I was still not ready then, strapped in the seat of the plane plunged through light clouds on approach to Delhi airport. The plane landed and passenger’s seat belt clutched open. A soft music began to flow, it never stopped to bring shudders piercing right through memories of the last few days I had spent in Mumbai, and those days waiting impatiently in Paris. It was the latest of Kailash Kher’s sufi song, Teri Diwani (Yours crazily). At that point I was no one’s crazily. I did not comprehend any of the words or meanings of the song, nor did I bother looking it up as it might have evoked a different feeling.
“preet ki lath mohe aaisi laagi…ho gayi main matwaali…bal bal jaaun apane piya ko…ke main jaaun vaari vaari”
On arrival, the density of the air overwhelmed me. I moved further in the humid corridors and there it was, the scent of India, or more like the scent of Delhi, spiced up heat style. At the border check, the Indian does not bother to look at me as he does the necessary passport check. Every move and attitude is identical to his counterpart. Surely, a country of 1.2 billion can’t afford to feel sorry for the downtrodden or to see oneself muchly as the centre of attention, unless you make it to med school or any of the IITs.
I DID wonder if I would be able to handle the environment. First, Lebanon is a country of 4.5 million people who are pretty much interested in the same things, not as diverse culturally but very rigid with its traditions.
The taxi ride came along with my host from Kolkata. At first meeting, we met with formal greetings and I was at my most uncomfortable state over thinking my posture, my words, every question with the most intensely embellished, intellectually analysed response.
What’s Lebanon like, is it based on agriculture? Well with Lebanon’s constant political turmoil, none of the nouveau rich or educated pupils know what it is based on, and neither did I, but I had a diverting answer:
” Lebanon is more based on the patron- clientalist system, You have the patrons known as the ‘Zaims’ of a specific group of people known as his clients. It is composed of what we call, a confessional system with the distribution of three main sects from the Lebanese community, the Maronites, Muslims of both Shiaa and Sunni sects, to represent the government, an allegedly successful power sharing technique to catalyse Lebanon’s divided society.”
I recommended some books to complete the picture of Lebanon being not only a new state but also a fragile one. Its history contested. So I continued to polish the specificity of such a small country which has topped the New York Times number 1 tourist destinations for 2009.
” Lebanon’s vision of itself is false, a mask to deceive oneself of being something one is not.”
So I advised my host that if she is to come visit Lebanon she should not swallow the whole, ‘ We are descendants of Phoenicians and therefore ‘ non Arab’ definition of being Lebanese . For one any person who reads history, especially history specific to the creation of “Lebanon” would be logical enough to realise that this highly famous claim does not hold any substance in historical perspective. For Phoenicians were coastal maritime people who dominated the region from Coastal Syria, Palestine to Lebanon and therefore cannot be specific to the Lebanese.