i just fixed the previous post. the end of the story is back.
i spent yesterday in beirut. construction is everywhere. so is the military. there are soldiers with big guns on every street, especially downtown, which is swarming with soldiers and concrete barriers to stop car bombs. i went wandering through martyr's square, where the huge demonstrations took place 6 months ago.
it's kind of ironic. here i was crossing from a military dictatorship to a fragile democracy, but it was only in lebanon that i saw that many soldiers and guns. of course, the photos of the assad family, universally displayed in every business in syria, were gone. but just as common here are photos of rafik hariri. if i didn't know who hariri was, i would assume he was the local dictator.
the buildings are also in transition. many buildings show the bullet holes and blasts from the civil war, but each building is being painstakingly restored to how it was before the war. so bit-by-bit the city is being taken back in time. well, not exactly. the restored buildings may follow the original design, but they look new. so an ottoman style house looks unusually clean and unworn for something from that period. lot's of people use the word "disneyland" when they describe the city, sometimes with a little distain. but what else are the locals supposed to do? live in the ruins forever? besides, the buildings will age soon enough.
i met a friend of my brother for dinner last night. she was one of the anti-syrian protesters on the streets last winter. she also told me stories about what it was like to grow up in the middle of a civil war. it's really hard to really understand what a childhood like that would be like. i certainly don't blame the beirutis for trying to get their old city back.