Posts Tagged ‘Brand Lebanon

01
Jun
15

People have relationships with people, not with ideas, not with programs.


Few are the opportunities one gets to meet the future head on, face to face. And fewer are the opportunities to be part of shaping that future. Last Sunday, I was blessed with both.

I was invited by “Women in Front” (look them up on Facebook) to deliver a Personal Branding presentation to women planning on offering their candidature to the upcoming legislative elections. What I discovered is simply amazing.

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I have never witnessed such an ardent resolve, most certainly not with men. I came to realize that taking things for granted, arrogance and prejudice provide a fake sense of security. That sense is enjoyed by some men in Lebanon; they even take it one notch higher by solemnly claiming that women are not fit for politics. I believe that the sheer fact of making such a comment voids the fitness (and right) of that man to be in politics, and on planet Earth for that matter!

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Aside from the fact that I was surrounded by over 20 amazing women (eat your hearts out!), I was surrounded by 20 beautiful intellects. That Sunday I was with human beings determined to induce a positive change in a society that claims openness on the outside, but resents change on the inside.

That Sunday I was with Women (yes with a capital “W”) who, aware of the risks, are heading straight into the maelstrom. Each has a clear Program and associated agenda. Each has the education few men in politics have today. Each has a beautiful smile that inspires trust. But most importantly, all of them are transparent, honest, real.

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These women do not deserve a chance. They deserve to be there, period.

You give a chance to doubt, to failure, to liars, to the unproven. And we have been giving that chance to “men” since 1943…

In a previous post (https://ilahoud.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/women-scare-us-and-i-love-it/), I wrote:
“We forgot to look at India, Great Britain, Iceland, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Argentina, Bolivia, Switzerland, Philippines, Ireland, Sri Lanka, Finland, Lithuania… where women were not only elected to parliament, they were presidents, heads of state.”

I never voted, never will eventually; but I would not hesitate one second to head to the polling station this time, if one of the amazing ladies I trained that Sunday run for elections.

I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to meet the future face to face, and honoured to be given the humble opportunity to be part of shaping it.

One hurdle is left. How open-minded will men be towards a brilliant future shaped by gender partnership, instead of a grim future shaped by men only?

Only time will tell.

01
Nov
10

Of driving and drivers. Another nail in Brand Lebanon coffin


She’s in a top of the class dark grey Range Rover with a four digits plate number, on the left lane of the road. Her cell phone is held between her left cheek and shoulder. She’s confirming her 11:00am Botox appointment. Her right hand is holding her $200 Mascara stick. She’s staring at the rear view mirror trying to work her eyelashes into giving her a more slutty look. A super slim mint-flavored cigarette is dangling from her lower lip glued by the thick layers of deep red lipstick glazed by another two coats of gloss. On the right seat – the one we call “la place du mort” in French or “the seat of the dead”- is her five years old daughter standing, leaning against the dashboard looking at the traffic. In the backseat the Philippine maid is the only one with her seatbelt on. A Starbuck’s coffee is sitting in the cup holder on the dashboard. On the rear windshield is a small round sticker with the Army logo. Oh, and by the way, she’s driving!

He’s in a black 1982 BMW 316. He changed the model number to 325. You could buy these chrome digits from any parts shop. He’s also driving slowly on the left lane of the highway. They must have all earned their driving license in Great Britain! His car windshields and windows are all shaded with a 90% black Fumé that he had had installed few months ago at Tiger. You could tell from the “Tiger” letters stuck under the newly installed “325”. The driver’s window is open. He’s there wearing a green 100% glossy Polyester short sleeve shirt open all the way to his pelvis. Abundant chest hair is proudly protruding and almost hiding a thick gold chain that rivals 50Cent’s and with a gold cross at the end that rivals the Pope’s official cross. His left arm is dangling, fully, outside the window, so low it could touch the asphalt. There’s a tattoo on his shoulder. You can only guess few letters, under a hidden graphic, that say “Shirine”. On the dashboard, a panoply of dials lit in blue. There’s even one for his IQ always stuck at zero. He’s from a special race of people genetically afflicted with a rare disease; when you honk at them, they slow down! Science has yet to find an explanation and cure. On his rear windshield, there’s an A4 poster of some dead relative with the “we will never forget you” line underneath the photo. Seems this poor youngster was ran over by another BMW.

