A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: April 2007 (Page 1 of 3)

Little Arabian Sunshine

My mother happened to be in Riyadh on Mother’s Day last year. I didn’t know whether to think it was funny or sad that she and her lady friends, whose kids are of my generation, gathered one another and “invited each other out” for a Mother’s Day brunch, complete with gifts and all.

Cute, I guess, but this little incident reflects the ultimate truth about life in the Palestinian world of Saudi Arabia; there always comes a time when an entire generation goes away to college. This truth is so sharp and so severe that I really do not have the words to describe it. You just have to live through these cycles of change to really appreciate it’s importance; you have to grow up watching the older generations of kids disappear one at a time. You have to learn to classify families under labels pertaining to whether the kids of the family are at home or away, and live through dreading September when depressed parents would return from the summer holidays alone.

Most of the time, the generations get their degrees and return to work in Saudi Arabia. They usually stay with their families for a few years, then these kids would get married, usually to one another.

I spent most of my life watching these cycles go round and round. The internet makes it easy to track these cycles even as I participate in the “away” part; every day when I open Facebook, I see pictures of my friends in colleges and universities all across the world. I see the generation right above mine putting pictures of themselves getting married off to each other. I see pictures of the younger generation standing right where I stood, learning the dabkeh just like I learned it.

The latter pictures (one of which is above, I can’t believe those kids are old enough to remember routines) triggered this post. I miss the dabkeh days. Life was all about putting on the dabkeh shoes and dancing.

I miss that simplicity. I miss living in that tailor-made, perfect little universe where everyone is a cookie-cutter copy of everyone else. I miss the world where there are no misunderstandings, where everyone loves one another, and where there are never any ulterior motives. I miss the people I grew up with. I miss my dad’s Friday outings. I miss weekends by the pool. I miss the Ramadan tents. I miss shopping for the heck of it. I miss the first 18 years of my life.

I miss them a lot, but as my generation boots up to dive headfirst back into the cycle (I just discovered that a dabkeh person who was also my schoolmate is getting married), I know that I do not miss it enough to dive along, as tailor-made and as appealing as it may be. 

We always laugh at how young we were when we look at the old Arabian Sunshine pictures.

I’m still really happy to know that’s there’s still a Lawee7 (below, check out his shoes). Let’s hope he’s as shater as Sami :)

Absolut-ly Over

I didn’t know to feel when I read that Absolut is retiring it’s iconic ad campaign after 25 years of abundancy, especially as much of Absolut’s fame is directly tied to it. The campaign, featuring an object shaped like the distinctive Absolut bottle in the center and a title “ABSOLUT ____” at the bottom, started around 1980 and has had more than 1500 ads, making it the longest running ad campaign ever.

The Absolut Vodka bottle has become something of a modern icon, and the Absolut ads, having stretched the boundaries between advertising and art, have already been collector’s items for years. I’m sure their value as such will increase exponentially with the retirement of the campaign, making me wish that I buy/bought magazines.

Over the past 25 years, chosen artists, including sculptors like Arman, crystal glass designers like Bertil Vallien, fashion designers like David Cameron and John Galliano, were given complete creative freedom, the only stipulation being that the bottle must be visible in the work. The campaign has even made it to an 11 meter high ice-sculpture done in the Swiss Alps, and features works of every conceivable style from Dali-type surrealism to cowboy-kitsch.

Naturally, the campaign also has a golden star in the hall of fame of the advertising and design industries. Absolut is to date one of only three brands inducted into the American Marketing Association’s Hall of Fame, along with Coca-Cola and Nike. It is also the only product in history to have won both the most coveted prizes in the US advertising business – the Effie and the Kelly awards. On a scholastic level, complete design courses that dissect the campaign and nothing else are offered in several art schools. Even locally, I have seen the campaign make its appearance on slideshows and presentations a lot of times in my design classes at the UofJ.

Of course every campaign has to see an end, but 25-years is such a long run that I’m actually absolut sad to see it go.

