A long time ago, at the age of 38, I was in Lebanon just after the end of the civil war.
I remember it as if it was today; the airport and the arrival of the pilgrims on their way to Mecca, the men sitting in the middle of the luggage belts, fully dressed in white, the ladies in black against the walls, searching in all identical jerry cans of holy water for their name written, the chaos at the parking outside and the trip from the airport to the city centre. During the civil war all kinds of buildings, houses, hotels were completely destroyed. I saw a building with a big hole in the middle and here and there the start of new constructions as well.
I was invited by a graphic family of which I had met the son who was sent to a foreign university during the war. He was send there to prepare himself to take over the company, to continue what had been partly stopped and to expand the print shop or what was left of it. I remember the different parts of the city of Beirut. The Christian part was preparing the graphic tools and machines to restart the production of school- and other books, magazines for cars, cosmetics and so, mostly in softcover version. The Muslim part looking for casing in, foiling and embossing as the Koran was made to be golden, used for a long time after. Both sides making a new telephone book in yellow pages for the landlines.
During my time with the Lebanese graphic family, I sold to them a Roland RSK 3B E (perfecting), a difficult press to sell as second hand. Years later they bought two additional Roland 700 models, a progressive printing press the time being. Lebanon re-established as graphic centre from the middle east.
“I had placed my little stone and changed the direction of the river”.
At the moment I am writing this, the same feeling came over me, comparable circumstances as that time. Now, 25 years later, I’m on the airplane of Iraq Airways flying to the city of Arbil, Iraq. I am sitting in a heavily used Airbus 320 with passengers discussing their seats and a crew searching authority. I am on my way to a graphic family situated in Arbil. Even myself being bald these days, I met one of the brothers from the family, who had left his country to start his barber shop in the “wir schaffen das” country: Germany. This time a Heidelberg Speedmaster 102 VP (Vier Farben in German language) has been installed.
“I still have a stone somewhere looking for a river”.