AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Just a little pinprick

I spent my first year of living in Amman in Mecca Mall. That year was a terrible year for me, having felt like I had been yanked out of my little perfect life and into one full of never-ending rain, terrible cold, moldy walls, and mean people. The mall was one of my few comforts, a little part of my previous existence, complete with marble floors, bright neon lights, and the familiar white noise produced by the patter of mall-goers, regardless of whether it was rain or shine outside its concrete walls.

Ahh… it’s incredible how homogenous malls are. Regardless of where I am, whether the mall-goers are half-naked, covered up in winter coats, or barely visible with their abayas, there’s this delicious familiarity in malls that makes me feel all warm and cozy inside. The brands of the world form an array of welcoming hosts, completing the familiarity, and making the world easier in any country, whether I speak the language or not.

This homogeneity and these brands were my home away from home, constants in a period where everything familiar to me had disappeared. The brands somehow turned into long-term friends- Mango with its modern classicism, Burger King with its cheap coffee, Stradivarius with its edginess. The fonts are deliciously the same as what I grew up with, the displays are what I’ve walked by a thousand times.

That year, I learned to appreciate the power of branding and globalization as cures for homesickness, and I, homesick, would spend hours just walking around playing pretend.

With time, I naturally became more comfortable with Amman. I also found out that I hate the “tourist Amman” that I grew up with and that I was much happier with the more relaxed and local “older Amman”. So Mecca Mall, belonging to the former group, stopped being a part of my weekly routine. It became an old friend, someone I grew out of, someone I avoid seeing because it makes me so uncomfortable. I even stopped shopping, opting to have clothes picked out for me by my mother, who is so much more fashionable than I am, and delivered in a suitcase to my bedroom.

***

Today, my mother and I went to Mecca Mall to buy a hammock for the garden. It almost felt as if the walls of the mall were echoing “Zorooni koli sannah marrah”, making me feel like running my fingertips over the marble and apologizing for being such a hypocrite.

Then I got sucked into an emotional rollercoaster of nostalgia.

Ahh… the familiar white noise which I love so much, making life prettier and better and surreal. Mango smiling at me brightly on one side of the wall, shining teeth and all. My mother and I walk in. I like this, I like that. Look, dressy shorts. Me? Wear dressy shorts? Sure. Why not. It’s ‘Moda’. Ok. Moda is moda. Pretty slippers. I want. Let’s go get glasses too, I need glasses. Yalla. Try on frames for an hour- beige or purple? Beige wins. I was 12 when I first shopped at Mango. It was a little black skirt and I loved it to little bits and pieces.

As soon as I’m back home, I find myself staring lovingly at my gorgeous new shoes and shorts, experiencing the same form of satisfaction I’ve experienced a thousand times in a period of my life that feels like it almost wasn’t mine.



Cute, huh?

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21 Comments

  1. EP

    Although I’m against globalisation and all..

    But I gotta say, you make a really good point.

    Well written.

    Respect.

  2. “koli sannah marrah” to the mall is just about manageable for me. I have to admit malls are my idea of hell, but there might be something in your theory of familiarity as I love souqs but then I grew up in Zarqa.

    As for the power of branding I detest it and yet fascinated by its dynamics. I actually feel uncomfortable buying anything from a shop which is part of a chain. I guess I live in the wrong country thou.

  3. Roby!!! It’s official, YOU ARE NUTS! You’re such a self absorbed egotistical maniac that thinks the whole world (and the mall) revolves around her! What you’ve got nothing better to do than el sarma7a bil mall!?
    If you didn’t delete my comment by this point good because the good stuff is below…
    You see little girl, they design malls in a way to make you feel comfortable in every possible way. It’s the comfort that you were after and not really the mall. If this comfort was food you would long to it, if it was a person, you would love to go and see that person. But to you it was the mall, where you found something similar to the stupid existence you had in Saudi where basically the only place you can really go to was the mall! Probably had couple of romantic encounters there and at the end grew emotionally attached to the place. Then you moved to Jordan and now everything is alien to you… so what do you do? you cling to the thing that looks most familiar to you …. the stupid mall!
    I for one hate malls. To me shopping is not a pass time .. or something that I enjoy doing. It’s a BANG BANG THANK YOU MAME kind of thing for me … I want something, I go find it, buy it. I don’t go spend 6 days shopping the malls around the house and then end up buying 50 other things I didn’t need or what ever
    But I understand you’re not there for shopping, but rather to hang out … I guess you were still 9 years old so places like that make you feel happy… hey they have that jungle bungle place, I bet you’re their elite monkey

