Tourist of Color


Couple of months earlier, a colleague of mine asked about my country (Lebanon) and was so curious to know more about it. Culture, traditions, nightlife, people, and many other things were her only Google search on that day. I could see her face smiling with eyes wide open reading about Lebanon and looking at images of its famous landmarks.

She was a hard worker, full of energy, and the type of people who waits for an awkward moment to sound more sarcastic. Coming from a wealthy family, she was “distinguee” by the way she dresses and the different languages she spoke.

At the end of that day, she came to my office and told me “I need to travel and visit your country”. I looked at her with a smile that you see on a father’s face when seeing his son or daughter graduating. I felt something for my country. She continued explaining many of the things she saw and stated name of places that I was correcting with a better Arabic accent. Until she mentioned beaches and resorts; and that’s where my mood turned upside down.

I was in the middle of a Greek dilemma*.

Out of ears; I wasn’t listening to her anymore but thinking about the consequences and the different solutions of what she’s hoping for. Really, what was she hoping for? How could I explain this to her? Turn her travel idea down? Despise my country?  I was ashamed of my country and myself.

How could I explain to my Indian friend that she is not allowed to swim in Lebanese pools? That idea just killed me at that moment. I was only hearing cut words like…iera, ….Sands, Lagu…., as she was naming all the famous and best resorts in Lebanon that wants to visit. I will look bad if I tell her the truth; I will make my country look bad. And what if she stepped to the door entrance of one of these Lebanese resorts and was turned down? or the lifeguard asks her to get out of the pool. And that because of her skin color that is not totally accepted for many Lebanese people?

I don’t have the right explanation for such question.

* A Greek dilemma is a fucked up situation

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