Apparently, Lebanon is a third world country.
When I talk to people from my homeland (Sweden) or other norther European countries (that see themselves as the crown jewels of the FIRST and BEST world.) they seem to somehow enjoy dismissing Lebanon as an under developed, uncivilized, primitive and old school country.
In some ways they are right. Civil and family laws in lebanon are very old school, traditional and really needs to change (and a lot of people are working hard to do that) but in other ways, I would dare to say the Norther European (and of course, the American view. But that goes without saying, non?) view on us is completely wrong.
It has come to my attention that the latest hip thing to do according to the frontrunners of the modern world, i.e the famous people and the so called “early adaptors” (a.k.a “hipsters”), is to “get off the grid” for an hour or so per week. Meaning that one hour per week (or just once per year as the project “Earth Hour” is suggesting) one should shut of the lights and try to live without electricity (and electronically devices that needs electricity). Imagine one hour without lights, TV and internet…no emails, no distractions. Just one hour of silence and some modern solidarity with the rest of the world.
For the really cool and hip, this solidarity and modernism can also be extended to buying local products and produce, and maybe pay a life coach or yogi master to take you out in nature for an hour or two to “rediscover and connect to Mother Earth while finding your inner strengths (and maybe gain an insight or two!) If you really wanna show off, you can go to New York or some other cool place and go shopping your local produce in a shop that doesn’t use (unnecessary) packaging (since we all know that plastic bags and the multilayered packaging of everyday products are one of the most un eco friendly things in the modern world)
Spending time in nature or with yourself (call it meditation or self-improvement, or just chillaxing, your choice) without any external distractions, or being eco friendly has become so hard and complicated, that it is nowadays considered something luxurious.
The funny thing with all this is that here in Lebanon, if you’re middle class or above and live in the right inner-city area you have three hours of power cuts per day (for less fortunate its between 6 and 12 hours). This means that every day I have at least three hours off the grid! And this without paying a life coach or yogi master or joining some new modern “eco-project”. I don’t even post my good deed on Facebook. I just do it! And, BONUS, I get free exercise when walking the stairs to my penthouse apartment when there is no electricity to run the elevator.
And as a cherry on top. We don’t have IEKA so when I need new furniture, or a new mattress or pillow or such I go down to the local carpenter, or mattress maker and tell him how I want my coffee table (or mattress) too look like. And then he makes it. BY HAND.
And when I go down to the butcher, grocery or vegetable place, I will simply choose my products, and then put them in as many, or few, bags as I wish (I can even bring my own textile bag!). Since the tomatoes I buy comes from the farmer one hour away from my house, no one had time to put them in fancy wraps, or boxes or bags. (And all the cucumbers doesn’t have the same shape, and they have a nice smell and taste! Imagine THAT, all you Europeans citizens that have fallen victim to the laws of the EU which are regulating the size and shape of vegetables that are up for sale.)
But then again. Power cuts and local produce alone doesn’t make a First World country. We are still somehow old school when it comes to family, everyday life and values. Most of my friends mums are still housewives (ok, half of my friends mums) and in some neighborhoods the neighbors will complain if you live together with your boyfriend without being married. And a lot of people here are RELIGIOUS. (which is the same thing as being a terrorist, non?)
But then I have one glance at the Facebook status of my civilized Non-Middle-Eastern former childhood friends (the same ones that calls Lebanon uncivilized) and realize that they are getting MARRIED in CHURCH (even thought they are of course atheists and very secular) and enjoys being the Housewife of their fancy husbands (who works in “communications” or “investment”), while “liking” projects like “Earth Hour” and posting things about “slow food”, “biodynamic” and “yoga retreat”.
And yeah, btw, ya all know that Facebook will be real ancient in just a couple of months, right?
Take it from someone at the forefront.