Friday, February 01, 2013

A Hariri journalist seeking fame in Lebanon

From a person who does not want to be identified:
"yaa As`ad. I'm laughing so hard at this story. When I travelled to the States a few months ago, I spent all my time in used bookstores like I usually do. I was coming back with about 50 books, 20 magazines, 12 CDs, and I packed everything in my two suitcases and a carry-on duffel bag. British Airways amazingly didn't charge me with any extra fees for being overweight. At customs, everyone had to send their stuff through the X-ray machine. I load everything up, and the guy screening stops me. "What do you have in your bags???" "Used books." "Why so many books?" "I'm a university professor, and I bring back books for research." "Yes, *istaaz* but these will need to be screened by general security." "Okay, no problem."

The books I was bringing with me were mostly from my favorite bookstores in Oakland and New York, leftist politics, etc. I stand off to the side with some other people waiting for "Mustafa" to screen our stuff. He's busy calling in the director because of some other dude who was bringing through a bunch of Chanel something or other. They were having a discussion that was out of my earshot, but it ended with a shaking of hands and him walking away. Meanwhile the X-ray screening guy drops someone's duty-free bag and breaks a bottle of whiskey.

Mustafa came toward me, and I was like, "Izza btriid, kutubi; shoo mn3amil?" To note is that I could have walked away during that whole previous exchange but I didn't. He points to the bag he wants to look at, and he asks to see my passport. "You teach?" "Yes, I was at AUB." "What are the books for?" "Research and the classroom. And I just really love books!"

Pause. He points to a chaab sitting down against the wall. "You see that guy over there? M? Whenever we need him to work he's not around. You want to know why? Because he goes off reading." He yells across the hall: "Hey! M! I was just telling the professor that when we need you, you're never around because you're off reading! The professor is bringing in a lot of books for you to read!" ME: "Ahlan wa sahla yaa M! Bravo 3aleik!" To Mustafa: "Bravo 3aleyi." "Ay, walla. Tfaddal, istaaz." "Killak zoq." That was it. I'm convinced that Istaaz Wissam probably pulled his all-important classist "Je suis professeur d’université, écrivain et journaliste" first, and got a fine-toothed comb. What a douchebag."