the waiting room

Yesterday while driving home from work, my thoughts were about shopping or no shopping. During the day my phone beeped endlessly with enticing messages; up to 50% on your favorite shoe brand. 30% off on all new clothes. come and be the first to benefit from the sales… as we were the 2nd of January, I knew my bank account was happy and that I could afford splashing myself with “up to 50%” items and find stuff for my kids who seemed to be busy growing 1 size per month!

As trivial as my thoughts were at that moment, something tragic happened few kilometers away. A bomb exploded in Beirut’s southern neighborhood, blinding everyone around with its terrible light, site, noise and then silence. I cannot imagine what goes through the people around at that moment. I cannot imagine what they are seeing, hearing or feeling. smoke? sharp smells? raging flames? for a moment or so, time stands still. then chaos reigns. people start screaming, shouting, running…I don’t want to imagine.

Same moment. Two different levels of reality.

That was the 7th car bomb in 6 months in Lebanon.

Thousands of innocent (aren’t they always?) people destroyed and for ever scared. Houses, cars, shops, buildings destroyed. Dreams and hopes vanished.

Today I am debating with myself if I should go out dancing tonight with my friends. It feels weird that my reality was about entertainment while few kilometers away I know people are crying their loss, sitting by the bed of the wounded praying, cleaning up broken glasses, cursing. How can our realities be so far and yet we are so close. It is so surreal.

A friend once asked me: how do you stay sane in a world like this? how do you keep on living, working, sending your kids to school, while someone out there is planning yet another bomb. How can you just sit and wait?

That is when i realized that we (the Lebanese)  are all living in a waiting room. A place where we know something bad might be told to us or happen to us, a place where the unknown prevails. We wait for the next bomb and pray that none of us are in that street that day. We wait for Iran and the US to make their deals and stop tormenting us. We wait for the Syrian war to stop slaughtering its people. We wait for the Palestinians to finally get their piece of land. We wait for our kids to grow so that we can send them abroad to a safer world. We wait for the morning to rise so that we can start all over. we wait for the night to arrive so that we can shut the brain off and forget the horrors. All we do is wait. and wait and wait.

Meanwhile, we go dancing. We go praying. We go visit our parents. Who knows, maybe tomorrow will never come.

Beirut in Arabic; carved in concrete
Beirut in Arabic; carved in concrete
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Eat @ Le Telegraphe de Belle-Vue (Bhamdoun area)

When my husband tells me to go to Bhamdoun for dinner, my first reaction is lethargy! Bhamdoun is a summer resort for Beirutis, escaping the draining and humid heat of  the city during the months of July and August. A retreat. But not a quiet retreat during these months, as the city of Beirut transplants itself in the cooler shades of the Mountains…That is why I am not very fond of those crowded places. Nevertheless I give my skeptic mind a rest and tell him “yalla” (a Lebanese version of OK in Arabic!), and Friday night we venture with some friends at the quest of “Le TELEGRAPHE de Belle-Vue“, a newly opened gourmet restaurant in the vicinity of the old city of Bhamdoun.

{photo from le telegraphe facebook page}
{photo from le telegraphe facebook page}

l telegraphe map

30 minutes away from Beirut, Le Telegraphe meets you with its charm, its quietness and a garden full of lovely colorful flowers.

The place is cosy, adorned by its two meter long rustic wood table mixing conviviality with elegance, and a lovely fire-place with a myriad of orange and red candles . The table is set for us, and we are the only privileged guests of the restaurant. As mentioned, the place is newly opened and the summer season has barely begun.

garlic detail from our dinner
garlic detail from our dinner
lovely wine, lovely atmosphere
lovely wine, lovely atmosphere

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The wine is exclusively created for the restaurant, from the neighboring winery “Chateau Belle-Vue”. Exquisite taste, matching perfectly the refined main dish (we chose lamb shanks and duck breast).

Le Telegraphe is a place to explore sooner than later, especially that an adjacent two floor building is finishing its construction, offering for the interested a delightful place to spend few days. A bed and breakfast is opening its doors in the very near future.

le telegraphe resto

To connect with the crowd of  “Le Telegraphe”, join their Facebook page or just hit the roads and try it out one lovely evening!

Lebanon Mountain Trail inspires youth

Lebanon Mountain Trail (LMT) is a 440km long hiking trail connecting Lebanon’s northern villages by its most southern ones. The idea was born many years ago, and thousands of people have already marked their steps on that enchanting trail.

Map from lebanonmountaintrail.org
Map from http://www.lebanontrail.org

To maintain a clean and attractive trail, the LMT organizes punctual events where people, young and old, gather and clean up part of the trail.

