Small Stories from Beirut: Bouchée Continues

Roger(57), Nada(50), Paul(30), and Mira(23) is an example of most of the Lebanese families – who was brought up with extreme hardwork and determination.

At a time, before huge franchise chains came to Lebanon, small local businesses made our generation get to where it is now. Most of us own family-businesses and have grandparents who basically worked in the same “self-made industry” that our parents inherited or somehow managed to continue. They raised us, put us in good schools, then in reputable universities. We are generally, a generation that is cultivated, educated, and programmed in a way to enroll in huge hierarchical institutions – mostly, we aren’t interested in our parents’ institutions and we aim for something bigger. Others of us believe in the success/unsuccessful stories of our parents’ businesses, and decide to walk the same path adding our self touch in whatever they started.


Jack, George and Bernard are a third type of young men, who believe in the story of Bouchée, which isn’t any of their families’ business, but the investment of one of the boys neighbor. When Jack told me what the three of them have in mind, I got curious to know more about this family that previously owned Bouchée.

Bouchée was previously a video-cassette store – that for obvious reasons wasn’t profitable anymore after the millennium. Roger and Nada decided to open Bouchée in 2000. Specifically, it was Nada and her friend’s idea to open the restaurant. All they asked Roger for was an oven and a fridge. They started out with selling pastries, before starting with their Plat de Jour plates. “I’d have customers wanting to buy a man2oushe, while I was cooking for my kids. Out of good manners, I’d give them some, and they’d love it! Due to my customers’ demand, we starting selling home-cooked-meals. It wasn’t the initial idea of the store, but I thought it was a good idea”, Nada says, “now, if someone asks me for a Man2oushe, I’d scold them saying WHO AM I COOKING FOR? I became like their mom.”


The family lives in the floor right above the store. “Sometimes, there wouldn’t be any food at home,” says Mira, their daughter, “I’d go down to have a bite and I’d get lost in the midst of the chaos at the store. It was always so crowded and busy, I’d runaway back up – without having anything to eat – and wait for it to calm down.” When asked if she is happy that her parents are somehow retiring and there’s a new management for Bouchée, Mira answered, “my mom was always at the store, sometimes she’d stay till 4, 5 am – I’d barely see her an she’d barely sleep, seeing her sleeping standing up was something pretty normal. I think my parents deserve to rest, they raised us well, and they can just take it easy from now on”.

Paul, their older son, and Mira both majored in business. Paul studied Economics and is now working, and Mira majored in logistics and is now doing her Masters. “They both can do it on their own now”, says their father, “we do not have huge expenses anymore, and therefore we don’t have to work as hard as we used to before. Honestly,” he continues, “I was thinking of closing the place if these three fine boys didn’t approach me.”

One thing I admired about Roger is his honesty when he described inflation. “Everything was getting expensive; I had to either keep the same ingredients and profit less, or buy cheaper products and double my profit. Believe me, I tried to be cheap on the products, but I personally couldn’t digest the food. I couldn’t make people eat what I didn’t enjoy. Customer comes first, even if it were going to affect my business”.


Roger knows nothing about food. Previously working with computer gadgets and production, food was not his specialty. However, he believed in his wife and supported her, and it was indeed a good step he took! At Bouchée, Nada does all the cooking, he usually answers the delivery calls and doesn’t interfere with the food. He knows every corner in Beirut, and especially in Great Ashrafieh. He describes the location to Ayman, the delivery boy – who’s remaining at the shop with the new management.
Ayman said that he loved working with Roger and Nada and so far, the boys (Jack, George, and Bernard) seem quite cool. He doesn’t mind the new management; he supports it.

Jack, George, and Bernard were inspired by the family and their hard work. They were looking for a venue/ restaurant to invest in and I guess they found the best energy out there. Having such honest previous owners, with a good heart, definitely encouraged them to start their own business.

I guess with the whole unemployment rates, investing in already made establishments is not a bad idea at all. Instead of closing old shops, and working from 9 to 7, we can use our education to keep those brands going. It’s nice to work in big institutions, but it’s also nice to invest in what is already there and who-knows maybe shift small shops to worldwide Lebanese-originated-franchises. Even if it weren’t our family business, we can look around for other shops out there. It definitely takes a lot of guts but it is worth a shot!
Best of Luck guys, you set an example for the rest of us!


So it was just revealed that the person behind the video we all watched is Clara Hawa, a psychology and theater student who risked her reputation for a week in order to convey a message most of us should support and execute.
When I first watched this video, I wasn’t sure if it’s a parody – you know Iike the ones all over youtube – or not, but everyone said it’s a real song. However, they all said something was fishy about her wig and sunglasses.


