Lebanon, Service Taxis

Martyrs & Broken Bones

View from a ’72 Benz C250 series, issue no. 3taxi31

Last night, I took a taxi from Gemmayze to Hamra. The driver seemed to be in his 40’s, and he wore a smart felt cap and a wool sweater vest. A little wooden cross dangled from the rearview mirror. As we drove past the tens of thousands of chairs laid out in Martyrs’ Square for the big Hariri commemoration to be held tomorrow, I launched into my standard conversation starter:  So how’s the political situation these days? You see, I’m visiting from out of town…  Yes, I live abroad…  Just visiting! Seems like things are getting better. No? Do tell…

That usually works. Sometimes I get a taciturn guy who needs to be cajoled into talking, but sometimes I get a real talker, a veritable radio host like this fellow.

“So how’s the political situation these days? You see I’m…”

“The situation is very difficult to read. Very difficult. In the south, there is no contest, as Hizbullah and Amal will take everything. In Beirut 2 and 3, Hariri will triumph again. Same with Tripoli. Any differences between Safadi and Hariri will be settled in advance of the elections, and deals will be cut to ensure that Tripoli remains in the March 14th camp. The only place where you’ll see some contests is in the Mountain. For example, in Jbeil there will be bone-breaking. In Batroun there will be bone-breaking. In Keserwan Aoun is very strong, but if Michel al-Murr and the Armenians form an alliance with Sheikh Amine, then there will be bone-breaking. So you see, the election will come down to a few Christian seats.”

“Whose chances do you like most?”

“I personally think that Aoun’s going to lose. Don’t get me wrong, I used to like Aoun. I liked him during the war, I liked him when he was in Paris, and I liked him when he first returned to Lebanon. But then we discovered that he came back after making a deal with the Syrians. So how can I like him anymore? He is working for Syria and Iran. I mean, in all honesty, oh General, aren’t you ashamed?”

“So I take it you’re not going to vote for him.”

“No. And I don’t think he will win. A lot of Christians have changed their mind about him.”

“Where do you vote?”

“In Achrafieh.”

“So your vote will actually make a difference.”

“Yes, there will be much bone-breaking in Achrafieh.”
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Discussion

2 thoughts on “Martyrs & Broken Bones

  1. So, RIP the “Just Relax…strategy? Don’t make me sound like your mother with the ” I told you so” song…or is it just that we happened to take the same taxi?

    Posted by Mj | February 13, 2009, 5:26 am
  2. Habibi Mj

    Shu RIP the “Just Relax…” strategy? I’m just reporting on what a disgruntled ex-Aounist taxi driver had to say.

    I still believe that M14 is tripping over its own shoelaces, not because former M14ers are going to switch sides, but because they may be so fed up and jaded that they may not bother going out to vote.

    This doesn’t mean that M8 does not have its problems. The centrists may end up being a big problem for the FPM… there is no way of knowing.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 13, 2009, 5:31 am

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