Archive for the ‘Lebanese Shenanigans’ Category


As part of my everyday ritual, I was checking out Facebook in the morning before heading out to class, when something caught my eye. A friend had confirmed his attendance to an event happening in almost two months that would bring the famous RnB star Usher to Lebanon. Curious, I clicked on the page to see the details, and it was everything you would normally expect for such events: promises that it would be like “nothing you’ve ever seen before,” the fancy location, the flashy organizers, the sponsors, and most importantly, the ticket prices.
Let’s just say, shock would not even begin to describe my reaction. On the screen in front of me, I saw $60 (no kidding, that’s SIX followed by a ZERO) indicating the price for the regular admittance. There’s nothing regular about that price, unless of course you’re in Lebanon. A quick Google search, as a matter of fact, helped me determine that you can usually purchase said tickets at around 20 bucks less. Now to the regular reader, it may not sound as much of a bargain deal, but trust me, it all adds up when you factor in transportation, food, and personal expenses.
You see, for the past two or three years, everyone from the local and international scene has been gracing us with their presence. To name just a few, we’ve had David Guetta, Akon, Placebo, Il Divo, Gorillaz, Mika, Pussycat Dolls, Faithless all perform on our stages in various Lebanese cities, at only the most exclusive of hotspots, because you know, the typical Lebanese prestige does not allow you to be seen at any second-class location, because after all, you’re in your most fancy clothes that you just bought from Paris.
But not all of these overly-hyped events have been up to the general expectations.
Yet, my Facebook buddies keep bombarding me with the images from that “oh-so-awesome-event/concert/rave” that they went to, on a weekly basis. Sometimes, and to my awe, these very same people attend more than one event a week.
That just goes against everything I’ve been told to believe: that our economy has been unstable for year, that the mean national salary per month is around 550$ (which isn’t enough to do anything), that the shadow of the Civil War still haunts us everywhere, that political instability is marring our chances of being a decent, developed country, and so on and so forth.
Well, apparently, they’ve been just lying to me my whole life, because if the concert attendance was any indicator, then nothing is wrong this country. We can all just keep lying to ourselves, because after all, that’s all what we’re good at here.
So, as a conclusion, while everyone will be rushing out to enjoy the night, I’m just going to skip, and spend a peaceful night at home, listening to the free copy of the CD, avoiding all the annoyances that come with such events, like bad organization, lousy music, and worse of all, bad atmosphere thanks to disappointed over-enthusiasts that end up drinking the night away.


(For our dear friend Moudz, who was a major force in helping us start. Here you go buddy :) )

From Moudz:

I am very excited to announce that Mind Soup was nominated for Bloggers Choice Awards ’10.

Mind Soup has been nominated for three categories: Best Blog Of All Time, Best Blog About Stuff, and Best Pop Culture Blog.

For the first category, we need around 450 votes to be in the lead, while we need 300 for the second and 100 for the third.

We would really appreciate your votes, so help us out if you can :)

Note: Link to post is here:

http://moudz.blogspot.com/2010/07/vote-for-mind-soup-for-bloggers-choice.html



For the past 6 years, Lebanese have been known to be divisive because of politics. Many villages have constant feuds over a bunch of supposed politicians and you got brothers not talking to each other because two politicians can only get along under the table but not show it publicly, keeping the country in unrest.

But let’s put politics aside for once. This country unites under sports, and when our national team is playing basketball. all our differences are put aside and we root for one name: LEBANON.

Lebanese Basketball, Our Pride :D

As you all know, the FIBA World Cup is about to start in about 6 weeks,  and yes, Lebanon is making its third straight appearance.  It all started last year after our national team played in the Asia Championship and made it to the semis to face the Chinese national team. Our team always had this jinx against the Chinese, where due to major height differences and players that play in the NBA (Yao Ming, Wang Zhizhi, etc…), the Cedars could never beat the Chinese in the past.

So came the semis, and Lebanon was hanging in close against a Yao-less Chinese team and managed to get a lead in the last two minutes. Coming down to the last seconds, the game was tied and mysteriously, one of the Chinese players fakes getting fouled by our Roni Fahed and gets three undeserved free throws, leaving China to beat our national team by 3  points, making Lebanon’s chances for qualifying to the World Cup harder than ever since both teams that play the final automatically qualify. Yet they still had a chance if they beat Jordan in the bronze medal game, which they failed to do, as they lost an 80-66 to the Jordanians.

