Book Bazar in Ras Beirut…a frenzy love affair?

As I stood for the longest of time in front of the large windows, it struck me quietly that I have never read a book I did not like.

The minutes passed, and suddenly I screamed to myself:

"I could be wrong, you schizophrenic dreamer, but stranger things have happened".

In our lives.

In my imagination.

Rivers and roads have crossed paths.

Hearts were saturated with emotions.

Slow - drip coffee has become an old man's frenzy love story.

The changing times might have threatened the illusion of stability.

But as I stood for the longest of times in front of the large windows, the only thing I cared about was the fact that I have never read a book I did not like.

Never mind my fascination with all that dances with splendor.

All that portrays the illusion of grandeur.

Never mind my inability to step outside the fastidiously stretched courtyards of the unrealistic.


That includes the books I actually did not like!

My feet take me to Sidani Street in Ras Beirut.

A sigh of sarcasm, Mildred?

Can you blame me?

Can you judge my desperate need to be assaulted by all that represents the real

Beirut we have somehow lost along the way?

In that historical Street, everybody seems to be talking at the same time.

They do not really care about my inner turmoil, and my constant battles with all

the characters living inside of me.

Nor do they find it funny when I tell them that some of these characters living inside of me have easily dumped me.

Others have simply ghosted me, Mildred.

But as I stand for long minutes in front of those tall windows, overcrowded and stacked by books, I am struck by the fact that I have never read a book I did not like.

And that is especially true for those I actually hated!

Hady Karajeh, the director of the bookshop I am visiting this afternoon, is busy overlooking the moving of "Book Bazar" to Makdessi Street, just a few steps further up the road.

He doesn't seem to mind my daydreaming which has reached the frightening point where I actually lure pilgrims into a world of fantasy!

Pilgrims I am yet to meet, Mildred!

He actually seems delighted by the overlapping conversations between me and my friend Sawsan - a regular in the space - which he runs so smoothly, we might actually ACCUSE him of being the hero of this story.

The dust has a very particular effect on all of us.

It makes these used books and magazines from all genres and in different languages, a bit more haughty.

The dust infuses those literary treasures with a sense of arrogance.

A well - deserved arrogance, Mildred. For it glides around the pages and covers with no care in this world.

Hady assures me and Sawsan that when business is slow, the books beckon him inside their pages.

However, I forgot to ask him if he cleans away the dust before allowing the authors to assault him with their neurosis.

He finds real happiness when, midst his readings, A book lover suddenly interrupts his heated conversations with this author or another, in order to ask his advise regarding the book of the moment.

Or when they poetically ask the existential question that defies us all:

"Hady, what should I read next?".

he adds:

"And when am reading the perfect book, I tell them in a triumphant tone:


"Book Bazar" is an old bookstore in Ras Beirut.

It never lost its charm, and it gives a second life (sometimes even a tenth one!), to those books which have been abandoned by their owners.

The dust being the pillar of all great libraries, is so becoming in these spectacular imaginary worlds in which rivers and roads often cross paths, even though Mildred the wise thing to say in such situations should be:

"You go your way and I go mine"!

Sawsan chooses her share of political reads, and at one point, we are all talking at the same time.

Each one of us listening only to his own voice. Not really noticing that our conversations are overlapping.

And the same goes for all the conversations slithering left and right in the famous street.

For if there is something you should know about Ras Beirut, is that it is full of stories, and it is only normal that everybody talks to the rhythm of their own story.

In this old bookshop which has now officially moved to Makdessi Street, literary excess is a delirious sin we never get tired of committing.

Feeling overwhelmed by the heroes who are forcing you to choose them and savor slices of their wounds, indulging in all the gluttony they represent?

Hady would find this amusing.

He would even start a grand debate about it.

And don't you dare ask him:

"what is your favorite book?", Mildred, for you will not receive any reasonable answer!

Just like me, he has never read a book he did not like!

All those books are for him, the equivalent of unplucked roses. And this overcrowded bookshop is the lush secret garden he happily spends his days in.

Philosophy, Psychology, Poetry, Literature, History?

"Waw! I love them all. I have read the most beautiful works in different genres, and I am certain I shall read even more beautiful ones along the way".

Literary excess is not an unsolvable equation to him, either, Mildred.

It merely enhances the flavor of stories.

My penchant for tragedy and fascination with intriguing titles leads me to pick many, but many books. For I never tire from the subtleties of beginnings, nor do I fear the pungent flavors of endings.

The small nuances of the changing tide within us only manage to bring me closer to eternity.

Can you believe, Mildred, that some people do not appreciate Hady's world?

They mock and belittle it.

I have been here several times before, and I assure you, these poor insipid mortals will not dissuade me.

Their rusty souls shall not contaminate mine.

My imagination shall forever be filled with all kinds of dreams, fears, hallucinations, and unrealistic scientific theories on the fleeting beauty of beginnings, and the heartbreaking pungent flavor of endings.

No Book is ever discarded.

Especially Those I do not like!