If you’re a foreigner who’s been living in Lebanon the chances are you have ventured to Syria at some point before the political situation descended into utter tragedy. For myself, and many people I know in Lebanon, Syria is not some far-flung wild country that is the center of everything wrong with humanity, no matter what people in Beirut try to tell us (history can be complicated). Instead it is a place many of us have built a lasting affection for as a beautiful, historic country with incredibly warm people. Canadian journalist Nahlah Ayed wrote in her recent book that Syria was viewed by many in the Arab world as the embodiment of hospitality and simplicity. While that may be quite generalizing (and not the case in Lebanon), I would have to agree that there is some truth in it.
During my time in Syria I paid a few visits to the village of Al-Bara, in Idlib province, about an hour outside of Aleppo. Al-Bara is home to one of the most intact of the “dead cities”, an endless series of abandoned Roman-era cities scattered throughout northwestern Syria. On my first visit there, some local boys offered to show me around the ruins on their motorbikes. Afterward, they invited me to stay with their families. I wasn’t able to stay that day, but I would return later and enjoy the kindness and hospitality that is so quintessentially Syrian. I would enjoy the idyllic and simple lifestyle the village offered with its endless farm fields producing legendary Syrian olives, figs, and other products.
While Al-Bara was in many ways an idyllic paradise, life was not so easy for its young residents. Opportunities beyond farm life were rare and unemployment ran rampant. Many of them would make periodic jaunts into Lebanon to join the legions of Syrian construction workers that can be found on every corner of Lebanon’s cities. There was a restlessness amongst the young people, many of whom had no qualms about expressing their desire to go abroad somewhere for a few years to earn money to support their families.
It has been 7 years since I was last in Al-Bara. Quite soon after I left Syria, I accidentally lost the contact information of anyone I knew in the village. As Facebook was a new phenomenon at this time, none of us had it, so I had no way of contacting the people I had stayed with.
As the Syrian uprising began and later turned into a civil war, Idlib province became one of the main battlegrounds in the conflict. The local commercial center of Ma’aruat al-Nu’aman has been ransacked by violence and many villages in the area have become the scenes of atrocious violence. However, beyond a few grainy and questionable Youtube videos, I could not find any news about Al-Bara.
This all changed a few days ago when a friend of mine posted a documentary on Facebook entitle “The Bombing of Al-Bara.” The documentary is a real time account of Al-Bara coming under bombardment and its citizens trying to cope with the ensuing chaos. Below are a few photos of Al-Bara in better times. Hopefully Al-Bara’s reputation can remain as one of serenity and beauty and not one of war and destruction.
Wicker Park: A Festival for both hot birds and music nerds
This past weekend, the 3rd annual Wickerpark Music festival took place on the shores of the turquoise beaches of Batroun. The festival is a yearly showcase of some of the top acts in Lebanese rock n roll, which seeks to promote Lebanese music along with environmental causes. While many festivals in Lebanon have been cancelled in recent weeks because of ongoing political bullshit, Wickerpark wi... [more]
– Watch the extravagant video of the fucked up high life of the anti virus Guru
Behind every cool website, movie, and music album is a tech genius who makes all of the backend stuff happen. While they usually get little fame and glory, without them none of these projects would be what they are. 2famous is exactly the same. Jorgen Ekvoll Knut O. are the behind the scenes masters pulling all of the strings and making 2famous the sexiest, most efficient website in the Middle... [more]
“Adventures” on the Mediterranean Island of Corsica
Corsica is one of those places that most people would never think to travel to. It’s an obscure island outpost of France in the Mediterranean Sea stereotyped for its fiercely independent people and militant separatist culture that routinely tells France to get fucked. It has the highest per-capita murder rate in Europe, has a severed head on its flag, and the mafia runs everything. It&rs... [more]
A few weeks back, Cyril from Underrated productions approached 2famousTV. He told us about a new party concept he and his crew were creating and promoting called “Stereo Club Nights.” Basically, they are the uber cool, refined, and dare I say classy club parties with an emphasis on Deep House music.They are being held on May 11, 18, 25 and June 1 at Solea V Rooftop in Beirut.<... [more]
Time: September 2006Location: Pakistan, somewhere on the road between Peshawar and Islamabad
It was Ramadan, the Islamic holy month when the faithful fast during daylight hours. It was late afternoon and I was on a comfortable air-conditioned bus somewhere between the city of Peshawar, on the Afghan frontier, and the capital Islamabad. The luxurious bu... [more]
Here’s a list of songs that remind me of certain places in the world at certain times. This does not mean that they are good songs or songs of my choice. It means that the songs were simply there, and usually being pounded into my aural memory at the most inconvenient of times. Enjoy…
JLO-On the Floor ft. Pitbull (and songs associated)– Iran 2011, Cen... [more]