Business as Usual at The Palestine Hotel

Friends and Family,

I’m ok, I just got a very effective wake up call.

Sorry I didn’t e-mail sooner. I figured everyone would be asleep in NY and just waking up in Beirut. But my brother sent a worried e-mail, and I’m betting that many of you are also insomniacs or newshounds or both.

The strange thing is that the attack came around seven in the morning, the time I usually jog over the tennis club next door for my morning lesson. But just today I started to vary my schedule as a safety precaution.

So instead I was in my room, asleep.

Loud explosion, but not too loud. Sounded like a car bomb had hit a nearby hotel.

Surprised to discover that there was a direct rocket propelled grenade hit on the hotel. Nice hole the size of a soccer ball by the elevators on the 16th floor (I’m on 13th)

From the window saw that there were several adjacent balconies above and below us that were damaged. Smoke, cordite or whatever fumes, chunks of cement.

Went back to sleep (this time on the floor)

A series of rumblings like a firefight in the neighborhood.

Most everyone emerged from their rooms thinking that there was just one bomb and some American retaliation nearby.

But in fact those low booms were more RPG’s (I guess they don’t make that much noise compared to all the other ordinance that goes off around here) fired from a flatbed truck across the street, and I’m told, a donkey cart. But from the scars on the fa��ade and rooms damaged, it seems like there were at least three hits and probably about five here at the Palestine (I haven’t yet checked the wires– I figure I’m in the same friggin’ hotel as AP and CNN so why bother) and a few next door at the Sheraton, where they have a big glass atrium in the lobby, and glass elevator shafts that were shattered.

My roommate put a huge arrangement of pink plastic flowers on our balcony just to mess with the TV crews, but then we figured any self-respecting RPG assailant who happened to be lingering for a secondary attack would aim strait for those.

The overall damage in the Palestine is minimal, and so far I’ve heard of one casualty, a wounded American. The hotel was built during the Iran-Iraq war, so it’s designed with these things in mind. The windows open at an angle into the rooms, so any entering projectile won’t travel far. And the flank side of the balconies are covered by concrete spider web-like blast shields that do double duty as the symbol of the hotel on stationary and whatnot.

And the food still sucks


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