Lebanon sucks. Yes I said it.

I’ve lived in Lebanon my entire life. Yes, I traveled every now and then but I’ve never been away from this country for more than 3 weeks in a row. I’ve also had dozens of opportunities to work abroad and I’ve declined them all. I was the first one to defend this country when anyone tried to insult or say anything about Lebanon in a negative manner. I was the first one to raise the Lebanese flag when any national team is playing in any tournament. I loved this country.

Where is Lebanon today? Better yet, what is Lebanon today? Is it a country? Is it a playground? Is it a cake that everyone wants a piece of?

The way I see it, we’re infested. The infestation is both internal and external. Internally we are infested by Politicians (Or what I’d like to refer to as Pesticians) and externally through nations with interest in Lebanon’s  strategic location. Clearly this is no news to anyone. We all know the issues and we’re all bitching about them daily. What I simply don’t get, is how we are still giving power to the same Pesticians that keep sending this country to the stone age.

Don’t try to look for my affiliation. If it were up to me, I’d send every Pestician to jail. They’re all criminals. Whether murder or theft, we simply cannot place Lebanon’s fate in people that only care about their personal interest and leave the poor public drowning.

I watch the news, everyday. I listen to news everyday and every day I hear the same old bullshit. 14 on 8th case, 8 on 14th case. If not, the president and the prime minister are trying to form a ‘discussion table’ (Tawlet 7iwar) that either never gets done or never results in anything. Whenever an critical issue needs to be dealt with (after numerous public pleas), we get the usual “A community with Pestician A, B, C has been formed to solve the issue” which gives some hope to the public but silently fades away with no result whatsoever. Isn’t this a repeating pattern? Seriously. Is there anything in this country that does not smell? We have a media station for every single political party. How can we so blind as to take anything the media says as True, or remotely True.

Life as a Lebanese Citizen is terrible. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor we’re all suffering from the same issues but we’re accepting them. How is it possible to accept having 1 hour of electricity every 24 hours? Is having electrical power considered luxurious? Is it really acceptable that we have to pay two bills (recently just an outstanding one) just to have electricity? How is it remotely possible that someone has to pay $100+ simply to get 5 Amps of electricity. The water issue is the same. Then comes the Internet and telecom. The entire country was excited when the new plans were announced in September 2011 and were released in October 2011. How’s the internet today? Better or worse?. Try not to use the ‘old infrastructure’ as a reason to disprove what I’m saying. If the old infrastructure cannot handle the new plans, then simply DON’T RELEASE THEM until the infrastructure is fixed! Internet in Lebanon (specifically ISPs) is analogous to a bakery that has one oven and can produce a specific amount of bread loaves. That bakery can serve a specific amount of people per hour, yet greed makes them accept ten times the amount of people while degrading the quality of the bread they’re serving not to mention splitting those loaves into breadcrumbs first.

Traffic. Oh the horror. When was the last time you were able to reach your destination without having to get stuck in traffic? Everyone in this damn country has a car. People have no concept of car pooling. I sold my car because I simply DO NOT NEED it. On route to my office I can drop my wife at work and my son at the nursery and on the way back I can pick them up and go home. Doesn’t that apply to people living in the same area working in the same company? For the love God, car pool if you can. Public transportation is also a big issue in Lebanon but let’s not delve into that.

Resorts, restaurants and the lot. I took my son to a beach resort a couple of weeks back. I figured I’d take him late in the afternoon to avoid too much sun. How long do you need to stay in a resort with a 2 year old? 2, 3 hours max. How is it possible that the price per person is 40,000L.L (almost 27$) especially when I’m simply staying there from 4:00PM to 6:00PM. Am I being served caviar? Are we swimming in a pool of gold? The worst part of it is, we pay.

There’s too much to say and too little time (or patience for that matter) to say it. All I can say is that change is in our hands. It’s up to us to make this change, no one will make it for us. If you want Lebanon to change, you have to change those in power. Those in power do not magically get power. We give them power.

Stop voting for the same Pesticians.

“Help us improve!”

Don’t you just love those cards when you visit a restaurant or any food related outlet? “Help us improve!” , “Because we care what you think” and all the mumbo jumbo you can think of. They have cool drawings, checkboxes and my favorite; a location on the card where you can enter you contact information.

Clearly, they plan on contacting you right?

I’m a pretty nice guy, really, i am. But if there’s one thing that gets on my nerve the most, is never getting what i ask for when i order some food, whether in a restaurant or through delivery.

Scenario

– Waiter shows you to your table
– Waiter leaves and comes back after god knows how long with the menu.
– You’re ready to order and yet you practice some gymnastics while trying to get the waiter’s attention who seems to be enjoying his conversation with the other waiters.

Yo waiter! \o
Hello? |o
HEY! \o/

– Well, clearly he’s too busy to give you any attention so why don’t you get your ass off of your chair and go poke him.
– Waiter tags along with you to your table.
– You are now ordering

Me – I’d like to take a Margarita Pizza, less cheese and extra sauce
Me – Do you mind writing that down?
Waiter – Don’t worry i’ll memorize it.
Me – mmkay…
(some more orders…)

– 50 minutes later (what the hell? we’re the only ones in the damn place!) your pizza arrives.
– You take a look at the pizza and its overflowing with cheese. Okay, i’ll bite, perhaps the extra sauce will make it up. But of course there was less of that.

