Köfte, Keftedes, kafta

imageIt’s 1pm in Turkey and I just landed in Istanbul. I spent my first expensive 120 Turkish Liras on a private Taxi to Fendekzade. Abdulrahman; a Turkish driver with a perfect Jordanian dialect escorted me to my hotel & suggested to share a seafood platter for dinner; with my perfect Zahle dialect I gently responded “ma baddich” (I don’t want) and dozed off to sleep my 18 hours flight from Sydney.
Six hours later, I’m in my pants again, ready to get a taste of this crowded city. image“Try Evrim” suggested a staff member; “It’s up to the left about 300 meters”. Walking around shops; having lived in Zahle and visited Damascus; I felt very familiar with this place and my arabic was very welcomed when my Italian companion and I ordered köfte and ayran. Not sure what to expect, it just felt like living the 80’s again, this time in an adult body.image
Given the short time, the tram in Istanbul was my cheapest and quickest way to move around; In return, I had to give in to clean orgies between stops to Sultan Ahmet where I cherished the main artery of the city. I gave my respect to Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque as expected of any tourist; and was mesmerised by the weary faces of its local fishermen on the bridge, the artisans of the spice market, and “efendims” (gentlemen) sipping the bitterness of life in a cup of tea & blowing an apple flavoured air of hope with a narghile.image
Köfte after Köfte and feta after feta; I left Istanbul with my glass half empty; following the footsteps of Saint Paul from Ephesus to Athens passing by Patmos, where I filled up my glass with a beautiful Rosé as sweet and laid back as its islanders; climbed “Sophia”, the kind donkey who was willing to risk her life (and mine) by dragging my extra kilos up to the Acropolis of Lindos in Rhodes; did heaps of windowimage shopping in Santorini, and lifted up a petite Chinese woman and dumped her to the right so she can clear the passage while milking the battery of her camera on the white and blue shades of beautiful Santorini, “just google it” I begged! And finished in Athens, where I unleashed my animal instinct by devouring keftedes like a pig!
imageIt’s 1pm in Lebanon, and I just landed in Beirut. I haven’t left the airport yet and I was greeted by roads closure; of course, welcome to Lebanon! My dad escorted me to the car and we began a short journey of discovery. I haven’t played the maze game for a while, certainly not after a flight, and after four hours of competition sustained by a Lebanese Kafta roll, we arrived to Zahle.
The very next day I did my walk around. Uncle Halim has entered history and his life will be always remembered by a dry manmade water fountain. imageWilliam the shoemaker has just passed away, may his soul rests in peace, he had a subscription in heaven right from his broken desk overloaded with shoe leathers, and walls coated with pictures of saints. The Zakhia brothers, each settled on his own chair, napping while waiting to be interrupted by customers. Aunty Leila shrank in size, but was able to stretch her full arms around my waist once she recognised me. imageAbou Hamra still serves coffee for men, Adonis cocktails are now available in plastic cups with honey and nuts minus achta cheese, Disco Fouad added lotto kiosk to his services provided that he is ever around; if not, grab him from Abou Hamra café; 10 foot steps to the left, and Disco 2000 is advertising his shop for sale with a complimentary Elvis Presley Cd for each meter square, Great!
With all the additions and subtractions of Zahle, church bells are still well noticed twice daily; and best of all one lady still stands tall is “Our Lady of Zahle”.

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