Lebanese Train Stations: It’s Not a Train, it’s a Time Machine.

I received the wonderful opportunity to be part of a play that is to be performed at old abandoned train stations around Lebanon. It is set in the 50s, back when trains were still running across our country, back when people got on and went elsewhere, mainly to Damascus. This project is organized by Books in Motion, an organization whose mission is to make theatre accessible to everyone around Lebanon.

For more information about the play “Aya Se3a Byoussal El Tren” (When Will the Train Be Here?), go to the Facebook Event Page.

It is not a train, it is a time machine. Lebanese abandoned train-stations, where railways have been buried, whistles have been silenced and the workers dismissed… and dead.

Walking around what is left of it, one can easily revive bits of the past. The remnants of white tiles with blue patterns, a sink was probably there. Stairs with missing steps, they led to another waiting room. A rusted cistern, provided water to the station. They all seem to be begging for revival.

My great-grandfather was a train driver, he took his granddaughter from her boarding school in Beirut to her home in Damascus. The train would leave at 10am and arrive at 6pm… people seemed in such less of a hurry back then. Trains were the stuff of dreams. Lonely women dreamed of being whisked away on a train by a handsome foreigner, men dreamed of making their fortunes elsewhere. They all seemed so eager to move forward and now we are at an age where it all never stops. How did that woman swiftly hop on the train with her elbow-length gloves and hat box and came back to live in an apartment, all alone, praying to die in her sleep?

We are too angry, too anxious to go places, the train can no longer carry us, we are a burden on a time machine that moves at its own will, because this time machine knew all along that what we were all hurrying to was not worth all the haste.

Photos taken at Araya Train Station by Dima Matta

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About dimamatta

There is not much to tell... but everything to discover. *says I with a total lack of seriousness* I am a 22 year old English Literature BA holder, teaching English in Lebanon, at the Louaizeh Evangelical School. I mainly spend my time reading, writing, watching and acting in plays. View all posts by dimamatta

One response to “Lebanese Train Stations: It’s Not a Train, it’s a Time Machine.

  • Sergej Schellen

    When I was 5 years old and found out that I was going to move with my family to Lebanon, a land I had naturally never heard anything about, I felt excited. One of the reason why I think I felt so excited was because I got a glimpse of it in a video shown to us before going there. And one of the things I clearly remember from it is a train.. a train that whistled and puffed smoke out as it left a station. It was filled with many people who waved happily when they saw they were being filmed, some of them were even hanging out from the open doors as people still do now from buses as they call the bus’ destinations to potential customers. Seeing that majestic locomotive at such a young age made Lebanon seem like a magical interesting place that I couldn’t wait to explore. Yet sadly enough the reality is that it was all ruins of the past 14 years ago as its still is now, and as great as Lebanon may be it is missing that bit of magic it seemed to have in its golden days. I hope trains will once again run along the Lebanese shore.

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