A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Alone. And not.

There is this compelling fascination in being absolutely and utterly alone with myself.






Oddly alone. As odd as each of those letters looks like by itself- a combination of meaninglessness and idiosyncrasy.

Twice a weak, there is a 90 minute break in my daily routine in which I take my car and drive off to a slightly remote, wonderfully empty, and fantastically quite housing district in the hills of Daheyet il Rashid (of course all this relative to the 8 hours spent in the hustle and bustle of Jordan University that sandwich these 90 minutes). Once I’m parked, I lean my back against the door, crack the windows slightly open just to barely hear the chirping birds, and I spend the 90 minutes sinking in the fantasy lands of books and thoughts, away from all things routine and prosaic in my life.

(Although not much of a nature person, I absolutely love the sound of birds- back in Riyadh, we had a little gazebo in the middle of the house that all the rooms overlooked. My dad covered it with a mesh net, and released around 85 free-flying birds inside it! I woke up and slept to the sound of them chirping for years and years.)

There is fascination just as compelling when surrounded by people.

talking screaming running dancing crying eating walking laughing suffering living!

I have trained myself long ago to find appeal in the simplest forms of life and lack thereof, a characteristic in me that a lot of people find annoying, but that’s really what brings you this blog. Nothing is mundane. Nothing is safe from being assigned a million levels. Everything is the natural evolution of an idea- where the simplest most ordinary thing can become a philosophy (and that’s why I absolutely love Andy Warhol).

One of my favorite sounds in the entire world is the mix of dismembered chatter and the subtle drumming of metal cutlery against porcelain in a restaurant.

The pictures below are from today’s “reading” trip. They’re not much of pictures, I know, but they make me feel good.

zooksie 506zooksie 505
zooksie 507


Pop it – a bottlecap love ode


Women in the eyes of Arab artists


  1. Ziad D

    The one sound that I would wake up to (no matter how late I got to bed) was the cooing of pigeons from the balcony in front of my room. It was personally very pleasant. To this day, given the right morning ‘feel’, and temperature -even in Campbell, if I were to hear that sound, my mind would transport me back to my room to the exact way I felt during those summers. It’s almost magic.
    Sounds do that sometimes. I could have sworn I almost heard “the dismembered chatter, and the subtle drumming of metal cutlery against porcelain” that you were referring to.
    Thanks Roba!

  2. Tareq

    I’m touched.. I have those moments too, but there’s nowhere that you can go to in Ramallah that you can clear your mind, because it’s small and people are always in the ‘what the hell are you doing sitting in one place for 90 minutes’ mood.

    Well, I’m going to the US hopefully in a couple of months, to college.

    Wish me luck :D


  3. Talking about favourire sounds, for me nothing beats the sound of gently moving waters hitting a beach or moving in a stream. I worled for one and a half years in Aqaba and my most beautiful was spent reading in the public cafe along the beach with the sound of approaching and retreating waves calming every nerve in my nervous system. Each and everyday in Amman, I miss those moments.

  4. I think the fact that you view spending ONLY 90 minutes without company as a unique experience of being A.L.O.N.E. says a lot about how much of a social person you really are :P

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  6. great! i do the same thing, my sacred hour is every Friday, i go out after lucnh, alone, to some cafe in irbid, it’s not that silent, but it’s ok, i turn off my cell phone, and read something that’s not computer related whatsoever.

    By the way, it’s a know technique in stress management. dedicating one hour a week to be away from people should renew your energy and reduce stress.

  7. beautiful post Roba, wonderfully written, and I totally relate… there’s this spot you might want to explore one of those days, right after Wadi El Seer in the direction of Iraq El Ameer.. a quiet area with green hills and a few houses scattered here and there, with a superb view of the busier part of Amman in the distance. Perfect for getting lost in ones own thought peacefully.

  8. Interesting! but Germans have a proverb about being lonely:
    Ich werde single sein und karriere machen…!!!
    keep writing Roba.

  9. very nice, i really like these moments :)

    but please when you talk about such moments dont mention Riyadh plzzzzz …

  10. I spend my most


    time on the back of my bike, hitting the highway, the mixture sounds of the engine roaring between my legs, and the sweet rhythm of James Blunt from my NANO ipod is indescribable.. I have no one spot to go to, I ride around until my mind clears up, I swear it’s like meditation..

  11. Roba,It sounds lovely,but I have to say this,Yes I’m a boring mom,and a stupidly over worried person,I have to say it:watch out,amman is not that safe any more.Please take care!

  12. Abu 7amarneh is trying to find 90 minutes a week to socialize in this crazy town,, :(

    nice post


  13. I applaud you, and respect you for the fact that you take 90 minuets of your time to escape away with your books….I tried to do this “reading trip” .. My escape was in a totally different place and environment…I enjoined it, I did twice then I couldn’t do it again …

    I think after reading your post I am determined to go back to my schedule of reading trips :)

  14. You are truly bonkers! But then that’s a complement in my book :)

  15. hisham

    for me, driving my car in a crowded street and turning up the volume to full blast on a metallica song or yngwie solo is my ultimate hour of jubilance :D:D:D

  16. Roba,

    There is a nicer spot in Dahyet Al Rasheed, look for it :)

  17. Ziad, yeah :) I feel that sounds and scents evoke a much stronger than visual images.

    Tareq, lol, you think people here aren’t “What the hell are you doing sitting in one place for 90 minutes?” And hey, awesome :) Good luck!

    Batir, nice! People who have lived by oceans/beaches often tell a similar feeling.

    Ziad, lol, well yeah. I’m the kind of person who freaks out when I’m alone for too long…

    Abed, sounds awesome. Yeah.. I guess the trick here is to read something unrelated to daily “routine” reading. But cool, cool.. stress management eh.. I’ll let you know if I feel any less stressed!

    Oh wow.. I’ve never been in that direction! I guess time to move out of the area I’m u sually in :)

    The Miner, I don’t speak German so I don’t know what the proverb says :P

    Ibrahim, come onn!! I should write about my other “alone time” spot.. which happened to be on the roof of our house in Riyadh..

    The Don, yeah, I guess it’s a similar experience. But you know, I’d kill for a bike!

    Salam, lol, don’t worry.. I’m absolutely paranoid :)

    Abu 7amarneh, ya 7aram :P Ma fi ba3ed Amman!

    Bashar, thank you :) Let us know on your next trip :)

    Keko, lol, thanks ;)

    Hisham, hehe, cool :)

    Rami, will do :)

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