory, or another dream.

4 Comments:

Blogger Firas said...

I grew up in partly in lower basta, so did my dad. A and I trekked last summer from Ras El Nab3 to Musaitbeh and took pictures, but something was wrong with the camera, and we ended up losing all of them. Leik, upload them to flickr.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Joumana said...

Absolutely!! I did the exact same thing in Burj Hammoud, during the course of several days, exploring every obscure street. It was like a treasure hunt and I have some photos from it I cherish. I've always meant to do the same with every part of Beirut, but somehow time is lacking. It's nice to see someone who relates!

9:49 AM  
Blogger Maldoror said...

Never too late to assemble that puzzle you now have :)

6:40 AM  
Anonymous Mariam Dada said...

What u wrote is very beautiful.Unlike the photos that reveals the dirty side of our cities, your words caress the spirit and give an elegant atmosphere of our homeland. I love it. Bravo
Mariam Dada
Lebanon

12:06 PM  

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