Friday, March 16, 2007

A bit of humor about "Traditions" from Lebanon ;)

I stole these from a thread at the LFPM forum site... I hope the author does not mind, so thank you Diabolo_7 for your sense of humor ;)

Ras El Abed
English Translation: Nigger's Head. Yep, that is what kids in Lebanon grow up eating.
It had been 20 years since I last had one of these, I remember always saying "I don't like Nigger's Head," to be met with a "How can you not like Nigger's Head?" So I gave in after 20 years of resistance thinking maybe now my more mature taste buds would better appreciate this Lebanese treasure.
It turns out the most racially insensitive candy on earth is as nasty as it sounds. At first sight it looks like a slightly elongated chocolate ball, or a Nigger's Head. Not bad. Then as you bite through the chocolate shell you start feeling the insides of the Nigger's Head, the Nigger's Brains.
No one is sure what the inside part is made of, but just pray it is not actual brain. It's white, thus the clever naming. It looks, feels, smells, tastes and sounds like a cross between marshmallows and Elmer's Glue. Its adhesive qualities are still under study.
No one claimed all tradition is good. It can be cheap* and nasty.
*250 LL or $0.15
Jamal's Propaganda

Cup of Coffee
A cup of coffee in Lebanon is not literally a cup of coffee. A cup of coffee is the unescapable, unbeatable, signature pin move of invitations; except it is not exclusive to steroidal freaks as sweet old grandmas can apply it with equal effectiveness.
But I have a meeting. Oh come on it's just a cup of coffee.
I don't drink Coffee. We'll make it tea then.
Just had tea. Then have a Baklawa.
On a diet. Have a cigarrette.
Hate cancer. Just have a glass of water, no one can refuse water.
Do not resist, it's futile. You might slip out of any other unwanted invite, but not the cup of coffee.
Just accept it and try to enjoy the 30 minutes (if you are lucky to get out in 30) of Lebanese hospitality.
P.S. Don't think that if you just went through a cup of coffee you are immune, as they tend to come in bunches.
Jamal's propaganda

The Misscall
It took me a while to get used to this one. I was so naive that when the phone rang my reaction was to pick it up. Don't do that. Not in Lebanon, that is unless you enjoy screaming "Hello!" into a dead phone. I was baffled, why do people call if they don't want to talk. I was convinced that the sole purpose of the call was to make you look silly. Then I got my first cellphone bill.
Lebanese Cell phone minutes(NYSE) value is comparable to platinum. My cab driver today had 7 kids and only 5 minutes on his phone, you do the math. The invention of the Misscall was an essential survival mechanism for the Lebanese. Fire, the wheel, and the misscall. The Lebanese also mastered the use of these three discoveries simultaneously (see the daily police blotter for more info on that) .
But what good can a simple misscall do you? Full conversations if you learn your Morse Code. The most common one is the simple call me back misscall. You can always use consecutive misscalls or combinations of one and two ring misscalls or other variations to say whatever you want.
The misscall. Another clever creation from the ever so creative (or cheap) Lebanese.
Extra Credit: If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many misscalls is that?
Jamal's propaganda

The “Natour”
No one knows where they come from but every building has one. The Natour is always easy to spot, he’s the grumpy middle aged man wearing the wife beater and flip flops. While the moustache is easy to explain, one has to wonder how they always manage to have a five o’clock shadow beard. As soon as ground is broken on a building the Natour appears, and no one has been able to outlive a Natour to know how the succession works. Other than occupying the ground floor apartment, the Natour’s activities include tending to the buildings general needs, looking out for intruders, and watering the sidewalk. He is also the exclusive real estate agent for the building, the pirated cable provider, and for the right price a paparazzo. Once an exclusively Lebanese job, it has over the years attracted cheaper foreign labor. However, the Syrians, Egyptians and Sudanese that have stepped into the field have learned and conformed to the old traditions of the job.
The Natour: a proud tradition from Lebanon.
Jamal's propaganda

The Arguile Delivery Guy
Driving in Lebanon is dangerous.
Riding a scooter in Lebanon is only for stunt lovers and thrill seekers.
Riding a scooter in Lebanon with a glass and metal khazouk clutched in your crotch is complete insanity.
The Arguile Deliver Guy kicks it up a notch. He does the completely insane one-handed while playing with balls of fire with his free hand.
Admirably, he does all this purely out of his passion for smoking high delivery and love of pyromania. It can't possibly be for the money, as each performance in which he risks his life and all those along his path is done for a mere 2000LL ($1.33).
Next time you see a scooter flying down the road with a tail of fire tracing it. Get out of his way, seek shelter, and then applaud this great Lebanese tradition.
Jamal's propaganda

