Back in Beirut

by thelifesavour

On the day before I left Beirut, 6 weeks ago today, I couldn’t decide whether I was happy or sad to be leaving. It was a typically intense, love/hate day in the city:

Running last minute errands, three scooters in a row, try to pass me and the buggy, on an already narrow, potholed stretch of pavement.

HATE.

Buying a new watch from a little gem of a shop just off Bliss Street (when I finally get there), the owner, who had fixed my husband’s watch strap for free a few weeks before, says Mabrouk! Congratulations! for my new purchase.

LOVE.

Being told off by the woman at the reception desk of the hair salon for bringing the baby with me.

HATE.

Having my hair cut by a hairdresser who has a son almost the same age as my daughter, and understands why I don’t have a nanny, and why she’s much happier sitting on the floor at my feet playing with shampoo boxes than being strapped in the buggy with her real toys.

LOVE.

Do you like living in Beirut? I ask the other English woman at the hairdresser’s.

Yes and no she replies.

Exactly.

But at the end of the day (that day anyway), LOVE wins. And it is hard for me to leave Beirut.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

But it is even harder to come back.

On our first full day we try to settle back into the city:

We have manoushe for lunch, from our favourite place just down the street, where the zaatar is just how I like it, full of flavour but not too bitter, and the baby has her first taste of one of Lebanon’s national dishes.

We visit the watch shop (again) for a new battery, setting ourselves back on Beirut time.

We buy coffee for our caffetiera at home and have a drink at our favourite cafe Younes, where the fresh lemonade is perfect, with just the right amount of rose.

But despite these familiar things, Beirut still feels strange to me.

I know I will fall in love again, but I wonder how long it will take.

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