I wanted to write something about this, but I felt it wasn’t worth discussing – just like Myriam Klink’s Antar. Now that I know it was IMPACT BBDO’s #balasakhafe3ishelsa2afe campaign, I’d definitely like to point out how silly our societies have become. I personally work in social media and I know how people react to silly stuff in oppose to good content that have a MEANING. I always try to spread awareness/ interesting content but such posts just don’t really go viral.

I guess people who made fun of Zeezee are now feeling awkward about themselves.


Zeezee’s video isn’t that bizarre. It is an exaggerated version of the music videos in the Lebanese industry – and whatever they try to tell us.

Moreover, the funniest part of the video was the credits! I couldn’t believe people actually put their name there!

Now that it all makes sense I’d wish that our artists would start thinking twice before singing a ‘sexy’ song, directors and producers would have more dignity before putting their names on absurd videos (because the ones out there aren’t THAT BETTER), and better yet,  WE would STOP MAKING *Similar* PEOPLE FAMOUS.


I love what Zeezee did though, every actress who takes acting seriously would definitely have done this. Now we all know what that girl is capable of right? Hats down!
Quoting her “Reading one book per month would do our societies good.”


Being a previous intern at Impact BBDO, I’m really proud of this campaign as well. I think it’s all simply genius.

much love w bala tjeljou2!


#Funny porn?

It’s been a while that I haven’t really had an instagram “search” for funny pictures. Somehow, when I first started working in social media, I used to check hashtags like #funnyposts #school #funny #fashion quite a lot. I don’t do it just as often anymore.
I searched the hashtag #funny just now, however.
It’s 3 am – but it’s not 3 am in the world, so that doesn’t really justify the result.
This is what I got:




So basically, being the girl I am I don’t really care about the above – and by care I mean affected as a person, on a psychological and physical level – but say I am 13 and wanting to bring some funny jokes to class tomorrow, should I really see all this?
Say I am 13 hitting puberty, but I still do not want to watch porn, I just want to enjoy instagram funny posts, should I really get bombarded by this?
Internet is all around us, people can see porn within a click; it’s just a click away and I know how smart kids are these days. We, 90s-kids had full-on access to all kinds of porn, but now THIS is disturbing and disgusting.
Have a little bit of respect and responsibility to the community before using hashtags on un-related and rated pictures.

They say Snapchat ruins relationships cause of all the porn accounts on it, well you follow porn stars and horny b****s on Snapchat, they don’t just haunt you down while you’re in the middle of an innocent activity. Even if it’s due to peer pressure that you eventually follow such accounts or check other guys’ Snapchats so you wouldn’t get into an argument with anyone, you are at least INTERESTED.

When you’re searching #porn on instagram, you are interested. When you’re searching #funny, you are not asking for this:


Or this:


Sex is universal? I agree, but don’t shove it up other people’s throats just because you have the power to.
Say posts are both funny and sexual in this feed? Then, people are proportionally engaging in more sexual activities/ desperation than fun activities AND are more horny than happy these days.

This percentage of rated pictures did not exist on this specific hashtag before, I don’t know what the world is turning into honestly and I DO NOT envy your kids.
What is considered bad or wrong to your kids anyways?

It was nice when guys were fascinated by the body and the beauty of a girl, by her feminine genuine personality, and her mysterious irresistible qualities.

Not being a nerd or a hypocrite, but after seeing this, who cares about Mia Khalifa? What we are claiming as something that puts our country to shame, is just a drop in an ocean of boobs and ass all over the Internet. The world is a shame, “ma we2fit 3ala Mia”; these girls’ bodies are all over our 3:00 am screens and it’s disgusting and polluting to all our eyes.

Bottom line, Kamasutra always existed so did orgies, so did all kinds of sexual experiences and positions. Sex is nothing new, but it shouldn’t be just everywhere. Hashtags should be filtered and used correctly on instagram, since it is a visual medium.
We should value our bodies and respect our cognitive skills to know when we should not ‘go with the flow’.

Such a long read for a small thought.
Sorry for that.


Only if you’re in your 20s

Being 23 reminds me of being 13; girls with moustache, unibrows, underdeveloped tities, and body hair not knowing whether they should start shaving, whether wearing a bra is okay or not, and if playing with barbies is so last year. You know some girls almost lost their virginities at 13 whereas other girls still wore those tutu dresses and went to church every Sunday with their grandmas. Just like thirteen didn’t really feel right, 23 feels really perplexing – different people experience it differently.

