A pink taxi

A pink taxi

June 11, 2010


"Il etait une fois un petit garcon
qui s'appellait Rashad
Ce fameux garcon
 Vivait au Liban pendant la guerre
   Dans des conditions miserables
Il entendait chaque seconde une bombe
Des pistolets en train de chanter
 Et ses vitres en train de se casser."

 A poem by Rashad Serhan

This is the photograph of a news reel, by the artist Fouad Khoury. I bought it on a whim. It hangs in a corridor where my eyes meet it daily. During my childhood, my eyes witnessed the same news reel.

In the 1980s, I grew up watching the news of bombardments in Beyrouth from afar. The news was often in Arabic and the names of  neighborhoods like Daamour and Ramlat Al Bayda still resonate in my mind. Most particularily, I remember the TV screen in Beyrouth itself, with my grandmother, Teta Um Hani, watching attentively, quietly, routinely. Her dinner would be set on a wooden trolley (like a restaurant one, on wheels). The trolley was laden with the simple mezzes she liked for dinner, some labneh, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, and grilled halloumi cheese. Or she could be seen knitting away, asking me to come sit close to her. Telling me: "Shoofi ya Teta!"(Look oh grand ma!).

 And always the same images of bombing on the television.

I bought that photo because I still remember the humming of the radio, following those visuals on the TV, and the familiar sound of the news on the radio that my grandmother listened to in bed before falling asleep. She kept it on a very low volume so as not to disturb her grand daughter who was visiting from Dubai and sharing the room with her.


  1. I love how you evoked your memories of Teta Imm Hany, the same images I remember of her too, but they'd become grainy with time. You were lucky to have been born 8 years before me, to remind me of how much we all miss her. Teta Imm Hany was for the longest time Beyrouth for me, the clementines in her garden, the ghazal, the delicious food and the Doha suburb. I was mostly oblivious of what was going around me although I did know there was war. But somehow in her cozy home, by the fire place where we would all get together and eat castana, the war seemed very far away....

  2. "Isma'a ya Rida" was the dialogue of short stories written by the renowned Anis Freiha as a dialogue between him and his grandson.I am glad the Blogger had the chance to get a glimpse of "Shoofi ya Teta" dialogue,but i had the advantage of getting years of treasures of stories that I got as a boy,a young man and a father!I try to pass most of them to my children Who will trickle them to their own.
    As to the art that haunts us with memories of the mad civil war that lasted 15 years;I sincerely hope it will be there to remind us that this will never happen again!

  3. What an era.

    May it never be repeated inshallah.

    I remember how everyone used to be glued to their radio montecarlo frequency. Trying to make sense of the senseless.