Thursday, February 17, 2022

Lebanon: I go on with what remains

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly

Today I find myself in a very introspective mood. Especially about the blog as such since it is my main public ticket or calling card. I am still here, can you believe it? I barely can. I mean everyone else who is left from the original crop of bloggers has gone to other countries (but still blogs about Lebanon), I think there's just one person only settled here apart from me who still blogs (and you did not hear it from me but his blog is not just some press releases which he puts there - not sure if paid or not).

Sure, it goes beyond saying that the situation here is incredibly testing. The several power cuts a day - and I am not even saying state electricity but rather the communal generator I subscribe to. The inflation, devaluation, etc. But also how international companies expect you to work for a pittance for projects, something which I have not subscribed to - my clients still pay my my regular price, thank you very much. Sure, projects have dwindled in terms of frequency but I rather remain fairly paid than have people pay me crumbs.
Do note, I understand why some people are doing it - they need to insure their families are fed, the bills are paid, the astronomical costs of living in Lebanon insured. I understand this and yes, I know of an engineer who went to Dubai to work for 500 USD a month. When a friend of his told him this is way below what is regular payment for his position he said "I'd rather be insulted there than here". This is how desperate things are.
But back to me. I never do things by half. So when I started the blog in January 2017 I certainly was in it for the long run, but of course, the whole market changed by then. People think they if you have an Instagram account or have become a Tiktoker than you have a "blog". You do not. And of course, at this point I am probably an antique remnant of a system. I still write. What I find odd is that there are people, as in a whole lot of people, who still read me.
These are difficult times. And no, I am not one of those who say that "change is around the corner, all we have to do is hold on tight". We still have a long row to hoe in Lebanon. Several years ahead before things start correcting themselves. Sure, we are now in the hardest part. But there is still a lot of hardship ahead. And here I am, still writing. Still forging ahead. Still running like a headless chicken on some of the days.
I explained before that family obligations basically make me remain in Lebanon, and went into detail about how am spending my days (reading, insuring mother’s meds are present, trying as best as possible to decrease commutes – covid oblige – and control finances as much as possible). And if I am writing this today it is with as much realism as possible – no false hopes or words to apply balm or fake promises – just the knowledge that this is another day and I am still here, still writing, and still standing.
As the Fairouz song says "minkammel billi be2you", we go on with those who remain.
And I am going on with what remains.