FIBA World Championships 2010 - Turkey

Despite all that, it still had a slight chance to qualify, by being awarded one of the 4 wild cards. FIBA awards a wild card to a country based on different criteria, such as playing in its Zone’s qualification tournament, popularity of basketball in country, success of country, and government support.

A fee of 500,000 € (approx $765,000) was paid to be eligible for a wild card spot. A few months later,

(yes, you guessed it right) Lebanon was awarded a wild card spot and earned its third consecutive berth in the FIBA world championship. I know, many Lebanese say it isn’t as big as football, but believe me, going to Turkey to watch your national team play in a world cup of a popular sport is HUGE.

Last month, however, conflicts emerged in the Lebanese Basketball Federation that led to the resignation of nine of the the thirteen board committee members with the FBL chief and its members calling each other names, including “mosquitoes”, “lacking loyalty”, and “having other agendas”, which led to the idea that Lebanon might not participate.

If the July War back in ’06 didn’t stop our national team from participating in a World Cup, conflicts among the federation members weren’t going to either. 21 players were invited to try-outs for the team, where 15 of them are playing in the 32nd edition of the Williams Jones Cup that is taking place in Taipei. So far, Lebanon is undefeated in its first two games, where it defeated Japan 87-82 in the first game on July 14th and Chinese Taipei 93-84 yesterday.

After its participation ends in Taipei, our national team will be going to play the Japanese team in the Japan Invitational Games in three different cities. Then, Beirut will be hosting the 3rd Stankovic Cup, which also includes Japan and Chinese Taipei, and others such as the Phillipines, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Iran, Iraq and Syria.

Its final stop before the World Cup will be one week before the main event, where the team will be going to Ankara to play in the 3rd Efes World Cup, and will play against the likes of Argentina, the host Turkey, and Canada before finally heading to Izmir for the World Championship.

Being placed in Group D with defending champs Spain, Argentina, France, Lithuania and New Zealand,  we have a very fragile chance of making the top 4 in order to qualify to the knock out stages. Yet no one expected Lebanon to win a game in the last World Cup, and despite that, we won the first game vs. Venezuela (ok, you might be saying “so what, it’s Venezuela) but then we beat FRANCE, which had at the time 5 NBA players, (what are you going to say now?) in one of this country’s most legendary wins in international play.

Our National Team Will Make Us Proud No Matter What!

The Lebanese team’s chances in this tournament are to go end somewhere in the middle between their first two participations, where they finished dead last in the first and were on the verge of making the 2nd round in the next. With our star Fadi El Khatub trying to get over nagging injury problems, our team will have to refer to the likes of star point guard Rony Fahed, Matt Freije and Jackson Vroman to take on this difficult challenge as the underdogs in this group and make some noise by surprising the world in making knock-out stages.

All I know is, that come August 28th, every Lebanese person that is capable of traveling to Izmir, Turkey should do so to cheer their country playing vs. Canada and show national pride, and if not, to tune to their TVs to watch our players raise the Lebanese flag high. After all, our country doesn’t play in a World Cup everyday, and you never know when the next time might be.

GO LEBANON!

The Lebanese National Team Roster (Not Final Yet):

