Our dear taxi driver returned from his trip with his first ever passport, and told me how it felt to come back to Lebanon, to pick up his life here, having seen life elsewhere for the very first time, where the streets are clean but where it’s easy to get lost. At first, he almost seems lost himself, as he drives me through the city, his city, on his first morning back at work, as though he is trying to reconcile two realities, wrestling with the pity and pride he feels for his country.
But gradually, the more traffic we meet (even worse than normal- his welcome home gift we joke) and the more we talk, the more he seems to be settling back into Beirut and he comes to the seemingly satisfying conclusion that over there ‘the people are selfish and anyway, everything is expensive, even a sandwich’. As he says this, I think about how many times I’ve drunk exceedingly expensive coffee in this city, and how often I’ve had to stop myself from beating on the bonnets of cars whose drivers don’t see pedestrians, or perhaps anyone, apart from themselves.
But despite this, and even if the grass genuinely is greener somewhere else, I know what he means. It’s good to be home.