Being Lebanese is undoubtedly not easy if truth be told. Apart from the uniqueness of this country and the singularity of its individuals, being Lebanese does truly require a lot of coping mechanisms and adaptations. What can I say? Our nation has always been on survival mode.
Either it’s the electricity schedule that you have to deal with or the traffic that is always on peak or any similar among the various other matters, there’s a set of questions that we do regularly ask.
Let’s enter upon a series of 11 questions you can't miss uttering on, almost, a daily basis if you are Lebanese.
#1. Dawleh aw moteur? (Public electricity or generator?)
This, we ask on a daily basis and at least once per day. It’s crucially important for us Lebanese to know whether it’s the electricity provided by the Lebanese public institution or by owners of electric generators in Lebanon.
We need to actually know whether we can turn on the heater or the AC and if we can use the washing machine or the hairdryer. Electricity does no doubt intervene in the smallest details of our daily lives. And since we only get – most of the time – 5 amp or less, we have to align our daily routine with the public electricity's schedule.
#2. Fi may sekhneh? (Is there hot water?)
Following #1, and regardless the season, we often tend to check if there’s enough hot water. Things can only worsen when there’s no public electricity and the water is cold; one among many Lebanese people’s nightmares!
#3. Shou el-akel lyom? (What’s the meal today?)
The way to a Lebanese’s heart is through his stomach. We love to cook, we love to eat and we do nail it in food; a matter no one can dare to disagree about. It’s for that reason that we rarely skip a meal whether we’re at work or home. We have to know every single day with which kind of delicious food we're going to fill our stomach!
#4. Weyn el-sahra lyom? (Where are we spending the evening tonight?)
Besides being known for our love for food, we Lebanese are well recognized for our passion for life. Partying, clubbing, pubbing, and hanging out are all an essential part of our Lebanese lifestyle. If however you ever dare to call one of these plans off, your friends will bring in some delicious food for an indoor movie night at your place!
#5. Fi 3aj2a? (Is there traffic jam?)
This one is actually hilarious. We all know that congestion in Lebanon is a big issue and that anytime can be a traffic jam peak. We still, however, ask on a daily basis whether there’s heavy traffic as if we really hope for a miracle to happen!
#6. Leh hal add fetouret el-telephone? (Why is the telephone bill that high?)
Well, we know as a matter of fact that almost every Lebanese family has someone living and working abroad. We need to catch-up with our fellows overseas, talk endlessly to our family and friends, and probably solve the Middle East's conflict over the phone.
With all these costly phone calls, we Lebanese, and by the end of each month, still wonder why the bill is so high! We sometimes even ask for a call log as we can come to suspect that someone else is hacking our landline!
#7. Emta el ma3ash? (When is the payday?)
Given the Lebanese lively, outgoing, and vivacious routine, we tend to have our salary spent almost one week after the payday. We, therefore, start asking our colleagues by the 15th of each month about the next payday with a defeated attitude and a subdued voice tone.
#8. 3ayiz masareh? (Do you need money?)
Following #6, and every time you ask when is the next salary, there’s at least one colleague or friend (who also happens to be as broke as you) who asks you back if you want some money. Let’s be honest here, how possible is it to find these rare genuine Lebanese qualities elsewhere?
#9. Boukra 3otleh? (Tomorrow's off?)
Even if it’s just one of these “normal” and “slight” chaotic Lebanese events that happen in specific regions like tires burning or roads blocking, we become really concerned about whether tomorrow is an off day. We start alternating and switching to all the Lebanese local channels, not to catch-up with the news, but to know whether tomorrow is a normal day of school/university or work.
#10. Bnazzil hal soura 3al insta? (Shall I upload this picture on my Instagram?)
How many times have you consulted your siblings or friends about a picture you wanted to upload on your Instagram account? Well, given our common and cultural perfectionism trait, we rarely do upload “unapproved” pictures. It’s indeed paramount to us to seek 2-3 people’s opinion around that photo we’re unsure of. We sometimes even ask those consultants of ours for captions to our pictures!
#11. Kteer helo shoezik, min weyn? (Very nice your shoes, from where?)
Whether it’s a pair of shoes or a good-looking top or bag, it’s unavoidable not to ask or to be asked about it. Thing is, if someone admired your shoes, for example, they will, right after that, say things like, “I used to own very similar ones” or “I have the same bag but I don’t wear it much." There has to be in fact something related they were or are in possession of, and it may be the alleged reason why they admired your stuff in the first place. But they STILL WANT TO KNOW from where you got them!