    Hope you enjoy your next trip … mall junkie

  4. I just remembered this interesting thing:
    A man would pay $2 for something that is worth $1 that he needs
    A woman (like el mahastereh Roba) would buy 2 things for $1 that she don’t need

  5. Anonymous

    I know, it’s rediculous how “it was on sale” becomes a reason to buy something that one does not need or will only use once or twice in a decade.

  6. Ooo! Those shoes are gorgeous!

  7. Qweider, you’re motakhalef aren’t you? Or, otherwise, you really can’t read. So let’s do some little spoonfeeding with words- “So Mecca Mall, belonging to the former group, stopped being a part of my weekly routine. It became an old friend, someone I grew out of, someone I avoid seeing because it makes me so uncomfortable. I even stopped shopping, opting to have clothes picked out for me by my mother and delivered in a suitcase to my bedroom. It almost felt as if the walls of the mall were echoing ‘Zorooni koli sannah marrah'”
    It’s not about me liking to go to the mall at the current stage in my life, I actually avoid it as best as I could, this post is a subtle way to provide one of the reasons of why I think globalization has more pros than cons.
    I’m very well aware of the design of appeal behind malls and brands, and I think its fantastic.
    Man.. I can’t believe I just said that. I usually let me posts float to enjoy seeing who understood what I meant with them and who understood them in a different way.

  8. Motakhallef Ana … Zanbi aih … ammoura ana … a3mel aih!

    You suddenly lost all your sense of humor and away goes the little cute chick and in come the witch of the north

    Thanks … Yeah, I’m mutakhllef…Ms Shoe!

  9. Logically speaking, with absolutely no negative feelings from my side, “Qweider, you’re motakhalef aren’t you?” is the same kind of humor as “Roba, you’re such a self absorbed egotistical maniac that thinks the whole world (and the mall) revolves around her!”

    I really am not interested in starting arguments etc. here, I’m generally a peace-loving person who hates mashakel and problems. I generally delete/ignore offensive comments that get me angry rather than reply to them.

    And dude, shoes are cool. And the Witch is from the West ;) At least the Wizard of Oz witch.

  10. You know, I didn’t notice it, but I’m actually having a fight with you! I really don’t know why!

    Look, I take everything I said back mashi. I didn’t want it to sound negative in the beginning to CERTAINLY sound negative later on..

    I love your blog, maybe because I’m here a lot I thought I can … but it’s ok …

    One last thing I wanna say, It’s ok if you delete whatever you don’t like about my previous posts

    PS, If I was seriously a Mutakhallef, you wouldn’t be using my work right now, not only you but everyone reading this right now. And for that I’m humbled and grateful.

  11. LOL, sorry, but I’m laughing. You are motakhalef :P (and since you’re in an offended mood today, not in the literal sense of the word) Or else, there’s a serious communication problem (and recently there’s been plenty, sa7 Jad?)
    What I was saying is that it isn’t about me losing “humor”(although I really don’t consider that I have any), I did not mean to turn into a wicked witch or piss you off or start a flame war or blah blah blah, I was just using your own humor.
    I definitely didn’t find your comment offesnive.

