Friday, November 09, 2007

Tow-Away Zone.

photo by her / march 2005 / Beirut, Lebanon

Last week, our Capital City was supposed to get its first Parking Meters, since the civil war. Did it happen? Did anybody see anything? I don’t know.

How cool is that? Our first Parking Meters since the 1975-1990 civil war! Does that mean all our troubles are now so far away?

It would only be fair to inform those who don't know, that in contemporary Beirut, you can park your car almost anywhere you can fit it, except in areas where the military decided you couldn't for security reasons. Not your security, but the security of the big shot asshole that lives nearby. Parking is usually done on streets, on sidewalks (yes ON sidewalks), and in empty lots (terrains vagues) where you would be charged a mere 1$ or 2$ for a full day. Give the guy 5$, and you may even come back to find your car washed and cleaned. But that's irrelevant now.

Beirut was a cool and clean city before the war as the world must know by now, all with adequate street furniture, and traffic control signage worthy of any rising intermediate city; we had a lot of attention to detail. When chaos reigned over the streets, signage became the least of the inhabitants’ worries; which is rather normal. In fact those who abided by rules and regulations of traffic, became a joke to others, and chaos became the rule. In times of an absurd war, speed limits were just a number, double parking was a trend, and traffic jams were resolved with an emptying of an AK47 magazine in the air.

Although Beirut rose again, as beautiful as ever, still traffic signs lagged behind. In Downtown Beirut, everything is in mint condition except that our generation (the war generation) is just not used to seeing a no parking sign (or any sign for that matter). What is a stop sign, why are those speed limits everywhere? Are you kidding me?

I was once in my car stopped still at a red light. Cars were honking behind me angrily. For once, I decided not to move and educate those bastards. A cop rode beside me on his Harley Davidson and said: “Move out you stupid ass, can’t you see the chaos behind you?” (2arrib ya 7mar, ma cheyif el 3aj2a warak?)
- But the light is red! I said stupidly.
- Move, move, move, before I give you a ticket!

The dude, threatened to give me a ticket for stopping at a red light!

As Colonel Joseph Doueihy, in charge of the traffic department at the interior ministry, mentioned to AFP, gradually more units will be installed throughout the capital as part of a major effort to regulate circulation.
Funding for this project will come from World Bank, which will make our debt even bigger. Yeah the World Bank, why did you think Iran, Syria, or Saudi Arabia were going to cater for that? Or were you counting on the West? No no, these guys will only help you go to war... mind you, the Kingdom funded many infrastructure projects during the Hariri Sr. reign. It was of course to achieve political powers, but let's spare them this discourse for the time being.

He also said, “people who fail to feed the meters or who overstay the two-hour limit risk a ticket of 20,000 pounds (about 13 dollars) or even being towed”. Correct me if I am wrong here, but I didn’t think we paid our tickets in Lebanon. I just thought they went straight to the recycle bin, or even removed off the windshield and thrown right away on the asphalt beneath our feet. Did you ever have to pay for a ticket you got? I remember once getting a ticket; I was ecstatic that I got my first ticket ever – it was yellow and all. I was proud. I asked where to pay for it, and I was told that I shouldn’t. “You just throw it away”.

A survey done with citizens and posh shop owners proved that some were happy about the new parking meters, while others thought that it was going to be just pointless and useless. "I don't think people will respect the rules because they are used to chaos," one woman said. "I think they will try and find a way to beat the system. And even if they get tickets, do you really think they will pay them?"
And this is exactly what I think will happen.

Can you explain to me, why is it that, in general, the Lebanese are the first to follow rules and regulations when abroad, but in their own country, they just don’t give a damn, and choose to be oblivious.
Weird species we are!


I was talking jokingly with my friends about those new parking meters we were getting, and they, with all seriousness, thought that it was no time for Parking Meters while we still can pick our own president. Well my friends, civility has to start at some point, and we can’t keep on waiting for others to wake up. In Lebanon, a group wants to push the country forward, and another group wants to drag it back. I say to hell with that, we have to start at some point. Those who do not pay their phone bills or electricity bills will not worry about parking tickets anyway, others… well you just have to take one for the team.

I think it is a great idea to install those parking meters, and while they are at it, they might as well install NO CAMPING signs in downtown Beirut. Actually, what they should be doing, is inventing or creating a “no-camping-in-central-districts-you-fuck-or-you-will-get-shot” sign!

I am going to invent it!

On another front, Doueihy said: "Our aim is to institute order and to ease the city's traffic chaos." No Mr. Doueihy (or should I say colonel)! You got it all wrong; this will not ease traffic chaos.
What the Lebanese Government don’t seem to understand, is that budgeting for more infrastructure, building more roads, and installing traffic signs will not ease traffic jams and traffic chaos. Only an elaborate public transportation will… and of course public awareness, but I dare you to do that.

There you go.
I have been in a terrible mood this week!

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9 Comments:

At 2:19 AM, Blogger Mar said...

Cheer up, embrace your 30s, celebrate and decompress... Weird species indeed...

 
At 10:30 AM, Blogger laila said...

hahaha z you're so naive!!! you remind me of someone i know..she also used to try to stop at the red lights but she kept getting bullied.

aprking meters are cool. as long as the money ends up in right bin, and not in someone's pocket!

 
At 11:37 PM, Blogger poshlemon said...

_z.,

I understand your agony, but you must understand that Lebanon is a special country and its citizens are special people who do special things and if that includes parking on the sidewalk and not stopping at red lights, so be it! You have to respect that.

The story of you stopping at the red light was hilarious. I used to stop at the red lights on purpose and oh my God, the amount of honking and swears I used to receive was uplifting haha! I used to enjoy the fact that I was pissing them off by abiding by the law. But, did he really refer to you by "ya 7mar" and threaten to fine you if you continued to stop at the red lights? wow! hayde jdeede!

 
At 10:30 AM, Blogger _z. said...

mar_
I am fine with my 30s... it's not that! why are you so freaking out about yours ?

laila_
you have to try don't you?
what do you think will happen to the money laila? :S

poshlemon_
this is the truth! that's what the dude said... he had a cool mustache too!

 
At 1:54 AM, Blogger MMMMMMMMM said...

Akh ya _Z where should I start?
#$%$# bhal sha3eb! we deserve everything coming, and even more! all in the name of fighting al 3adouw al souhyouneh!!!
were you serious about removing these orcs from downtown beirut? Good luck in that!

 
At 11:20 AM, Blogger _z. said...

mmmmmmmmm_
man I would love to do that, but I am neither Legolas, nor Aragorn. all I can do is write and bitch... and I even had decided not too do that anymore...
I just couldn't resist, I have to slip in a word or two every now and then.

 
At 2:57 AM, Blogger Liliane said...

I still stop at red lights, but I think I am gonna get beat up one day lol

Anyway, 7abbet stylo hayda el policeman, mahdoum ktir, ana i think kenet khrefet 3lei and possibly went to jail

 
At 10:08 AM, Blogger _z. said...

but ppl are stopping at red lights nowadays aren't they.

 
At 8:48 AM, Blogger MMMMMMMMM said...

_Z,

I will be waiting for those word or two!

 

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