2011-06-03 – Friday Whisper – Not Just a Building…

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A House in Beirut

 I get a weird feeling, an uncomfortable, one every time I pass by an old building that is set to be demolished…
I start imagining what might have this house gone through… how many decades it survived… What kind of life did its inhabitants have… What did they do in this room, in that backyard, on this balcony…
How many times kids went up and down those stairs…how many times they ran through the hallway to welcome their dad… How many times a mother welcomed her children from school…
How many celebrations did those walls held… how many mournings & how many baby births they witnessed… How many meals were cooked in this house, how many coffees were prepared for visitors…how many mornings rose up over it, how many nights passed by… How many love stories it heard… How many broken hearts it soothed…
Of course, in many cases, the house is left alone in the street, among concrete towers, looking odd, after all its fellow old buildings were tore down…
I stop by to look at it from every side, sometimes taking photos…trying to make a room for it in my memory… As if I’m trying to fight the fact that it will disappear very soon, wanting it to stay, even if only in my memory…
And it is interesting that even when the building will be torn down, if you have lived in it, you keep coming back to the area, even if it was replaced by a high-rise building, a hotel or a restaurant… it keeps feel somehow that you are coming home…
In Beirut, there are a couple of groups that try to save some buildings: “Save Beirut Heritage” and “the Association for Protecting Natural Sites and Old Buildings in Lebanon (APSAD)”
But it is a lost battle so far… and by the time a law to protect the remaining buildings is drafted, most of the them will be history, if not all!!!
I’m not against moving forward in life or constructing new buildings… I’m against the demolition of our heritage, of erasing a part of our identity… because moving forward never means destroying the past…
It is not just a building that is being destroyed; it is a place where all those memories were created…a place where all those stories were told over and over again…
It is not just a building; it is our legacy to the future generation…
Next time you pass by an old building, take a minute, look again and enjoy the view…
A House in Beirut

Rania Hammoud, Life Coach
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