The Day I Immigrated: There Are Homes Better Than A Home in Lebanon, Which Is Why Lebanese Expats Are Expats

Today is the day I become a Lebanese expat and my country of residence, in all those forms that we have to fill, becomes something else than the home I’ve known for all of the 27 years I’ve existed so far.

On my possibly last drive to the airport as a Lebanese citizen permanently living in his home country, I was thinking about how sad my mother was next to me, as she prayed her rosary, probably for me to have safe travels and a beaming future in the United States, the country that’s offering me a home.

I was also wondering if, in the upcoming few months, I’ll be one of those Lebanese whose entire purpose in life is to sell the country they’ve left, hiding away all of the flaws that made them leave it. Then I realized, I’m probably already the target of those videos, such as that Byblos bank ad that went viral about two days ago, titled: There’s No Home Like a Home in Lebanon:

I will miss my grandma’s cooking, but most of all I will miss her and those sweet teary eyes that bid me farewell, in a hospital room this morning, as I said goodbye to my sick grandfather before heading to the airport.

I will miss that man’oushe, those Sunday lunches with my family, road trips to areas I haven’t yet discovered with friends who mean the most to me.

Yes, this is the country where I was born, where my family and friends live, where I’ve had my first kiss and my first heartbreak, and in whose airport I’m currently writing this post as I look on a whole bunch of other people like me leaving, in planes carrying my national symbol.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tearful and grateful for what I’ve been offered as I write this. But on that last drive to the airport, I realized once more that emotion and reason can’t mix in determining the future that we ought to demand for ourselves, starting with myself.

There comes a time when hummus and man’oushe over sensational music isn’t enough anymore to sell a country, no matter how many times the same disc is spun. I’m sorry to say, that disc is broken – nay, it’s shattered and there’s no coming back from it.

In this past week alone, a 24 year old named Roy Hamouche was killed in cold blood because some guy was angry. Another person was also attacked by a police officer because of road rage.

In this past week, a physician coerced the judicial system into helping him commence the cover up in a possible malpractice lawsuit, and we can’t but sit by and watch.

I’m leaving a country as a 27 year old citizen who was never allowed to vote, and whose voice has to always be self-censored as to not face the wrath of the multiple sensibilities we have to consider in saying what’s on our mind.

I’m leaving this country as a doctor who has to fight a mammoth of a system entirely geared at making me feel like I’m always a bug up the echelons of my career, no matter how much I try to thrive.

I’m leaving a country whose beaches are dirty, whose sea is toxic, whose forests are being dismantled, whose elderly are being turned down at hospital doors, whose mothers and their children are being evicted from houses and forced to live in construction sites even in the heart of Beirut, whose garbage can’t be sorted or addressed, and whose people – most of them at least – are still ready to offer their necks to the same politicians who have turned this country into what it is today, as they drool over any video or international article that says their country is a nice vacation site, and whose children are forced to beg in the streets to make ends meet.

A nice holiday destination doesn’t make a good index of life.

I’d love to say there’s no home like a home here. But the truth is that is far from the truth. There’s a reason why Lebanon has expats who visit every once in a while and return to countries they’ve chosen to turn into their homes.

It’s because in the republic of wasta, you can only make it as far as your strongest connection. It’s because in the republic of waste, you breathe cancer.

It’s because their children can die for angering the wrong person on the street, because this country ranks among the highest in corruption, the weakest in passport strength, and is on the lower side when it comes to international indices of life.

Remember this when you support sensational bank ads or articles or lists of why this country is the best ever. Remember that falling to delusions of grandeur will never advance this country, and that being content with what we have will never give us what we need.

Never forget where you’re from, but always remember why you left. I love it here. Correction: I loved it here. But today, I pack my life in 3 suitcases, and leave all of it behind because here is not where my future lies.

