Tuesday, June 14, 2005

From Beirut: the city that knows how to serve and welcome its masters, no matter who they are. A year ago, this city was a monument personality cults for Bashshar Al-Asad and his father. Now, I find that the city has constructed a new personality cult, for Sa`d Al-Hariri and his father. This cult is quite costly, and some people tell you that Sa`d is dispensing more cash than his father. How fast masters come and go. There is a lousy proverb here which says: "whoever marries my mother, I shall call him my uncle." Talk of bribery in the election is so common, and I just heard one reporter say on Lebanese state run TV, that people were dispensing cash on street corners with the international observers standing right there. You certainly notice the absence of Syriran workers here. I did, and that saddens me. The garbage collectors of this city were almost all Syrian workers. After they were chased out (via violence and intimidation), I see that the city has imported poor workers from African countries. Somebody has to clean up the garbage for this city, and it can't be its own people. I just thought of this exercise: whether I can be positioned somewhere in Beirut without seeing a picture--or more, much more--of Rafiq Hariri. I am looking at one right across from me, through the glass of this internet cafe. Wait, I now can see tens of posters on the wall to my left which declares "With you." Do they mean Hariri or his son, I don't know. This is a city of rumors, the wilder the better for people to consume. People also love to slander the reputation of women, especially working women in high position of power, as rare as they are.