Aug 8, 2014

New-Age Seaside Gypsies

Our first Volunteer, Mr. Michel from Koura. Picture by Rimal Abeed.

Being severely brought down by all the notorious stench in the air the last few weeks, the three of us had decided to do something about it. Just as any other activity in Trablos, things had happened so spontaneously and smoothly. Discussions have been taking place for almost a month before that, but never were more serious than the week before, where we managed to borrow a guitar for Rimal to practice with, Moussa would practice his drawing skills, and I would prepare basically everything else in order to have a smooth chillout time for everybody, and offer people something they were craving for, I assume.

I wonder to myself sometimes, what have we got in this, all of us? It’s neither Rimal, Moussa or le moi that are getting paid anything for taking that action (something society fiercely teaches you in order to survive), neither are we taking any credit, any promotion, not even appraisal. And the photos & story were never meant to be published when Moussa and I first spoke of this. But there’s this little something that I still believe in, that surpasses all financial renumerations, all social appraisal and any sort of other grant, it's that one and only prize, the smile you see getting slowly drawn on people’s faces with that shine in the eyes that follows. You could easily tell their faces were glowing with fresh spirit, something that is not found in Trablos. You could see it in their annoyances, in the way some mocked us, in the eyes following us as they strolled down on that sidewalk.

Michel checking the Moussa's drawing. Photo by me.
Having met at the corniche on an extremely lazy Wednesday afternoon, the three of us, and location being picked, our stuff were laid down on a random bench and action just kicked off. It was kind of hilarious to be Moussa’s model for over 15 minutes, with me shouting at him to finish that drawing in less than 10 minutes, while anything longer than that would get people to become agitated, they would eventually leave – frustrated. Rimal’s turn to draw me was next. Even though her drawing was impeccable, but we certainly needed something faster than her 20-minute perfectly dashing portrait of mine. The lines, eyes, chin, lips and hair were just perfect, yet time was the issue. Long story short, our first (and only, to be honest) guest was Michel, a courteous, 50-year old, Lebanese living in Australia and originally from Koura, having been there with his son and their lovely Wolfy, a dark-furred dog laying by their side as they were watching bypassers. I come up to them and gently explain what we were trying to do, and to my surprise, and with all his welcoming attitude, he decides to join us.

Photo by Rimal Abeed.
He carefully sits where we ask him to, and manages to adjust his angle as Moussa dictated, all while he was bragging about his son’s girlfriend and her outstanding life achievements. Little had I known that our little “gathering” would attract so much attention, which turned all out to be in our benefit, no matter how much some of them pissed me off. I imagined, while my two fellows were doing what they were best at, and soon after taking my photos, for a split second that I would be in any of those bypassers’ shoes. Stepping out of my house/shop and heading to the seaside “corniche” would have been my afternoon ritual, my pleasant retreat despite all the filthy smell in the air or the annoying motorcycle drivers here and there. But, seeing a handful of young people playing music and practicing drawing and photography, would be the remotest thing I would ever expect, yet exactly what I had needed to have a new feeling hit me about that place. Tripoli appears to have been molded otherwise, unfortunately.

To wrap this post up, I can never thank enough both Rimal and Moussa for their guts and believing in me, and themselves first. What we did there has to be acknowledged as a break-through, the least. And finally, this is the first of so many events and activities to come. I would love if you would join us (and for that kindly contact me), but I would also love to see others taking the same initiative on their own. I mean, that is the eventual goal, isn’t it? :)

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