When we arrived in Jamil's home in Beirut that night, he insisted on offering me a camellia flower from the balcony. That's the smell of the orient, he said. From the old window we could see the moon crescent lying on its bottom, in a true Arabian Nights fashion. That was Beirut being its old self while (almost) no one was watching. Soon the reality would come out, all klaxons blaring, but shush as long as the mirage holds.