Hamra – My ‘hood

Happy October!

I finally got internet access at home this last week – yay! It feels so strange in a way now to have 24 hour access to the internet, something many of us just take for granted. As a result I am enjoying a lazy Sat morning with my coffee and the NYTimes online.

I just ran across this article that is about my neighborhood, Hamra, in Beirut. It’s funny to read it in the NYTimes and reflect on how I don’t really absorb information unless I experience it first-hand. I think I have always been like that. And so, living here and reading about Hamra or Hezbollah or Syria (all of which are written about in the Times today) resonates so much more because I am here. I am able to synthesize and process the information on so many levels because I am walking the streets and meeting people from all over the region. It’s an amazing privledge and one I hope will lead to service I can’t even yet imagine.

Enjoy the article and ask me any questions you want. peace out! oh and, come visit and experience it for yourself! 🙂

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/02/arts/02iht-scbeirut.html

Things Are Happening in Hamra

Bryan Denton for The International Herald Tribune
One word embodies all that is most dynamic, inspiring and authentic about Beirut: Hamra.
By SETH SHERWOOD
Published: October 1, 2010

BEIRUT — Take one of Beirut’s battered 1970s Mercedes taxis through the city center and you’ll chance across plenty of gold-plated names these days. Here, splayed across one of the plywood walls that surround proliferating construction sites is the logo for Norman Foster’s architectural firm, announcing a trio of residential towers. There, on a billboard down the street from the glitzy Buddha Bar is the signature bald head of the French architect Jean Nouvel, who’s creating a complex called, modestly, The Landmark.

Thanks to a couple of years of relative stability, this Middle Eastern capital is building like the Pharaohs. But the boom has come at a cost. Older buildings, full of wonderful Arabian details, have been demolished. People on five-figure incomes have been priced out.

Fortunately, there is an antidote. When the personality of the city starts to feel stifled by steel and glass, I often catch a taxi and tell the driver the one word that embodies all that is most dynamic, inspiring and authentic about Beirut: Hamra.

Long the center of intellectual life and leftist politics before the 1975-1990 civil war, this neighborhood of venerable six-story apartment buildings, leafy university campuses and teeming street life has been undergoing a renaissance of its own. A spate of new book-lined Wi-Fi cafes, contemporary art spaces, cozy bars, and eclectic music clubs are helping re-establish Hamra as the city’s most progressive, happening corner.

Keep reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/02/arts/02iht-scbeirut.html

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