AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: March 2006 (Page 1 of 4)

Shallow. Cultureless. Lacking in self-confidence.

“What drives a person to converse in a language not his own? Is it that he considers the Arabic language not worthy of being spoken? Or is the English language, or as they refer to it, the language of the civilized youth, superior to Arabic?
This, of course, stems from lack of self confidence! This person tries to make up this deficiency in his personalities by using a language other than his own to appear better – according to his faulty perspective- and to appear to be a civilized youth!”

As translated by yours truly from an Gulfian Arabic blog which I won’t link to because I am not in the mood to start a flame-war (but are you surprised to find out that it’s the blog of the same person who believes that the word “Bye” is a mighty conspiracy against our convictions?).

Nice, eh?

Anyway, save for a few exceptions such as Serdal and Tech2Click, I very much dislike the Gulfian Arabic blogosphere. It is infested with hate, intolerance, and that particular Arab mentality that make me want to shoot someone. Ok, ‘dislike’ is too tame a word, but let’s leave it at that shall we?

After reading the post the excerpt is from, I have this sudden impulse to stand on the rooftop and scream my dislike out to the world. Me is getting really pissed off with the elitist attitude towards the Arabic language. Yes, it’s a beautiful language, no one can deny that, but that doesn’t make everyone who doesn’t perfect it “culture-less” and “lacking in self-confidence”.

I, for one, absolutely adore the simplicity and practicality of the English language. Yes, here I am, I’m saying it out loud, I LOVE ENGLISH!

IIIIII LOVEEEEEEEE ENGLISHHHH!

If this person’s logic holds, my love for the English language means that I look down on Arabic. It also automatically makes me shallow, cultureless, and lacking in self-confidence. Ahuh. The only thing I look down on is sharing a common language with such mentalities, and the only thing I lack is such idiocy.

“This is especially prevalent with the English Arab blogosphere! It makes me sympathetic to see those truly pathetic people who use English in topics sillier than themselves! This also goes back to shallowness of thought and lack of selfconfidence as I have pointed out earlier, otherwise, why else would they insist?
On the other hand, I am proud of those who use English to spread Islam.”

Yeee, 3aleina 3ad!

Ok, ok, enough with that. Let’s talk a little about Arabic instead. Seriously, regardless of whether the person is Arab or not, how can anyone look down on Arabic? It is the most mystifying language! Arabic calligraphy by itself is mind-blowing. Watch this space for an hommage to the sheer beauty of Arabic calligraphy soon, for now, I will leave you with this painting by Egyptian artist Ahmed Moustafa (click on it to view details);

26. Egypt-Ahmed Moustafa

Fantastic, isn’t it?

This is our culture. This is our identity. It’s not in Arabic itself as a language- it’s the whole package, you know? With the colors, the movement, and all.

Olive Oil

Here’s a piece of art from my new French book on contemporary Palestinian artists that caught my eye;

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“Nablus-Jabal il Nar” by Nasser Soumi
1996-97
Soap, olive oil

Interesting isn’t it?

I guess I’m just extremely amused by this visualization of Nables (against stone tiles too), especially as it sort of hits home. When we were kids, we used to go spend a week or so at my grandmother’s house in Nables every several years, and the things I associate most strongly with Nables are Nabulsi soap, the smell of smoke, and my grandmother’s olive tree garden on the mountains.

Anyway, the French in the book didn’t turn out to be too hard to understand. Looking back, I spent a good deal of highschool learning the rootwords of the English language, some of which came from French, so that’s making life easier (and ok, I also took French as a subject at school for around 8 years, and I always managed to get A’s, but I really don’t remember much).

Hey, perhaps I’m not too bad with languages after all…

(And I’m in this particularly artsy fartsy mood, so nevermind all the art blabbing you will hear during the next few days)

Globalization

Today I bought a French book on contemporary Palestinian artists. I don’t know half a word of French (the book wasn’t available in the Palestinian native language, Arabic, nor was it available in the language I grew up reading, English) – but I’m going to read it (somehow).

Work of art above is Identity Theory by Annette Lemieux. Intense isn’t it?

(It is rude to be too direct)

Proportional

Here’s a really interesting read,

Designers must write

use words“Sometimes I feel as though the right selection of words coupled with careful enunciation and timing is as graceful as a surgeon’s hands keenly manipulating life as though it were not complex in the slightest. Well, perhaps that’s a bit of an overstatement, but I don’t expect that many would argue that even a few well chosen words can wield more power than our most brutal weapons.”

De Paris

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Fantastically enough, my last class, which usually keeps me at school till around 4:30 or so, was cancelled today and I found myself leaving the University of Jordan at 2:00 PM.

The first thing that came to my mind was to head to Weibdeh to Darat Al-Funoon, because I have a lot of reading to do and nothing beats Darat Al-Funoon for a quiet, cozy place with a good collection of art books to keep me busy.

Weibdeh, Weibdeh, I adore Weibdeh to bits, except for the little fact that I still manage to get lost every time I go, and so, on my way to Darat Al-Funun, I found myself staring at Dowar Il Hawooz, magically re-named and re-decorated to become Square de Paris (it’s sort of funny that they called a circle a square, isn’t it?) Across from the Square de Paris lies another new addition to Weibdeh, “Librarie de Paris”, which I’ve been wanting to visit for a while, mislead by the “librarie” part into thinking that it’s an actual let’s-go-sit-to-read kind of library. Well, it turned out to be a cafe/bookshop, sort of like a Books@Cafe with French and Italian books.

