The term "Cultural activities" engulfs such a vast array of things, that it will take me a long time to describe everything I have seen since I've got here. I mean, culture is composed of the arts, customs, and traditions of a place, and Lebanon is so rich...
I am going to highlight some of my favorite things for starters. This is not an exhaustive list, since a) I have only been here for 6 months, and there are still loads of things to discover and b) many would argue with me that what I am depicting here falls into other categories, such as recreational or entertainment. So please take this as the anecdote of an individual's experience of the "cultural scene" in Lebanon.
I must say that the more I live here, the more I am amazed by the Lebanese refinement, especially in terms of everything that has to do with design. The first thing that caught my eye was interior design. I don't know about you, but I had never seen, in any country in the world, such attention to detail. There are some restaurants where the decor, the plates, and even the waiters outfits match the design of the walls and furniture.
Some examples of places that I personally like a lot from an interior design point of view are the following:
Museums in this area are quite cool too. I mean you can go to places like Byblos or Baalbek that are literally open air museum, with fantastic Roman ruins. However, the National Museum is this gorgeous little hidden jewel near where I live.
It is not very big, but some of the pieces exhibited there are worth the trip. Some pieces come directly from sites such Byblos, and the variety of artifacts you find in it - from the Roman, Byzantine or Arab conquest periods - give you a sense of the richness of Lebanon's history.
A place that I have been meaning to visit but haven't, is the Sursock Museum in Achrafieh. I think they specialize in modern art. But what really calls me is the building itself:
Which brings me to another topic: architecture. I have seen some gorgeous buildings around here, including, yes, night clubs. Look at my previous posting on Beirut's nightlife to see some very cool clubs, built by the likes of Bernard Khoury, among others.
And something worth noting is the number of Film Festivals in Beirut. I have been to at least 4 of them in the past 6 months, including a German/Russian festival, a Latin American Film Festival and one that had to do with Human Rights recently. A film that I was particularly moved by was the documentary "12 Angry Lebanese" based on the American film "12 Angry Men". The movie is very powerful; it shows the life of 12 Lebanese men who are in prison. The film's musical score was composed by the inmates themselves and is beautiful.
Why did I call my blog post "Beauty in chaos"? I guess that in the midst of political tensions, lots of anxiety, and Beirut's traffic jams, I wanted to remind myself of the beauty this place has to offer. It is very very beautiful. Ktir Helou, as they say here. And I also wanted to remind myself of the beautiful things humans can create instead of focusing on all the harm we can do.