When I was a child, my Mother would take me every Sunday morning for a walk on the shore of Ramlet el Baida. She’d say that it was our way of “returning back to the source”. We sometimes took Mana2ish with us, and tea, and enjoyed what, as Lebanese citizens, we can sadly no longer claim as ours. Our dog would make sure we’d all get some good exercise, and we’d often come back so full of sand and salt we’d even have some in our teeth.
And it is exactly like that that I first met the Man. It must have been around 7:00 AM – we rarely ever stayed until after 8:30 – when I saw him walk into the rabid sea. I don’t remember what month we were in, but I knew that I was startled as I knew the Sea to be way too cold for a swim – God knows I had already tried it myself. But the Man walked, and walked, until he was waist high into the water. There, he stopped, and proceeded to rub his arms, his neck, his beard, and so on. Realizing I had spent the last few minutes staring, and staring at someone who probably needed some intimacy, I turned back and, like any child would do, bragged to my Mother about what I had just seen; a Man braving ice-cold water (and its surprises) to bathe! We walked on, enjoying the bit of calm before the others would arrive and crowd up the area above the shore.