This place, with a little dip in the roof, overlooks a produce market in Ras Beirut

I am a little captivated by tin roofs that can be seen just about anywhere in Beirut, especially the scalloped thing along the edge.


Cimetieres Militaires Francais de Beyrouth

The French Military Cemetery in Beirut occupies a plot of ground directly bordering the British War Cemetery. On the day I was there the place was locked, so I couldn't do more than peek through the gate and fence.

It would have been nice to go in and look around. Still, I'm glad the view through the fence was as nice as this.

This grave marker made me quite curious. I don't have any command of French at all, let alone one good enough to read. So I asked my husband, who does.

Apparently it says that in 1925, French soldiers died in a place called Hasbaya. Their bodies were discovered in 2000 and transferred to this spot. What happened in 1925, and where is Hasbaya? I had no idea and all that wondering sent me to the internet for answers.

Hasbaya is a Druze town in the mountains. Wikipedia's page about Hasbaya didn't list any notable events for 1925, but a search for "1925 Druze Lebanon" produced another page about the Great Syrian Revolt 1925-1927, also known as the Great Druze Revolt. From that source:

Under the guise of "modernization," the French colonial authorities sought to overthrow the traditional/"feudal" political elite and impose their own subordinates as governors . . . On August 23, 1925 Sultan Pasha al-Atrash officially declared revolution against France. . . . After initial rebel victories against the French, France sent thousands of troops to Syria and Lebanon from Morocco and Senegal, equipped with modern weapons, compared to the meagre supplies of the rebels. This dramatically altered the results and allowed the French to regain many cities . . .

I think it's safe to say that there's a connection between these conflicts and the dead French soldiers found in Hasbaya. If anyone can direct me to something more specific, I'd be glad to hear about it.


Cooking with Gas

Fun fact about Lebanon: as a general rule, people cook and bake with natural gas (this goes for homes and restaurants too probably). And some people use natural gas to heat their homes during the mercifully brief and mild winter.

There is no municipal or private pipeline to supply homes with the stuff, no. Instead, there are trucks like this one. In the back of the truck there are large tanks, smaller ones up front. The small ones are 10 Kilos, the big ones . . . well, I've never had to buy one of those so I don't know.

10 kilos of natural gas costs $20 in my neighborhood and usually lasts us 2-3 months. We cook or bake something almost every day.

I like that this picture shows the dolly, ready and waiting on the back of the truck. It's helpful to have an extra set of wheels when it's time to deliver a tank, especially if you have to take more than one.


On the Headstones

Most of the headstones at the British Cemetery had emblems (medallions, insignias?) carved into them.  They represent units, nations, corps of service. 

 Most of the images in the collage are are from WWII headstones.  Exceptions noted below.

They are left to right, beginning with the top row:

1. Royal Indian Army Service Corps
2. Motor Mechanic - H.M.S. "Nile"
3. Machine Gun Corps (WWI)
4. African Pioneer Corps - East Africa

Middle row

5. Australian Imperial Force
6. Rifleman - London Irish Rifles
7. South Africa
8. Women's Auxiliary Air Force


9. Essex Regiment (WWI)
10. Driver - N.Z. Army Service Corps
11. Craftsman - R.E.M.E.

I missed some good ones, including Hussars, Canadians, and the Catering Corps. All would be interesting I'm sure. I'll just have to go back for more photos.


Beirut British Cemetery, More WWI

A road divides the British Cemetery into north and south halves. From the road, looking south, this is what you see.

It doesn't look very promising, does it?

But then you come into the green space, very well tended, orderly, serene.

There are several large monuments in the southern half of the cemetery--more from WWI. This one stood more or less in the center of the space. Facing it and positioned at the edges of the cemetery were other large monuments inscribed with the names of other fallen men.

This one, for "the Hindu soldiers of the Indian Army"

And another for the Indian Army's Muslim soldiers.

And another, far larger monument for the "men of the Egyptian Labor Corps".

It was so big that I had to crop it mercilessly, otherwise none of the text would be legible.

It's overwhelming to see so many names.  It's somehow harder to comprehend than the expansive fields full of individual markers at a place like Arlington.

Maybe it was because I found the larger markers overwhelming that I spent more time focused on the graves with individual headstones.  They were easier to look at, less difficult to comprehend.


Beirut British Cemetery WWI

For years, I'd heard that there was a British war cemetery here in Beirut. Finally, the other day I went to see it.

I'm still kind of blown away by the landscaping. Actual grass, nicely hedged, newly planted flowers, not a weed in sight. It was completely serene, unexpectedly beautiful.

