The Year of Depression and Humiliation: Welcome to Hell

The Year of Depression and Humiliation: Welcome to Hell
The Year of Depression and Humiliation: Welcome to Hell

Hayam Al-Qasifi wrote in “Al Akhbar”:

Since the price of the Lebanese pound collapsed, conditions for the Lebanese have changed rapidly. Their habits and diaries are heading towards rapid poverty. All this silently and without a word of protest, while the political forces themselves return to contemplate their humiliation. The poor are the most affected by the crisis. But the middle class, who is paid in lira, did not survive. There are habits that have vanished, or are on the way to vanishing, and others that have forcibly changed. Lebanon, “without a cessation strike”, goes back to the time of the civil war, the time of the “Rodaj”.

In a small land, a big hole with “gallons” of iron, eaten by rust, filled with gasoline. It is protected by dirt so as not to start a fire, but it does not come out of its place until a replacement is safe. On the Beirut-Damascus road, a family taxi traveled to the Australian embassy in Damascus. Lebanese go to it, with all the hardships, and stand in line since the night hours to obtain a visa. A similar scene for those standing in line at dawn in front of the ovens. Mazot crisis threatens factories and hospitals. “For travel reasons” classified ads for cars, apartments and land for sale, postponement of weddings, calls for donation of food aid, Western companies close their offices in Beirut, and the start of offers for apartments in Paris, before Cyprus becomes the destination. It is Beirut in 1975 and its aftermath in the civil war.

Plastic petrol gallons, immigration applicants stand in front of embassies, as at petrol stations, advertisements for sale are online, Lebanon ramps up aid. It is Beirut in 2020, the tragedy has been the same for 45 years, although life was better then today in many ways, after adding the collapse of the Lebanese pound, electricity cuts, polluted water, waste, stolen money, years of waste and corruption.

After the First and Second World Wars, research centers and universities studied social variables and behaviors that had arisen or were absent. Much has been written about the collapse of social classes, the growth of a class of wealthy people in war and the black market, changing food and life habits, sexual and family relations, the faltering labor market, cafes and the quality of cigarette paper, songs that reflected with their dark words from which countries emerged from war. In Lebanon, the current year is parallel to what these countries have lived, in the intensity of the changes that have overthrown the way of life and money of the Lebanese people, and all their details need to be studied.

What has changed in the conditions of the Lebanese since the rise in the price of the dollar until today? Simply everything. The Lebanese dietary habits are changing: Putting high prices on a scientific table does not reflect the tragedy of those who are unable to secure meat, chicken, fish, milk, cheese and fruits. Lebanese are turning away from the importer, forcing contradict the theories of some politicians who theorize about local goods and are known to the luxury import shops. An engineer whose salary was relatively high, she said that she felt helpless when she denied her right to choose European cheese, imported refrigerated meat, or chocolate. Our folk tales about the delicacies of winter nights must change, and with it the pride of the Lebanese in their food, because the hummus with tahini tomorrow will become like caviar before the price of sesame rises or stops. Fayrouz’s song about her grandmother “raisins and fizzy nut” is no longer in line with what the governor of the Banque du Liban decided, and the prices of pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, nuts and flavorings toppled the requirements of the barbara, Christmas, mushrooms, Eid al-Adha and other holidays. In the past, the “gourma” industry was a fraud against poverty to store meat cooked for all seasons of the year. Today a woman is stocking it, because buying good and reliable meat may not remain available in the coming months for a family of four who the father works alone in. We did not see this in the war except during the phase of the devaluation of the pound in the 1980s and the harsh battles. You will now find an employee who has turned the hobby of fishing and birdsong into a business that lasts for him and his family for a week, along with his salary.

Food security is not limited to vegetables. “We pay dollars for seeds, pesticides, medicines, fertilizers and tents, so we stopped growing half of our products,” says an agricultural project owner. Flower nurseries are collapsing in succession, and love costs with a bouquet of flowers at 70,000 pounds. Gyms are no longer a routine that has grown in recent years. Walking is the cheapest alternative, the Lighthouse Beach and the Waterfront, for example. Sports is not a luxury, says a girl who plays sports regularly. “Replacing the club with walking in the summer and swimming is not enough and is not a substitute for a winter, especially after the high prices of home sports machines, and the cost of repairing holidays in them exceeds one hundred dollars.” The issue is not only related to sports and their clothes (has anyone bought sports shoes in recent months?), But also “vitamins and proteins that have doubled their prices, and the diet that you skipped, and the athlete is forced to make do with home food without conditions.” According to a doctor, the prices of the necessary vitamins are no longer appropriate for patients. The price of one of them has reached a hundred thousand pounds, noting that Corona, for example, is supposed to strengthen the immune system, especially with vitamin C. A dentist says that health problems will appear in succession, starting with the teeth (except for the insane increase in the prices of toothpaste and brushes) and those who need laboratory treatments at a cost of at least two million pounds have postponed their appointments, as well as for the periodic examination.

