AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: January 2007 (Page 1 of 4)

Revisiting [underappreciated] Heritage

Downtown with Lina

My favorite thing about her is the fact that she’s probably one of the most spontaneous people I’ve ever met:

– “Lunch at 2?”
– “Sure! Where?”
– “I was thinking somewhere along the lines of Downtown.”
– “Alright, great!”

Most of my friends would have freaked out immediately at the idea of going downtown for lunch without much thinking put into the whole deal, after all, the downtown trip mostly comes with the whole sha bang of suitable mood, sufficient planning, and a fair share of procrastination.

Never with Lina though.

Roba-and-lina-at-al-quds Lunch

2star-wonder Lina_lunch

We started the day with lunch at the downtown branch of a restaurant famous for being an epitome of authentic Ammanite culture- Al-Quds Restaurant, the two-star wonder tale. This particular branch, being strategically placed right beneath the HQ of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, is conspicuously filled with beards, but it also has a fair deal of suits, skirts, jeans, along with warmer winter cords.

Downtown with Lina

We shared a delicious dish of their signature Mansaf, as well as a plate of Maftool with beef, which I’ve never tried before in my life as Maftool is usually cooked with chicken and I don’t eat chicken. We sat there for around an hour, supplied with a constant amount of over-attentiveness from our waiter, while we chatted endlessly on a lot of random things, like Jordan Planet, blocs, Muna Nijem, blogging, reciprocal votes, pan-Arabism, and Al-Ghad versus Al-Rai.

Downtown with Lina

Downtown with Lina

Downtown with Lina

Then we walked to the Husseini Mosque, where we whined a bit about the lack of preservation of the downtown area to one another, and visited this tiny herb store (“Since 1916”) by the mosque that sells really interesting multicolored herbs (including fluorescent orange!) with names like “the devil’s nail” and the “palm of the girl”.

Window Lina-and-the-glass
High-exposure-over-a-cup-of Bloggers

After that, we walked over to another one of those ancient coffee shops, “Maqha Al-Jame3a il Arabeya” (Arab League Coffee-shop), where dozens of Jordanian men well over their 60’s were killing time smoking argeeleh, drinking coffee, and playing chess, backgammon, and cards. It is not common to have two young Jordanian females visit such coffee shops, but other than the surprised looks when we first walked in, we agreed that this generation of males is a lot less likely to be intolerant to such an “uncommon occurrence”. If we had walked into a similar setting of men under 40 years of age, the looks would have certainly been different. This observation led to discussions, of course complete with delicious coffee, of the increasing political apathy of Jordanian youth, as well as the culture gap between our grandparent’s generation and our generation.

7abeebah-with-love Dt

Atm Anasheed-wataneyeh

Naturally, as soon as we left, we decided it was time for dessert. We walked around a bit looking for a “new” place to try out, but ended up going to all-time-favorite knafeh place Habiba, and as Lina said, “You really can’t come here without having Habibah! There’s something about that place.” We ate our knafeh in the alley right next to Koshk Abu Ali il Thaqafi (“Al-Thaqafah lal Jamee3”), a delicious way indeed to seal such a lovely day, and shared our book memories.

Downtown with Lina

We really wanted to walk home, but we were short on time, so we opted to take a cab, but we agreed and made plans (like we always do), to do this more often.

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Arab


(play music)

I shivered when I saw Hajjaj‘s caricature in the backpage of Al-Ghad today.

Palestine.
Lebanon.
Sudan.
Iraq.
Syria.
Somalia.

Ahhhh- the pan Arabist in me is crying.

Image:Arab Revolt flag.svg

On Gender Quotas

Today’s issue of The Jordan Times mentions the new bill that allocates 20 per cent of municipal council seats for women as a method of addressing the legislative underrepresentation of women, and gives the government the right to appoint women to councils where the required number of women candidates is not realized.

Naturally, this brought about mixed reaction; some who say that allocating a quota for women is a discriminatory action that is a direct violation of democracy, while other’s applaud the step as one that promotes women’s participation in the democratic processes and assures that women’s voices are heard, thus leading to a more democratized and impartial future.

