The Destruction of Achrafieh’s Jesuite Garden

While walking around Rome with a friend yesterday, he said the following: “you know, it’s a beautiful city but I wish it had more trees like Paris.”
I replied: “We’re ones to talk. The only trees I’ve seen in Beirut are in the Jesuite Garden next to my apartment in Achrafieh.”

I guess I jinxed it.

A highway tearing Achrafieh in two, removing countless parking spaces and destroying greenery that is otherwise rare in Beirut was not an enough project for Beirut’s municipality.
They now want to destroy the Jesuite Garden in question, which I wrote about before, in order to build … *drumroll* … a parking space (link).

The municipality is trying to sugar-coat the deal by saying they will replant trees above the parking, which will be underground. But how is that acceptable when the park has been around for decades and has ruins in it that date back to ancient times as well?

Is there a parking problem in Achrafieh? Sure. Is the solution for that problem killing off one of the few rare green spaces in Beirut? Hell no. I have absolutely no idea who’s the urban planning expert working at that so-called municipality but how inept is he at his job?
But what can we expect, really, when experts from Ile-De-France try to convince the municipality that its practices are unacceptable and still they go through them?

It’ll be one sad day when this park where I broke my arm and where my grandpa used to take me to play becomes a mass of concrete rubbish. But isn’t that what Beirut really is?

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Lebanese Politicians And Their Love For The Handicapped Parking Spot

If Freud were alive, he’d make some twisted psychoanalysis out of this. Lebanese politicians have a natural affinity for the handicapped parking spot at malls and whatnot. I wonder what could be drawing them to that given they are physically competent.

First there was Ghassan Moukhayber at one of Lebanon’s malls with his security personnel threatening the person who took the picture:

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The above picture made the rounds online on Rita Kamel’s blog (link).

Ironically, another politician also got caught parking in a handicapped spot today – minister Adnan Mansour:

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The above picture is taken from Stop Cultural Terrorism in Lebanon’s Facebook page.

Violating laws and overtaking the weak just because they can has now gone literal with our ruling class. Shi bisharref. Next time a person who has a handicap tries to park in one of Lebanon’s parking places, he’ll be asked to leave because a V.V.V.I.P person is 1) too lazy, 2) too self-indulgent and 3) too important to park in a regular place.

Beirut’s Valet Parking Saga: 3enab, Gemmayze

In February 2012, the story about how a Zaatar w Zeit valet parking hassled and then hit someone who was trying to park in front of ZwZ in the early AM hours made the rounds. It sparked outrage (which naturally eventually died away) and even made it to the news. You can read all about it here.

The time of the following story is a few months later, on December 29th 2012, when a friend of mine named Jad Rahme tried to park in front of 3enab in Gemmayze and was hassled by the valet parking person and then by the restaurant’s manager. His story is currently gaining attention on Facebook (link) and I figured I’d help with sharing it as well:

Yesterday night at 0:45AM we parked in front of the restaurant Enab Beirut in Mar Mikhael. The valets come to us and tell us that we can’t park here because they keep this place empty for the restaurant. That’s the second time I face the same issue in front of the same restaurant and the first time I called the manager who apologized and told the valet to let me park. So that’s what I did yesterday but it seems like this time the manager took it as a personal issue against the restaurant. 

The manager made it clear that I can legally park here but that he don’t want me to park here because he wants to keep the place empty in front of the restaurant. To make it short, after hearing lovely words from the manager like “Akalna khara haydik el marra” and after he shouted “Iza 3ambtethaddene soff hon w fell” we left because we suspected that this will lead to the valet scratching the car or doing any similar vandal act.
I don’t know how many clients they will lose if we park in front of their restaurant at 1 in the morning but what’s sure is that they lost me as a future customer because I was planning to try this restaurant after hearing some good stuff about it in a family lunch few months ago.

To all the older generation who keeps on telling us “We count on the younger Lebanese generation to make this country a better place”, what do you expect from us if we can’t even park on a public parking spot? If we can’t park in a public spot that is meant to be for anyone how do you expect us to solve bigger problems like infrastructure and electricity?

With the hope that one day Lebanon will be run by a state and a government rather than valets and NGOs.

3enab is a restaurant that has been mentioned on my blog before to point out its severe breach of the smoking ban, despite sporting a sticker on its main door advertising a non-smoking environment. You can check the pictures here.

Despite reporting the place, the authorities didn’t even bother which is proof enough – at least to me – that our so called tourism police is in with our restaurants to violate the smoking ban. How many restaurants actually respected the no-smoking law on New Year’s Eve? Almost none.

Regarding the issue at hand, I personally always try to find a place to park without resorting to Valet Parking. But anyone would tell you that trying to park anywhere in Achrafieh on a Saturday (or any other day for that matter) is a near impossible task. I know it shouldn’t be this way but what can you do?

If, by some stroke of bad luck, I end up having to park somewhere in front of a shop, the least that I should theoretically expect is not to be bad-mouthed or hassled or even beaten. But Lebanon is all except theoretical. The police which couldn’t care less about the smoking ban won’t care about an issue that’s been going on for far longer. The authorities which have no problem eating away your rights whenever they feel like it won’t be bothered by some valet parking employee hassling you.

Sometimes things are just the way they are and you can’t really hope to change any of them. With each passing day, this is becoming my realization towards my country. I may love it to pieces but how can I expect to make those needed massive changes when a parking spot has become a commodity, when demanding for a law to be applied is met with apathy, where regulatory laws are always met with ridicule and where those who should look after you only care about looking after themselves?

This is 3enab’s Facebook page (here) if you feel like complaining.