When my brother returned to Lebanon after a near 10 months stay in the United States, we went out to a restaurant in Batroun. After picking whatever food he felt like eating, I asked him what he wanted to drink. He said: a glass of water.
I replied: You’re not in Portland anymore. A glass of water isn’t an option here. You have to pay for a bottle.
In fact, the price of a water bottle in most Lebanese restaurants is outrageous. When I can buy the same bottle for about 300LL at any hypermarket and they’re selling it for about 3000LL as an average price, imagine the steep profit they’re making off of you absolutely needing that vital fluid.
It doesn’t stop at water though. Even beverages are so steeply overpriced you can’t but wonder if they’re aiming at making a profit solely off selling them. 5000LL for a soft drink can that can be bought anywhere else for 500LL.
A friend of mine recently came back from Vienna and she told me something that contrasts drastically with the water situation in Lebanese restaurants. As she sat in a restaurant that was all non-smoking, the lights outside turned off after a certain hour – not dimmed but totally turned off. Why’s that? Because the area was residential and people have a right to relax without excessive visual pollution. Hello Gemmayzé and Hamra?
But that’s not the point.
As she sat there having dinner, a man strolled in with his dog. The restaurant didn’t have a no-pets policy. In fact, what the restaurant (and many others on different occasions) did was to bring in a small bowl for the dog, bring out a bottle of mineral water, open it and pour it down for the dog to drink. Free of charge.
Even when it comes to drinking water, we are figuratively raped in Lebanon and that’s without addressing all the other “luxuries” the dog gets without even needing them. So why not be dogs in Wien? It beats being melting bugs in the Beirut July heat.