Making it up as I go along

It wasn’t meant to be this way. Stumbling into Lebanon by mistake in 1998, I had planned to stay just long enough to see the three B’s: Beirut, Baalbak and Byblos.

Three, four days at the most, I told myself, then I’d be back on my way across Central Asia and finally, east to the new life I planned for myself as a stringer in Beijing.

Shanghai I have seen but all these years later, Beijing remains a distant dream. To my surprise - and my great delight - it is my beautiful, beloved Beirut – the world’s least probable city - that has become home, instead.

Some things, though, have happened exactly the way I planned. Well, more or less. I am a writer. First, in newspapers, then in magazines and afterwards for television, as script writer for several television shows and documentaries. I’m an author, too. Six books to date; four Wallpaper/ Phaidon cityguides, a collection of anecdotes about Beirut and co-authorship of a book on one of my favourite Lebanese architects.

The future, well, who knows? I’m working on two separate book projects at once, largely in the hopes that one of them will actually get finished. Meanwhile, wild and unpredictable, terrifying and captivating, Beirut continues to fascinate, educate and entertain so, for now at least, it looks like I will remain.

 

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.
— Gilda Radner