There is a reason why the “service taxi” conversation genre in Beirut never grows old. Here is my contribution to it:
From Ras Beirut to Cola:
Omar: (shouting to a man on the street) Allah y-khalleek lal-tayfeh [May good keep you for the (Sunni) sect]. (Turning to me with an apologetic smile) I am trying to embarrass him the way he embarrassed me once. I am Palestinian, you know. We helped them [the Sunnis] in Tariq Jdidah on May 7th . That is why Hizballah did not enter the neighborhood. Don’t you believe it when they say the Palestinians have little influence in Lebanon. We are everywhere, keeping their back. But they do not like us. Between you and me, the Sunnis are the most fanatic in Lebanon. Rafiq al-Hariri did not do a thing to help us. He fought against us, depriving us of work, ownership, everything.
[…] I have family in Sweden. Where? In Malmo, that’s where all the Arabs are. I traveled there through Turkey, then by boat to Greece, making my way up from there to Sweden. I would never do it again. The smugglers are ruthless. A woman’s son fell off the boat and they did not stop for him. […] A Palestinian has no heart, he is afraid at nothing. At the border with Turkey I helped an Iraqi who got caught in barbed wire and got caught myself in the process. The Iraqi ran off without trying to help me. I still have the scar, look (he shows me a scar on his hand). And another long one on my leg (he points along his left shin).
[…] I lived in Sweden for two years. No, I do not speak Swedish, but my 10-year old daughter does. I came back to Lebanon thinking things were looking up and ended up driving this service. I am going back to Sweden, khalas. At least we get some respect there. Excuse me? Yes, tfadalli. Tasharrafna b-ma3riftik, madam.
From Cola to Ras Beirut:
Tariq: Look at this jam, they have cut off traffic on the airport highway. I wonder who is visiting this time. If only we treated each other the way we treat our visitors […] Better go through Ayshah Bakkar, there is less traffic.
[…] (through Ayshah Bakkar, between army tanks) What, they burned tires here yesterday? What is the point of that? What is the fault of passersby like you and me who get caught up here? Or that woman who was shot on her balcony? […] Why would anyone support Hariri or Berri? Look, I support neither Hariri nor Berri. I support my shoe which keeps my feet protected (he points at his feet) — well, I am driving barefooted now. I also support the customer who pays me 2,000 Lira to get him from one place to the other. What have Hariri or Berri ever done for me?
[…] All that goes up comes down. When a bullet goes up, it comes down. No, it has nothing to do with gravity, it has to do with the angle. (He then proceeded to explain about bullets and B7’s, ranges, angles, and detonators using the American University Hospital as an illustrative target). […] I know about these things. I have received military training in the USSR during the [Lebanese civil] war. Houn? Eh, tikrami. Allah ma3ik.