Learning from Others’Mistakes: Circumventing the “Customer is King”?

I recently went to a restaurant a few days ago for lunch. A self-claimed trendy place, right in the pounding heart of Hamra district, which for those who don’t know, is an area filled with strips of shops and restaurants, perhaps a cross between the bar district and downtown – the next best thing for some.Seen from outside, the place gave a rather ‘bistro’ impression. However, once we had stepped in, we were surprised to see the place had a somewhat elaborate design. It was also quite spacey. The staff was altogether very smiley and courteous.The menu offered nothing special and now that I think of it, it screamed “We’ve spent a lot on design so pay up”. We both went for goat cheese salad. Unfortunately, when the food finally came, Continue reading

Stand-in Pet Shop: the Direct Product-Exposure Marketing

Is this YOUR dog?

Pet-Cart of Dogs

I was driving in Beirut today, and I saw this.Now, it is not the first time I see this pet-shop stand-in, or perhaps, pet-cart is a more accurate term. Regularly, this man parks his car – it is not always a Jeep – to display small-sized white dogs, for sale. Take the upper road parallel to the Ramlet el Baida coast, and chances are you will know exactly what I am talking about. On the days our salesman declares as business days, the dogs spend the whole afternoon, if not the whole day, come rain or sun, on a car’s roof with no food, no water, and without the ability to move much.I have heard from reliable sources that these dogs are stolen. Now, before jumping to conclusions, let’s analyze the odds:

  1. the dogs reportedly seen are all white – which is, as far as I understand, a very sought-after color for animals,
  2. most of them seem to have had some kind of haircut in the past
  3. most of them are bichons, or bichon-type dogs,
  4. they are sold without any kind of documents, and no hints as to where they are from or if they have had their shots.

As much as I would like to have faith in this man and his honest possible intentions of joining pet-less households with houseless pets, the odds seem very likely that these dogs are, indeed, stolen.In the past few months, I have heard of dog thefts – dog snatching – occurring at an increasingly alarming rate. Dogs are perceived as an easy ‘product’ when it comes to turn-over and traceability, and this follows from an opinion of animals shared by the majority of the people in this society as ‘products, goods, stuff you own’. When paralleled with these people’s idea of walking dogs as included in a foreign housekeeper’s job description, it is easy to make some inference*.

Please help return these pets to their loved ones by sharing…

* an increasing number of people have been reporting their dogs being stolen, and it is especially the case when these dogs are usually walked by a housekeeper who is, one must agree, less likely to be thought able to defend herself as she does not speak the language and is not in her comfort zone.

Auntie Salma’s Salon

I have been wanting to share my experiences at Auntie Salma’s with you for a while now. But where to begin?Last Spring, I decided to get my hair braided, for real. Not the braids we try to make at home, and not those imitation braids salons try to give you. I wanted real cornrows and whatever comes along with them.Enter Auntie SalmaAuntie Salma is a gorgeous Liberian woman who makes you forget about your day and the traffic of Mazraa the moment she greets you as you step into the salon. The first time I went there, I was a little worried of the outcome. I didn’t want to look Ike an egg! And, given that I have a more or less round-shaped head, high cheekbones and actual cheeks, I was expecting to look rather funny. Auntie Salma shares a hair salon – located between Mazraa and the Museum – with a charming lady who is responsible of other treatments.To get me all braided up, here is what Auntie Salma was working with Continue reading

Dear Gym, I have’snobbed’you

Stick Figure Gym Skull Candy

Four years ago and during the July ’06 ‘block party’, we moved from Tallet el Khayyat to Mar Takla. Naturally, we had spent numerous very, very long days apartment hunting, which had given us the chance to get to know our new neighborhood. Luckily, we were able to finalize any and all papers required by the time the party had reached ‘half-time’.

Mar Takla is one of these areas that bask in a ‘residential area’ halo, where shops and grocers open and close early, random people feed cats, and often on a Sunday afternoon, you will find someone teaching their kid how to drive in the household’s poshest car. We’re blessed to have basketball courts, a football court, and a tennis court. Also, we have a GYM!If you’re familiar with the area, you probably have a smirk on your face and know which gym I’m talking about. Continue reading