MY BEIRUT / random thoughts

Beirut: driving miss Leelou

{image from LPAGAN}

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!)

{only 3 cars had this colour in Beirut !}

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!


5 thoughts on “Beirut: driving miss Leelou

  1. yes! even when it rains its sooo much better to walk or even bike 🙂
    Yeah yeah, I know Im daydreaming again…lol
    Anyhow, Im gonna venture out there in my CAR with the radio turned up really loud…oh well …here goes!
    Wish me luck:)…lol
    glad you made it home safely Leila:)

  2. Hello Leelouz,
    It is scary to drive in Lebanon, isn’t it? But we are learning, slowly but steadily… We will get there eventually. Have you noticed that sometimes people stop on a red light and some other times, they don’t stop, weird hein?
    When I drive in Beirut, I put my favorite music on, and I simply enjoy driving. It doesn’t matter what others say or do, just enjoy the ride and pay attention in order to avoid any accident…
    Take care 🙂
    Zeina 🙂

    • one day i stopped at a red light. cars started honking. i didn’t budge, then the policeman came to my car, asked me why i was not driving? i was speechless, i told him :red light?, he answered: forget the red light, you follow my instructions and now i tell you that you can drive! i was going to argue, then i chose not and drove away…
      le monde a l’envers.. (world upside down!)

  3. If you want to appreciate driving in Beirut, I STRONGLY recommend you go to Cairo for 48 hours and try it out there… will come back running! Look out for the people more like you and disregard the rest. Good Luck!

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