  12. By the way, I still think you’re nuts! :)
    And regarding my work, unlike some people I know, I don’t go calling people “motakhallefeen” because I know better than they do, EVEN if I did. I outgrew my “everyone-is-mutakhallef” years ago
    But seriously, Ma tiz3ali… I love your blog, and think there’s still hope … (and the witch I was talking about is not the same witch but don’t worry)
    Now, can I go back to talking $#!T at you??,,, just kidding :D
    (PS, I’m a poor speller if you noticed)

  13. She

    Oooh – love those shorts and the shoes! You’re so lucky that those glasses look good on you. When I needed new glasses several months ago, I tried on all sorts of styles similar to those, and they just didn’t work! I had to settle for thin black frames.

    I definitely understand what you mean about the mall. There’s definitely that feeling that is akin to “coming home”, so to speak. It doesn’t matter where the mall is, but just entering provokes memories of childhood and fun times. It’s always familiar and comfortable.

  14. Hi , to me , Mecca mall is “where everything is so expensive”! .. or , I never catch up with sales!

  15. Killer Bee Bop

    Mecca Mall suxx0rs big time … Comfortable? What’s that? I feel like crap when I’m there … :|

    Nice post all in all though, it had some well-made points …

    I HATE those shoes! :O

    “Ms Shoe”, lol, I like that …
    And you ARE mutakhallifeh, and EVERYONE IS MUTAKHALLEF, that’s sooo true! REALLY! :D

    “hey they have that jungle bungle place, I bet you’re their elite monkey”, WTH? ROTFLMAO!

    “this post is a subtle way to provide one of the reasons of why I think globalization has more pros than cons”, This is probably the silliest thing I’ve ever heard regarding globalization.

    “I’m generally a peace-loving person who hates mashakel and problems. I generally delete/ignore offensive comments that get me angry rather than reply to them.”, Cuz you’re a WUSS! :D (j/k kay?) I LOVE mashaakel! :O

    “you wouldn’t be using my work right now, not only you but everyone reading this right now.”
    &
    “And regarding my work”, Shu bitkhabbis? What work? :S

    Moda is a big fat lie, to hell with Moda …

    Ba3dein fee 7ada bil 3aalam (Jordan) bishtary naddaarah min el mall? shu hal tayaaseh? :|
    I like those though, but they would never fit me (squared frames) … :|

    Tusba7u 3ala khair

  16. WOW … KBB sure knows how to bitch about everything!
    Dude, take that stick out of your ass, you’ll feel better, stick it in the USB port instead :D
    (No I don’t need one up my ass, because my ass is a virgin and I want to keep it that way until I find bint el halal who’s going to turn it into the airport highway)

  17. Killer Bee Bop

    Errm, I’m not sure how to take this …

    Yes, I do know how to bitch about everything, and I do so, it feels great! :P

    I don’t appreciate the rest, it’s simply immature, what does my ass have to do with anything? You started with Roba and now you’re turning to me …

    And you did not answer the question …

  18. I don’t like to brag … forget about that
    Now regarding the Stick thing, it is actually a metaphor meaning M3asseb, Mkhasheb, Stiff … mwall3a ma3ak .. Mgabb3a ma3ak … etc ..etc (it’s not intended as an insult) ya abu shreek

  19. ROBBAAA…. JIBTEEHA!!!

    Ahh… it’s incredible how homogenous malls are. Regardless of where I am, whether the mall-goers are half-naked, covered up in winter coats, or barely visible with their abayas, there’s this delicious familiarity in malls that makes me feel all warm and cozy inside. The brands of the world form an array of welcoming hosts, completing the familiarity, and making the world easier in any country, whether I speak the language or not.

    That part was just so true on so many levels.

    I applaud your writing skills.
    Seriously. God I could read that over and over. I think it’s inspiring something…hmm..

  20. People in general tend to gravitate toward malls during upheavals in their lives. It’s a theory of mine. I’ve just graduated, and am doing the same right now. It’s a little bit weird, but it’s not wrong.

  21. Hmm … Natalia brings up such a good point…
    It might be the shopping aspect, overspending is a sign of depression. More people suffer from than anybody has ever expected. And Apparently Malls are designed in a way to be extremely attractive to people in those situations.
    ::Note to self:: Frequent mall visits might be a sign of depression

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