Concentrated along the highway that links the Northern suburbs of Beirut towards the picturesque coastal town of Jbeil is a litter of standalone concrete buildings with sunny signs that break the monotony of sea-view suburbia. Their bright paint jobs or typographic billboard lettering are the only signs marking them from their residential counterparts. Often arbitrarily built during the civil war from the 70s to the 90s, and sometimes used as secondary homes for those escaping heavy fighting in the city, they still stand erect with their backs to the sprawling city, riding on a waft of Golden Age nostalgia. Sometimes refurbished, sometimes not, hiding perhaps a pool, rows of plastic deckchairs and a couple of palm trees; Luxor, Vanda, Gondola, La Rochelle, names that reference a fictional space of exile, escapism at its most basic denomination.
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