Beirut, Part V

When I asked Joseph if it was difficult returning to his parents house in the wake of his divorce he revealed that, on his earnings, he couldn’t afford an apartment here. Moreover it was rare for unmarried people to live on their own in Lebanon. A woman writer – still single in her mid-thirties – confirmed this for me, saying that if she moved out on her own she would be considered something of a scarlet woman in her community. An insurance executive I met in his early twenties informed me that even the new generation of emerging Lebanese adults like himself had to abide by this strict familial code which existed on both sides of the religious divide, saying: “I’ll be at home until I am married.This lack of personal latitude was underscored by a lack of geographic latitude. Unless you were lucky enough to possess dual citizenship with a western country, even trying to get a tourist visa for an EU country with a Lebanese passport was not facile.

Surveying his patch of verdancy within the Beirut metropolitan jumble, Joseph said:

“For the moment there is the appearance of stability here. But it could all change tomorrow. The war here… it isn’t truly finished…”