The April Tan
As soon as temperatures creep above freezing level, it becomes officially "Bronzage" season in Lebanon.
It's time to even out the body with the face which is already tanned from Ski season. The number one complaint heard around town is," Uff, Why don't beaches open before May!?"
Closed beach club gates only pushes the Lebanese brain to be more innovative. Alternatives are private pools, roof tops, and some hotels that cater to the early birds. Some, however, risk it all. In pursuit of skin color in April they are willing to commit the biggest sin of them all: Going to the Saint Balesh Beach! Shou Sauvage.
Oh, and when I say a tan, I mean a Lebanese tan which is complete pruning of the skin.
Spring traditions in Lebanon: birds chirping, green and flowers all around, and no pale skin.
Jamal's propaganda

The new world brought us Coca Cola; a hydrating concoction of phosphoric acid, sugar, and coloring. I must admit it is a quite refreshing beverage; in an ulcer inducing kind of way.
In Lebanon, well in the Middle East to be more precise, the ultimate thirst quencher is Jallab.
Jallab is two parts. The chilled liquid part is made from a syrup concocted (yes I love the verb concoct and all of its concoctions) from dates, grapes, and rose water. Part two is best described by the waiter at the Phoenicia Hotel that approached me last week and offered me in a heavily accented English, "Would you like nuts in your Jallab, Sir?" I am not ashamed to say that I gladly accepted his proposition for a Jallab is incomplete without a handful of fresh fine nuts. Actually the nut mix will reveal the quality of the Jallab in most cases. If all that's floating in your drink are pistachios and unidentifiable living organisms, then you are a cheap bastard who doesn't want to spend more than a thou on his drink. Pine nuts are a must, so are almonds. Cashew nuts are a bonus, but some raisins should be there for an extra oomph.
There you have Lebanon's most popular drink (after Coke, Pepsi, Coca Cola Light, Diet 7 up, Mirinda, and Starbucks' Grande Mocha Frappo Latte of course).
Jamal's propaganda

The Sahsouh.
The Sahsouh is a ritual performed on a male who's showing off a freshly cut head of hair.
It aims at restoring a feeling of warmth to a recently-shaved, cold, and naked neck through a severe blow from the palm of a hand. The Sahsouh is always accompanied with the word "Naeeman" which you'd think means "Die motherfucker!" but is actually part of hair cuttery pleasantries.
There are no documented cases of paralysis caused by a Sahsouh, but any look around town shows that brain damage is clearly widespread.
Everytime we try to shed the image of violence associated with our culture, something like a Sahsouh comes up and pushes us back to square one.
It is an act performed by people of all ages that are close to the hair styled person. By close I mean that they know his name and/or are within striking range.
Sometimes a Sahsouh is preceded by the Sahsouh jingle that is meant to help you prepare mentally for the inevitable moment of contact.
So the next time you see a man sporting a hairy neck in Lebanon, know that it is not a grooming mishap but rather a defense mechanism to save his neck. I'm not sure if the same criteria works for other body parts.
The Sahsouh; yet another proud tradition from the hairy homeland.
Jamal's propaganda

No, not Michael Jordan. This is not LBC. Michael Jackson has enough plastic surgery to be an honorary Lebanese, but no, he is not MJ.
MJ is short for "Min Jamaetna" meaning "Our Folk".
The Lebanese express themselves differently when in mixed crowds as opposed to when they are surrounded exclusively by MJs. Amongst MJs there are no red lines, not Hariri, Not Nasrallah, and not the Patriarch; not even Jesus's and Mohammed's genitals.
Since most Lebanese feel overly burdened by having to act tolerant most of the day (at school, work, the supermarket,etc...), most MJ gatherings turn into non-MJ bashing sessions. These sessions serve as anger release therapy that contribute to the relative Peace we live in today.
Infiltrating MJ sessions is always fun. I personally have been mistakenly allowed in on almost all colors of MJ gatherings; the Armenian variety has been a lone exception due to the language barrier. They are all pretty much the same, "Our MJ are the better than the others for such and such reasons". Ironically the same exact resons are used by the other MJs to justify their superiority.
MJ, Two letters that make Two face-ness a cultural norm in Lebanon.
Jamal's propaganda

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