Category Archives: Middle East

“You’d be home by now.”

People in Lebanon spend more than 16% of [their] individual productive time in traffic. Urban Transport Development Project – World Bank For six months, straddling a winter and early summer of a few years ago, I tried commuting to work … Continue reading

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Beirut people watching.

Humanity is the best spectacle, in this city where gated communities rub shoulders with bombed-out, charred shells. Pneumatically-enhanced bimbos and babes driving Dodge Camaros on one end of the spectrum and ragged Syrian children tapping on their rolled-up windows for … Continue reading

Posted in Lebanon, Middle East | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

You Were Filthy But Fine.

“You were filthy but fine” sang James Murphy in that LCD Soundsystem jewel that is New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down and I, for once, think that it could very well fit to Beirut. Spotless, it certainly … Continue reading

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Remembrance for scatterbrains.

Landing takes place at night. We descend into the warm Mediterranean air, those of us sat on the left-hand side being treated to a royal view of the entire city of Beirut lying, invitingly, beneath us. Here is Ras Beirut, … Continue reading

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Approaching Beirut.

Beirut, Paris of the East. Beirut, mother of laws. Beirut, the city that can be Rio, Miami and 1943 Stalingrad all within the same block. Beirut, the filthy. Beirut, the ironic (another French legacy I suspect). Beirut, you’ve got the … Continue reading

Posted in Lebanon, Middle East | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Bethlehem, or how the other half lives.

Call me ignorant, but Bethlehem always evoked pastoral ideas, of secluded grottos – or shacks, depending on the version you liked the most – and of comets. What we found was (once we got on the Arab bus that no … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Faith, Middle East, Palestine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The world from above – An air race over the skies of Iran

The flight was rather uneventful, a barely half-full Qatar Airways Airbus A380 from Doha to London. Meal trays were being cleared away and I was about to decide which film would’ve been more appropriate to induce me to sleep as … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Dubai, Middle East, Public Transportation, The pleasure of flying, The world from above | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stray pets.

Recently, in some of my travels at the fringes of the European continent or in the Middle East, I stumbled upon many stray domestic animals. Even though I’ve always seen cats happily going about, minding their own business, the sight … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Europe, Middle East, Random memories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Marooned in Muscat

“How are you, brother? You look a little lost.” The young, tall Omani – immaculate in his neatly pressed green dishdasha – was absolutely right. I was tired, red-eyed, yearning for a shower and, above all, utterly lost. Faithful to … Continue reading

Posted in Faith, Middle East, Oman, Overlooked locations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“Shadow of the Silk Road”, by Colin Thubron

The first time I took this book in my hands I almost regretted buying it. Mind you, it was a cheap bargain at Turnham Green’s Oxfam branch, so at least I was sure that those £2.90 had not been wasted, … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Books review, Middle East, Overlooked locations, Turkey | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments