Thursday, July 03, 2008

Those were the days my friend !

Another hot summer evening at home killing time, helping a friend with the final touches for tomorrow’s Biel exhibition.
As usual background music is playing (randomly) while sipping on an ice cold glass of Vodka when Gilbert Becaud’s singing “Je reviens te chercher” struck a chord.
All serious work stopped and reminiscing began.
The first memory recalled was that of “café Al 3er3ar” (Shalimar), the swing, the jukebox playing Becaud, Aznavour, Greco, Anka, Humperdink, Sinatra…etc; and my grand mother swinging my sister and me for hours.
The scandal when “Emmanuelle” first aired on local TV, or when Gainsbourg released his song “Je t’aime moi non plus”.
The trips early Sunday morning (during the summer) to Deir Mar Cha3ya, to buy fresh organic vegetables.
The “autos tamponneuses” at the Cocodi and their “scalestric” car racing circuit.
The evening turned into a contest of whom can remember the most.
Amongst the places mentioned were the old Spinneys by the airport road, the turf club, Saint Simon, Accapulco, Gooddies, Salem ice cream in Tripoli, Chocomax, 555 biscuit boxes, Bompani ovens, Clip hand cream, Tatleh and Biafra cigarettes, Velamos and chopper bicycles…etc.
Not a word about politics was uttered, not a single mention with regards to the civil war and our lost childhood was recalled. All three of us present spent hours listening to old songs and remembering places, happy experiences lived, old TV advertisements, shows and programs.
Now that my friends have gone home in order to surrender into Morpheus’s arms, I am left with a huge grin on my face and an uplifting sense of well being. For a few hours I had relived my youth (in Zoukak Al Blat) when my friends answered to names such as: Denis, Nabhan, Rawia, Khamis, Marc, Hiba, Michelle, Ahmad, Steve…etc; days when I could roam the streets of MY country with no fear of not making it back home alive.
This feeling (unfortunately) quickly collapsed when reality quickly sat in; and for that I can only thank my fellow Lebanese (graced by God with a selective memory) and our SOLD OUT political class.




kheireddine said...

Clip, clip, cleeep...
Bosh ma3 Ninex ma fee.
Yes tleteh bwehad!
and I do remember deffeyet el ghaz Bompani. I hated the 555 Ghandour biscuits that tasted like cardboard but I liked the Tutti-fruti chocolate...

Before the war, on saturdays in the summer we used to have lunch in Park Hotel in Chtaura then go to Zahleh to visit my father's uncle Khal Alfred, then on our way home buy Labneh from Masabki in Chtaura. Sometimes, we used to go to Jounieh, to eat mortadella sandwiches, then go for a drive till Chekka or Tripoli. Jounieh was still a village, not disfigured by concrete and jetties. the beaches were covered with pebbles and the water was clean, we used to swim there in 1970/71. I loved the auto-tamponneuses in Zahleh.
The first songs we played on a turn-table, a Toshiba pick-up, were Beatles 45 tours rekords...
Riz allah 3ala haydik el eyyam!

Kheireddine said...

Check this:

VOR said...

You bring back some nice you said though, that awful war destroyed all of that innocence and we are still rying to recover!

Anonymous said...

......all those memories and much more:How can you forget "Ras el Abed" ?and the lemonade in Sahet Batroun?and "ya habibi ala Paul Jardin" ?and Abou Melhim ?And after a day of shopping in Souk Tawili and Ayass .....the most delicious lunch at Ajami with strawberries (imported from France )and cream for dessert?And the sumptious hors d'oeuvre trolley at the Lucullus ?and the choiciest fruits bi Souk el Franj?and Nadia Gamal in Paon Rouge (Phoenicia)?

kheireddine said...

^^I know only one person who would have those memories of Old Beirut, especially the Lucullus that was located where the Hilton was built (the destroyed by the war, a week before opening).
Ya 3yneh 3leik ya Paul Jardin! (Gaston Chikhani)

Marillionlb said...

Alec Khalaf, le theatre des dix heures at the dog river (nahr el kalb), the key club, Julia Sadaka singing Grace Slick "El Diablo"...etc. Those days are gone, but not forgotten!