As long as I remember, when I still lived in Lebanon, my father would sit by the fireplace at our home at the foot of the mountain and on cold days continuously feed wood to the hungry fire and watch its raging flames and listen to its crackling sounds as it vanished into ashes.
It always made me think that there is a romantic in there hiding behind his seemingly hard exterior that he presented to the world.
The last 3 days, and in the middle of a storm here in Germany, our heating system broke down, so as we shuffle to get it fixed, I started using the fireplace as a means of generating warmth on these very cold days.
And guess what? I find myself as hypnotized by it as my father was and still is at over 85 years of age.
On November 13, 2019, I was in Tripoli during the height of what had come to be known as the October Revolution in Lebanon. During those months, Tripoli was given the name ‘ the bride of the revolution’, because its people rose with power, with hope, and with an undeniable spirit to right what was wronged by a failing and criminal government of thieves and war lords in Lebanon.
What I met that evening was unforgettable. Simple and humble people gathering in the city square with music, art, food and a common cause. Hope tinged the air with gold and the enthusiasm was infectious. I found myself lifted to the platform where the speakers were addressing the crowds along with my camera and lenses.
But looking back on the first image today, 2 years and 2 months later, I am heartbroken to realise that back then, the cry of the people expressed in writing on that wall in red : ‘your lies are causing our hunger’, was only the beginning of a disastrous economic collapse that has left these beautiful people below the poverty line with no end in sight.
I was born in Lebanon and grew up there in a scarring civil war that raged on for the majority of my young life, until at one point in 1987, I just picked up and left, never to return except for short family visits.
And today I watch with disbelief how my country continues to suffer, how its people go hungry without food, medication, electricity, water, infrastructure or money. I feel helpless about helping them and I struggle to understand how this can be fathomed and tackled without emotion.
I hope to photograph my country again in its glory, with it people happy and smiling, well fed and armed with dignity.
So I am changing this to from morning to daily since more and more coffee is making its way into my day. I hope that you day is going very well and is filled with your favourite beverage of choice.
Since I got back from the Emirates more than 10 days ago, I have seen nothing but grey skies and rain in Germany. I miss the sun, I miss its warming rays, I miss Lebanon, I miss summertime and I miss the feeling of being outdoors all the time.
With photography I can travel in my mind to the sun, I can be where I was when I took the photograph and I can almost feel the warmth. Our minds are amazing like that, we build all kinds of connections through our senses that allow us to travel mentally to certain moments that we mark on the calendar of our life history.
Doesn’t a smell sometimes bring back to a special moment in time that had its impact on your life? It happens to me all the time, or a piece of music, or the taste of something.
And the sun just came out as I write this… funny how things work.
Well it’s still morning in Germany, but already after 1 pm in Dubai, so time is playing games with me today.
I flew overnight and as you can imagine it is exhausting to do so. I arrived as if in a dream and after being met by my Dubai resident sister, a favorite Lebanese breakfast and long chats, I found myself asleep on a cute bench under the tree in her backyard to the sound of chirping birds in the amazing mild weather here at this time of year.
Sisters… you share your childhood with them, you share secrets, you fight wars and in the end they remain that, sisters. It’s a bond unlike any other, and to understand it , you have to be one, sister.
This morning I am casting my mind and thoughts towards my home country, Lebanon. My thoughts are with its people, my family, and everyone affected by the economic breakdown that this beautiful country has been and is still going through.
A phrase came to mind upon waking this morning: “all the concentrated darkness in the world cannot put out the light of a single candle”. Lebanon has always glowed like a candle in the night, through its people, colours, sunshine, snow-capped mountain tops, art, history, food, its sea, and the bright radiant love of life and hope that has lifted it through the many wars, occupations and difficult times throughout history.
So today, sending a bucketful of love to my Lebanon. This too shall pass.
This image illustrates to me the basic reality that we find ourselves living in: that life is a journey and our tomorrows are dependent on every action we take and every step we make. To author one’s destiny is a huge responsibility that most of us abdicate from. ‘Choice’ remains our greatest gift whether we see it or not.