Abd al-Latif Fakhuri, one of my favorite local historians, has an article on the history of epidemics in Beirut in today’s Annahar. Local histories of the various quarters in Beirut are very interesting — if also sometimes inaccurate. In this genre, I find Fakhuri’s work the most interesting because he does serious research in periodicals and literary works to complement other sources. In this article, he goes through a list of epidemics that have struck Beirut in the past, tying into the narrative local beliefs, quarantine measures, epidemic-poetry, advertisements, etc…

It is all written in the spirit of the flu season and, if you are historically minded (and read Arabic), it makes for a very interesting read. I found the local name given to the flu when it first struck in 1889 rather funny: the goat’s nose. anf ‘l-3anza. Inf ‘l-uenza.

Since we are on the topic of local history, there is a small museum worth seeing in `Ayn al-Mraysah. A certain Ibrahim Najem, a diver/fire-fighter of the neighborhood, damaged his legs during decompression many, many years ago. He has since taken to collecting things that most, in utter fascination with “the new,” would have thrown away. The three rooms that constitute this “museum” are a heap of objects many of which are commonplace. But the gems scattered indiscriminately among them and the pleasure of meeting the wonderful Ibrahim make this trip definitely worth it. Contact details can be found here.