I somehow tend to categorize us 23/25 year olds into four categories:

  • Those who are settled down (jumped the 20s)
    Honestly, I believe that being in your twenties is like getting an appetizer at a diner. Being an adolescent is more like only chips. You can’t really afford the appetizers when you’re still (generally) depending on your parents’ salary. In your twenties, you have the luxury to see it all yourself. You start generating your own income that allows you to do whatever you want, spend your time wherever you want, and be around whomever you want. Cause hey, we both know you had curfew before. Even if you didn’t, there were many factors stopping you from getting into certain places or being around the people you want to be around.
    Those who chose to settle down, meaning got married, I guess jumped that appetizer stage and went directly to the main dish. No matter what you tell me, being married in your early twenties is somehow running away from all the challenge and getting into ‘safe hands’. If it weren’t safe, well, it’s actually worse. You are actually not only responsible for yourself but for another baby (other than yourself). If you’re just a couple who doesn’t want to get mini you-s, you as well, jumped into a whole different lifestyle of sharing everything with someone else. It might be nice sometimes, but I guess you could’ve tried to do it first yourself for a while, then got into all this. The feeling of being independent is beautiful, and it’s different than when you were in college.

kidsGetting married at a young age has advantages like being closer to your kids (decreasing the age gap), enjoying retirement with your spouse, and sharing your life with someone else. However, with all these divorce rates, I can’t guarantee married couples will last till retirement, and if they do, they would’ve had some really tough years. Moreover, I guess I have a big age-gap with 20 year olds, it’s not even funny. If I slept for 2 months, I’d have an age gap with my friends my age. The age-gap is bound to exist if I were ten years older than my kids, the generation gaps are so wide these days, I’d rather enjoy my golden years.
However, I am not entirely against early marriage, I have some close friends who are happily married and I wish them the best.

  • Those who are living their teenage years (filling the space)
    Just like some people jump into adulthood full on, and don’t enjoy the moment, others do the exact opposite… those are the people who basically had hard as hell curfews / or were studying all the time back in college/ or where super ugly and had a major plastic surgery makeover (but I’m not gonna go shallow on you) that now have the freedom/ chance to do what the cool kids used to do in college. They’d be throwing house parties every other day, getting high, recklessly partying all the time, getting shit ass drunk and hooking up with random people, getting excited about making friends at any given occasion; not searching for any sort of stability in their lives.ted-movie

I’m not contradicting myself, stability is definitely what a 20-something year old person should aim for, however settling down needs far-seeing and acquired-wisdom that I doubt people might have in their early 20s.
Now you see, there’s a thin line between that and being a free-spirit in your early 20s. Enjoying your 20s definitely includes partying, dating, and meeting interesting people, but with the experience and emotional intelligence that one is bound to have in his 20s, the same activities become different. Different goals. Time becomes too precious to waste it on fake relationships and pointless friendships.

