Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Portrait #93: The Lebanese guy

He showed up here on a UN contract - as did most of the expats currently living in Timor Leste - and stayed on to run a Thai/Lebanese restaurant. A marriage born in heaven I say.

This restaurant is part of a strip of cafés and bars, right on the beachfront near Areia Branca - or White Sand - which is the beach where all the internationals hang out. Everyone has told me it's the place to be in the hours between getting out of work and sundown, or anytime on the weekends. The thing to do, apparently, is to show up there between 5:00 and 5:30 each evening and watch the sunset over the other side of the bay. Then spend all weekend there. And spend every night partying there. This ritual is so enjoyable, I hear, that many have extended their contracts to enjoy the beach a bit longer. Then extended again. Then again.

I guess the story of this particular restaurant is that is has served Thai food for years, but a couple of years the Lebanese guy showed up and took over, adding a bit of his own flair to the mix, adding a Levantine menu to the existing Thai list. Works for me.

Before Timor Leste, he lived in Africa for seven years, then got a job with the UN that brought him here. Then he decided he wanted to stay, he told me matter-of-factly. In other words, isn't it obvious that no one who comes here would ever want to leave?

For me, it was a grand opportunity to speak a bit of Arabic. My friends informed me that there are other Arabs around town, so I will be on the lookout for them.

But as we left the restaurant, we got to speculating... why would a Lebanese feel so at home here in Timor? It has nothing in common with his home at all! Well, nothing, that is, except for beaches and war.

No comments:

Post a Comment