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Day in Beirut, Trying Nargile' at Imara Restaurant

Friday, February 26th, - BEIRUT

View of Beirut from Wadad's kitchen patio

This morning I woke first. Wadad showered and went for a hair appointment. I showered and washed my hair. I wrote in my diary. All my electronics were charged last night, so I’m prepared today.

A selection of candies

Wadad returned and she and I went out to several local shops where we bought lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, juice, milk, candies and I bought a pair of mesh socks. Many, many tiny shops! Very nice inside, but decrepit-looking from the street. It is deceptive. The goods inside are wonderful.

Our shish-kebab lunch was delivered

During the morning, Wadad called for our lunch to be delivered which I insisted on buying. It was what they call shish kebob and I call lula kebob; ground meat and spices broiled on a skewer. Hummus, eggplant dish, large green salad, bread, pickles, olives. Wonderful! We each downed a glass of arakh, which is stronger than that we had at the restaurant. Wadad laughed and said I drink “like a Lebanese”!

Wadad napped while I caught up in my journal. I put my legs up afterwards and napped for 40 minutes. I found an internet café and sent word to family that all’s well and wonderful with me. Wadad’s lawyer came over for a signing of papers while I was out.

Imara Restaurant and Park has quite a history

We took a cab to Rosette’s house where we met with Rosette and two more girlfriends, both of whom are named Mai. We all got into Rosette’s 4X4 and she drove us to a restaurant called “Imara”.

A warm and rustic interior with beautiful wood ceilings and walls

It is a large and beautiful rustic building situated in its own tree-covered park in a high point of Beirut. Rosette chose it so that I can try smoking the hookah, or “nargile’” as they call it: the water-pipe.

Girlfriends anticipating a fun evening

We ordered a “light” dinner (which was nonetheless sumptuous!)

This was our "Light Meal"

Before the meal, Rosette ordered the nargile’. She and Mai shared it, and I had a few puffs.I was amazed at how cool and refreshing the smoke was. Not choking at all. Each smoker has a separate mouthpiece, which is used for his turn at the pipe.

Saralee, The Beginner

You take a deep pull and the smoke is drawn down through the water (gurgle, gurgle!) and up through the long hose into your mouth and lungs. It is so cool and pleasant, it was a surprise.

Rosetta, The Pro

My only other try at smoking was when I was a new teenager, and tried a puff of a cigarette. I choked and coughed.... Hated it! Never even tried again until now. It is possible to believe that the nargile’ I smoked was harmless.

Mai, Holding it correctly

The meal lasted two and a half hours and was pleasant to see these friends enjoying each other’s company; catching up on family and old times, all in the local language. They had a great time, eating, smoking, laughing and talking.

Rosette brought Wadad and me home to Wadad’s place afterwards; a fairly long drive. I am mightily impressed with the generosity of Wadad’s Lebanese friends! After all the excitement, I was slow to fall asleep. I finished the book I bought at the airport – to try to ease my mind. Edgar Sawtelle was its title, by David Wroblensky. It was a disturbing book and didn’t help my mind. Lots of effort to sleep tonight.

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