lebanon (8)

Spamming in Lebanon

I just received an email from BLOM Bank Lebanon spamvertizing some new service they are offering (not even bothering to check what it is).

I tried to send a complaint through their site and got a website debug error. Very professional indeed! That’s the quality assurance you get from the largest bank in Lebanon. Yay!

Screenshot Blom Bank


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What Is A Postal Code?

A question like “what is a postal code?” may seem trivial to people all over the world. But in Lebanon, where postal services are still hanging on to our deep rooted traditions of the pre-1934 era, the answer is not an obvious one. But when a postal services employee asks the question, it becomes a little too much.

A month or so ago, I tried to hunt down my apartment’s postal code. I had a couple of items I purchased returned to sender after LibanPost failed to “find” my address. And I was able to get it from someone who seemed to know what a postal code is at LibanPost customer services. Apparently he was the only one in the company who knew!

This whole post was triggered by a very funny (or not, you decide) telephone call I received in the morning asking me to come collect my parcel from the LibanPost office in downtown Beirut. The guy asked me if it was the first time I got parcels delivered, I said no of course. He said that they couldn’t find the address. So I asked him what was he looking for. He read the address to me and it was perfectly findable on Google maps (after all that’s where I got the names of the streets from). I asked him was there a postal code on the label and he was dumbfounded. I told him it was an 8 digits number. He looked and voila, there it was. Next thing he said made me real sad though, so I laughed. He said: “that’s a long number and it’s not a phone number”. I explained it was a Postal Code, and that I got that from their offices. But that did not ring any bells. He just said in a very forced politeness: “Come get your things from Riad el Solh office, TODAY!” I guess he let go of the “or else” part, thankfully.

I’m pretty sure no one reads my rant blogs. In fact I hope no one is reading this one …

Update: I went to pick up my new cycling jacket, and the nice guy at the Riad el Solh post office told me that it was their duty to deliver the mail to my doorstep and that the caller was probably some new guy taking shortcuts. And that next time I should take his name and report him. Well, I have a few things in transit at the moment. Let’s see how it goes ๐Ÿ™‚

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Chouwen 2013





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My Pebble is (almost) Here!

8/27/2013 Item departed to final destination SINGAPORE-SINGAPORE S05
8/31/2013 Item received at Sorting Center LEBANON-BEIRUT SORTING CENTRE
9/3/2013 Item handed over to Customs for clearance LEBANON-Parcels unit

So if you don’t ask about your stuff or track them, they simply get resent to sender without a warning! I never got a notification that the watch was sent to customs for clearance. I had to call LibanPost (hotline: 1577) to find out. Then I had to go to the main office near the Beirut airport to “clear” the watch.

Apparently, the pebble was either a “threat to national security” or “too expensive” according to the guys at the clearance office. That’s why they had to charge me 40$ and print and scribble on 11 different forms (4 of which were in triplicates). I felt I was picked up by a Vogon ship.

Anyway, it’s here now and I’m feeling good about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

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The Hunt for Postal Codes in Beirut, Lebanon

A few weeks (months?) ago there was a (very low) buzz in the Lebanese social media (twitter, blogosphere) about someone (MP? MoT?) announcing that LibanPost will “finally” be using a post code system for Lebanon. That sounded like great news, in spite of the fact that (as many pointed out) a similar announcement was made almost 10 years before that and no one knew about it (especially at LibanPost!)

I am ordering a couple of nifty items for myself (a Pebble and a MYO). And I am actually considering delivering them home, since I live in Beirut now. So I called up LibanPost hotline (1577) and asked if they have a way to tell me what my postal code is. The very nice lady at the other end took a couple of minute and asked me the same question a few times before it dawned on her that I’m actually asking for my own address’ postal code. I’m not too good at explaining things on the phone (or verbally in general), so I’m not blaming her. But when she knew what I was asking for she was very kind to point me to the next step:

Call 01629629 and ask for Mr. Mouhammad Hashash

I am assuming that’s public information, so I’m posting here so people searching for the same info might have a trail to follow. I called the number and Mr. Hashash was indeed the person to call. But since it was (almost) 13:00PM, he was on his lunch break. No one was there to replace him unfortunately. But the good people (3) at his office were kind enough to take my phone numbers and my address (I thought they were going to give me the postal code finally, but it was only for the note they took). So now I wait for the call. Hopefully we’ll get a Postal Code soon (and that the delivery men at LibanPost would be able to use it!)

UPDATE: at ~15:30 the kind Mr Hashash called and simply gave me the Postal Code for my building. I’m going to test it out real soon.

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Enjoying Ramadan

Living in Lebanon allows plenty of opportunities to benefit from multi-denominational fun events. Why, just last week we had spent a whole evening watching fireworks all over Mount Lebanon in celebration of Mar Elias. That went on all night and the next day, and the smell of sulfur and filled the air for a week. All in good fun really, and no forest fires! Well there are no forests left anyway.
And then came Ramadan. A full month of festivities (followed by 3 days of festivities, take that).
How would you enjoy Ramadan? To start with the special sweets, one must eat Kallaj and Hadaf at least once during the month, preferably during the first week when the frying oils are still fresh.
The other thing that I personally enjoy is listening to good old Arabic language well spoken. And that is what you get with at least one of the many daily dramas prepared specifically for Ramadan, namely “Omar“.
It’s a huge production about Umar ibn Al-Khattร„ยb with historically approved references and plenty of (Arab) world class actors.
I don’t know what it is about listening to all these actors speaking well rehearsed Arabic that makes me sit and listen. What a beautiful language we have. Too bad it’s being ruined and bastardized by the rest of the dramas of the month!
One thing to ruin the mood though is all the heat, good thing we live in the mountains ๐Ÿ™‚

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Suspend Ubuntu Desktop

Simple command line: pm-suspend
An interesting alternative would be: pm-suspend-hybrid

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Sabah in Narnia!?

‘The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian’, is a fantasy movie that describes the adventures of four children in the fictional realm of ‘Narnia’. After watching the first film of the series, you find out that it is a place where animals talk, fantasy creatures live, and where magic and battles are common…
What was surprising though, was hearing the famous Lebanese folk song : ‘Dakhl 3yoonik Hakina’ of the Lebanese legend Sabah in one scene.
We couldn’t believe our ears! We had to go and check the scene again on youtube:
Sabah in Narnia!

The scene: a hag who attempts to resurrect the White Witch by keeping prince Caspian inside a magic circle and chanting what is obviously the words from Sabah’s song. The words translate roughly to:

Please talk to us (lit. For your eyes’ sake, talk to us)
We only came because of your eyes
You got us half way there, (lit. helped us half way out of the well)
Then let us go (lit. cut the rope)
Wayleh [interjection meaning I’m doomed!]

I believe Sabah should be asking for her copyrights, or at least someone should tell her! Better not perhaps, considering how ugly the hag was? Or …

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