On Thursday my uncle (Uncle #2 aka U#2) took my majesty to the CCF (centre culturel français, for those of you who are simply too stupid to know the acronyme, hehe just kidding people) Beirut, the whole thing was planned by U#4. The CCF visit was planned for noon, which gave me plenty of time to spend the morning with My brother, and even go to work with him, I got to see all the directors and directresses, reporters and reportresses, and so on... Unfortunately my evil bad ugly nasty unpleasant brother wouldn't let me play with any of the buttons or round stuff anywhere *sniff*.
Now the CCF visit is worthy of a whole entry itself, but I'll be brief:
You see, on Wednesday U#3 (who happens to be the one who offered me the ride to Beirut in the first place) tried to take me to the CCF. But you see, the Mat-haf area, where the CCF is located, is part of the other beirut, west beirut. It is more precisely on the limit between East and West Beirut. And U#3 is in fact an Ex-LF and a perpetual LF fanatic, he was severely injured during the Liberation war (actually he was injured, and partially paralysed, during the last week of fighting). And as you can guess, U#3 doesn't go to that Beirut very often, and there fore he couldn't find the CCF.
The whole journey was interesting, most of the time; I simply forget just how tough those invisible borders are. Most of the times, I prefer think of sectarianism as an illusion in our heads. But a few Km before our destination U#3 took of an LF flag that he had hung around the little mirror in the car, he then stopped the car, stepped out, opened the back door, and hid a CD (it must've had some LF songs or something). When he restarted driving he smiled and said:
It's there land here, they might come in our piece and they would accept seeing our flags, but this is there place and they won't tolerate seeing our flags here
And that's not all, despite the fact that we had no reason to fear any attacks or anything the journey inside there Beirut was stressful the least to say. When we realised that we won't find the CCF by our selves, I suggested maybe we'd stop and ask someone for directions, my Uncle didn't refuse, but he didn't stop either, we just drove home.
Thursday was the day. U#2 took me this time, he knows better, well actually he didn't know where the CCF was but he knew where the French Embassy's street, in fact that's not its actual name but it was a small fragment owned by the french embassy. There were also schools and stuff. In fact all of those French buildings stood out of the crowd. The buildings looked in a better shape, they were clean and modern, in contrast with the resident buildings around (these buildings weren't that clean and some of them were very miserable), and there were a lot of governmental buildings and stuff, those were well sustained but they had a clearly more oriental style.
When I did note that the French buildings looked better than the rest, U#2 couldn't restrain himself from agreeing on that and justifying it with the fact that these French institutions were highly lucrative, dismissing the theory that French people might simply be interested in taking good care of there surrounding, after all according to him French are the cheapest of all! (That’s the reputation that french people have here)
So eventually we did find the CCF. Keep in mind that in the Jounieh CCF I am used to simply ring the bell and enter. In Beirut it was different, the building was inside a rather high wall surmounted by a barbwire (if I am not mistaking), and there were metal barriers in front of the gates and a soldier keeping the guard. When I reached the gate, the soldier asked me about my destination:
Where are you going?
Uh... I'm going to the CCF (isn't it obvious?!)
(WTF To asassinate Jacques Chirac and avenge Palestine!!!! What do people do in the CCF anyway?!)To subscribe to the Mediatheque
To the Mediatheque then? ok pass
Merci (Son of a bitch)
Well I was pissed off until I stepped in and remembered that, unlike the small Jounieh branch, the means the Mediatheque, a restaurant, a wide open space for exibitions and stuff, and some official facilities... he was right to ask me for my destination.
Once passed the Soldier, there a sort of... How should I call it?... a sort of small transition chamber in which there were 3 employees that have the mission of searching for weapons and stuff. Again a guy interrogates me:
Where are you going?(This is getting a little boring
To the Mediatheque(I am getting better at this)
May I check the bag for a moment?
Of course (I hand it over and then consider asking) Shouldn't I take my papers and money out first?
...You'll take your purse back in a second (judging from the look in his eyes, I can certainly say that I looked pretty silly)
Anyway, now that I am INSIDE I struggle a little to find the Mediatheque. Then I enter I tell the lady at the reception of my situation. She tells me to go register in the upper parts. I drag myself to the second floor. I woman on a desk points the roof and tells me to drag myself to the 3rd floor. I oblige. Once there I found a little difficult to find the reception, but I made it. Then I struggled a little with the formulaire. But I survived that too. Then the Lady tells me to go back down, pay and get a receipt and the ground floor, facing the Library (?!). I oblige again. Then the woman downstairs points outside the mediatheque and says, not here there. (?!?!?!) I thought she meant the main reception office outside! I stood there waiting like an idiot for 10 minutes, then the woman comes out and says: NO NO Not there... There. Fuck, this place is too big for my simple mind. Anyway, I finally reach my destination, pay my 20$ and get a receipt. Go back up and finalise my papers. Then I got my card and quickly checked the shelves before heading out, my uncle was still waiting for me in front of the building.
The books were really interesting, I was instantly attracted to the Philo-religion section, I think I'll have a lot of books to read there in the future, I chose an interesting book "Histoire Des Juifs De France" for a certain Philippe Bourdel (I've already finished almost 150 pages, but I'll talk about my impressions about it later in some other entry). I also checked the science section, which is naturally less elaborate, but I did find the "origine des especes". I haven't started reading that one, but I have the whole summer for that (actually I have 2 weeks lol, but I can expand that by phone).
Once outside the CCF U#2 drove me safely home, only to find out that I had forgotten my stuff back in Beirut, So I called my uncle to tell him not to worry about it, my parents will get it for me when they get home. As my second surprise, my family was preparing to go to the Aalele (the town that I called home for the most eventful 5 years of my life) I hadn't been there for almost 2 years, I only went back to visit once in the last 3 years in which I stayed in Jounieh.