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The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are the only two movies I was ever excited for.
With the book coming out in the summer and the movie as well, a lot of Harry Potter goodness to look forward to this summer.


But anyway, when Gus just came home with a mohawk, I started screaming out of excitement. I know it is his head, but it feels like he sort of made one of my dreams come true. MY BROTHER HAS A MOHAWK.

I always wanted a mohawk. ALWAYS. Actually, I still want a mohawk, and it’s on my list of things to do before I’m 25. A pink one.

If I have the guts.

And if certain people promise they won’t ex-communicate me :)

Now I really want to give one to Whitey.

On the brink


It is almost the time to look at what’s been deemed worthy of further experimentation, and fold away what’s not. Of course the folded pages will probably be looked into every now and then, sometimes by mistake, others by chance. The moment now is full of stress, a milestone attempt at paving a better way for the future of what was deemed worthy.


How do you translate “sleeping bag” into Arabic?

Pigeon Hole

Pigeon Hole


At around 6:00 PM, just as the weather would start to cool, we would all line up by the window, waiting to hear the familiar tune of his cheap plastic pan-pipe; tooorut, rutooot, toorut, rutooot.

Come to think of it, it wasn’t really a tune, it was just the highs and lows produced as his lips would quickly graze over the plastic pan-pipe from left to right then from right to left, over and over again, interrupted every now and then by “Sha3rrrrrrrrr Il Banaaaaaaaaat! Yalla ya wlad, sha3rrrrr il banaaaaaaat!”

To our little ears though, it was the sweetest tune in the universe.

Excited to see him with his stick of cotton candy, we would run outside, our sweaty palms stinking like metal coins, and we would circle around him trying to bargain the highest quantity of little plastic bags that our coins could buy. Then we would sit on the sidewalk outside Teta’s house, silent and still for a few precious minutes, enjoying the soft cotton candy as it melted into our tongues, amusing at how the pale color would turn bright and hard as soon as it touched our mouths.

Baya3 Sha3er Il Banat eventually stopped coming to Shmesani, as did Baya3 il Dorayeh and Baya3 Il-Fusto2 Il 7alabi. I don’t know why they all stopped coming.

I do know though, that for many, many years, Baya3 Sha3er Il Banat’s tune would signal my favorite time of the day.

Nokia ties-up with Ikbis!

Ikbis has some awesome news from Photoworld Dubai 2007; Nokia, the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile telephones, ties-up with Ikbis, the Arab world’s first photo and video sharing site!

So what does this mean exactly? For starters, Ikbis is the first member of Nokia’s global Forum Nokia PRO Imaging Zone (yay!). Ikbis will also be built into selected models of the Nseries family, and actually, if you already own a Nokia Nseries device, You can easily use Ikbis on your Nokia Nseries device to upload and share your photos and videos instantly, all you need to do is sign up for a free Ikbis account. Learn more here on how to set-up your device with Ikbis.

You can read more about the tie-up here.

To glue, or not to glue?

Ah, the gems of the World Wide Web. Where else would you find a whole website dedicated to helping you choose the right glue for your bonding requirements? They even have a Statement of Impartiality: “Our recommendations are totally impartial. We have advertisers but they don’t influence our selections at all. And they never will. We promise. “

Awesome. When I was finding my way around glue, I had to do it the hard way. I had to find out that UHU superglue burns acrylic, which has to be sort of “welded” together with some weird toxic chemical that I’ll never remember the name of. I had to learn that although we were taught that white glue is the best option for paper, spray contact glue is what works best. I came to these conclusions and many other similar ones after a hard and arduous journey, after a lot of arguments, and a lot of failed attempts.

The essay below was written during the peak of my journey to find the ultimate all-purpose glue. I probably wrote it when I was in the 9th or 10th grade, for my English writing class.

    Do you remember the first time you held that wide yellow stick with the waxy gummy substance inside of it? How about the white tube of liquid adhesive that so magically made things stick to each other? Oh, oh, and did you get to experience the heat of the gun that’s filled with melted plastic? Ah, sweet memories. Whoever discovered glue is just a complete sweetheart. Ok, so it’s simple- I’m obsessed with glue (I actually prefer scissors, but you won’t appreciate the fact that Ikea makes the sharpest ones and that House of Talents sells the prettiest, so I’ll spare you).