  • The Entrepreneurs (the Risk Takers)
    Those are the freelancers, free-spirits, or the dreamers. If you are one, you have earned my respect already. The entrepreneurs are people who are willingly or unwillingly not working a day-job, but working either freelance projects or building their own small startup businesses.
    Both are definitely risk takers. I know some friends who have even quit their full-time job to work on their projects – dreams. Those people are an inspiration. Again, it’s better to do that in your early 20s than in your 30s -you can’t go all Kramer vs. Kramer on your wife/husband. It’s either you fail or you make it big. If you make it big, I applause you. If you lose, well you can either try again till you win, or you can just surrender to the economic lifestyle everyone else is doing, and be employed.
    If you’re giving this a thought just know this:
    Your lifestyle would be either doing absolutely nothing all day, or zillion things in one day. Some days you’d feel super depressed/unproductive and other days you’d feel you’re on top of the world when invited on radio/tv shows or to events/ seminars.
    *There are some programs, that I’m a fan of, in Lebanon like seeqnce and BDL Accelerate that actually support/fund start-ups. You can check those if you want.
    BxKadavIYAAPCWf.png_large seeqnce
  • The young-Adults (TGIFers)
    Whereas other 20 year olds (mentioned so far) cant really keep track of what’s-today, the young adults count the days till the end of the month – when they get paid. In our capitalistic societies, the TGIFers are playing it safe. They are ofcourse enrolled in a hierarchical institution, working their asses of aspiring of gaining the experience, the know-hows, and the connections in their fields.
    They either want to reach higher positions or want to eventually open up their own businesses with their acquired knowledge. Most of them stay employees their whole lives – dedicate their life to the company they work in. I do admire those, especially if they’ve worked in one company their whole lives. That’s like dedicating your life to God. Of course no company is God, but I appreciate the dedication and I value the opportunity cost those people had to sacrifice to remain in the same environment for years. Others jump around. I appreciate the ambition and adaptation ability of those. Few of them, who have the right resources eventually, open their own businesses. Those would be experienced entrepreneurs – and again risk-takers that I respect.
    Young adults understand terms like Sad Monday and Thank God It’s Friday. They have the luxury to go out every night, but they stick to watching a DVD, reading a book, or even sleeping early on some nights. They hate Mondays and love Fridays just like students. They are busy during the weekdays, so they sometimes forget to plan a cool weekend – but they don’t mind it because hey, it’s always better spontaneous. Young adults lose a lot of friends and tend to feel alienated around the first two categories. They usually associate themselves with older people, but still love to spend quality time with their childhood and family members. They usually have a good-5/10-contacts-group-on-whatsapp that is basically their escape. They’d be sending silly voice notes and pictures back and forth throughout the day. I’d say that usually the young adults make up around 60% out of the population – but unemployment rates are drastic these days, I don’t know if they are the majority.
    Bottom line is, life is all about decisions. Whether you’ll live your teens in your eighties or if you wore makeup when you were four, nothing is wrong or right. If you were lucky enough to find your soulmate at a young age, make sure you are wise enough to take a life-long commitment decision, and make sure you are both adequate to make a living. If you were now discovering life because you couldn’t before, make sure you surround yourself with younger- or at least people you trust who wouldn’t take advantage of you. Know that this phase you’re living is simply what they call psychological ‘défoulement’ – that shouldn’t last forever, or else you wouldn’t really get anywhere – except if you’re planning to be like John, from the movie Ted. If you have the skills to make a living as a freelancer or ambitious enough to start planning your own business, make sure you know the ups and downs of that. As a freelancer, make sure you don’t spend all your money at once when you get money, cause it might not always be available. Even if it’s not your ‘thing’ to be safe, with money, make your best to play it safe. You don’t want your friends paying your share when you go out do you? As a dreamer, know that the probability of failing for a beginner is more than 75% (FFFW). You got to pick up the pieces and start over a lot of times, and if you don’t ever make it, congratulate yourself for trying – not everyone does. Lastly, if you were fortunate enough to land on a job, make sure you don’t succumb your full energy and time into your job that you forget your ethics, or yourself completely. Remember what you loved to do before you started working, do more of your habits. Paint, exercise, play music, go out with friends, watch movies, and act silly. Even if your job is super serious, don’t wear all beige and turn into a dull character. Your job doesn’t define you, it’s you job period. Plus, don’t just settle to one job no matter how safe and easy going the environment is – except if it’s really your dream job. Don’t forget your dreams. Always be up to new adventures/ opportunities. Finally, no matter what, TRAVEL. When you have money, instead of buying a couple of Prada bags or moccasin shoes, book a ticket to whatever country it is, and go. Don’t be picky. Any country in the world is worth it – just don’t go to war zones.

travel-quotesLife is easy, and it’s all a matter of cause and effect. You are now what you’ve been living your whole life to be. If you have dreams and you’re not taking any action towards them, start a to-do list of short-term goals and long-term goals. Keep track of your improvement. If you have friends that you don’t like, cut them off. They wouldn’t have you around if they don’t want you around. If they would, well… Should I continue? Start planning right and you’re going to achieve your dreams. Oh and dream big because dreams do come true.

*So Marc recommended to me this article “The Brain on 23” by Molly Sprayregen that somehow got me writing this article. You can check it out:
Much love!
Maya Akra


A person has accomplished a lot if he inspired one person who is not a part of his close social groups. Even if he didn’t realize his direction himself, if he assisted someone else in his journey when it’s more tangible, his journey becomes more colorful. It’s better to have flowers your whole life and not getting anywhere, than thorns that might prevent you from getting to your target at the end of the way.


POSTING 101: If you like a picture, google it before you post it.

When it comes to social media, most of the posts we see are posted over and over and over again that the last version you get is a complete mess!
A picture is first designed by a source. Users screenshot it mainly on their phones & then get ‘creative’ on instagram with the filters (that I stopped using two years ago) and then post it. People who work in digital marketing should however track the main source and not depend on user-generated-content.
If you don’t get what I mean, check the two pictures below:

The first picture is the clean version (the one that was first created), the second one was clearly cropped, filtered, and “9gaged”.

If you work in digital media and you’re responsible of posting visuals, just do one step to the job and GOOGLE the picture. Posting a picture, that you can find elsewhere, on your page with a 9GAG sign and a lousy instagram filter is just lazy for your fans.

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 10.31.20 AMScreen Shot 2014-09-22 at 10.30.31 AM

Moreover, the above serves well with respect to the post below. First, it is horribly cropped (we can barely read the copy), plus we can see the instagram-tagged-person-icon to the bottom left of the picture. It’s better for you to recreate this visual, or not even post it at all than post it as it is.


Whether a post is ‘liked’ or not doesn’t really matter. Respect your fans and give them something appealing to the eye. Respect the aesthetics of things even if it’s plain social media that will only trigger your fans’ attention for a fraction of a second.


with Love,


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