So Aoun the “secular” has finally said what his grand plan is, has been all along: correcting the sectarian balance after it was shifted against the Christians. He clearly said: that is all there is to it, nothing more, nothing less. He also said that this should not cause any worries amongst the Sunnis or Druze or Shi’a. Dear Lebanese, I hope you will enjoy your General’s secularism.
Today I went down town to check out the mood there. There was supposed to be a student gathering at 3 pm, and I was down there around 1 pm, and stayed until 2:30 pm. It was unusually calm, and there were significantly less “indibat” (crowd control) guys around. Around 2 pm people started flooding in; I was walking around when, all of a sudden, 2 guys appeared out of nowhere in front of me (a distance of 2 meters), and were at each other’s throats. I had my camera ready to take a shot but hesitated to, as I thought the indibat guys who appeared in a matter of seconds, would not like it. What amused me was that however much the people standing around tried to control one of the guys, he would not calm down, until the indibat guy appeared. There were actually 2 of them, and it took only 2 seconds for one of them to bring the situation under control. 1 look was all that was required. The indibat guy wasn’t even using his hands to restrain. He stood right in front of the guy, and gave him one look, one really cold, scarily calm, but very piercing look. And the situation was under control.
Moving on, a woman probably in her late 50s approached me, asking me where STARCO was. Hmm, good question. I have been to STARCO a great many times; it is actually home to the Ministry of Administrative Reform Reversal. But I could not, for the life of me, orient myself at that instant. I told her it’s probably quite a long (unwalkable) distance. She then asked me if I was not from Beirut; I told her I was not (well I don’t live in Beirut), and told her where I came from; she said, “welcome, welcome.” She then said that she was from the Beqa’a but she lived in the south. I really love the fact that so many people from different walks of life and different backgrounds are interacting like this (outside of party politics and discussions); I know many people who have not met anyone outside of Beirut or Mount Lebanon; in some areas, if a veiled woman is spotted (I know, I know, I speak the language of witchhunts), people go wondering, hmm, what is she doing here? Here where? Here, here in Marounistan, oh yes indeed in Aounistan (I repeat myself). But, to inject some positivism into it, I have been spotting some curiosity among the crowds, from people of all ages, veiled or not, bearded or not. But sometimes it gets you wondering, why are they looking at me like that? Is my hair sticking up or something? Today they got me wondering. Seriously.