Rony Fahed

Ali Mahmoud

Rodrigue Akl

Jean AbdelNour

Elie Estephane

Elie Roustom

Ahmad Ibrahim

Ghaleb Rida

Fadi El Khatib

Ali Fakhreddine

Roy Samaha

Ali Kanaan

William Pharis

Matt Frieje

Jackson Vroman

Head Coach: Tab Baldwin

Asst. Coach: Nikos Dimitriou


Going to restaurants used to be fun. It was all about trying out new foods and enjoying the company of whoever you happened to be dining with.
Now, and especially with the massive tourist influx, the fundamentals of dining out includes a bunch of waiting: to be seated, for the waiter to take your order, for the food to arrive, and finally for the bill and the change.
First there was the World Cup frenzy. For those who are unaware, during that month, it was impossible to dine out without having to pay some sort of entrance plus combo fee at even the tiniest of restaurants. Add to that the already expensive prices and the above-mentioned waiting, and you’ve gotten yourself an experience for the ages.
But that’s nothing in comparison to the waiters declining to serve you, because apparently the entire premise is fully booked, when in reality, it’s just a sea of empty chairs. The pathetic excuse they present is normally along the lines of “Oh, but they’re expected in an hour, and we don’t want to rush your dining so you can enjoy it” which in my opinion, roughly translates to, “In one hour, you won’t even have the chance to look at your plate because we’re going to be procrastinating as much as possible before you get your order.”
Call me a cynic, but it has happened before, and on countless occasions.
And now that the tourists are here, we Lebanese are second-class citizens to our own countrymen.
Which is something I don’t understand.
Do they really think that the foreigners, who would rather save every cent of their money, tip more than the citizens? Or do they think that by paying them more attention then more positive things would be said about the place?
I beg to differ.
Consider this as a real-life situation. You go to a very popular restaurant chain and decide to order the chocolat mou. This is a fairly simple dish to prepare as all it requires is scooping out the ice cream into a glass and topping it off with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. It could be done at home if the ingredients are available.
But no.
At this popular place, that very same order takes around 30 minutes to arrive. And when it does, all the waiter could say to excuse himself was that they were having a busy night and everyone was ordering deserts. The dish wasn’t even that good!
Restaurants are supposed to be a place where only utter courtesy comes into play. They are not supposed to be a place where people are scammed off thanks to low-quality food and horrible service. They are not supposed to be a place where costumers consider the waiters to be subordinates either.
They are supposed to be a place where people can come together to focus on the most important aspect: the food.
Plus, in a country where recreational facilities are oh-so very limited, taking our families out to eat on weekends has become some sort of ritual.
Well, if things keep going the way they are, that’s yet another ritual we’re going to have to kiss goodbye.
And if things keep getting worse, we may even have to kiss the tourists goodbye.
Don’t get me wrong, I happen to have an immense respect for people in this profession and a complete understanding for how tiresome their jobs can be. But it is not up to them to decide who to and not to serve. And it is certainly not understandable when they chose to do so.
But then again, this is Lebanon, where anything goes, and where laws are just words thrown around to appear to sound fancy.
As long as the law is not clear-cut and protecting us, we are always going to fall victim to our own terrible actions and remain stuck in this utter state of chaos.


España

As I type this post up, the whole world now knows that Spain have been crowned as World Champions, over the Netherlands, at the 19th edition of the FIFA World Cup, held in South Africa.
The whole world now knows that for a moment there, it really didn’t feel as though this was the very-much hyped final between two possible first-time winners.

Robben, one of the many recipients of a yellow card

As a matter of fact, the game was a race to see who would collect the most yellow-cards, a feat accomplished by the Dutch in the 120-minute game.
And after the whole world had accepted the fact that yet another World Cup would determined by penalty-shootouts, Andres Iniesta, the little Barcelona midfielder, worked his magic thanks to a pass from Cesc Fabregas, and ensured that the Spaniards would lift that glorious cup that evening.
But everyone knows that, and if you don’t, I suggest you read a sum-up right here You know, just in case it comes up in a conversation sometime this week.
And it will.
As many have established by now, no one gets caught up in World Cup fever the way the Lebanese do. All the buzz surrounding Paul the Octopus’ predictions pale in comparison to what’s been going on here.
The streets of Beirut have been decked out in other nations’ flags for around three months now.

One of many flag-sellers on the Lebanese streets


Wild enthusiasts have taken over Facebook and other social networking websites to show unyielding support for their team of choice. Fireworks have been blasted in the sky whenever a team won, or even lost, and celebration parties have gone on all night long. That’s not mentioning the most incredible ability that emerged this year: instantly organizing conveys that trekked most, if not all, the Lebanese roads.
And here’s something else.
The Lebanese are so passionate about football, that they have gone out of their way to create a non-existing rivalry between Brazil and Germany, and even raise their children upon that. In fact, if one of these teams loses, which happened to both this year, fans would rather support the team the entire world considers to be complete opposites, than cheer on the other of the two.
To everyone elsewhere in the world, the final was Netherlands versus Spain, but right here, it was the classic (Really?) Germany versus Brazil, decked in different kits.
Which brings me to my point.
Football is exciting. Rooting for a team and witnessing their triumphs is gratifying. Which is why I can understand this sort of behavior, to a certain extent, of course.
But this over-hyping fad just needs to go away, now, and the English are the greatest testament to its consequences.
I’m no expert on soccer, but last time I checked, Lebanon doesn’t even have its own national team that can compete along with the Brazilians and the Germans.
If we did, would we really stand behind them as we do for the others? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, no. No, because being patriotic is an awfully hard thing to do for us and we’d rather support anyone that doesn’t evoke memories of our own country.
I only wish that we receive some form of gratitude for all the support we pour in to those countries, like facilitating visa procedures, though that is a long shot.
The World Cup is over now, and won’t be back for another four years. During that time, only a quarter of those who tuned in for the “Mondial” will watch club matches, while the greater majority will remain in oblivion. It’s a sad, sad fact, but at least in the meanwhile, we can assume that nothing of what went on this past month has ever happened.


