"The sharp knife of a short life

I've had just enough time..."

- "If I Die Young" The Band Perry

I see Beauty in many things. And like the ghosts that only speak to you if you notice them, they tell me wondrous tales. With my camera and my thoughts, I captured these as faithfully as I can to share with you. And by doing so, they gave me the reasons. And though the thousand reasons may not all be sweet and some indeed bitter; they are still reasons to live. Come to think about it, that is Life, isn't it?

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Part 2 – The Man From Syria

I've had just enough time to...   meet the man from Syria.

The strong arms of the bakery proprietress that invited me in

In the last post, I mentioned stopping by a bakery on my long walk on my last day in Beirut. The proprietress noticed me lingering outside and warmly waved me in to take pictures in her bakery. We cannot understand a single word the other was saying but signs and smiles can go a long way.

The friendly workers of the bakery staring at me, the stranger :)

The bakery is producing a Lebanese flat bread called Manakeesh. A fermented dough that was divided, rounded and then flattened to a large round shape. A herb mixture (usually thyme and other herbs) called Zaatar are then spread on top with olive oil, and with or without cheese. Minced meat can also be used as toppings. It is an inexpensive and very delicious bread especially piping hot from the oven.

The delicious Manakeesh bread that I took a bite of and those not folded on the table.

 I was encouraged to shoot whatever I wanted. Then they offered me a choice of cold Pepsi or thick, concentrated, black Lebanese coffee strong enough to wake up the dead. I took the coffee and understand why it is served in “demitasse” or small cup. I think it felt like I received a direct injection of caffeine. But it went along very nicely with the hot Manakeesh folded in half. The aromatic cheese and thyme added an interesting and flavorful taste profile to the hot bread.

What would you choose? Cold Pepsi or Hot Lebanese Coffee?

I sat inside the small kitchen of the bakery looking at the baker doing his stuff. Whenever he finished a batch, he would come over and sat opposite me and we tried conversing. But it was useless. We tried all the languages under our disposal. I can speak three and I’m quite sure he spoke more than one but none fit so we looked at each other and smiled and tried to communicate with our hearts. Making eye contacts with a stranger of your same sex can be a little awkward but we form a rapport or at least a bond by just sharing the same space and time. I wanted to ask him about the tattoo of the snake on his arm and I really wished I could understand his reply. The only intelligible word I could make out was “Syria” when he pointed to himself.  I gave him an apple from the hotel and a banknote from my country to remember me by. 

The man from Syria!

The proprietress would not accept any payment from me and I too gave her a Malaysian banknote as a souvenir. I have so many words of thanks that I wanted to express but my words could not convey the meanings to them. So I hoped that my expressions, my smiles and my limbs were able to do what my words could not. It is unlikely I will ever go back to Beirut. It is unlikely I will ever meet them again. But I will never forget their kindness to a stranger and made it a day for him to remember.

The snake tattoo on his arm. Wish I know its significance to him.


  1. A 1000 Reasons
    Me and the man from Syria exchanged only one word we both understood that day – “Syria”. But I will remember him longer than some whom I exchanged 10,000 words with. Compassion, kindness, warmth are sometimes best communicated with no words at all…

    Andrew 62
    indeed ....
    sometimes we must communicate in other ways, even among people speaking the same language ....
    great portrait and compassionate words always ....... greetings

    A 1000 Reasons
    She has strong arms and a heart as big as her embrace. Because of her generosity, she did not let words stand in her way and find ways to make me understand that “welcome” can be spoken without words. That sincerity is better felt than described.


  2. Andrew 62
    indeed ....
    sometimes we must communicate in other ways, even among people speaking the same language ....
    great portrait and compassionate words always ....... greetings

    ★ineedathis added this photo to his favorites.
    Sometimes words are not necessary, I often did the same when I visited other countries,
    a big smile was plenty:-)
    Great portrait! Have a great weekend.


    ★♥♥Ever-Green Veronica♥♥ MOSTLY OFF added this photo to her favorites.
    A good start.... knowing where he comes from..... I remember my dad when we were overseas.... & did not know a work of english.... He did communicate quite ok helping himself with gestures and smiles etc....
    Hugs Dear Thou.. Have a pleasant Sunday & thanks .... Enjoy your stay and take many pics... LOL LOL

    henrhyde (gill)
    Beautiful portrait.
    Grand composition
    Sometimes we do not need words .
    Silence is easy !


  3. Eyemdreaming
    Interesting story of human interaction.

    Sometimes we need not say very much - sympathy is in his face :)
    a very beautiful portrait!
    ★ho.ge added this photo to her favorites.

    Great shot and where was Google Translate when you needed it? :-)

    الله أكبر * " ALLAH HU AKBAR! "
    Yes, Thou. My favorite bench.

    ♥♥Ever-Green Veronica♥♥
    Have a good Sunday afternoon Dear Thou... Blessings my friend ♥♥♥

    ★MOSTAFA HAMAD I PHOTOGRAPHY and i_still_believe_in_u added this photo to their favorites.

    Onasill ~ Behind ~ Sorry
    Oh this is just wonderful. A person with a great camera and super text Thou..What an appealing combo:-)
    A 1000 Reasons said:
    Wow!! Amazing sculpture! Very intricate and detailed.
    You dramatize it wonderfully with the shine and gold.
    I did not know that Neptune also like to read :)
    ...Yes :-) well noted. Hummm the founatin is located in front of a library in Washington DC.
    The sculptor wanted to send a message out....
    A must visit if your in DC, the library that is.
    Have a nice Sunday my dear freind

    ★Onasill ~ Behind ~ Sorry and I_am_Allan added this photo to their favorites.


    ★娜 娜☂Nana_Slowly catching up added this photo to her favorites.
    A smile is the best language :)
    Have A Happy Week... My Dear friend ◕‿◕

    wonderful portrait.

    ★Steve Taylor (Photography) added this photo to his favorites.

    This beautiful chapter has been seen in WRITTEN PAGES.

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