Personally, I have mixed feelings.

Shouldn’t one be in such a position because of their credentials rather than their gender? Are quotas merely symbolic? What does it imply to have an ‘allocated quota woman’ in the parliament? As a feminist, I believe that women and men should be treated based on equality, but then again, the concept of equality very relative and highly dependent on how one looks at it.

As our socialist friends would argue, how can there be equality without equal opportunity? Asides from the fact that education is readily available to both genders in Jordan, the tribal laws and social taboos that govern our society lead to social factors where women are not as encouraged as their fellow men in taking an interest in the political field. The lack of female officials in our government is the direct result of the social discrimination and pre-programmed gender roles in our society, and this fact must be rectified. In the long run, gender quotas may steer society away from the association of governmental work with men. With time, the predetermined focus on women’s representation may switch to teaching the next generation of females in our society to establish goals for the selection and election of female candidates to political office.

What do you think? Do you support the new bill that allocates 20 per cent of municipal council seats for women or not, and why? It would be interesting to hear some thoughts on the subject.

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Sights of Jordan

My very dear friend Noori, who I also miss, damn my retarded sleeping routine, shared this video with me and we both agreed that it has some really good scenes, like the church and the mosque against each other, the scene of the kids playing karate (did any child in Jordan not play karate at some point in their life?), and the scene of pita bread as it bakes. Not much of a fan of the scenes that show technological advancement though (notice Bill Gates).

I also don’t like their choice of music. It doesn’t have enough flavour.

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For the love of asphalt

You know how it feels like when something is so familiar and so cherished yet so new and different? When each alley has a memory and each shop window has a history in your mind? When you reflect silently on how time took its toll on a place that really had a very important significance in your life, just as it took its toll on you?

~

Today, uncharacteristically for someone as in love with my car as myself, I decided to make use of the wonderful mood I’ve been in recently and walk to the post office, which is around a kilometer away from our house through Thaqafeh Street.

It’s been a while.

Infamous for its retarded planning, there is no other asphalt that my feet have pattered upon in the world as much in my life, way before it became Thaqafeh Street, when it was just Share3 Jabri.

While walking those eerily familiar steps today, I felt like I was floating. I have taken this route a hundred million times in my life, starting very early on when I was just a child- way before Fastlink ever came to existence and before the Chili House family had a fight giving way to Chili Ways in that little corner restaurant that I spent so much time at as a teenager. Way before I knew which was the gas pedal, when I was a little girl skipping on the street’s sidewalks to Tom and Jerry burger place which was not yet replaced by Burger King. Way before Power Hut came to be, and when there was an empty plot of land where Standard Chartered stands today.

You see, my grandmother’s house, where we spent all our summers since I was a child, is right behind that Standard Chartered, and the street was my endless source of entertainment; the video stores, Frosti, Istiklal Bookshop, Qahwet il Farouki (where they had an internet café that I used to go to almost every day), Fun Directory, the pharmacy where I kept getting my ears pierced, Piccadilly Supermarket…

Today, as I walked down the street, it felt weird walking down a street so familiar yet so new- most of the places I grew up with either don’t exist anymore or have moved their branches elsewhere in the neighborhood. You see, I need to go through this street to really go anywhere, so I have been driving through it daily for the past four years, but there’s a different feel to while walking, as there’s enough time to take in every detail which once was and every detail that now is.

What was once La Chez Dor, the hairsalon where I had some of the very first haircuts of my life, is now some kitschy coffee shop (I wonder what happened to Reema, the hairdresser). Piccadilly Supermarket is now replaced by a H&H, a modern chainstore with big glass windows and bright neon lights (I wonder what happened to the old grouchy 3amo who owned Piccadilly). A record store that sells 1JD music now stands in place of the pharmacy (I wonder what happened to Marwan, who used to think I was crazy for piercing my ears so often). Istiklak Bookshop moved out of Thaqafeh Street several years ago and into a calmer area in the neighborhood (they still gives me discounts). Fun Directory closed its post office branch and opened a much larger store right next to Standard Chartered (I still use my grandmother’s account). The video rental stores all have signs that say “Store for Sale”, thanks to the pirate revolution (I never liked their owners anyway).