On the same highway, same lane, an old crumbling Vespa is coming towards them, against the traffic. All that’s left from the “mobilette” is her bare mobility! Riding it is a 15 years old boy. He’s wearing a sleeveless navy blue tshirt with a huge white Armani eagle on the back. I always strongly believed that these guys genuinely think that Armani is from Bourj Hammoud! He’s got more gel on his hair than at Elie’s my barber, so much that his wannabe mohawk styling is creating a wind sheer factor that’s slowing him down. Between his legs, resting precariously on the cycle’s floor, is a blue gas canister he’s delivering to a nearby shawarma outlet. While his right hand is clinging to the throttle handle, constantly keeping it twisted to the extreme, his right hand is holding a $20 violet Nokia cellphone. He’s organizing his shisha night. Replacing what used to be his only headlight, is a plastic yellowish skull with 2 blue lights for eyes. He’s keeping the traffic driving at his pace. Probably the wind on his face gives him the impression to do 80Kmh.

He’s just crossed the intersection towards which the chick in a dark grey Range Rover and the macho in the black BMW are heading. There, is standing a caricature of a traffic officer. From afar, you can first guess his beer belly, and the closer you get, the more you find out that he’s standing right in front of the cars he’s asking to move, blocking them! He’s wearing over-sized trousers that barely hold to his lower waist and are so long they actually fold under his shoe heels. By contrast, his short sleeves shirt is so tight, it reminds you of the Village People, not that he’s well built… Few salt and pepper belly hair are trying to make a run for their lives through the gap between two buttons struggling to keep the two sides of the shirt holding together. Right beneath his left chest pocket, is a dark spot left by a clumsy cleaning of some taratour from the Falafel sandwich he’s just had. He’s wearing white gloves. They’re not white anymore but rather a gradation of grey that starts light towards the wrist and end up in a dark warm grey at the tip of the fingers. Thank God he removes them to “clean” his nose… So he’s waving the traffic frantically to move and clear the intersection, but he does not notice that he’s standing right in the middle of the road making it impossible for cars to move. He’s actually on the phone, you could tell it’s his wife (or mom) from the uncomfortable look on his eyes. Then, he suddenly asks the cars to stop, and forgets to wave the other lane to move. And now, he’s standing all alone in the middle of the intersection speaking to his wife (or mom), while the whole frozen traffic is anxiously awaiting a sign to move, just like a well-trained dog awaits a signal from his master to hit the food plate.

Not far from there, a 95 years old taxi driver in a 1989 orange Hyundai Accent has stopped in the middle of the road trying to pick up 2 Ethiopian maids on their day off. They want to go to Hamra, but he’s only getting to Clemenceau. Traffic piles up behind him, honking, curses, ranging from “Ya hayawen” (You animal!) to things that brings him back in memory to the day he was conceived… He’s either deaf or playing deaf.

Few meters behind is a black Mercedes with a blue plate carrying 2 digits, and flanked by two black Chevrolets TrailBlazer. Sirens, honking and the whole works. Some deputy is late for work… or lunch… or his mistress… or just like that, for the fun of playing deputy! They push everyone aside, pass and speed away…

 

They always speed away. They learned that the farther you get from a problem, the less of a problem it is.

 

Someone commented a while ago on my blog saying that the beauty of Lebanon is in its chaos… If this is the case, Lebanon must then advertise for providing “quality” heart attacks, unparalleled quality of CO2 pollution therapy, and being the only place on Earth that teaches CSL (Cursing as Second Language)!

I drive slowly on the right lane and fast on the left. I wear my seatbelt before starting the car. I use a headset to speak on the phone, I don’t have shaded windows. My car’s model is genuine and I keep my chest hair well tucked under my shirt!

What I have a problem with is working my ass out to pay the salary of deputies, ministers, and traffic officers. Being a boss who can’t fire is annoying. I have a problem paying taxes every time I renew my car’s license, only to drive on roads that resemble Himalayan donkey tracks. I have a problem with newly installed traffic lights that don’t light! I have a problem with police officers that scare me more than they protect me. I have a problem with Black Mercedes, BMW and Range Rovers. I have problems with Picantos that think they’re Ferraris.

No, The beauty of Lebanon in not in its chaos. It is in its diversity, where idiots live in harmony with the cultured. It’s in its fauna, where all sorts of animals cohabit with humans. And most of all, the beauty of Lebanon is in its flora, where vegetation exists along the vegetables we became!

I know someone will gloriously comment on that blog entry by asking why don’t I do something about to start with! I am… Can’t you read? Ah, sorry I forgot… In Lebanon words don’t count anymore. I’ll honk!




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Reason To Believe by Ibrahim N. Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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