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Apr 27, 2011

What is this City?

"What is this city?" 
I was involved in organizing my things and had not been paying attention to what Farid was doing. I looked up at him.
"What city, Farid?"
"This one!" He pointed to a photograph album that he had taken from my table. I craned my neck to see where his finger was pointing.
"That's Beirut, Farid!"
"Beirut?!" At this point in the text we see a reproduction of a classic postcard of prewar Martyrs' Square.
The storyline resumes:
He looked up at me in surprise, saying: "We live in Beirut. I've never seen these buildings in my life!"
I smiled. His life, that had begun during the war! How could he believe that this was indeed Beirut? So I explained.
"These are pictures of Beirut from before the war. Of course you've never seen it". And I turned over a few of the pages. "Especially these, Farid; these are pictures of the heart of Beirut. You and your friends only know and experience its extremities, like the extremities of the body."
He asked: "And is the city like a body?"

"Exactly like a body. A city is born, it grows, it changes, exactly like a body. And its the same with Beirut, our beloved city."

The text of an old Solidere informational booklet, taken from Saree Makdisi's  "Reconstructing history in central Beirut" 1997 

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