LEBANON. Like most other people, the first sign of this word makes me want to dive to the floor and scan desperately for the nearest bomb shelter. After all the “disturbing images” we have seen over a lifetime, it is difficult to associate this land with anything other than strife & bloodshed. But Colin Thubron in his wonderful book “The Hills of Adonis”, writes about an ancient and fertile land which is not just bucolic but is in many ways a crucible of civilisation. In the year 1963, young Thubron, then in his twenties, walks around Lebanon to discover the original land of the goddess Astarte and the famed god Adonis. His encounters with the peasant folk of the mediterranean & his descriptions of the land creep upon you till some of it starts to overcome your dread of the land.
This is a land that I wish would see peace in my lifetime. For the simple selfish objective that I can then wander over it like Thubron did. I will never be as young as he was then; but I have learned that such pleasures do not diminish with age. If at all, they grow.
(Here is a video of the ruins of the temples of Baalbek & Anjar in the Bekaa valley)