10 years of driving in the streets of Beirut have shaped my skills but not made me a better person!
I got my driving license back in the 90’s while living in Copenhagen. The police men who tested me said that i was not fit to drive on the streets yet (after 25 very expensive driving lessons), and made me take 13 more lessons! I was a nerve wreck the day of my second trial, which i passed with flying A’s (i really did my best that day!).
Driving for years in Denmark was like swimming in salty water; easy, comfortable, civilized! Upon my return to Beirut in 2000, my brother urged med to drive his Mercedes (German cars last best on Lebanese roads), but i wouldn’t venture for a second; it looked so scary, chaotic, dangerous, aggressive and my civilized nature was traumatized just thinking of sitting behind the wheel.
1 year later I had to give in.
I am independent and prefer to drive rather than being picked up. In 2001 I bought my light blue 35-year old Beetle! Lovely & romantic car which unfortunately didn’t cope well and needed a constant car mechanics. The beetle was sold to another beetle lover and I got my orange Fiat Punto!!! recognizable anywhere i parked! my family grew and we all loved “puntotita, unfortunately not the safest car in jungle streets of Beirut where you must learn following skills:
Be very selfish, Get the biggest car & Never be nice and give way (you will end up not moving!)
Today, I drive a Nissan X-trail (i know; so environmentally unfriendly), imposing on the roads, drivers stop and let me pass (survival of the biggest), however it is not cute!
As i was getting my kids at school today, i ended up cursing and played very loud music to forget the nonsense drivers surrounding me. They all thought that driving against the traffic would be sensible to avoid school traffic, which resulted in everyone being stuck for 20 minutes without moving! I opened my window and shouted ” Bala Mokh!” i.e. NO BRAINS ! Trying to educate them is sadly a waste of time. I wish they all could pass their driving license in Denmark …
That is when i wished that i had left my car at home and was walking instead!
Walk in Beirut; it is much better for your sanity!