Last night, I was lured into watching the elections of Miss Lebanon 2010 because there were no football matches being broadcast and no newly downloaded episodes of Glee on my laptop. But the main reason I tuned in was out of pure intrigue. The newly crowned Miss, Rahaf Abdallah, and I are both alumnae of the same high school and naturally, former classmates and teachers took their Facebook accounts to show their support and encouragement once news broke out that she would be participating in this year’s pageant.

Rahaf Abdallah, Your New Miss Lebanon

The result, as determined at midnight, did not disappoint her supporters, and I, for one, would like to extend my congratulations to Rahaf, who is pleasantly the opposite of the classical “type,” and hope that she goes on to achieve many good things in her reign, and not fade into obscurity like most of the former title-holders.
The show last night, however, got me thinking about what the exact message these pageants try to convey to the general population, especially given that Lebanon’s beauty queens rarely go on to receive worldwide acclaim, such as Miss World and Miss Universe.
Year after year, the Lebanese Broadcasting Company (LBC) dishes out a large amount of money to organize these extravagant soirees, making sure the competing ladies are decked out in only the finest of couture (which this year was absolutely horrible) and are styled by only the best in the world of fashion. That’s in addition to getting only the most notable Lebanese “superstars” to entertain the audience, because you know, the show would be nothing without them. And let’s not go into how much they spend on sets, choreography, stage effects, and of the course, the prizes! I am assuming that the resulting electricity bill for that one night is equivalent to what an entire Lebanese village generates in one month.
And that’s only the beginning.
The true heart of the competition lies in its outdated format. Assuming that we are electing beauty queens to promote the touristic qualities of our country (which are now being replaced with a notorious reputation for being a party-town), the concept of having the contestants strutting around in barely-there swimsuits just doesn’t make any sense to me. So the Miss looks good in a swimsuit, but what is that going to do to the country’s tourism? Gain the reputation of having the hottest women? Really now? Are we forgetting that despite having different religious sects, the majority of the population are conservative and would be appalled at the notion of having their wives, girlfriends, sisters, or daughters wearing nothing but a bikini and having every creature out there staring at her?
I won’t even go into the effect of that on little girls and the change in perception of their body image. Too much has been said already.
But that’s not the real problem. As any beauty queen would tell you, it’s the “inner beauty” that counts, and by inner beauty they mean, answering those nonsense questions, that seem to be adopted from a how-to-book on making people cringe, in hopes that people would see that these girls have something up there and are not just bone-skinny victims of a merciless industry.

The poor girls who had to endure the questions

Watching the girls being forced to answer a question like “What would you prefer to have between money, authority, and knowledge?” just made me want to hurl the closest piece of furniture at the television. That’s not including the fact that the five finalists all gave the exact, same answer, “Knowledge because that would give me authority and being in authority helps me make money.” Don’t be quick to blame the girls for that ingenious answer; it’s really not their fault.
Why can’t the organizers ask something more constructive?
It’s obvious the ladies have the brains; otherwise they wouldn’t be enrolled in the best universities in Lebanon. It is a true pity that these young women have to dumb themselves down to be accepted by a shallow, materialistic society.
Allowing that above-mentioned aspect to come into full-focus would just throw off the whole notion of electing beauty queens. After all, the French said it perfectly:
“Sois belle et tais- toi” which roughly translates to “Be beautiful and keep your mouth shut.”
But then again, some girls want to be the president of their country and others just want to wear that glittering tiara.

The prized tiara

And to get there, you have to pay the price. Even if it means enduring a ridiculous event like the one broadcast last night.