Bambi Recommends: Bayrut Express

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Bayrut Express is a shop I found on Facebook while researching eco-friendly projects in Lebanon. Next thing I know, Ziad from BE comments on that post telling me to come check out their shop. Little did he know, I’d been wanting to go since discovering their page and finally managed to do so thanks to having today off. It’s located in Asos Center near Sassine Square, Ashrafieh. If you’re driving toward Sassine from Sodeco, it’s in the alley to the right before you reach the main intersection. I didn’t mention my blog while investigating the shelves – let it be clear, this is not a sponsored post.

BE sells clothing, shoes, and accessories but all the merchandise they have is related to a cause. GGRIL and Waste products are sold there along with Inkkas, handmade sneakers made by artisans from Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. Inkkas is a kickstarter project that was successfully funded last December. Each pair is a combination of colorfully patterned South American textiles and bright nylon shoelaces. On their Kickstarter page, they state, “From the beginning, Inkkas set out to be a company that would have a beneficial impact on the world, not an exploitative one. The company was founded on the principles of fair trade, philanthropy and authenticity.”

The product is made to counter planned obsolescence and the whole initiative backs South American causes and communities. For example, with every Inkkas purchase, 10% is donated to preserving the Amazon rainforest. Above is the shelf of Inkkas at Bayrut Express. The high-tops run at 220,000 L.L. (~147 USD) but are on special this week at 155,000 L.L. (~100 USD). Can’t wait to rock mine tomorrow.

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Bambi Recommends: The iPhone Doctor

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My precious iPhone had been malfunctioning for the past few days leaving me with a black screen. It was still operating but having a dead screen means you have a smartphone that functions like a home receiver from the 90s. Touchscreens need illumination and Siri’s voice dialing can only go so far; she called my friend in England by mistake. My tech expert friend told me about an iPhone guru in Sin el Fil so off we went. In a side street in Horsh Tabet is Amer & Raed, a sales and repair shop specializing in Apple products.

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Upon entering the shop, Raed, a George Khabbaz doppleganger, sat behind a Macbook surrounded by the remains of iPhones and other wrapped patients (sick phones are rubber-band-wrapped in white paper containing the contact info of the owner). I handed him the phone and he dissected it with ease. He carefully removed the chips and pieces, stripping it down on the table in front of him. It was like watching a  cardiologist behind an operating table. He used nail pliers to pinch circuits and sprayed a toothbrush with cleaning fluid to wipe away residue – the same residue left from months before when my phone took a dive in my Nescafe. He has a microscope that he uses to inspect the nanobits that come together to create this device that we are all addicted to. Once he figures out the problem, he re-fuses circuits using needles that look like phone defibrillator pads. I had the urge to yell out “clear” during the revival.

At one point, an older man came in with his daughter’s iPhone that had drowned in water. The phrases that were used were as if they were discussing a patient that needed surgery. He asked if it could be saved to which Raed replied, “inshallah kheir.” We asked what we should do if we ever dropped our babies in water after hours. This is how we learned that Raed takes emergency calls too; saying he’d come in and open in the middle of the night if necessary.

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The good thing about Amer & Raed is that you actually watch them try to figure out what’s wrong with your phone. Other places I’ve been to jump into how much it’s going to cost and try to sell you a newer model instead – before they’ve even looked at what could actually be wrong. Besides that, they overcharge for slow work that has poor results. Raed fixed my phone in under 30 minutes, in front of me, and didn’t over charge. In fact, he didn’t charge at all. Ma btehrouz. (it’s not necessary)

Now that’s a doctor who isn’t working for the paycheck. That’s a doc who’s saving lives.

How to get there: the road that heads towards the Mkalles roundabout disaster [on the same road where Marky’s is] take a right where the big black globe sign is and Amer & Raed will be up ahead on your left.

Contact them at +961 1 494 303

The 2nd PARK(ing) Day in Beirut

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PARK(ing) Day is an initiative brought about by some AUB landscaping design students in partnership with Beirut Green Project, Green Living, and AltCity. The idea is that they will occupy a parking space and convert it into a mini-park; it’s like a green protest against asphalt and the fight for more public GREEN spaces.

Balsam Aoun, one of the organizers, answered a few questions about the whole event which is to take place TOMORROW AFTERNOON (Friday, it’s late Thursday night and I’m allergic to sleep). Last year, they had one setup in front of Cafe Hamra (see below photos). This year, they’re having FOUR separate parking spot setups scattered throughout Hamra. Check out the Facebook event page for details.

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PARK(ing) Day, 2012
Photo provided by Balsam Aoun

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PARK(ing) Day, 2012
Photo provided by Balsam Aoun

1. What’s the message you are trying to send through this initiative?

“Park(ing) Day is an international event that happens all around the world on the same day. This year it happens to be September 20th. It is an event where metered parking spaces are turned into temporary parks. The aim of this is to show how a simple parking spot can become a park, how important parks are and how we are wasting space for our cars when instead they can be used for parks and green spaces.

