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Up In The Air Lebanese Style

Lufthansa is the most reliable, on-time, predictable, exact airline. I had booked my flight on the German carrier because 1) it was the most inexpensive and 2) I know it relies and works on strict time. All this is true, I have learned, until the Lebanese arrive!!!! My layover was in Frankfurt, the hub of orderliness but this time around was different. I had never seen a check-in more chaotic in my life! People scrambled, screamed, clumped. Babies cried. My God, there were so many kids!!!! After we all finally got checked-in we were sent to board buses! Yes, I thought, I was back in Europe. The bus slowly made its way all over the airport until arriving at our small plane. By this time we were at least 30 minutes late. As my mama would say, Oy Vey.

Once on the plane the misunderstands began: The German flight attendants not speaking French and many Lebanese not speaking English. 1-2-3 call Nett in as a translator. I was asked to move seats three times before take off, by this time back in my first seat.

Anyway, I ended up sitting next to a very sweet (initially) Muslim woman carrying her 2-year-old son (well, I thought it was her son until he started crying for mama later in the flight and I found out he was the woman’s 17 year old daughter’s baby). This woman’s older son had downs syndrome and would scream throughout the flight.  I remember saying to my papa: “The flight from Frankfurt to Beirut is only 4 hours! That’s not bad at all.” He responded, “Well, you are going to be so anxious and excited and those four hours will seem like forever.” Boy, was he right. To make this woman even more intriguing I noted in my journal:  “We are trying to speaking in Arabic-English.  She just told me she has 10 sons and 4 daughters—after asking me if I have a man.”

The flight would ensue with babies crying EVERYWHERE (It seemed like all the Lebanese expat babies were on board), the woman furiously eating MY portion of the Lufthansa meal (is she eating for two again?), bottles flying, and a flight attendant apologizing to me with a box of “special sweets”: “This is not what Lufthansa is like. This is not our usual state. Please come fly with us again we will make it up to you.”

BUT, aside for the long tedious flight across oceans and seas, the most important thing is that I am here safely and am SO happy to be doing exactly what I had wished.

Today, in Arabic class at the American University of Beirut, the teacher asked us which city we would like to visit. In the past, I had answered with “Beirut” and for the first time I didn’t have that carnal desire to leave and go somewhere else. I am here and, as cheesy as it may sound, I am creating my own path for my destiny!!

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