That was then . . . an image that I took back in November:

And this is now, a picture I took a few days ago:

They've been digging and digging over there. From the look of the pit they've dug, they're going to build something really tall on that spot. Now all we have to do is wait and see.


Half in the Dark

Shadows are such fun. I like these.

But what I really wanted to capture were those amazing shutters, the way the crimson paint evaporates off them as if executing an elegant "fade to shabby" as the eye travels downward.



I love looking at this picture

I love the battered shutters, I love the remnant of decorative balcony balustrade. I love the cinder block atop that little roof which is surely there to keep it from blowing away. I love the crazy mess of wires. I love the two little palms. I love the worn, gradated color of the walls and the underside of the balcony up above.


Quiet City

The thing about Ramadan is that the city is very quiet all day long. There isn't as much construction noise, there aren't as many people out or cars on the road. Parking is like a dream come true.

As the city creeps toward nightfall everything changes, albeit slowly, like one season giving way to the next.



I like it; the curled up corrugated tin roof, the aging wood shutter above, graffiti carved into stone along with the typical sprayed-on type.

Late afternoon sun doesn't hurt either.



About a month ago, I posted a picture of one of my favorite buildings in Beirut. Then a visitor named Patrick left a comment telling me that the building was gone. It had been demolished a few days earlier.

Going to see for myself was high on my priority list after I got back.

It's gone, and though it was really, really broken down I still wish it was still there.



We're back, and I'm glad to be. I'm glad about the big things like having my family together again, seeing our friends and resuming our lives.

And little things make me happy too, like this picture. Here's the view from my stairwell--a place only a few dozen people in the city will ever see.



Dear Readers,
Please excuse me for the next few weeks. I will be absent. Everything is fine, I'm just on vacation. I'll be back with more posts and pictures before the end of the month. I hope to see you all again soon.

Mary Ann


It's a Party

Here's some things to keep in mind if you're going to go to a child's birthday party in Lebanon.

1. Usually, they're at a place that hosts events: a restaurant, a hotel, you know.
2. Dress up a little bit, and plan to stay there with your kid. All the other moms (and dads if they're around) will stay if they can. Usually there'll be food & drinks for chatting parents while the kids party.
3. Loud music.

4. Birthday cake (or, in this case, cakes. You'll see this exact scene set up at each one. Mom and Dad, birthday kid, siblings, aunts/uncles, all gathered around the cake for pictures while kids crowd around resisting the urge to poke the cake, the roman candles explode, and the happy birthday song is piped through the speakers -- there are several popular dance remix versions that include French and English. Most people don't actually sing happy birthday. Why bother when the music is so loud? And it's a mercy, really, for the majority of us who aren't singers.
5. Gifts.  You're on your own.  I have no idea what an appropriate present is at a party for a kid--in the US I'd have more of a clue about price range and what is generally expected.  Not here.  In Beirut I'm very comfortably clueless.



See it? The basket hanging from the rope, just to the left of the red lettering? Do you want to know why it is there?

So, all sorts of things are sold from trucks and carts (and people on foot) on the street. People live on those streets, sometimes in apartments multiple stories high. And if there's someone on the street selling something you want . . . what should you do? By the time you make it down there, they'll be around the corner, off to some other street. No. There's no time for that. Instead, just shout out the window. Lower your basket with the money for the things you want, and then haul up your stuff.



Pushing Along

During the summer you can get lots of different things on the Corniche. There's corn, beans, the ice cream truck, fresh squeezed juice, you can smoke a water pipe, there are coffee vendors, and of course, kaak which is sold by men with bikes like this one.

As I've written elsewhere, kaak is a round bread with a hole in it like a handle. It's a common street food.

While I was there, I saw this man push his heavy-laden bike along. I still haven't ever seen anyone ride a bike like this.


Afternoon on the Water

Sea bathers off the coast in West Beirut.


Art, Bright Colors, New, Important

It's theme day for City Daily Photo. The theme was chosen by a vote by CDP participants. Fun options this time: Art, Important Places, New, Bright Colors

I admit, when I saw the choices I wondered if I could get them all in a single shot.

This fluorescent orange construction is in the Beirut Souks, a new shopping mall in the heart of downtown.

Without a doubt, the thing is bright an the shopping mall is new. One could argue all day about it's artistic merit and the relative importance of luxury consumer centers like this one. Anyway, this is my best attempt to capture all four options in one. I wonder if anyone else in CDP did it too . . . .

Click here to view thumbnails for all participants