Setting the Scene

I’ve begun drafting my Beirut story and it’s certainly pulling up a lot of memories. Here are some visual clues to the neighborhood in Ras, Beirut where I’m setting my novel. (I think I’m going to have to create a link in my menu for Beirut Photos.)

While the family in my story is fictional, the street they live on–Rue Manara–certainly isn’t. Those of you who know French may have deciphered the first word (rue means “street” in French…Lebanon was a French protectorate from 1920 until sometime in the 1950’s). The second word, manara is Arabic for “lighthouse.”

About a hundred years ago, this is what the same area looked like from a different angle (thanks to a website titled Al-Mashriq run by a fellow ACS graduate) You’ll notice the Pink House existed that long ago, as well:

If you go to Beirut today, you won’t find the black and white striped lighthouse in operation any longer. Indeed, it was supposed to be torn down to make room for the city’s reconstruction program, so it may not even be there. It’s sad, really, for the same family had operated that lighthouse since it was first built back in 1850.

As for the pink house, I’ve been trying to pin down its origin. Even while we were living there in an apartment overlooking it, we heard all kinds of rumors (some not so savory) about what went on within its walls. I can’t believe it’s still standing. It certainly needs a paint job. Before the civil war, its walls were a much deeper and freshly painted pink.

This is what it looks like more recently:

Originally posted 2011-06-02 17:32:48.

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6 thoughts on “Setting the Scene

  1. I can’t wait for September, so I can go to Beruit with you in the book.

    • I responded on your excellent blog. Thanks for posting all those pictures! I wish I could have gone back there to tour the house, but you provided the next best thing. My stories about the house will be entirely fictional (though I did share the one true story I heard about it on your blog).

  2. Tanya, I lived in Manara in New Ardati building, on the 5th floor, from 1979 to 1980. I was a young man of 20, fresh out of London, working for the British Bank of the Middle East. I couldn’t have asked for a more exciting, fascinating, and in fact educational place to live and work.

    Good luck with your novel; I look forward to reading it when it is released.

    • How wonderful to connect! I’m afraid my novel has had to go on the back burner for the time being. Our daughter’s about to give us our first grandchild and we’re going to be doing a lot of daycare once she goes back to work. But I’ll definitely post about its completion here when it’s done! Thanks!!

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