There are some things that didn’t even slightly change; things that have looked, smelled, and felt the same for as long as I remember. La Terrace Restaurant is still as empty and as yellow as ever. The post office is still in the scary narrow alley (the post office is now French though), and Lebnani Snack still stands next to it, a little forest like place in the middle of the street. Qahwet il Farouqi’s and its internet café still sit there tiredly, with dirty upholstery and the delicious aroma of vintage coffee. Most importantly, Frosti hasn’t changed much, not even the icecream flavors have changed, though the price of an icecream scoop isn’t 15 piasters anymore.

On my way back, I made use of the newer facilities, I stopped by Aramex Media Bookshop and browsed through their book collection, then I opted to buy the book I was looking for, “Sharq il Motawaset” by Abdul Rahman Muneef (recommended by a person astonishingly dear to my heart), from a little kiosk instead. I stopped by H&H and bought some Loaker because it reminded me of my friend Sara, who I haven’t seen in several days and I realized I miss her (sam3a ya benet?) I smiled at the skateboarders, who have made the street their home in the past few years, as I passed by them.

Just as I turned the corner out of Thakafeh Street and got a glimpse of our home, which I also passed everyday, except then it was always just an empty plot of land, and it hit me that after all these years, the place is still the same, just an older more tired version of itself, serving as the source of entertainment for a different generation. I also realized that deep inside, regardless of all the changes, I’m really just that little girl trying to get over my crossing the street phobia and stopping by Piccadilly to get a drink for the road.

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Recycling Survey: Local Results

Below are some of the results for the recycling in Jordan survey that I did on this website. I will share the international survey results sometime very soon. Feel free to ask for more details.
A very grateful thank you for everyone who participated in the survey. You really helped me a lot.

Survey-local

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… and toot takes home the GOLD!

Jordan Web Awards
(Above: the awesome toot team with the awards)

I just got back from the Jordan Web Awards where the toot table screamed so loud after toot won the gold shield and Ikbis won the bronze shield for the Entertainment and Blogs Category. It really feels great! After a year of tooting several times a day every day, and after watching it grow from 50 blogs to 147, I have grown to really love that place, and it’s wonderful seeing something I love so much get recognized. Hat tips to Wael for the brilliant design that purplifies my days, Jad for creating the backdoor interface that I actually still enjoy using, a year on, and all the tooters whose blogs I have learned so much from.

Congratulations toot, toot team, tooters, and anyone who enjoys toot!

Also, congratulations to toot’s sister site, Ikbis, and what a great job for one so young! YAY!


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The award:

Jordanian Web Awards- toot and ikbis WIN!

Jordan Web Awards

CONGRATS TOOT!!!

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On the Honour of 2007

The Associated Press on January 25, 2007 reported that the first honor killing of 2007 in Jordan occurred when a father fatally shot his 17-year-old daughter. Source.

It is not often that I find myself too disgusted to even want to write about something. Shu hal sharaf il ma beswa ta3reefeh?

Of course though, what is worth even less than this man, his life, and his honor is article 340 of the Penal Code of Jordanian law. I want to yell, to scream, to tear up the newspaper. What makes it much worse is that the people responsible for upholding article 340 of the Penal Code is the Lower House of Parliament, elected by the people, elected by us.

Pathetic.

What the hell? What kind of sick society do we live in?


(image courtesy of Ahmed Khalidi)

Redesigning Coca-Cola

As a part of the new marketing campaign “The Coke Side of Life“, Coca-Cola is apparently also redesigning the can, and I think the redesign is brilliant! I like the drift back to minimalist contours and solid colors, though I might prefer the shape of the older design as I have come to associate Coke the brand with curviness (thank the Nancy Ajram Coca-Cola commercials).

What do you prefer? The old can or the new one?

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Mabsoota

But ambiset? Anbinset? It’s “m” up there, “n” down here?
Imbasateiiiit!
Inbasateiiiit!
Which is it?

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