My visit to Beirut was remarkable. It was 36 years ago that I lived there, my father a visiting professor in sociology at the American University of Beirut. My experience living in Beirut and becoming familiar with the Middle East was a pivotal time in my learning. It seems that I found my interests in traditions and ancient life ways while traveling around the region. I gained rudimentary Arabic, enough to shop and bargain. I learned to drive a stick shift not in the city but crossing the Syrian desert form Palmyra to Abu Kamal on the border with Iraq. We visited Babylon, a stark desert of stone and sun-baked brick. Where were the hanging gardens?