It was easy to find. The cemetery is clearly marked on most printed maps. It's also on Wikimapia--here's a screen shot:

You can see it in yellow. The cemetery is divided into two halves by the road. The north side of the cemetery is devoted to WWI. Here's the northern section as it looks from the gate at the street:

Shortly after I entered the cemetery, a caretaker approached me and asked if I had any questions. I almost never do--even though I knew nothing much about the cemetery. I complemented the landscaping that was obviously to his credit, and asked if photography was allowed. It was. He asked my nationality, and when I told him that I'm American he pointed to the one and only headstone in the whole place that belongs to one of my countrymen. This one:

I took many more pictures.  Tomorrow I'll share more of them from the other side--the WWII side.


Without Looking

It's high time for another collage of concrete blocks.

I found all of these in the past two days without even looking. Finding without looking. That's zen, isn't it?



Yes, that's me. And yes, that's my taped together camera. I don't normally hold the camera like that, but I had to hold the flash shut so that there wouldn't be a big glare. That's me in my bathroom where I had positioned myself to take a picture of my new sweater.

I like it a lot, especially the holes for my thumbs. It's perfect for this time of year when a winter coat is a little too much and a t-shirt isn't quite enough.


Shelter from the Storm

Can you see the two birds in the small shelter they found for themselves?

Wherever you are, whatever the weather, I hope you are doing as well for yourself.


Palestine vs. AUB

Last night our family went to a Rugby game. It was the first live game we've been to here in Lebanon. The match was between the Palestine Rugby League and the American University of Beirut.

It was kind of a big deal. All sorts of high-level delegates and embassy folks were there.  Representatives from the European Union, UNRWA, and the president of AUB all gave little speeches before the match.

The speech I liked best was given by this guy, Rabie Al Masri, who founded the Palestinian Rugby League in 2008. He talked about the role of sports in the lives of kids, in communities.

It's a terrible picture, and though I'm ashamed of the quality of the photo I'm posting it anyway because I'm proud of this guy. I proud of what he set out to do in 2008 and proud of how much he has done in pursuit of that dream since then.

During the first half, I was sure AUB wouldn't be able to beat them. The Palestinian team played really well.  Their passes were a lot tighter and they were able to gain ground far more easily than the AUB team.  Also, they had a lot of support in the stands. But in the end, AUB pulled ahead and won the match.  I was surprised, but it's surprises and upsets that makes these games fun. I'm glad we went to see it.


On the Inside

During our recent long weekend we drove into the mountains. We hadn't gone that direction since 2007. It was wonderful to see Lebanon's amazing landscape of mountains and valleys again. It had been too long.

While we were there we went to Ksara, where we had lunch and a tour of the caves with friends. While we were there I had the good fortune to look up. This is what I saw:

It's the inside of the roof. Traditional buildings like the Chateau at Ksara almost always have a red tile roof. From the inside, you can see the support structure, you can see the way the tiles overlap.

The light in there wasn't the best, but I was able to capture the imprint on the tile, the cute moth insignia and the mortar sealing all the overlapping edges.


A Little Bit Broken

Plenty of times I've shared photos of completely destroyed roofs or absolutely missing roofs. Today, I'm sharing a photo of a roof that is only a little bit broken.

The tiles are held up by the intersecting beams.  The vertical ones are the structural support of the roof. Thinner horizontal timbers compose the network that keeps the tiles in place.  

Tomorrow, I'll post some photos of what these roofs look like from the inside, because I was lucky enough to find out recently.


Many Windows

It's just another ordinary building with a bunch of unremarkable windows set into it.

It's directly north of a wonderful restaurant we tried this weekend. I'm going back with my camera soon.



It's tucked behind several newer buildings. From almost every direction, the house is  hidden from view.

Every day in Beirut there's a new discovery, something you might not have noticed before.


Two Palaces

Not every block in Beirut has a meticulously maintained Ottoman-era home. The ones that do are lucky to have them. And when you find a block in Beirut that has more than one, like this one in Clemenceau, you can't help feeling that it's something special.

Today is the sixth anniversary of the assassination of Rafik Hariri. Back when it happened, in 2005, friends of ours lived on the top floor of the yellow house in the foreground. The shock-wave from the explosion that killed him blew out all of their windows.

A lot of windows were blown out that day, and obviously far worse things happened too.  Our friends were understandably terrified but they weren't hurt, thankfully. If only everyone had been so lucky.


Every Minute

It's a long, holiday weekend here in Beirut.

The weather's fine, neither work nor school for days to come and we're enjoying every minute of it.


That's so Beirut

Not long ago my husband told me that my blog doesn't really look like Beirut. That got me wondering what Beirut looks like.

Yesterday I went to an exhibition at the Beirut Art Center that featured (among many other things) pictures of Beirut that were taken in 2003. It was funny to see those pictures, all very Beirut and also not Beirut. The pictures showed us a Beirut without the things that have changed since then. It reminded me of what my husband said, and I couldn't help wishing that I had started this blogging project back in 2004 when we first got here and things were quite different.

That's the trouble with preservation. You learn that it's necessary after sustaining a loss, not before.

