Back in Bourj Hammoud

August 24th, 2014, 8pm

It was a seemingly ordinary Tuesday evening on the 6th of May, 2008. I had gone out with a colleague after work. We sat at a street café in Bourj Hammoud, drank tea and smoked hookah as we leisuredly and nonchalantly talked about art and lebanese politics (without knowing much of either to be honest), tried to guess the origin of our waiter (I was right. He was Egyptian.) when we suddenly found ourselves in the midst of a demonstration. I was clueless, and my Iraqi colleague as well, but that demonstration that took place in the mainly Armenian neighbourhood turned out to be the introduction to weeks of violence and political crisis that at the time looked so bad, that people feared it would turn into another civil war. Now hardly anyone remembers this episode, as the situation improved after a while and crisis is no stranger to Lebanon (nor its neighbours) anyway. At the time though, when we tried to sleep despite the sound of gunfire and fighting from a block or two away, or when we sat glued to the television to hear which villages that the fighting had spread to, at the time we weren’t so sure. I remember how I felt when I heard that they had closed the airport, the harbour and the borders. I remember that I, at the time, much like Dinah Washington thought about the difference that a day makes. 24 little hours indeed.

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Sanna Karlsson

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