A Letter From Beirut, Where the Taxis Have Resumed Honking

Amid Lebanon’s Economic Collapse, Fear of the Virus Briefly Amended the Social Contract

The eeriest thing about Beirut’s streets during the first weeks of the quarantine—the lull between two storms, before the protesters returned to the streets and started throwing Molotov cocktails at the banks—was the absence of taxi horns.

Those horns, and the relentless sensory assault they constitute, are among the features that define my experience of this city that has somehow become home. As a Beirut resident for three years before the quarantine, I found that every time I returned to the Lebanese capital after a visit elsewhere it would take me …