After a sensational Max Raabe and the Palast orchester concert at the Beiteddine festival a few days ago, I was on a cloud…I spent a great evening, enjoying captivating tunes from the 1920s and 1930s.
But upon my return, I lost the way home. It was about 11h30pm. The roads were not lit, naturally, there were absolutely no signs that indicated the direction of Beirut.
OK, I am not exactly an expert on Lebanese roads ( I still get lost in the city). I left Lebanon before having my own car and now I am learning by doing and getting lost.
So I ended up taking the wrong turn and drove for over 30 minutes in the opposite direction. My cousin rode with me, he is French and only visited Lebanon few times. So he was not really able to help me with directions.
I kept driving until I reached a very dark road with no houses, or signs of life around.
At the sight of what was ahead, stress started building up regardless of the tunes of Manu Chao playing…I finally found a car parked on the side of the road. When I asked for directions to Beirut, the guy said “Oh my, you are completely in the wrong direction…” He thought it would be better for me to go back exactly as I came until I get closer the location of the Beiteddine festival. So I did…But upon my return, I bumped into a jeep for the civil defense with five policemen inside. I told the driver that I am lost. He kindly offered to show me the way.
And there I was, storming through dark streets and alleys in the Chouf Mountain, racing after the Civil Defense Jeep, which was signaling the bumps and pits…Mind you Lebanese roads are not the smoothest.
After riding for over 30 minutes, the Jeep lead me safely to the Saida highway, and I was able to get back home from there…
Bottom line, this incident made me think of a similar occurence in Mexico City, last year around the same time. I was with a friend riding back home one night and we lost the way, but my friend would not even dare stopping to ask the police for directions, saying that it was too risky, because the police is corrupt.
Whereas in Lebanon, corrupt could be the right world to describe pretty much everything, yet those policemen in particular went out of their way to put me on the right track, instead of checking me out, like they usually do.
Inspite of all the drama and the mock car chase of that evening, it felt good to be able to trust “the system” for once. Yes, what happened was minor and caused by my lack of attention and the ill-equipped roads in Lebanon. Still, when chaos and corruption are set by default, one good deed reminds you that Lebanon is a country where expectations should be kept very low.
To brush off this dose of cynicism, and inspired by a lovely evening, here is some of the Grand Max Raabe.
Here are the lyrics below…If that’s not outright romance, I don’t know what is.
“You’re the cream in my coffee, you’re the salt in my stew, you will always be my necessity, i’d be lost without you
You’re the starch in my collar, you’re the lace in my shoe, you will always be my necessity, i’d be lost without you
Most men tell love tales and each phrase dovetails:
You’ve heard each known way. This is my own way. You’re the sail of my loveboat, you’re the captain and crew
You will always be my necessity, i’d be lost without you”