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Aïn el-Mreisseh

Everywhere you go in Lebanon you find names beginning with aïn, which means spring or source of water. There is not a single region where one does not find dozens of such toponyms: Aïn Dara, Aïn Teffaha, Aïn Zeytouni, Aïn Alak, Aïn Marje, Aïn el-Helweh, Aïn Baal, the list is endless (Spring of the Bride, of the Apple Tree, of the Olive Tree, of the Bramble, of the Pasture, of the Beauty, of the God Baal). The origin of each name has its secrets and its reasons.

In a little nook on the north side of Beirut you may find a small spring by the sea from which the fishermen used to slake their thirst, by the name of Aïn el-Mreisseh, which may be understood as Spring of the Sea-Queen or of the Lady Chieftain. Or it may be a diminutive of Marsa, the Resting - or Meeting - place.

In the past this was an attractive and picturesque spot, illustrated by almost every artist and orientalist. But as urban development spread its tentacles, a coastal road came alongside, cutting the inner lake off from the sea and spoiling the charm of the place. However, fishermen still draw up their boats there, the multitudinous call of the ocean is still heard, and the wavelets still lap up the slope towards the source. So there yet remains a small corner of poetry and nostalgia, although crushed by the background of the towering hotels and business houses. If only this humble nook had been allowed to stay as it once was!

Joseph Matar
Translation from the French: Kenneth Mortimer

- Aïn el-Mreisseh - Port: >> View Movie << (2011-01-01)



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