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Lebanese in Love with European Royalty

Updated on February 25, 2017

Traveling the world can be very exciting but sojourning the globe selling books is can be exciting still.

One time Lebanese writer, now passed away was in love with European kings and queens. Week after week he would write a column for us on different aspects of European history. His love partly came from the selling of books.

The man, a tall handsome, rather dashing character, as the English would say, had a farm in France, was once married to two women, not at the same time of course, but the last was a German buxom lady with blond curls, wanted to keep moving. He settled down in France after his American sojourn was over.

I heard he died recently as a somewhat of a lonely man, after trekking the whereabouts of his son, first Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

His last staging post was in Amman, and long before he came to write for us, he ran a bookshop in the suburbs of the Jordanian capital.

One time he wrote a column on Marie Antoinette, and I asked him who in the world in downtown Amman wanted to read about such a character though an important personality, he simply replied: "The diplomatic corps, ambassadors and officers stationed in foreign embassies, and it's good for reception invites."

He had an interesting story to tell. The man started off as a textbook salesman that actually developed into a widespread career, haunting him for the rest of his life. He wasn't the aggressive type of salesman but more like the genteel intellect, who would have you eating out of his hand after a few compliments.

With his base somewhere in the United States, he travelled the world selling what were then expensive glossy textbooks, the ones you thumb through with clean fingers, and too afraid to smudge the paper.

It was a hectic life which he seemed to have enjoyed. One of his first and great sales was in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1966. As still is I suppose, it was one of those exotic places that you want to touch only through history books.

"Who in the world would want to go to Afghanistan to sell books," I asked.

"I did, it was a great experience travelling there, I did it with someone else through Pakistan, we were that much from the world-famous Khyber Pass associated with mystique and colonialism," he said.

After that, he says the ball started rolling, going to nooks and crannies and places only American publishers would want to explore. Ethiopia was on his agenda, then South Africa, then Namibia, and a whole host of other places that I couldn't remember.

It was his blond hair and blue eyes that got him into Apartheid South Africa, they thought he was one of them until he spoke but then the disappointment was put to right because of his accent that was tarnished with Lebanese.

I once told him to write about these great places that are today imprinted on history, to write about his impressions of Kabul and its surrounding areas, of Apartheid South Africa, and the mines of Namibia, and did he see any Zulus!

"These would be great stories to read, valuable testimonies from a complete stranger wanting to sell books, and telling us how he felt travelling to these places.

The man was a great adventurer no doubt, he could write thousands and thousands of words as countless others did before him whom are far too numerous to mention.

But in Amman he just wanted the quite life, to be recognized for his worth, to be prized for his now intellectually sedate existence. He told me that's why he left his farm in France, it was too quite, no one to talk to, and no one to hug, it was cold despite the wine.

Amman was just about right for him, too small to be recognized for its ballyhoos, but large enough to establish friends, colleagues and acquaintances, and if writing was thrown in the social set up, it was more the better.

His columns were his personal things, if he wanted to meander through the world of European art and literature, well so be it. We in turn had plenty of politics, economics and social stuff to be covering in our little newspaper.

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    • moncrieff profile image

      moncrieff 4 years ago from New York, NY

      Interesting character, I guess, one of the lucky few who determine for themselves what to do and where to live. The geography of his travels and his decision to write about seemingly bizarre topics in the heart of Amman are priceless.

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 5 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      This is a very interesting story about this fascinating character. He would have been interesting to meet and talk with.

    • marwan asmar profile image
      Author

      Marwan Asmar 6 years ago from Amman, Jordan

      Thank you for these humbling words. You are a poet and poets should be heard for their intellectual enlightenments.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 6 years ago

      You unraveled a roll of fine fabric that could be appreciated for its loom.Then to see its beauty grace the room with an era and a mystique all its own.For those who wondered what it was like you graced their minds with imagination and charm.Even though some fabric still lays rolled only to be forgotten because to others it is old.You brought back excitement and the journey for those fabrics have been hung all around the world in every fascinating room.Giving warmth and elightment for all those who walk in.It was so wonderful to meet such a person with so many personal adventures and he seen the ability to make a living out of words that people share.To expand peoples imagination and stir their feelings with one thought.Thank you for sharing and making his life shine in the light with every book held and every story read.Have a great day.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 6 years ago from New York

      He sounds like a very interesting gentlemen and I'm sure you did him proud. This was a lovely tribute.

    • profile image

      Rasheed Roussan 6 years ago

      Oh yes! I remember...

    • marwan asmar profile image
      Author

      Marwan Asmar 6 years ago from Amman, Jordan

      of course you know him doumit!

    • profile image

      Rasheed Roussan 6 years ago

      Great piece Doc. Who was that guy? Did I know him?

    • marwan asmar profile image
      Author

      Marwan Asmar 6 years ago from Amman, Jordan

      Hi Terry, glad you like it, thanks, sorry you were ill, hope you are now well. Let's begin with our punching bags. Your turn!

    • point2make profile image

      point2make 6 years ago

      That was a nice eulogy for your colleague Marwan. I think he would be pleased with your words. He sounds like someone you would love to sit and talk with over a coffee. Even better he sounds like someone you would really like to listen to as the stories of his life and adventures would, I'm sure, be fascinating.

      I've missed reading a few of your latest hubs as I have been out of action with an illness the past three weeks. On the mend now and looking forward to getting back to writing and reading again. Another great hub my friend.

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