I’m picky about food. I’m the worst kind of food critic you can find on the planet. I change every single thing and no one has the damn right to tell me how i can or cannot eat a certain meal. I’ve sat down quiet for so long that an incident that happened to me on this very same day, prompted me to mark most of my programming related blog posts private and just start picking on every single detail that i find wrong in this very country.

It all started about a week ago when I ordered a meal from Zaatar w Zeit. Now mind you, I’ve been a regular customer in Zaatar w Zeit and i’ve spent so much money there that you’ll probably think I’m rather crazy (or perhaps fat) considering the ridiculous prices they have. Anyways, i’ll keep the number crushing for later on in this post. I ordered about a week ago two sandwiches from Zaatar w Zeit.

1- Zoushi + Vegetables
2- Tuna in normal bread with extra spice(Normal as in not the multi-cereal or sun-dried tomato bread)
3- A coke

The person that answered the phone (God bless her soul, she’s very nice and she’s always very considerate) notified me of that the delivery time is at a maximum of 45 minutes. One hour and thirty minutes later the delivery guy arrives with the following:

1- Zoushi + No vegetables
2- Tuna in multi-cereal bread no spice
3- No coke

I was charged 2000 L.L (1.33USD) for the *extra vegetables* and another charge for the coke. Clearly this irritated me, but despite my rage i did not act upon it. I did notify the person who takes the order of the mistake at which point she really wanted to send me back other sandwiches and such, which i clearly declined (I was famished and couldn’t last for another hour). One thing you need to note is that the two incidents (one i just described and the one that will follow) aren’t the only incidents i’ve had. Now the entire flame is probably tuned toward Z&Z but it applies to every single restaurant in Lebanon. Trust me you’re all included.

Anyways, just today i picked up the phone at around 1:00pm and ordered some food. I will not bother telling you what i ordered but given the information i already shared you can safely assume there’s modifications. The person that answered was not the usual lady who takes my orders but hell that doesn’t matter. She told me that the order will take a maximum of 35 minutes. I was ecstatic! I will be eating very soon!

An hour and a half goes by (2:30pm) and there’s no food on my table nor in my stomach and i’m still starving. I pick up the phone and dial Z&Z’s number at which point yet another person answers. I told her i’m still waiting for my 35 minute delivery that i ordered 1.5 hours ago and she asked me a couple of questions:

1- What number did you register the order on?
2- What did you order?

That’s all fine and dandy, i answered the questions to which she replied and i quote:

“I have no registered order on that number nor of that kind”

To which i replied:

“Person X took the order at exactly 1:00PM”

To which she replied:

“I just arrived here and i see nothing, so that will be Meal X + Meal Y + Coke?”

I stood silent for second and figured i’d bite YET ANOTHER TIME!

“Ok how long will that order take to get here”

And thus the magic number arises:

“35 minutes”

I told her that I’m not interested anymore and politely said thank you and hung up the phone.

Here’s some number crunching for you people:

– I was employed in 1999 up to 2002 in a company that was close to a Z&Z outlet.
– I ordered every single day in the morning a Man2ousheh, a Chocoba and a Coke.
– If let’s say for three years I’ve ordered fifteen meals per month, that means i’ve ordered 540 meals at around 10,000L.L per meal.

That’s 5,400,000L.L (3600USD) for breakfasts in three years. Or if we’re presuming that the delivery guy’s salary is 600USD per month, it’s six damn salaries for a single driver!

Fine, if that’s not enough let’s fast forward to 2007. I’m employed in another company that is also close to another Z&Z outlet. I ordered every single day for lunch two kinds of meals and a coke. If we were to follow the previous facts and believe you me, i’ve ordered much more than what i’ve mentioned. We would have the follow numbers:

P.S.: My lunch is more expensive. The entire order sums up to around 15,000L.L (10USD)

That’s 8,100,000L.L (5400USD) or what is probably nine salaries for a single driver!

Please do tell me why i can’t get my damn order on time after i’ve almost literally employed a delivery guy in your firm for fifteen months!

People, if you own restaurants or any food related outlets or deliveries or what not, ensure that your services are to a high standard. I’m not going to stop ordering from Z&Z simply because i love their food, and even if i did, they will not be affected in any way. Though the more this keeps up the more customers they are prone to lose on the long run.

Remember, delivery is probably the most profitable part of the business.

Ranting done. Can you relate?


Planning to buy a house in Lebanon?

Horror; that pretty much identifies what you would be facing once you decide to buy a house in Lebanon. Aside from the fact the cost of apartments does not conform to the average cost of living in Lebanon, you bust your ass trying to find a nice apartment or house and then you get stumped as to how much the landlord/owner is actually requesting. My only regret is that I did not buy an apartment two years ago when the prices were relatively low (~540$ for 1m2) compared to what they are right now (1000$ for 1m2). It’s quite common for people to actually hire someone to do the work for them (semsar), however those people are such thieves! They are so fluent at locating great prices but they shield the current owner of the apartment from you and request a higher amount than what the owner is actually requesting. What’s even worse is that the law states that you ought to pay that guy 2% of the entire cost. So hey! The guy finds a great deal, 150m for 100K$, he adds 20K$ to the price for himself and then expects you to pay the 2% of 120K$.

Now this is all good but in all honesty those numbers are so low. I found a nice apartment and I hope it’s going to work out!