Look who’s talking now!

14 Apr DSCN4610

Fresh veggies being delivered from the country side.

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.

Because.

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.

Te Local Food Wheel. If you need to learn about what is your local food.

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)

Package free, local and irresistible.

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.

Well...non. It's not always that super awesome to be without electricity.

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.

Yes it takes more time to make / order your own design. But not THAT much more...

Handmade pillows. Wawawiiwaa

 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.)

Butcher. Vegetable place. Local. No packaging. So modern.

Unfortuntately the motto on the sign of this butcher is "Forgivness".

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.

The grass on the other side

7 Apr Just another hero (and warcriminal)

I am a Naive Sheltered European Expat from a background with imaginary problems and I have chosen to live in a place that has a lot of real problems.

One of those problems are the public spaces. Or the lack thereof.

At first, I thought my nagging on the non existence of public parks and other places where everyone can go and spend time (but not money) together was just my white spoilt brain playing me another trick.

But then, one day when I was trying to catch a service (shared taxi) from my side of town (Ashrafie – the christian side) to the other side (Hamra – mixed muslim with some christians and a lot of expats) and every taxi driver reacted to my request of taking me to “that side”, as if  I would have suggested that he take me to Israel (the sworn enemy of everyone in Lebanon). And please let me add here that this happens on a daily basis. It’s always very, very hard to get a taxi to the other side (no matter which of the sides you’re at). What should take me ten minutes, always takes minimum 40 minutes.

I kind of understand the driver (s) (on both sides). He probably didn’t go to the other side since before the war (1975) and during the war most probably someone from that side killed one or two of his family members.

But it’s not only the taxi drivers. All parts of the Lebanese society is still divided between the sects and different political phalanges. The youth is doing an awesome job in trying to mix between different backgrounds, sects and optical beliefs, but still, they don’t get much help in their efforts.

Make no mistake where you are.

Just so u know.

Just another hero (and warcriminal)

Cos let’s see where you normally (in other cities. not all. but some) would meet people who’re not “your own” and how that works out in Lebanon:

PARKS: Beirut has one public park. It’s located in Sanayah (in Hamra). Here you can sit in the hot sun on an ugly bench and look at the  maids having lunch on another bench while being harassed by some drunk old men. Maybe, if you’re lucky, some students will pass by on their way from school. Other than that it’s you and the pigeons. And the dust. And the hot sun.

BEACHES: When you go to the beach. You either go to the expensive, designed, deep house, champagne and extacy in the pool – beaches. Where you will mingle with white, christians or rich Sunnis, wanna-be frenchie brats and their families, or you dive from the rocks at the Corniche (and you will hang out with a young boy accompanied by his mum who is sporting a veil or abaya, or gay men, or teenage boys with a lot of testosterone. Most probably you will be Shiia), or you go a bit south and hang out with the conservative Sunnis (also including Palestinians from the camps) at the non alcoholic beaches where the chicas swim in jeans and veil and people bring their own barbecue and towels.

THE STREETS: In Beirut you walk the same street as your parents did. And when you move to a new house it’s gonna be in the same area (or another area inhabited with the same “type of” people). If you are young and like to party you might be moving between Hamra and Ashrafie during some drunken nights. But most probably not. So basically, your whole life you will hear the same stories and see the same flags and posters as your parents did.

WORK: Your boss will for sure have the same background as you. Maybe he is even a relative.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Is non-existent. And I don’t count the minivans taking the poor people around town public transport cos its private and not everyone is using it.

TAXI / SERVICE: See the start of this whole rant. Top of page.

One of the main ingredients when it comes to public space, city planning and the existence of public spaces- for everyone to meet in- is some kind of government or leaders who will make this happen.

Former leader. Killed in a carbomb

Since the only goal of all the leaders and governments in Lebanon is to make themselves (and their extended family) richer and more powerful and their whole existence is based upon the fact that The People hate each other (which means that you have to protect – make richer that is – your guy so he will kill the other guy in case that guy one day decides to kill you) OF COURSE they don’t want the “normal people” to mix and mingle in public, safe, nice places, FOR FREE.

