Tag Archives: Facebook

The Adventures of Sven the Backpacker and Other Tales.

I got a message from a French friend of mine the other day asking if Beirut was a safe place to visit. I’m never quite sure how to answer that question. And it comes up quite a lot. On the one hand, walking the streets at night in Beirut is probably safer than anywhere I can think of. There are no hooded youths on the streets waiting to steal my Blackberry and use it to film me as they go about on a happy slapping rampage. On the other hand, we tend to pepper our existence with Ak-47s and the occasional car bomb. Armed with these two realities, I gave my usual answer, which is “it’s safe until it’s not”.

This particular French friend was planning on visiting as a tourist but was also interested in the ins and outs of life in Beirut, beyond the security situation, because she intends to move here to take up a rather exciting job opportunity. She asked me how easily I thought she’d make friends, because she doesn’t know anyone in town and she’s a bit concerned about that. I chuckled to myself as I told her not to worry, everyone in Lebanon loves foreigners and that she had the added advantage of being both French and Female.

There was a time when the word tourist in Beirut basically meant anyone from the Gulf who couldn’t be bothered to make it all the way to Europe for a long weekend intended to smoke a chicha at Grand Café. And that was about it. I don’t have a problem with that kind of tourism, but it’s the Lebanese equivalent of a lobster-red English tourist in Mallorca in a Newcastle United shirt who thinks he’s mastered the Spanish language because he can say “Oi, Manuel. Dos cervecas por favor. Innit.”

It also meant hordes of returning Lebanese expats, with bulging wallets. But even though the Ministry of Tourism loves counting them in its statistics, they aren’t really tourists at all. They sleep at home with their extended families and basically use the country as a large spa for the duration of their stay. They get medical checkups, see the dentist, get a haircut, load up on zaatar and head back to work….

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13 Types of Lebanese Facebook Profile Pictures

The Three Quarter Turn
This is the standard pose of the Lebanese fashionista. She has spent hours fine-tuning the exact angle that puts forward her every flattering feature. She puts up one of these pictures on a weekly basis, bringing her total tally of profile pictures to at least 137. There is an increase of activity during the summer months, when her tan means that less Photoshop expertise is required.

The Photoshopper
This type of person is a close relative of the TQTer. Saturation levels, contrast and brightness are all essential elements in getting the skin tone right. The person is most probably not a graphic designer (as they fall into one of the categories below) but has enlisted the help of a cousin who works at a web design agency to crop any undesirables out of the image and scratch away that pesky pimple on her right cheek.

The Bride/The Groom
We all know how everyone in Lebanon is obsessed with marriage. Obsessed with getting married, going to weddings or hating your best friend who got married before you. So wedding-related profile pictures deserve a whole field of academic study. They come in an array of variations. There’s the photo of the groomless bride, engulfed by half the annual production of flowers from Holland in her parents living room. There’s the solitary groom, who’s motivations for using a picture of himself without his bride, and looking quite dashing, can seem disquieting. There’s the picture of the happy couple. If they’re facing the camera and set against the backdrop of exploding fireworks, not so romantic. If they’re locked in an intense gaze into each others eyes, happy future ahead.

The Baby
In a concerted effort to show you that they’ve grown up faster than you, your friends from the Bride/Groom category, will move on to the Baby category within a year. They will post a picture of their little cherub, which will make you momentarily wonder if they have gone Benjamin Button on you. Some babies are as cute as teddy bears sliding down a rainbow, and some look like the love-child of Wayne Rooney and the Cookie Monster, but you’ll invariably comment: awww. Hayete. So cute.

The Childhood Photo…

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