By Rawan Albina (@RawanAlbina)
Red roof tops, blue skies with the occasional fluffy white clouds swimming across, the beautiful scent of jasmine and gardenias from the summer terraces and gardens. The smell of fresh bread from the bakery, the butter of the croissants mixed with the warm chocolate and a little further, the freshly baked Lebanese pizza or man’oushe as we call it. Thyme, olive oil, cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh mint leaves, olives, farmer eggs, labneh, knefeh and home-made jams: the ingredients of a royal Lebanese breakfast!
Walking around in a village in Lebanon is one of my favorite summer rituals. The fresh breeze caressing my face, the shade of the pine trees, how tall they stand and the protective energy they emanate. The majestic mountains all around and the way the sun seems to caress the rivers and springs with its rays.
Then you stop for some of the most delicious fruits you will ever taste: fresh, plump and juicy summer fruits from peaches, to apricots, to watermelons, prunes, grapes, cherries and figs.
I love the villages in Lebanon but I am a city girl. I grew up in Ras Beirut, a beautiful part of Beirut by the Mediterranean, a city that survived countless earthquakes and a civil war. Scarred by its past, it has undergone many facelifts over the years. It is still welcoming, very generous and giving. Hamra street, bliss street, the corniche where lots of people still do their early morning jog and the street sellers are busy preparing their stands of coffee, tea, ka’ek (traditional baked thin bread with sesame seeds shaped like a round purse with a handle), corn on the cob, foul and termos (types of beans) for the passers-by to enjoy.
I love seeing the familiar faces and the welcoming smiles, old couples strolling along the corniche hand in hand, kids playing and tourists amazed at what this small city has to offer. The history and the ruins at the archaeological sites blend beautifully with the renovated part of the city where you can hear the soothing, peaceful melody of the evening prayer mixed with the church bells. Beirut is where history, tradition and modernity meet in the most natural setting.
This is my sanctuary, the place I always go to when I want to find myself or simply reconnect. What is yours? It could be as big as a whole country or as small as the bookstore in your neighborhood or maybe the coffee shop around the corner. Places give us a lot and make up a big part of who we are but we tend to take them for granted. We sometimes just see them with our eyes when we need to be feeling them with our heart.
Look for the chemistry. Sometimes the feelings a place evokes are as powerful as feelings that we share with certain people in our lives. The sights of a familiar building mixed with a whiff of a familiar scent have the power to send you back racing down memory lane. The key here is to be aware of these places and their effect on you.
If you were to create your own canvas of a place you are connected to, what would this canvas look like? What would it include and why? Painting a place in your mind allows you to travel there when you need to. Seeing it and feeling it brings clarity around which part of you longs for it the most. A connection to a place is like a relationship; one that feeds you on many levels.
So the next time you are visiting a new or old place, try to look at it with new eyes and ask: which part of me belongs to you?
Sail eMagazine’s 19th Issue – October 2011
Here We Start – Art of Living 101 – Community Talk – Just Another Undergrad
Scenes from Life – Syndication – The First Years Last Forever
The Mind’s Eye – Too Blunt for Words – Words, Observations, and Ramblings
Her strongly positive nature and calm demeanor enables her to gently draw out a person’s full potential as she helps them get in touch with their passions, find their purpose and LEAP into a truly fulfilling and extraordinary life.
Women who are at a crossroads in life, young women ‘Entreprenettes’ and teenagers have all found a strong guide in Rawan who has helped them discover the life skills needed to begin the new phases in their life with confidence.