You do understand that it is in their interest to make sure that the people will never realize that the other side might be a bit just like YOUR side, right? You get it? You get the fact that maybe even They, “the Other Ones” also just wanna have a nice house, a couple of kids and a yummy meal (maybe on friday instead of sunday, but still, they like to eat and they take pride in their cooking. Just like you). Maybe even they also just wanna live in peace. And to be able to spend their day off in the shadow of a tree in the park. Dozing off in the sun while watching the people around you.

But No. Since Lebanon have a lack of public spaces (I KNOW this is not the only reason. Of course) in the end you will live your life thinking that you and your group are the only ones who “just wanna life a normal nice life”, with some kids, a house and nice neighbors. Maybe a God or two, and a nice meal on sunday. The “other people” will forever and ever smell bad and wanting to kill and rape you and your family and spit on your favorite TV show. So you better load that gun and do exactly what your leader tell you. Cos there is for sure no park to go and sleep in.

 

2011 in review

11 Jan

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,700 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Look I’m F.A.M.O.U.S!

9 Nov IMG_7972

Check out this interview with moi. wawawiiwaa!

New page about the Beautiful Sweden

10 Sep DSCN3075

A page with pictures from Sweden have been added (to be found on the top or to the left of the main page) It displays pictures from the village Yxsjöberg in Dalarna. Yxsjöberg is one of the few places that I miss when I’m not in Sweden.

…and please note that these pictures were taken just hours after a bear was spotted on the other side of the lake. And still we dared to eat our salami sandwiches.

No more butterfly effect

8 Sep DSCN2819-01

Here in Sweden, the land of free speech and free and independent media, IMF is still a loveable NGO and NATO is protecting the poor people from the bad people.

How is that possible when Sweden is ranked number one on the Press freedom Index (together with Finland, Norway, Netherlands & Iceland) ? Our national television broadcaster (SVT) is supposed to be free from commercial and political interests, hence it’s not paid for by taxes or advertising but by a mandatory license fee, required by law, to be paid by everyone that owns a radio or TV (300 Usd per year)

Still, the news that we are getting from that free and independent network is just plain old “copy paste” of the international news wires. There are no fresh angels, no different views or opinions, no new conclusions, no hard questions to the leaders and politicians.

(Just have a look at this embarrassingly lame interview with Karl Rove made by a Swedish news reporter.  it would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad)

And I wonder why. I think and think, very hard, trying to figure out why it is all so lame.

And then, on my way to work one day, it hits me. It’s when I get of the bus to catch the train, that I realize that it is the same people around me, standing on the same places, waiting for the train to arrive at the exact same time every fucking day (How is it possible that everything can be on the exact same time?! All the time ?! There are thousands and thousands of people moving around, but somehow the butterfly effect  have ceased to have an effect here in Sweden).

And I look at the people around me, who have no contact with each other, except for when they bump into each other without saying they’re sorry, and I realize that they don’t care. It doesn’t matter, cos Nothing matters to them. Nothing matters except the fact that everything has to stay the same.

Because let’s face it, they live in the best place in the world. They are citizens of the most gender equal, most free, safe and prosperous country in the world. They are part of a society where you don’t have to do anything to get a house, food, car and vacations to Thailand. So why would they care about if IMF is a good or bad organization? Why would they care if they contribute to making the most independent and free media in the world into nothing more than a lame joke? As long as their bus is on time and they can afford to get their pre-packed-chosen-by-someone-else-food-bags delivered to their house on time for dinner? (They do nag a lot about the fact that there is always to much garlic in those bags but that’s about it…)

Your groceries chosen by someones else deliverd to your door.

The, when I arrive to work I get a bunch of new research on my desk. And I find out that for a 17 year old Swedish girl, it is a better (or at elast increasingly more popular) investment to spend 150 000 sek (30 000 Usd) on plastic surgery and then start a blog about it, then to take the same cash and spend it on a university degree. At least in the short term perspective.

