June 2005


balloon

hariri bomb site

beirut from the air

Last night we went and saw an Iraqi oud player in concert. The guy is called Omar Bashir and his father was known as “the king of oud”. He was a great player, but there were some jazzy moments that I could have done without. His new record (the 16th) is called ‘Latin Oud’ and there were a lot of sort of flamenco fusion songs.

Afterward, I ended up going to a bar called de Prague (salsa music?!) and then a bar called Layla (possibly another leftist den) with my friend, Lisa, her activist roommate, the aforementioned oud player, and a wacky Marxist guy who told us a story about how his father was recently kidnapped in Baghdad and had to be rescued. I later confirmed that the story was true, but that the details of this fellow’s heroics were somewhat embellished. I think perhaps that his role in kidnapping the kidnapper’s son in order to secure his father’s release was perhaps less instrumental than he indicated.

This morning we went for a spin on a hot air balloon. They have one here right near downtown as a tourist attraction of sorts, so we decided to check it out. It was actually rather wobbly and it felt sort of frail in the wind at first, but I got used to it and was able to enjoy myself. The view of the city and coastline was spectacular, though a bit hazy. We had a bird’s eye view of the spot where Hariri was killed, though apparently the 30 foot crater has recently been filled in.

We almost went to Baalbek today when we found out about a going away party–our friend, Nancy’s husband has finally got his visa and is heading to NYC for the first time. They were married in December 2002 and we went to their wedding reception. Being a young man from Baalbek does not help the visa process along when trying to relocate to the US these days. Ethan has a lot of work, though, so we decided that we had to skip it.

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