I kind of forgot to post this, being back in Amreeka, but my photos from the women deminer story made the cover of JO for November 2011. Yay!
I saw these images and started crying. A little late.
I miss Jordan.
We’re that awesome.
Ramadan so far:
I’ve gotten to go to a few different iftars with different families around Amman. This is the one activity that Jordanians are extremely prompt for. That last hour of fasting is the hardest- especially if you’re the one slaving over the hot stove- so as soon as the call to prayer starts, it’s time to eat.
With the Abdelsalam family, we had a mix of traditional Arab food and a couple Italian dishes— the mother is originally from Italy, but converted to Islam when she married her husband. Knowing I was a vegetarian, she kindly made me a little eggplant dish. After being implored to eat more, we had dessert: little pancake-like pastries stuffed with either cheese or nuts, topped with a rosewater syrup, and prickly pear fruit (zaki kteer, but I couldn’t figure out how to eat it without all the seeds).
The Taha family consisted of my friend, Tiffany (her husband is Jordanian), her three children and her in-laws. She brings her children to Jordan during the summers so that they can spend time with their grandparents and learn Arabic. Téta is Damascene, so the food she prepared was a lot of traditional Arabic dishes, but with that very unique Syrian flavour. Grape leaves stuffed with rice and peppers, potatoes topped with beef and lebaneh, lentil soup, roasted vegetables and chicken. Dessert was the same special Ramadan pastries (the name escapes me at the moment) and Turkish coffee.
Tiffany’s son, Jude, is five years old and loves Turkish coffee. Now I understand why Jordanians seem to need so little sleep. They start pounding that caffeine as toddlers, nap during the afternoons, eat, then after iftar go out drinking more coffee until 2 am. And the kids are right there with their parents, every bit as awake, sitting in the cafes smoking argileh or playing backgammon and monopoly. For me, I am just sapped of energy and haven’t slept through the night in two weeks. Ramadan is not good for my insomnia.
I take it as a personal victory that the first image in this article was used. This vet school had a room full of super cool/creepy animal skeletons (though not just bones, some other tissues still attached as well), including a lot of endemic ME species like camels and certain goats. They were worried it would gross some people out, but I thought it was just too cool not to use.
my first cover
JO Magazine, August 2011. HM Queen Noor of Jordan.
I have always had this little fantasy of going into a coma for a year, then waking up and getting to read all the old Time Magazines. Or newspapers, or watch the TV clips or what have you. And with a month left to go in Jordan, I realised I’ve kind of achieved this sans the memory loss or brain damage.
Last weekend in Tel Aviv (in addition to feeling distinctly less beautiful than just about everyone on the beach there), I was skimming through a magazine and saw a fashion spread with this Q&A with some girl. “What trends have got to go?” the magazine asked. “indian pants, leggings, tunic shirts, flat sandals,” it answered back. Great, I thought— everything I’ve been wearing for the last 8 months. I happily bought myself another pair of these harem pants a few weeks ago— with some boots and a light cotton blouse, it’s great for camel riding. Just saying.
Beyond fashion- to which I’ve admittedly never paid too much attention in the US- I really don’t know what’s going on over there. I know the shit is about to hit the proverbial fan in Congress. I know the south was having some bad weather for a while there. I get daily weather updates from my mother in Las Vegas. I heard recently that America’s debt is something like triple that of France, UK & Germany combined. But going back, I’m not going to know all these new jokes and cultural references that have emerged since I’ve been gone. Whatever inside jokes I had with friends via the internet back home, those have been replaced by lame-ish Arabizi jokes (“estanna shway… y3nni shut the hell up.”)
I started listening to NPR’s “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me” again recently, for the first time in months. And of course there are things that are just funny, but a lot of it I didn’t get. The thing that struck me was when they started making fun of some politician or other, even started poking fun at Obama, I instinctively nearly turned it off. It was strange to hear people openly criticising people in power. Making fun of their sexual escapades, the way they dress, the way they speak.
The point is, in some ways I’m approaching going to America with as much curiosity as I did when I came to Jordan. A change of scenery is certainly always good for that. I am worried about the reverse culture shock, but not as worried as I used to be. I’m making plans to try to keep myself engaged and interested over there. I don’t want to go there and wonder “what the fuck did I come back for?”
I’m ready to start something new, at least for a while. And whatever it is, it’s only temporary.