That night I dream about shoes. I didn’t dream about Beirut, or my boyfriend like I normally do. I dreamt about shopping.

I’m back in Sweden. The land of the Free.

Look it’s working, again! pt 2

20 Aug IMG_7915

I’ve been busy working the last couple of days. And to my surprise everything I planned worked out as Planned. Everyone was on the right place at the right time doing what they were supposed to; an excellent job.

And the only reason for this (except for my amazing producing skills) was, of course, the fact that I’M IN SWEDEN. The country where BEING ON TIME matters more than your family.

In Lebanon the work situation is a bit complicated and fucked up. No one knows how to cooperate or work in teams and everyone wants to be the BOSS. You will hardly or never get paid on time (and I’m talking 6-9-12 to 24 months late payments here) and it doesn’t matter if you are good or bad at your job, what matters is who you are and who you know.

This might sound absurd but if you take a look at Lebanese / Middle Eastern made TV you would not doubt me for a second. The most important thing is that the people (and their sons, daughters, nephews, aunts etc) who always have been in power and making money from that power will stay rich and powerful.

In Sweden on the other hand, corruption is pretty long gone (even if it DOES help if your dad was a famous foreign correspondent whan you apply for a job as a journalist) and quality, knowledge, experience and professionalism actually does matter. And as a result, our TV formats are being sold all over the world and our producers and directors are being rewarded with fancy international awards. Hence people are making money in the business and they will be able to pay YOU a pretty good salary and to do it on time.

Swedish Reality TV team creating "TV history" in the jungle (on the shoot of Survivor in 2002)

What it comes down to is not the fact that Lebanese people don’t know how to tell the time and to BE on time, they are just stuck in a structure where time is the last thing that matters, and what does matters is something out of their control.

He's doing it anyway.

So ask yourself, would you work your ass off to produce something that is Much Better than the other things being produced, when the Network (or any type of client you might have) in the end Have to buy mr X’s production, cos mr X is making sure the network is existing in the first place, and cos what mr X (and the network) cares about is not showing the best TV made in Lebanon, but to keep the system going that is providing him and his sons with fancy cars and Russian prostitutes at Sky Bar.

And if I made you think that this only exists in Lebanon I’m sorry. Lebanon is of course just a small piece of the Middle Eastern puzzle, and if you’re not getting a job nor getting paid in Lebanon, you can be sure there is some dude in Dubai or Saudi Arabia that has a part in your “failure” as well.

It’s just too bad that the weather sucks so hard in Sweden…

You can see the center of TV production in Sweden at the end of the meadow.

Look, it’s working!

8 Aug IMG_7479

Lebanon should be a place of total chaos. Nothing should work and every one should be in despair. The evidence to this are several but the most crucial one is the Government, or the lack of it, since we all know that Peace, Prosperity and Freedom comes from Democracy and that Democracy comes from a Government.

Coz in Lebanon, sometimes there is a government, sometimes not. Former or latter doesnt seem to matter tou coz the real politics and power struggles are happing elsewhere.

GOVERMENT OR NO GOVERNMENT. SALE. PRACTICE PEACE.

When there is a government in function not much are being done for the benefit of the country or it’s people. The roads are terrible and there are frequent and never ending electricity cuts so when driving on the bumpy roads at night the only light to guide you are the neon signs of Mc Donalds and Super Nightclubs (where you can get yourself a lapdance and/or a whore).

Corruption is King, hence rules, regulations and laws apply differently depending on who you know and who you are (and who your daddy is).

The population consists of many different types of christians, sunni and shia  muslims. They call themselves Palestinians, Armenians, Arabs and “Phoenicians”. They all fought each other in the 15 year long civil war.

The country is officially in a state of war with Israel.

But. Since the government doesnt care about the people, the people doesnt care much about them either. Everyone is doing pretty much what they want to do, and they do it their way. They rely not on the government but themselves and their families in order to live their lives.

The reason to why it works is actually quite simple: The people WANTS it to work, so they MAKE it work. And come to think of it, isn’t that the true meaning of democracy: A country ruled by it’s people?

I don’t get it.

