Friday, May 16, 2014

Almaza, and Andy Ash

So, my time in Beirut in winding down, although I can hardly feel it. The office is in an uproar, I'm starting up my last few projects for JRS Middle East and Andy Ash just arrived to help.

I first met Andy in India, well over a year ago. I was dating his roommate but found myself up late night with Andy, talking about photography and singing "The Weight" over and over, seeing as it was the only song he could play on the guitar.

I've visited him and his family in England three times over the past year; conned him into meeting me in Paris to see Bruce Springsteen and then convinced him to road trip from London to Rome in his tiny, 2-seater convertible, top down, in winter. That'll test a friendship.

Now he's in Beirut, shooting a video with me about our education projects in Lebanon for Syrian refugees. And man, it feels like such a blessing to have him. After seeing him and his family more over this year than my own, it feels like I've got a little slice of family, of home, here in Beirut.

Andy arrived on Mardi Gras, which doesn't mean anything in Beirut, even though it's a former French colony. He got off the plane and we went out straight away with my roommates and colleagues. I'd like to say this was because of Mardi Gras, but every day here in Beirut is blur of whiskey and cigarettes. It's truly been a whirlwind here. I haven't been drinking, which has helped and hindered in it's own ways.

Beirut is a funny place. I don't know any Lebanese people; all my roommates until recently were from the same home town in Syria. Beirut is expensive cars, new condos, bars and restaurants. You hear about a bombing across town over Facebook in the morning and then go out at night.

And after a few months in the city, I've gotten strangely attached. I've never met JRS people like the guys I've met here. Maybe it's because they are from Syria that makes them so dedicated. But I don't think so; they are dedicated because it's in their nature. Maybe it's because the office has been turned upside down recently with new management decisions that have brought us closer through turmoil.

It's just because it takes time to settle in, and now it hurts to think I have to go. It took me and Andy a year or more to feel like family, but the people I've met in Beirut welcomed me into their big, crazy, dysfunctional family almost immediately.

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