It’s a cute place though, and I really like the French.

Anyway… upon discovering that the Librarie de Paris is not going to do me any good, I decided to make use of my time in Weibdeh; I took my Ayn Rand book out of my bag, sat on the benches spread around the Square de Paris, and dug into my book, right then and there.

It was wonderful! There were no stares, no vulgar comments, and the weather was perfect. I will certainly start to do that more often.

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Goggles

I was really happy to read that the Friends of Archeology Society along with the Amman Municiplity will be setting up a campsite in the arena at the King Hussein Garden today to allow citizens to experience the eclipse. They will be providing telescopes and special goggles starting from 11:00 AM.

The best part? It is free and open to everyone!

According to the article I’m reading, “This is the biggest eclipse that the kingdom has faced during this century and it is important that we give it its importance.”

Man, talk about an improvement in attitude. Way to go!

(Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of such stuff, and I’m going to be stuck in this pink room at the Istisharat Center in JU listening to my music appreciation professor try to teach us how to read notes. Ta ra ra ra, tafti ta!)

[Al-Ghad]

A reason to love Syria

Other than the food, I absolutely love the Syrian ability to hang on to the heritage and modernize it without taking out the identity and the rich heritage. They rennovate ancient buildings and use them for restaurants, hotels, and even fashionable clothes stores, rather than demolish them.
Check these fantastic interior shots from the Villa Moda Boutique, a Kuwaiti franchise, that opened recently in Damascus.

Beautiful! I’m absolutely loving the red bright chandlier, the contrast with the sober stone behind it is amusing. Me wants the chandlier…

[Kuwait Unplugged]

number therapy

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First off, my little cousin had her 8th birthday party a few days ago, and I had to go help “babysit”. Man! I’m so glad we don’t have any kids!

Anyway, she’s pretty much the only kid in the family, and there’s a generation gap, so it was just an interesting experince watching two dozen little children be annoying.

It reminded me of this homevideo we have of when we were children, and I’m wearing this pink tutu and ‘dancing’ to “Kol Il Banat Bit7ebbak, Kol Il Banat 7elween”. I think it’s the most embarrassing thing I have. But it’s interesting how it’s the same games, the same actions, the same jumping around.

Again, I’m so glad we don’t have any kids, but I really do feel sorry for my family, because we were all kids at the same time!

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Here are some vintage birthday pictures. It’s sad how I was always the only girl.

Anyhoo…

Second off, here’s another post that made me laugh (and I’m totally falling in love with this blog, fantastic isn’t it? Girl power! h/t SM). (Note to Muna: shu jananek la te3qali o tet7ajabi?)

Third off, here’s a post that made me grin. 3ala golet 3ami Iyas, dorrar ya Wael, dorrar!

Firefox

I can’t get over how cute this little dog is. I want him. I want him! I want him sooo bad.

I’ve always wanted a mohawk, I don’t have the guts to get one, so I’m totally considering giving Whitey one. She’d look extremely adorable with pink spikes wouldn’t she?

Yay.

Urban Legends at Jordan University

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In the mid 90’s, my mother took me to my first visit to the campus of the University of Jordan.

The scene wasn’t new to my eyes, because we have a decades worth of 70’s photoalbums that consist of pictures taken in UJ, where my mother had spent a good deal of time studying and then working.

I remember how excited she was that day, taking me around and pointing to the various landmarks around the campus. There is “Share3 il 3osha2” (the street of lovers), and that is the milkbar. Down the street is the library, and over on that hill is the old psychology department. This is the “Koleyet il Majali” area, and oh, did I ever tell you about the art studio that I spent so much time in? Memories are precious.

I, though, wasn’t impressed. What I saw that day was very different from what I saw in my mother’s old photoalbums, which might have as well been taken on the movieset of “Grease”. The student population didn’t consist of dolled up Arabian Barbies dressed in colorful floaty 70’s dresses, pointy sandals, and perfect up-dos. The guys were not Kens either, there were no sideburns, hot charlestons, and tight chest-revealing tops. The general social atmosphere was also drastically different- the general comfort in the old pictures was nonexistant, and the conservative shift in society was shining bright.

It is 2006, and JU is the only Jordanian educational institution I have ever known. The conservative shift is more drastic now than it was in the past decades, and this shift has greatly influenced the campus of Jordan University. I, being the most easily fascinated human on earth, find these social and physical differences absolutely mindblowing, and I marvel endlessly over the sameness of the things that time didn’t change.

“Share3 il 3osha2” still exists but has now become the home of a bunch of exceedingly loud funoon students (weee-ha). The delicious smell of the pine trees is still the same. The milkbar lost its display of milk bottles that have given it its name, and has now turned from a “cool hangout” to a building in the center of “Share3 il Nawar” (The Street of the Vulgar). The man that runs errands in the Deanship of Student Affairs is older now than he was in the 70’s, but the cups of tea he uses are the same exact style.

After some thought, I decided to sort of start “documenting” the Jordan University student experience in the first decade of the new millenium- you know, the recent urban legends that the alumini are not aware of and the older legends that haven’t changed for decades. These “documentations” will be very experimental, and I’m hoping they’ll also be collaborative. So, if you’re a student at Jordan University, start snapping or write something up and email it to me, otherwise, I would be content with suggestions that you think are worth documenting. If you’re an alumini, please do share your memories and images as well, it would be nice to have comparative experiments.

Below are some pictures from my mother’s photoalbums. Forgive me for the crappy quality as I don’t have a scanner.

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