20 Jun Its fucking flat for God's sake!

Living in a desert turned into a consumer paradise, wannabee Los Angeles but without the cool people, and with nothing but pretentious people spending all the money they’re making in the fake paradise place, I (of course since I’m a nagger) have some humble “not-saving-the-world-at-all-but-it-still-fucking-annoys-me-that-people-can-be-so-fucking-ridicolous” questions.

Like..

1. Why a bus? (even if it is engineered by an astronaut)

The road between Dubai and Abu Dhabi takes approximately 1,5 hours to go by car if you’re driving within legal (120km/h) limits.

A LOT of people commute everyday between the two cities on an every day basis.

So now the government is the proud announcer of a new super ultra cool modern first of it’s kind super – BUS. A bus that will be able to take commuters between the two cities under half hour. The Superbus concept is  “the work of an astronaut and a former Formula One aerodynamics expert.”

and our penises are big too.

And…the bus can transport 25 people. And It will need a special built road to go on.

Since so many people are commuting, and with all that money to invest. Why not build…I don’t know. Something that is both environment friendly AND effective. Like, I don’t know…A train maybe?

No yeah that’s right. When you go for dinner with the coolest guys in the world. A train doesn’t go a long way when it comes to bragging. But an astronaut engineered formula one ultra super bus. That is something.

2. (this is an old one but still I never got a decent answer) Why 16 degrees on the A/C inside when it’s 45 degrees outside?

Especially since it makes everyone sick AND you have to bring two outfits to work (ultra light thin for the transport between the house and the car and then a jacket and a scarf for indoors.)

Why not just have like I dunno…22-24 degrees indoors, so we can all walk around with normal clothes that matches both the inside, and outside, temperature?

Oh sorry I forgot. UAE is  among the worst when it comes to carbon emissions. And without this crazy A/C frenzy, maybe we wouldn’t be on the top of that Ruining The World List anymore. And that would be a shame now wouldn’t it?

3. here comes another train trip…

There are a LOT of cargo being transported by trucks (old dirty ones) on the roads of the GCC. They cause damage to the environment, traffic congestions and accidents.

This area we’re talking about is basically a plain, flat desert field. It is also filled with money. So why don’t they build a railroad? For transport of cargo, at least? (and maybe for the people as well. Yippey). There are no mountains, valleys or lakes in between making it difficult to make the track. Just mile after mile of plain old flat desert.

Its fucking flat for God's sake!

It would cut costs and time, it’s safer AND it’s environmental friendly as well!

Really…I don’t know. Maybe I’m the crazy person here.

IF there is any technical reason for the desert not being an ideal place for a train track being built, and ANYONE knows the facts… PLEASE tell me. Maybe then, and only then, I can sleep at night again.

Partytime

13 Jun 429430-110608-nato-libya-boy

There is one big party going on in the world right now, a party that NO ONE who is ANYONE wants to miss. Great media coverage, a lot of action and fabulous gifts when you leave.

The location is Libya and on the guest list we have all the big cool guys in the world. On the menu we have the biggest oil reserve in the world. AND a country to rebuild and a people dying for Mc Donals.

Recently, Russia and China was there to pay a visit, have some snacks and chit chat (a.k.a “mediating”) with the “rebels”.

Another popular guest who seems refusing to leave is NATO. They don’t seem too keen on the chit chatting though, since they went straight away for the cake by bombing the shit out of civilians in the capital Tripoli in the name of protecting them and liberating them from Khadaffi. (UN meaning US, Russia, China, Italy, France etc)

The same guys who provides the weapns of destruction, also provide the rebuilding, when the killing is done. If you're lucky, they also provide you with the TV "news" telling you about all the action. Jackpot!

Oh yeah, I mentioned that Libya has the largest oil reserves in the world, right? And how convenient; the people of Libya are currently having a revolution trying to oust their leader /dictator Khadaffi.

More Champagne, anyone?

Maybe you too should try to get on that plane and on to that guest lis, because what is in the goodie bag is too good to be missed:

A country to rebuild, a massive amount of oil to steal, contracts to bargain about, laws to write in you favor, and a WHOLE NEW MARKET to rape. Sorry, to OPEN UP to international global markets.