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83 thoughts on “The Day I Immigrated: There Are Homes Better Than A Home in Lebanon, Which Is Why Lebanese Expats Are Expats

  1. you’re looking at the US with an illusion of grandeur as well. In the US we also have defirestation, corruption, homeless children with no food to eat, neglect of elderly, eviction, death because someone else was angry, and we definitely, above all, have people who get attacked by the police!
    On the positive side we also have really good man’oushi too (depending on where you live).
    I guess life is what you make it, wherever you are. There are positives about the US, but it is by far not a utopia free from its own share of negativity.

    Reply
    • No country is a utopia. Not any more. We the Lebanese, have one foot in one culture, and the other foot in many other cultures. We do not belong anywhere. We always miss our country, but when we return, we get disappointed. We are the black bodies with white faces. Fortunately or not, I am one of those Lebanese who left Lebanon during the golden days (1960s) and returned in 10997 only to realize that Lebanon has. Changed and is no longer the country I left. I was in the finest educational institutions, but decided to return to the country where I was raised and where I spent my childhood. Did I regret coming back? Of course
      we don’t have to intellectualize about this, it is the bitter fact of life
      Of course, corruption is all over the world but the way it is spreading in Lebanon, is totally unacceptable: على عينك يا تاجر وبكل وقاحة
      This is trickling down to cover people who, in the past, shared the manoushi.

      Reply
  2. Born and raised as a proud American. Love it here but you’re being incredibly, incredibly native. Everything you’re describing is global. I echo Leilei’s thoughts.

    Reply
  3. I just wonder how will this guy feel when he discovers in the future that corruption exists even in highly “developed” countries. When he discovers that crime rate in some US cities are 10 fold greater than his country. When he gets sick and he needs to wait for weeks to see a Dr.
    I agree you travel to get better work opportunities but stay connected to your roots and and plan to come back once all is over….Stay positive and positive things will happen to you even in Lebanon ….Don’t loose your identity “You are from Lebanon” if you loose your identity you loose everything

    Reply
  4. Being born and raised in Lebanon for 18 years, and moving to the US has taught me 1 thing. Home is not a place, its a feeling. And this feeling can be temporary and certainly confusing, especially growing up somewhere like Beirut. We will forever be looking for that feeling if we were never able to invision and sustain it properly. Now i feel like home could be anywhere around the corner, as long as you feel safe, comfortable and at peace with where and who you are in the moment.

    Reply
  5. My parents are trying to convince me to stay and start a new life In Lebanon.
    But what I saw and felt during my last 20 days stay is that Lebanon is became like modern Egypt. Overcrowded, densely populated, heavy garbage and waste issues, sick people, intoxicated food and what most made me angry is that people continue to do the same thing, polluting there selves without even thinking that what they are doing will affect their life, family and children.
    It’s sad, because every time I go to Lebanon, I start having all allergic reactions, related to excessive pollutant in the air, not quite sure if it’s this the problem, but the symptoms are those.
    Now I live in Italy and was granted the Italian citizenship, I love my home country, but unfortunately cannot live anymore there.
    Europe suffered from excessive pollution and they are paying the price right now, scientist in Italy believe that the pick of cancer cases related to pollution will be in the year 2020, this is because of latency of the disease.
    After that it will decrease, thanks to the planed and transformed economy to a green economy.
    Lebanon is now starting to implement and introduce low pollutant technology, like solar energy panels.
    But, effectively there is a lack of plans to reduce pollution.
    And people still act like the Europeans acted until the late 80’s, that means, treating the garbage or environmental issues as a secondary issue.
    Money, corruption, politics centered to religion and thoughts that common good is not even worth to think about it is killing our country slowly as it’s already in the Anthropocene era.

    Reply
  6. I’d like to hear from you again once you’ve been gone long enough to realize how much you really miss it. There’s good and bad everywhere, but the people you love aren’t. I hope you find what it is you were looking for when you left; I sure as hell haven’t, and I had perviously lived here for 19 years. I spent only 6 in Lebanon. Best 6 years of my life.

    Reply
  7. You are so misguided. Injustice happens everywhere and the examples you used are happening everywhere in the world. You should take a break after a year abroad and reevaluate your post.

    Reply

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