Few weeks ago, a Lebanese school called Melkart participated with one of their classes in cleaning up part of the trail in Baskinta area (part 15 on the map) from its thousand empty gun shells, gathering no less than 50 bags of shells in only two hours! Indeed a wonderful achievement, making young people aware of the disastrous state of neglect in some places, and the continuous effort that it entitles to sustain their country with a minimum of cleanness.

LMTA - Melkart 1 2013 _DSC7059 Jpeg for web LMTA - Melkart 1 2013 _DSC7084 Jpeg for web LMTA - Melkart 1 2013 _DSC7089 Jpeg for web LMTA - Melkart 1 2013 _DSC7111 Jpeg for web LMTA - Melkart 1 2013 _DSC7116 Jpeg for web LMTA - Melkart 1 2013 _DSC7123 Jpeg for web LMTA - Melkart 1 2013 _DSC7146 Jpeg for web LMTA - Melkart 1 2013 _DSC7168 Jpeg for web

Educating kids, creating awareness around the need in their country to act for the environment, making them interested in Lebanese villages, mountains and valleys can only be motivating and positive for them. I hope more of those initiatives will be included in school programs in Lebanon. We desperately need to shape the mind of the youth, who are still open minded and eager to learn and participate.

If you wish to read more about the LMT, why don’t you click HERE  or be a fan of their Facebook Page or  Facebook Group, where you can find info regarding the different trails, how to be a member, a sponsor, a volunteer or just to connect with other hike lovers!

All Pictures in this post are taken by the LMT.

Live Love Beirut {instagraming Beirut}

Last Week a Social Media Award night was organized, highlighting the buzzing world of social Media on the Lebanese Arena…and wow it is buzzing…

Many awards, although some awards could have been given to other wonderful people, but that is the game i guess…

One of the lucky winner (most creative instagram account) is my favourite Lebanese instagram account, called LIVE LOVE BEIRUT. I just told my husband the other day that if anyone in the world could see all the magnificent pictures taken by Lebanese instagrammers of their beloved LEBANON, they would take the next plane and visit this multifaceted country!

instagram pic

instagram pic 2

To view the photos you must access http://instagram.com/livelovebeirut…MUST see…

To join the LIVELOVEBEIRUT world, use #livelovebeirut hashtag on your instagram account… your picture  might be the lucky one to be featured on their account.

Enjoy and keep clicking Lebanese people! you make my day!!!

my two homes

Being a mix of nationalities and religions, I have always felt home in different places, and yet never 100% home. It’s an internal back and forth between two worlds, a sense of belonging and of being a complete stranger. Born in Beirut, few years before the war broke in 1975, I was raised in between bombs, electricity shortcuts, no telephone lines, and wonderful summer vacations spent in my grandmother’s country house in southern Denmark. A mix from the beginning of two completely opposite worlds.

pics by ruth mousharafieh & yen baet
pics by ruth mousharafieh & yen baet

And when i say opposite, i mean OPPOSITE! As in the weather, the mentality, the hospitality traditions, working ethic, children’s education, couples and marriage, independence of women and young girls, nature, respect of animals, architecture, human & social relations, beauty, transportation, environmental issues, time management, planning & spontaneity…

At the age of 14, war drove us away from Beirut. Fortunately for us, my brother and I had a Danish passport, thus making it quite easy to settle in Copenhagen, amongst our maternal family members. Becoming an adult in Europe had a tremendous effect on my values, views, opinions, behavior, ambitions and aspirations.

My point is, that despite the differences, living in the two countries have taught me valuable aspects of the human race. There is no right or wrong, better or worse. It reminds me of the most asked question when i was a kid; which country do like the most, Lebanon or Denmark? I find that question hilarious, because i love both my homes. Their opposite lifestyle are part of my upbringing. I miss them equally when i am not around.

Does happiness come in one form? are the Danes happier than the Lebanese? or can they both be happy in each their own way, but with different values? How to learn from both and create a better world?

That is my question…

More of that in a later post…

eat fruits

Having a very sweet tooth, i sometimes forget that fruits can give as much pleasure as a bar of chocolate!

Living in Lebanon makes you eat fruits much more, for the simple reason that they look so delicious at the grocery stores and the local merchant, they are abundant, colorful, smelling of sun, and just plain gorgeous!

Having lived in Europe where you buy the fruit by pieces, we seldom had an abundance of fruits at home, mostly 2 bananas, 3 apples and a couple of oranges! In Lebanon you buy fruits in crates or kilos, which is not necessarily for a large family,  that is simply how you can buy them!

One thing is to buy the fruits, the other is to actually eat them! Health gurus tell you to eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day! so, in order not to forget them at the bottom of my fridge, and having my dear husband finding them and feeling sorry for them, I am now displaying them all over the house in beautiful bowls and plates.

At least we see them, and if we feel the sweet tooth calling, it is so much easier to grab a double red crunchy apple or a handful of dark red cherries!

What about you, when do you eat fruits? if any?