If you’re not on the list for the revolutionary goodies of Libya, do not fret. There are more parties to attend right now.

You could go to Egypt. Unfortunately the IMF already got the best table and shagged the cutest guy, but anyways, it’s a good story:

This is what happened:

- Egypt has lately gone through a revolution and kicked out their leader Hosni Mubarak. Now ruling the country is an interrrim government consisting of a gang of ex military leaders.

- Egypt has the Suez Canal, which is one of the most important and strategic locations in the world.

- They are also the only neighbor of Israel who are not in a state of war with the latter.

- The current “leaders” of Egypt recently accepted a 3 $ billion loan from the IMF.

In popular media IMF is claimed to be an aid organization working against poverty. Which is quite interesting, since they are a multibillion $ company who’s aim it is to go in and take over the local markets and companies of nations in crisis, and opening them up to foreign global companies and entities, making it easy for these foreigners to come in and take over the business in the country. This at the cost of the local people who ALWAYS (check your history books, their track record is South America, Asia, Russia and Eastern Europe) will fall very deep into a poverty beyond desperate, while watching all their rights being taken away and all workers unions crushed to the ground. IMF also favors “guerilla” resistance in order to make sure the country will not be stable for many years to come, making it easy to create new laws assuring that all assets of the country can be sold to foreign entities. For a very long time to come.

And please note that the “government” that accepted the IMF loan, a loan that will affect the people for a long time to come, is an interrim government, ruling while waiting for the people to elect the real one. Nice move.

(want to know more about IMF & c/o? Try reading “The shockdoctrine” by Naomi Klein. Its a bit of a brick though, in five minutes you will understand everything about  IMF and Egypt, if you check this out.)

Now I want you to sit back and relax, thinking about the above, and then wait and see to find out exactly How Long will it take before the Suez canal is owned by someone else but the Egyptian people, and before the people of Egypt will realize that they are now in the chains of another dictator (called the free global market). A dictator who will, if possible, make their lives even harder, more unfair and desperate than ever before?

Cool?

Now it’s time for the After Party. The VIP one. The one with very few, very special,  very selected guests on the list. The media coverage is one sided but exclusive.

Welcome to SYRIA!

Let me introduce you to our hostess:

Syria is one of few countries left who is a friend of Iran.

Hezbollah is one of few organizations still in the world fighting Israel.

Syria is making sure Hezbollah gets weapons from Iran.

Iran is trying to expand their nuclear biz. (They are still far, far, far away from close by neighbor Israel when it comes to Nuclear power)

US have for a long time been trying to fuck up Iran, since they are one of few enemies left that could have a small chance to threat Israel.

Now, as you all might know, the “people” of Syria are currently doing a revolution.

An ill willing Rumor has it that the “resistance” is partly sponsored by US.

Let’s have a closer look at the revolution of Syria to see if this rumor could be true.

-       You’ve seen a lot of deadly fighting and killing from inside Syria on TV, right ?

-       Did you also notice that most of these fights between government and rebels are going on in villages and cities close to the outer borders of Syria. Very convenient to be fighting so close to the border if you want to get weapons smuggled in, non?

-       And who on earth would want to smuggle in weapons to a movement that is giving troubles to the leader of a country who is friends with Iran?

-       And who, except the people dying from the government bullets, would benefit from destabilizing this country?

-       Also….my friends living inside Syria is claiming that Bashar Al Assad (the ruler) has started to give in for the people; recently he created around 100 reforms, all claiming to make it better for the people. Did anyone hear about that on the news?

-       Oh and yeah, who is providing you with the news?

Why on earth would U.S have the slightest interest in destabilizing Syria? Except for the fact that THAT would crush the two last men standing in the war against Israel: Hezbollah and Iran.

Cheers.

BTW, just for the record:  I’m all for revolutions. What pisses me off is when someone else comes in and steals the revolution AND fucks the people who made the revolution, in their asses.

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