Elections, Lebanon, Service Taxis

Kishk, Awarma, Apples, and Hashish

bekaa hashishView from a ’72 Benz C250 series, no. 6

I went out for dinner last night with some family visiting from out of town and a few friends. We piled into a service taxi heading down Hamra Street and gave the cabbie the address. As the old Benz lurched its way down towards the sea, my mother (who has more charisma in her little finger than I do in my whole body, and from whom I inherited my penchant for chatting with chauffeuriyyeh) took it upon herself to show me how it was done.

Cabbie: Tourist? American? English? French?

Umm Elias: What tourists? Lebanese, habibi.

Cabbie: Ah, pardon me. I thought I heard you speaking English with the others, that’s why I assumed…

Umm Elias: No, no. We’re Lebanese. From the Bekaa.

Cabbie: (perking up) Me too. Welcome, welcome…

Umm Elias: The Bekaa. Living on kishk and awarma.

Cabbie: Ahhh… now you’re talking. Is there anything more delicious than a plate of eggs and awarma, or kishk and sizzling ground beef? Where are you from in the Bekaa?

Umm Elias: Deir al-Ahmar.

Cabbie: I’m from Nabi Osman! We’re neighbors!

Umm Elias: Uh huh. (The first and last time my mom stepped foot in Deir al-Ahmar was probably 30 years ago, but she can fake local know-how with the best of them).

Cabbie: Let’s see… the Kayrouz family is from Deir al-Ahmar, right? And Rahme, Haddad…

Umm Elias: Uh huh. So tell me, what’s your cash crop in Nabi Osman?

Cabbie: Apples. What’s yours?

Umm Elias: Hashish.

Cabbie: Yeah, I know (laughing).

Umm Elias: Why? You got a problem with that?

Cabbie: No, no… We grow hashish too. But not like you folks in Deir al-Ahmar. You’re serious growers.

Umm Elias: Better believe it. We’re drug dealers.

Cabbie: Yes ma’am.

Umm Elias: Macho men. Tough guys.

Cabbie: Umm, ok.

Umm Elias: The macho men of the Bekaa, know what I mean? The real deal.

Cabbie. Uh huh… So do you vote in Deir al-Ahmar?

Umm Elias: I’m not going to vote for anyone.

Cabbie: Me neither. They’re all liars.

Umm Elias: All of them.

Cabbie: Well, not all. Sayyed Nasrallah is honest, may God keep him. And General Aoun too. I love the General.

Umm Elias: And Berri?

Cabbie: No. I don’t like him.

Umm Elias: I don’t like anyone.

Cabbie: Look, here’s how I see it. Why not try the General for four years? If he’s bad, then we’ll throw him out, right? This is democracy. It can’t hurt to try him.

Umm Elias: Sure, why not…

Cabbie: I mean, don’t get me wrong. Everyone is a sheep in this country. Some people — pardon my language — if Saniora pissed in a bowl, they would call it champagne. And for other people, even if Israel came and destroyed all of Lebanon, they would still claim it as a victory for the resistance. I’m not a sheep. But I think we should try the General. Why not?

Umm Elias: Why not…

Cabbie: Where are we going again, by the way?

Umm Elias: What’s the matter with you? Don’t you know your way around?

Cabbie: I’m sorry, madame. We were talking and I got distracted.

Umm Elias: We were talking? You were talking. Take the next right.

Cabbie: Yes madame…

Umm Elias: “We were talking,” he says… Unbelievable.

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Discussion

19 thoughts on “Kishk, Awarma, Apples, and Hashish

  1. Michael Young ,here, warns Christians of Lebanon. They are once again turning their community once again into a regional football, he says, which may lead to their eventual undoing with no one to save them this time.

    Posted by mike | May 14, 2009, 2:15 am
  2. QN,

    This is the best cabbie story… Your mother has a lot of chutzpah!!! Your taxi driver stories are priceless… keep them coming!!!

    Posted by Nidal | May 14, 2009, 3:55 am
  3. Its good to see that Lebanese Taxi drivers do not know there way around in Beirut, (lol) they have the same problem here in Sydney!

    Posted by Enlightened | May 14, 2009, 6:18 am
  4. God Bless el chauffeuriyyeh, what would life be without them in the dreary Beirut traffic – which they help create? You should hear the pearls of advice they’re always ready to give young girls…

    Posted by Joujolie | May 14, 2009, 8:29 am
  5. Enlightened,
    Do you suffer from an anti Lebanese syndrome by any chance?

    Posted by majid | May 14, 2009, 9:06 am
  6. Great story, QN! I could learn a thing or two from Umm Elias.

    Posted by Ms. Tee | May 14, 2009, 11:17 am
  7. Hilarious πŸ™‚

    Posted by Vuvathon | May 14, 2009, 11:50 am
  8. “Ahl el Deir” are not known as β€œdrug dealers” by any means but rather as “abadayat”.

    Posted by i.e. Lubnan | May 14, 2009, 11:57 am
  9. LOL, that was hilarious. You’re mom sounds intimidating reminded me of my grandma (who’s also lebanese)

    Posted by Innocent Criminal | May 14, 2009, 2:07 pm
  10. lol @ abadayat πŸ™‚

    Posted by Joujolie | May 14, 2009, 3:48 pm
  11. hahahah.. πŸ™‚ i love it…

    Posted by Tariq | May 14, 2009, 5:12 pm
  12. Majid: (Said)

    “Do you suffer from an anti Lebanese syndrome by any chance?”

    I will have to see my doctor about that. But I wont deny my Lebanese heritage, I was born there, there is nothing like self-criticism to make you appreciate who you are and what your short comings are. Its called self-actualization, its something you brotherly Syrians sometimes lack! (lol)

    Posted by Enlightened | May 15, 2009, 2:12 am
  13. Scary πŸ˜›

    Posted by offended | May 18, 2009, 11:57 am
  14. I love your mom, she sounds like my kind of lady. I too enjoy talking to taxi cab drivers all over the world. When we were in Spain I talked to them even though I really don’t speak Spanish. I faked it.

    My late father used to love to talk to soldiers. He made me really nervous the day we met some Syrian generals touring Baalbeck – he teased them! He was insulting them, pleasantly! I was quaking in my boots. My father liked soldiers but wanted them all to know that he was Professor Elias Abu-Saba from Mieh-Mieh and he wasn’t afraid of them one bit!

    Posted by Leila Abu-Saba | May 22, 2009, 8:50 am
  15. nidal harb?????? is that you ya manyak????? u still in london???? its me marwan from aiu 2006

    Posted by marwan | June 3, 2009, 10:51 pm
  16. Umm Elias is intimidating isn’t she! πŸ™‚

    Posted by Liliane | June 16, 2009, 12:31 pm
  17. hahaha, funny story!

    Deir el Ahmar is also famous for

    Posted by Joseph | March 12, 2011, 10:45 pm
  18. Ya hala b eben el 3am. Alla ma3 umm Elias.
    BTW you made my day because I was looking for a dabkeh video Deir El Ahmar is famous for and showcasing the veterans and found it in one of your comments.

    Thanks.

    Posted by Charbel (@ck123) | November 23, 2011, 5:28 am

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