Getting a car and having enough money to afford it can be one of the greatest achievements you get to make in Lebanon. While we know that owning a car would make you feel safer and securer, we’re also aware that consulting people in Lebanon around this matter would only make things harder and more vicious. Whether you are a car owner or planning on getting one, below is a list of statements you've surely heard your Lebanese folks say, or you will more likely say if you are in the process of purchasing a car. Enjoy the ride through these 11 cliché-statements!
#1. Shou baddak bi hal shaghleh? (You don’t want that)
Since you initiated this kind of conversation and sought advice, you shouldn't be surprised if you heard something like “baleha, ma jeybe hamma,” meaning you don’t want to add more burden on yourself. Your fellows will start projecting their own bad experiences on yours until you tell them what they want to hear.
Whether it’s the gasoline price they're complaining about or the damages occurred to their cars because of the unskilled Lebanese drivers - who they happen to be one of them- just say, “Yes, you’re right buddy, ain’t getting a car anymore!”
#2. Baddak tsou2 3annak w 3an ghayrak (You'll need to drive on behalf of everyone)
Many Lebanese people are actually authorized to make you feel down. If you have got your driving license, by your own merit or by wasta (resulting of knowing someone important), and you decided to purchase your own car, be ready to get something like “baddak tsou2 3anna w 3an ghayrak." It is a very cliché-statement used by almost everyone in Lebanon to indicate how attentive you need to be when driving a car.
I have personally been thinking about this for a while; if everyone in Lebanon does truly believe that they need to be careful and drive on behalf of others, who are the reckless and incautious drivers then? Who do they happen to be? Where are they coming from? Aliens from Mars, maybe?
#3. Shou baddak fiya ma ela eta3 (Forget about this one, its spare parts are not easily available)
So basically, if they have given you the “green light” to purchase a car, your family members, friends, colleagues and even people who you’re not much familiar with will step in to demotivate you with their very personal theories.
If you, for instance, have made the decision to get X car, everybody will instantaneously become an automobile expert and say things like “lah lah, shou badak fiya, eta3a ghalyin”, meaning don’t go for it as its spare parts are very expensive. Whatever they say, just nod, approve and do whatever you want, buddy!
#4. Sherkeh or Mesta3mal? (From the company or pre-owned?)
I have literally spent 4 months just figuring out what works best; purchasing a new car from its original company or getting a pre-owned one? This is a very serious issue and a complicated dilemma you will ever get stuck in when you decide to get a car.
There’s the "team company" who tells you “jib jdid, 3al alileh ma hada sey2a ablak” in the sense of “get a new car, at least no one would have driven it before you." And then there is the "team pre-owned cars" who are like “shou sherkeh ma sherkeh, jib mesta3mal ndif w bala ma tetkallaf kteer” as in “Get a clean pre-owned car instead of paying a fortune on a new one."
#5. Shou rah ta3mel bel siyara? (What are you planning to do with your current car?)
This is another situation to deal with when everyone becomes, out of the blue, concerned about what you will be doing with your current car. Not because they care but because they want to get it from you for a very cheap price and install you the payments over 5 years. Maybe you can say you are keeping it for your children? Or until it becomes a vintage automobile?
#6. Starting price: 14,999 USD
If you settled for getting a new car from one of those authorized dealers in Lebanon, you should know that the starting price you saw on billboards or on TV is just an appealing number meant to hook you. By the only fact that you enter the company to test-drive the car or to just take a look at it, the advertised price will start escalating.
You have to be prepared to deal with a set of unexpected and nonsense payments that you can’t argue about. I remember I once called the company because the bank called for 200 USD as an additional payment that I still don’t know what it was even for. The answer was “eh ma hayde daf3a oula lal te2min” meaning " Yeah but that is the first installment for the insurance."
#7. Jeyine boukra teshkile helweh (Tomorrow, I am receiving a beautiful variety)
In case you know the drill of companies and decided to get a pre-owned car from one of those independent dealers, chances are you will hear them say every single day you visit them that they’re expecting another series of beautiful pre-owned cars. For some weird reasons, this series never arrive and may even be nonexistent.
#8. Hal siyara kenet ma3 doctora (This car was owned by a female doctor)
Where to start? What should I say? If this pre-owned car was a female doctor’s or a teacher or a lawyer's, should this guarantee that they haven’t damaged it before? I know as a matter of fact from one of my friends who is a lawyer that she really digs drifting, so what kind of Lebanese logic is that?!
#9. Mana meshye kteer, wahyet wledeh (I swear by my children that this car was barely used)
Why should they even swear in the name of their sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers while they know that what they’re saying is most of the time untrue? The mileage of my previous pre-owned car showed a distance of 20.000 KMs, which to a certain extent was okay until I knew that this car has been rented a few times by cab drivers and was hence roaming all over Lebanon!
#10. Addeh dafa3et 7a22a? (How much did you pay for it?)
Whatever number you say, there will be a group of folks competing on who would have probably purchased it for less. Another thing you may expect is one of those friends telling you “ya ret eltelleh ya zalameh, kenet 7kitellak sa7beh” as in "I wish you told me, man, I would have talked to my friend for you."
Things can still be fine until you have to tell them the price you had to pay or are willing to install if you got a new company car. Endless reactions both spoken and non-verbal to make you feel as bad as possible about yourself: “Ummm, kteer, bass!” (Hmmm, too much!) and “El-3ama! Leh hal add?!” (Blinding! Why that much?!)
#11. Et2anna 3layya (Take good care of it)
Yes, because basically you were planning on burning its tires or scratching its paint in your free time. Whenever you get your new or pre-owned car, get ready to receive tons of lectures from people who may not even be car owners. “Ghayerla zayta!” (change its oil!), “ntebeh 3al mtabbet” (be careful of the road bumps), etc. Well, thank you! If you haven’t given me those “useful” pieces of advice, I wouldn’t know what would have happened to my car!!!