“Because of Corona, we saved funeral expenses.” The phrase is not a black comedy, because the funeral costs rose automatically, and some feared that they would not be able to withdraw their money from the banks to pay for it. Legalization also followed the lighting of candles and flowers, the price of which increased, on the tombs of the dead in their memory.

Women seem more influenced by their diaries. Women not undergoing medical examinations for a high doctor’s bill. When abortion, or the use of female and male contraceptives (knowing that the cost of a condom package has increased imaginatively, which contributes to the spread of diseases), despite its high, becomes less expensive than pregnancy and childbirth, and cancer tests exceed the capacity of those who have become unemployed, means that we are facing a new situation Of suffering. In “The Spanish Daughter” about the collapse in Venezuela, the narrator says that she is dispensing with the purchase of coffee, sugar and oil, but how can she abandon the sanitary napkins that have become sold on the black market? An employee in Lebanon says that she allocates a budget from her salary (for her, her sister, and her mother, who are not working) for the local sanitary pads, after their prices rose from three to four times, while the price of the imported rose five times. The same applies to perfumes, make-up tools (unless the alternative is rose water and egg wash), deodorant (one of them is medicinal, its price is 60,000 pounds), shampoo, and hair dyes. Cosmetic is no longer available, according to a businesswoman whose business has declined. It is no longer possible to resort to botox if it is found, or fillers after the prices are no less than 700 thousand pounds, if the dollar is calculated at only two thousand pounds. The right of women to care for their hygiene, appearance, and their own money, no matter how much they criticize them for exaggeration, is not a crime. Organized crime is about smuggling money abroad and bank clamping down on deposits. European women, when they were austere and worked after the war, because they were on equal footing with a country that rose from the rubble and enjoyed a measure of modesty.

In the economic crisis that Greece went through a few years ago, a study showed that the percentage of young people between 20 and 29 years old who had to live in their parents’ homes rose to 70 percent. In Lebanon, this category of the family left the house, thanks to the housing policy, to their own homes or resorted to renting small apartments. What houses can soldiers and employees buy and furnish, whose salaries do not exceed one and a half million Lebanese pounds, or three million, when a shop offers the price of one towel at 350 thousand pounds, and one chair at 900 thousand pounds after deducting 50 percent?

In France, a law was finally passed to force the French in mountainous regions to use special snow tires or metal chains for their safety. Here we gradually regain the scene of the war days: second and third level imported second-hand cars, cars without lights, signs or color, as new car import companies did not really rise until after the nineties with the installment policy. Today, the word “Rodage” will return to the front, which was written on a piece of paper affixed to the rear windshield of the car, so drivers would be alerted that the car in front of them had “overloaded” its engine for maintenance in the mechanic’s garage, and the car had to go very slowly for a period of time, in order to “train” it. Before returning to its previous state. Blacksmiths, paint and used wheels will return to their glory, when the Lebanese cannot afford to pay the tire price of one hundred dollars, without taking into account the necessities of changing the oil, brakes and so on. This applies to electrical machines, because the slightest malfunction of a washing machine or refrigerator or a change in the faucet, or the purchase of reliable cleaning materials, parallels a financial crisis that stifles a salary.

Before the lockdown due to Corona this week, the French crowded in front of bookstores to buy books, comics and magazines. The director of an engineering college says that “it is no longer possible to buy scientific or literary books. The collapse exceeds the ability of universities to strengthen their libraries, and students cannot secure the requirements for research in scientific specializations, just as buying a drawing, engineering, canvas, and special pencils kit. During the war, a Lebanese-French group invented the idea of ​​printing French books in Lebanon at affordable prices. Today, such an experiment does not work because of the price of paper and the cost of printing presses. Western magazines and newspapers have become a dream, and imported books are not less than 150,000 Syrian pounds.

A year ago, travel became a dream, as did the weekend and nightlife, buying clothes even from retail is expensive, travelers’ bags arrive loaded with medicines, food and daily necessities … Children’s gifts and old toys are sold online after they were kept for memory.

The year of collapse and humiliation, it needs a man of the year to crown it, many political, banking and security names that are crowned with distinction, for its remarkable success not only in achieving what the war failed to do, but also for its ability to subdue and silence the Lebanese despite hunger and poverty, while we are still in the early stages of collapse before the lifting of support . The country is currently in a state of “Rodage”, but not to return to its previous state, but on the way to completely remove the subsidies. At that time, we will be in the actual hell of “crying and bruising”.

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