    I cannot recall the countless times that I spent experimenting with the different types of epoxy. I also cannot tell you about all the long debates my mother and I shared discussing which type of paste works the best. Oh, my mother. Although we have very similar ideas and although we share the same hobbies, we just have completely different views on glue. While I think that glueguns just rule, she believes that white-glue is the king. I also have met many similar people with this view, so my essay is directed towards those who don’t appreciate the power of heat, and if you’re one of them, then you’re included.

    I admit that white glue has its advantages. For example, you can’t see the leftovers that squeeze out of the papers. Also, its liquid nature makes it very easy to control, for you can effortlessly use a pin or a spoon to spread it over the widest and the smallest areas. Likewise, you can use it to make your creativity overflow. By simply dumping a bag of colored sand or glitter in a jar of liquid white-glue, you can invent a new dye-system (and make sure you try to make a collage of your dye-system if you try making some by plainly covering different areas with different colors). One better thing about this form of epoxy is that it’s very strong and very portable. You can put some of this magic in an old Kodak film-canister and keep it in your purse. Oops, broken heel? You just would never have to worry about that again.
    Sadly, with this great world of advantages come many disadvantages. The fluid constitutions of white-glue makes your paper all shriveled up and can even make cardboard twist into the graph of an x2 function (which is in the form of a parabola, thank you Mrs. Math Teacher). It also takes forever to dry, so you have to hold that heel to your stilettos for an hour to make sure it won’t break as soon as you step on the floor. And how can I forgive it for the time it spilled all over my favorite pair of jeans? Needless to say, it’s not washable (nor is it waterproof!).

    You really don’t need to panic yet; there still is the gluegun. (*Smile*) Glueguns, I experience pleasure in just telling you about them. They have most of white-glues advantages and none of its disadvantages. Plug in, pull the trigger, ta da… a permanently glued Anything. The melted plastic holds even broken desk panels together (hey, it works! I’ve tried it). You can also get a gluegun with changeable nozzles, which means you can use different nozzles depending on how big the area you want to glue is. In addition to that, you can just buy glitter gluegun refill or fluorescent purple ones, and make a dye-system collage in seconds. Glueguns likewise come in many different sizes and shapes, some battery powered ones as small as your lipstick, so you can just toss it into your make up bag. Broken heels anyone? Squeeze some glue out onto the surface, hold this surface onto your shoe for one second, and jump from the top of Eiffel Tower making sure you land on your feet (a perfect test for strength). And how can I not mention that its plastic nature doesn’t allow paper (or cardboard) to shrivel up on you like aqua-based glue would, or ruin your favorite pair of pants since it would immediately turn into plastic while it’s still in the process of spilling.
    Glueguns also have many other uses. It helps reduce stress level where you can just compress some of the hot mucilage onto your index finger and scream out all your worries and despairs. It provides entertainment if you’re ever bored in biology class by making all these pretty peelable patterns on the floor of the room. And it makes life easier. For example, if your doorknobs are too smooth, just squeeze out a line of glue on it and even wet hands will open your door (ha, I’ll beat you, you annoying bathroom door!). I correspondingly can’t resist but mention how we got rid of ants forever when my aunt plugged the holes leading to their dwellings with the plastic glue.

    Before you label me a freak of nature, let me make one thing clear. I’m not some nasty advertiser that wants to fool you into buying my product; I’m just a fan. Fifteen years worth of glue-related experience makes me fit to tell you what kind of adhesive would get your kiss of approval. Try it yourself. You know that ruined toy that used to belong to your sister 2 weeks ago? Fix it for her with the aid of your new best friend and watch her give you a big hug. What’s white glue to this at-your fingertips convenience? Long live the gluegun!

Today, I know that there is no such thing as the all-purpose glue. 

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