2. Where does the concept of occupying a parking spot with greenery come from?

“The idea was from the international group called Rebar. They came up with the concept, and slowly it spread all around the world. If you want more information about the event, check out their website. This our second year doing the event. Kristelle Boulos, Arwa Al Jalahma and I are the heads of the organization; Kristelle being the “pioneer” since she brought it from Berkeley. She was there for summer courses and I helped her out last year to bring it to life. This year, Arwa joined us because her and I are the heads of the AUB Landscaping Society. ”

3. What is something the youth can do to help this cause?

“What the youth can do to help is be aware of the lack of green spaces, especially in Lebanon and more so in Beirut. Beirut is the least green city in the world, or one of them. There are no parks and there are a million parking lots and parking spots. They can raise awareness, join us every year in helping make the event bigger and better. We are trying to expand the event, so that hopefully after some time we can have the event in Hamra, Mar Mikhael, Ashrafieh,….all over beirut. Then, eventually, in different towns and cities like Jounieh, Saida, Dbayeh, etc. ”

8 Things We Can Look Forward To

Update: Creamfields was cancelled due to the unstable situation. Poo.

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…instead of “World War III” as some people are dubbing it. There’s a lot of let’s-crap-on-our-country going around. Given that the situation is getting worse, I don’t blame people for being pessimistic and worrisome about what may be in store for us in the next few weeks or months; it is difficult to think about the future when you are afraid if you’ll have one. However, I’d like to remind you all that we can look forward to good things on the horizon, things that other people are putting in motion to make this country better, things that dissociate us with bombs, death, and destruction.

Remember, we can choose to drown or we can choose to swim.

1. Lebanon on Rails Exhibition – Sept 4-15, 2013

Train/Train NGO, mentioned previously on this blog, is working towards saving the legacy of the Lebanese Railways. They’re organizing an exhibition in Beirut Souks displaying old relics and photographs of the historical trains that used to run through the country years ago.

2. Thursdays with FERN at Tawlet – Sept 5, 2013

Also featured previously on this blog, FERN is an NGO that works towards incorporating better waste methods in Lebanon. Fresh salads, an open bar, and signature organic roasted chicken. $25 open dinner buffet, open 961 beer, open Lebanese wine and proceeds go to FERN’s efforts to improve Lebanon’s waste habits.

3. TEDxLAU #TheCrossRoad- Sept 7, 2013

Held at Gulbenkian Theatre, LAU campus – in usual TEDx fashion, speakers will be giving inspiring talks about their own journeys through life. Unfortunately, the event is already sold out but I will be live tweeting it so you can follow me on Twitter for a play-by-play in case you didn’t manage to snag a spot.

4. Creamfields – Sept 7, 2013

Gino’s got 7 reasons why you should attend this big shindig. It’s a massive music festival jam packed with a bunch of DJs on 3 stages brought to you by Uberhaus and White. And their posters have flooded Beirut so you might as well see what all the fuss is about.

5. Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve Hike – Sept 7-8, 2013

Two days of free hiking up in the cedars of Ehden is a great way to escape the city and hectic reminders of real life. The weather up there is cool and the fresh air will do you some good. It’s the perfect place to clear your head…and fill your stomach with kibbeh zghortawiyyeh from Ferdaws.

6. Wickerpark Music Festival – Sept 15, 2013

Project Revolver wrote about it – Looks like it’s going to be a fun day in Batroun. Sure, it’s free-spirited in a hippie way but why not? Wanton Bishops are great and the weather should be cool enough to spend a Sunday chilling “on the grass.”

7. Beirut Art Fair – Sept 19-22, 2013

The fourth edition of the Beirut Art Fair “stands out as a leading platform for the promotion of contemporary art & design” for the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia. Collections are comprised of paintings, sculptures, designs, installation art, video and photography.

8. Beirut Energy Forum – Sept 26-27, 2013

Said to be “the largest event in Lebanon and the region related to energy efficiency, renewable energy, and green buildings”  will be going on for the 4th time at Le Royal Hotel, Dbayeh. It’s supposed to be a 2-day conference with presentations and speakers from all over the world. Dr. James Woudhuysen, the keynote speaker, is Professor of Forecasting and Innovation at De Montfort University, Leicester in the UK. As usual, places are limited so you have to register but I’m intrigued as to what this event is going to propose for a nation so in need of alternatives in this sector.

And a whole bunch of other things going on this month can be found here.

Bambi Recommends: Popeye at Vick Vanlian

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“One Way or Another”

Vick Vanlian Gallery in Saifi Village, located next to Chenbai Restaurant, is having an exclusive exhibition of Jordi Machi’s Popeye collection. His art pieces feature the famous cartoons, Popeye and Olive Oil, in some very scandalous poses – and that’s why you love them. The exhibition itself is titled “PoPeye WTF Art Exhibition” after all, so it’s pretty obvious that the Spanish artist is very aware of the distorted reality he portrays in his work. I say distorted because I don’t remember ever seeing Olive snorting grinded spinach like it’s lines of coke…or strip. The gallery itself is the perfect place being that it has quirky furniture pieces with lady legs going everywhere, industrial pipe armchairs, and a giant metallic peeled banana.

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Spinach cans as part of the set-up

I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to go see the show but if you happen to be in Downtown or having waffles at Balima, you might as well walk on over and take a look. It’s a small collection so it’ll only take 10 minutes tops – 2 have already been sold. If you want to buy any of the works, prices run between $2300 – $3800. You have until March 22nd – Go.

Imagine having one of these in your parents’ living room:

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“One in a Millione”

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“LoVe Me KNOT”

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“Many Days at Sea”

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“How I Met Your Mama”