I took this photo while I drove on a road that skirts the edge of what I suppose is a slum in Achrafieh. Change is its destiny, but no one knows how it will change, when, or what it will become.


Up on the Rooftops

I recently started noticing them, and now I see them everywhere. But, what are they?

Antennas? Lightning rods? Pure ornamentation?


Feeling Blue, Feeling Green

For this Gemmayze doorway, it's blue on the left, green on the right.

Funny what a little color can do.


The Hat

For your enjoyment today, I present another photo from 1965. This isn't the first time I've featured a photo from the Charles Cushman collection of Beirut images. Please click through to see the whole set.

This photo carried the title "Native Gentleman". Notice his hat? It's a Tarboosh. I suppose it's the Lebanese equivalent of a derby, fedora, or bowler hat. A few generations ago a man wouldn't have left the house without it, but it's fallen out of fashion.  Nobody wears them anymore, well, unless they're in uniform or in costume.

Of course, this dapper fellow wears one.

Who is he? Why, Riad el Solh, the first Prime Minister of Lebanon (wikipedia tells me this was from 1943-1945 and again from 1946-1951). His statue is downtown, oriented such that he faces east,.

I think the Tarboosh looks really nice. It's too bad it's no longer commonly worn.


Valet Parking

Just about everywhere (Malls, fast food joints, hotels, etc.) in Beirut has valet parking.

I've started noticing the boards where the guys hang the keys and keep the numbers. They're usually quite a lot like this one--they look well worn, a bit vintage.


St. George and the Dragon

North of Beirut there is a little public garden set into a rocky hillside.  The park is filled with little shrines that feature a variety of renderings of St. George. There's a Christian story about St. George slaying a dragon, and thus in every depiction he is shown triumphant over a defeated monster.

It was quite a remarkable place with a pond and fountain, bridge, better than the usual landscaping, where many artists' interpretations of the saint with the dragon underfoot seemed to wait around each corner.


Dodge Bus

This is one of the coolest buses I've ever seen. When I happened to walk past it, the bold colors, stars, hood ornament, even the horn on the hood convinced me to pull out my camera.

This bus was parked in a line of at least a half dozen others. Some of them were just as ornate, decorated just as well. Their drivers must love them a lot.

Inside one bus, I noticed this collection of stuff dangling from the roof.  I love the fringed, tassled bunting.

You can't see it very well, but there's a card collection in the middle of the mirror above the windshield--the cards all depict Christian saints and martyrs.  The driver put them there to protect the bus no doubt. Maybe the whole collection, plushies and all, is there to woo fortune's favor.


A Row of Teeth

Morning sun casts a deep shadow on this doorway.

I like that zig-zag. To me, it look like a row of teeth.


UN Trucks

It's another commonality here: UN Trucks.

These trucks belong to UN Peacekeepers (UNIFIL) in the south. The trucks in my photo are here in Beirut because those folks need some R&R now and then, so they come to town. I walked past these trucks parked outside a West-Beirut hotel.

A few times in early evening, I've seen massive convoys of a different sort of UNIFIL trucks. These convoys include tanks, APCs, and heavy machinery. It's impressive, their parades of dozens of enormous trucks etc., and I've often wondered if that's part of some sort of planned rotation.


Service, Taxi

Cabs--you know, taxis. I would call them a taxis if I wasn't in Beirut.

But in Beirut, "taxi" isn't necessarily the car, it's what you get if you pay ~ $6.70. Your $6.70 pays for a one-way trip and you get the car to yourself.

Ask for "service" -- pronounce it with your best impostor-French accent -- and you only pay ~ $1.35. You'll have to share the car with other passengers, though. Along the way, the driver will attempt to fill all the vacant seats, slowing down or stopping before any warm body just in case they want to go the same direction you're going. You simply have to share with anyone the driver finds, and your trip will take quite a bit longer (what with all the slowing, stopping, haggling) than if you had paid for "taxi". It's like a spontaneous car-pool.

I personally prefer service to taxi. I'm miserly and green like that.

Lately, I've noticed a lot of cabs have this emblem on the side--and I hadn't noticed them before a few weeks ago. I'm inclined to say they're a new thing, though I could simply have been inattentive.  Not all the cabs have them, so I was curious about why some do and some don't.  I tried to find information about it online and didn't find anything except one story about a big taxi-union protest last April. I don't remember hearing anything about that last year.

I'd love to know more about the door emblems for cabs around here--if anyone has a link to share, I'd appreciate it.



We walked past the other day and my daughter read this to me, delighted that she knew all the letters, knew what they meant.

It's really cool to see the kids learning, growing, progressing by little bits each day.


Hello February

Take a look at that sky! Cloudy and bright all at once.

This plaza full of fountains and palm trees sits between two hotels downtown--the Monroe and the Four Seasons.

People all over the world are posting photos of fountains from the place where they live. It's part of City Daily Photo's monthly theme day. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants