Lawless Mayhem on Bliss Street

Just when you thought some aspects of our life as Lebanese couldn’t get more hectic, Beirut comes again to surprise you.

Triple parking? We got it. Further breaches of the smoking ban? Yes, we have that too.

A friend of mine recently sent me the following pictures that she took over at Bliss Street, next to AUB:

Al Kahwa - Indoor Smoking Al Kahwa Indoor Smoking

 

Bliss Street triple parking Beirut Bliss Street - Triple Parking

She was harassed by the valet parking people for taking picture of their triple parking on the street, effectively limiting the road to only one lane which is not nearly enough for the cars that cross on that busy path.

To make things even more interesting, the valet parking worked for a restaurant called “Al Kahwa” which was also blatantly breaching the non-smoking law with hookahs and cigarettes being present everywhere.

They tried to contact the tourism police number for both violations but they found no answer in the several times they attempted to call.

My question is the following: how is it acceptable that a valet parking service would effectively block an entire street and not have anyone with a badge or some form of authority tell them off? And how is it possible that our restaurants keep breaching the smoking ban without caring the least about someone to tell them off?

Maybe it’s time to say, “khlosna ba2a?”

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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.