Back from Beirut

I did not mention this yet, but I spent six days in Lebanon before returning to Egypt three days ago. I didn't expect that my visit to Lebanon to be this short, but what was clear to me while I was there is that it was not the right environment for me.

And, to be clear, when I say "it" was not the right environment for me, I am referring to the specific environment I was in while in Lebanon, not Lebanon as a whole.

Staying in Lebanon was surely fun. Abdallah, Aisha, Sarah, and Bilal were all gracious hosts and together we went out and about in Beirut and beyond. While I was there though I was feeling a bit restless. I felt that I wasn't addressing my immediate concerns, and that I was not in the right environment to work on addressing those concerns.

That naturally brings up two important questions: 1) what are my most immediate concerns? 2) What is the right environment to address these concerns?

At this point, I can't even say what my immediate concerns are precisely. On a somewhat vague level, I can say that I want to do something I find meaningful and intellectual while experiencing the world. This is obviously not a satisfying answer, nor is it anywhere near enough to be actionable. This level of vagueness is the perfect recipe to spend all day seemingly working, while in reality spend the day being confused about what to actually do. That's how my days have been as of late.

The environment of choice is of course related to what it is that I want to do, but I think there is a minimum threshold of a few things I ought to be seeking:

  • Reliable hi-speed internet access (8mb/s minimum)
  • Comfortable accommodation with my own private room.
  • A place to work that is near my accommodation premises, but preferably not working from home. A maker space with a great community would be ideal.

While I was staying with Bilal, we had shortage of electricity and water, which tends to be quite critical in the extreme humid and hot weather of Summer Beirut. Antwork, the coworking space Aisha set us up with, had great facilities, but I should also add that it's more expensive to join Antwork in Beirut than a WeWork in San Francisco.

I could've eaten up those costs and found a decent place to stay in Beirut, but I didn't see it that worthwhile to do given that prospects of settling in Beirut are relatively low given the complications of living there and its sectarianism. While a magical place to be in some dimensions, it is certainly an extreme challenge to create a big impact while being based there given the corruption and infrastructure issues, especially as a foreigner.

Anyways, being back in my family's house in Egypt, one of things it's lacking is a place I can work from that has an interesting and intellectual community of people. I'll loosely explore where I can find that while I'm here.

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