It’s raining bombs; only two hours of electricity

“Danger”: Today Beirut is threatened by Mazen Kerbaj. View more of his work.

Last night, I counted at least 12 explosions. It was a difficult night. They just wouldn’t stop. I only heard 12; others say there were at least 18. They just kept going. The Israeli army announced yesterday that they were expanding their attacks into Beirut. And indeed they did, hitting areas in central Beirut!

Today has been difficult getting online. Electricity is less and less. We are down to about two hours a day. Because there is a fuel and diesel shortage, it has become difficult to keep the generators going.

You know in Beirut, everyone lives in apartment buildings; with the electricity shortage, it has become hard for the elderly to move in and out of their homes. No one wants to get stuck having to climb stairs to the 12th floor they live on.

My grandma lives on the sixth floor. She is currently bed-ridden. I went to see her yesterday — or was it the day before? She is doing well. I told her to enjoy her stay in bed because there was nothing much going on for her to see outside, and that anyways it was waaaaaaay too hot. I am not sure if she really knows about what is going on. We don’t let her watch the news and we tell her the bomb sounds are fireworks! She lived the civil war in Lebanon, and definitely knows what bombs sound like … so I think she is just playing along with us to keep us happy. My grandma was my first muse. I used to paint her a lot when I was younger.

Today I had some errands to run. Along the way, I ran into some friends I hadn’t seen in over a month! I drove though roads I haven’t been on in weeks! Wow. It felt so gooooooood. So funny how the simplest things can make you so happy now.

As the situation is getting worse, health and sanitation is deteriorating. The streets of Beirut smell bad. But her citizens are trying hard to stay on top of things. So many people have volunteered their time to help. Even the garbage collectors have recruited some volunteers.

We have finally decided that we can no longer wait for a cease-fire to start the oil spill clean up. The oil has been sitting on our beaches for almost a month now. We have been working on putting together a team of civilian volunteers and NGOs to go down to the beach and at least start with what we can do, ie. shoveling the oil off the sand, finding machinery that can suck oil out of the bays and ports. We are all worried about safety, though. The Israeli army has been targeting civilians, UN, Red Cross, etc. They have been blowing things up mercilessly. How do we know we won’t be targeted? More to come on this soon.

I saw the news about the Heathrow bombing plot … don’t know what to say … such devastating news. We don’t have to live like this. Things could be so much better. They could be so much simpler. Seeing the passengers stranded, they reminded me of the displaced people here in Lebanon. I hope they are ok.

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Zena el-Khalil is an installation artist, painter, curator, and cultural activist. She is the co-founder of the art collective, xanadu*, that is based in NYC and Beirut. Her blog, documenting her writing from Beirut, is located at http://beirutupdate.blogspot.com/.