Not sure when I heard of Beirut for the first time.
It must have been at some point during my childhood. When the TV screens were showing the world a bitter, soul destroying war which took 15 years and thousands of lives in a long river of destruction and despair.
Fast forward 20 years. Beirut has rebuilt itself. And much like somebody coming out of a lethal relationship, it licked its wounds, made itself pretty again and went out to charm.
This new B is excessive, blonde, plastically- enhanced and extremely fancy. B wears the shortest skirts and the highest heels you’ll see in the Middle East, a heart-stopping combo for the innocent traveller from Amman or Cairo whose jaw drops and car engine stops in the middle of the unforgiving traffic.
Beirut smells heavy and green as it whizzes past in a red car, gusts of laughter and shiny hair.
But underneath the glamour and the ease, Beirut hasn’t forgotten. Its bullet holes, its beautiful yellow villas now blind, torn inside out, the tanks going through the city in the middle of the day. The restlessness, the anguish. The memories. It all still hurts.
I don’t know how or when the wounds will heal completely. But one thing is certain. Beirut the charmer, the woe and the wow, will not leave you untouched.