Portal on moped

There was a time when it was well known that more sedans and luxury cars circulated in the streets of Beirut than in many prestigious cities in the world. The number of cars per per capita was one of the highest on the planet, and car sales, one of the most lucrative business, serviced by a system of bank loans, which sometimes led bosses to say that their rapporteurs had more beautiful and efficient vehicles than theirs. .

A social marker, an emblem of success as well as boastful, the car seemed more useful to the Lebanese citizen than a holiday in the tropics, a country house or a modern equipped kitchen.

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With the collapse of the economy and the ruin of the banks, this has changed a bit and should gradually change the spectacle of the streets and the condition of the parking lot. For the time being, however, the change is not yet really noticeable, because the middle class is still, as far as possible, opposed to the imperatives created by the crisis. What has changed, however, and which indicates the severity of the shock suffered by the most modest classes, is the invasion of urban space by two-wheeled cars and especially small motorcycles and mopeds.

Motorcycles and mopeds have become one of the nuisances in the streets of the Lebanese capital. They come in swarms, circulate in all directions, without rules and without logic, and constantly pose the threat of an accident. But they are the means of transportation for many people who no longer have a car or can no longer afford gasoline. There are, of course, those from the delivery people – getting food delivered to your home at any time is a lifestyle in itself – and here are the motorcyclists who backtrack all day long, whizzing around, on their backs, their bags or trunks with logos from burgers -, salad, mezze or sushi traders.

But cyclists are also couriers, craftsmen, workers, farm boys and peasants, sometimes bricklayers or plumbers, a whole world of work driving without a helmet, in the wrong direction, slalom, glide and overtake you without scruples both to the right and on the left.

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Of course, it also sometimes produces comic or spectacular scenes, not least those of these 1970s motorcycles transporting entire families, the husband, wife and sometimes three or four children compressed between their parents. But I also saw a blacksmith driving a scooter and behind him his apprentice, who was holding the frame of a window that was three meters high and standing like a gate. I saw a carpenter driving in the wrong direction with across his moped two beams protruding three feet out on each side.

I saw a veiled young woman, sitting sideways behind her husband or friend and acrobatically trying to lean forward and put her phone screen in front of his face to take a selfie with him.

I saw motorcyclists carrying gas canisters and others delivering hookahs and the embers that come with them, I saw some slipping, falling, straightening up and starting again as if they were in a race, I saw a motorcyclist lose his helmet , who rolled in front of him like a little puppy, I saw some that we constantly see, rolling while looking at their phone, clinging to the back of vans to drive faster, who stop to ask about way, then turns around and asks again a little further ahead, and I saw someone slowly approaching a distracted passerby to snatch his phone before disappearing into the rush without anyone being able to stop it.

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Sometimes, in the car, a scooter comes past you and you think the guy on it is yelling at you, but actually no, he’s on the phone and talking loudly, to drown out the noise from his backlash. And sometimes you get to know things you can not imagine, such as the fact that the changers go on mopeds with their bags stuffed with money and money, because mopeds are more manoeuvrable, you get less easily caught in the traffic jam trap and the make it possible to avoid robberies, even though my money changer one day slammed violently into the door of a 4 × 4 and almost slammed through it. Three months later, he had married the woman who at that moment opened his door and had almost sent him to hell.

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