One of my least favorite things about living in Jordan is that we cannot spend as much time with him as we would like. Although he was quite the workaholic, my childhood is full of the fondest memories of us playing a collection of games he invented for us, of him helping us learn the lines and act out the scenes of historical Arabic movies (“Man minkom moshtaqon ila sayfeee!”), and of him taking us on road trips as often as he could.

Most of my earliest memories involve my father, rather than anyone else. My father, you see, was the first man I ever loved.

I remember him standing on a cliff and throwing us into this little place where the Dead Sea meets sweet water, when we weren’t old enough to swim. I would always climb back up and ask for more. I remember him teasing me when my mother and I would “fight”, something we still laugh about often today, “Roba, aslan Mama ma bet7ebek” is a very popular family joke. I remember him playing this game where we would run through the doors while he tried to get us with little stress balls. That was one of my favorite games ever, if not my favorite.

Dad taught me a lot of things in life, both directly and indirectly. At a very early age, he taught me the importance of defending myself, even if it meant confronting someone much bigger. All it takes, he shows me, was some courage, and if courage doesn’t do it, well, there’s always four of us, and he taught us to stick together. When I became a little older, he taught me how to enjoy the finer things in life; how to enjoy a good meal, how to act like a “gentleperson”, how to always choose quality, and how to be generous, for no one could possibly be as generous as he.

Dad taught me the value of reading; I really started reading the alphabet when we were in the car and he would ask me to read the storefronts and signs as we drove around Riyadh. He taught me the value of information; I was always amused at how my father knew the answer to almost everything, and every time I would read, I would try to remember what I was reading so that I would one day know a lot too.

Dad taught me to love unconditionally, even though some people might not deserve it. He taught me how to value good friends, through different countries and different lives. He taught me to give without expecting anything in return, he taught
me to be easy-going, he taught me that life is a matter of priorities.
He taught me to work hard, to expect the best, and to appreciate the
different types of dates. Dad taught me the importance of being friendly, of treating everyone with respect, of not judging people from where they come. He taught me to be welcoming, and he taught me the importance of saying hi :)

Today is his birthday, and like every year, I find myself helpless as to how to give him an ounce back of all the love he gave, and still gives, to me. Unfortunately, due to distance, I cannot even give him a hug or a card. Perhaps next year.

For this year though, I will have to settle for this; Happy birthday Baba, from myself, Hisham, Omar, and il-Qazam il-Shereer. We love you more than we love the world, and we thank you for everything.

Speed of Light

When we first moved to Amman a little less than 4 years ago, Amman was still Amman; everything closed on Fridays, almost everyone around was Arab, and the most decent shopping you could do was with the few brands that had just started opening in Share3 il Markat (AKA “The Brand Street”).

A few months later, Mecca Mall opened, with its plethora of renowned stores, and the world of Ammani life changed. In the years that followed, so many new commercial projects were and are being undertaken that it is hard to keep up anymore. There are cranes in the horizon everywhere you look, new structures everywhere, construction sites getting marked daily.

Whenever I go to a part of town that I haven’t been to in a few weeks, I am always shocked by what I see. They closed off the turn to Jabal Amman from Shmesani, making it impossible to get to Jabal Amman lest one goes through the Fourth Circle. The other day I discovered that my beloved Rainbow Street has been closed off to be turned into a pedestrian road by October. Abdoun looks nothing like the Abdoun I spent my teenage years in. Buildings in the older parts of Amman like Shmesani and Weibdeh are getting knocked off left and right to make way for more modern commercial structures and parking space. Last week I found myself in Khalda and was absolutely shocked to see the towers peaking out of the mountains.

Yet, I haven’t left town for over a week in 4 years.

Here’s a picture of a “new” Ammanite view courtesy of Lina (she has a lot more pictures of construction taking place too):

And last but not least… they’re actually doing something about visual pollution in the form of signage. I was shocked to see Ahmad’s pictures of the Markat Street, because I was just there a few weeks ago, and it hadn’t changed one bit then.

Amman is changing, and it’s changing fast. Nothing is ever closed on Fridays anymore, the crowd at the malls is a cosmopolitan mix of people from all over the world, and you can get really decent shopping done at City Mall. Even more decent than that in Saudi Arabia.

Personally? I love it :) Of course, everything has a negative side to it as well, but for now, I’m enjoying the changes.

More Nonsense

What College Major Are You/Should You Be?

It’s a tie!

Your major should be part Computer Science. You like nothing more than
spending long nights with friends in the computer lab… which is a
good thing since that’s exactly how you’ll spend the next couple years.
Your major should be part Art. You are sensitive, creative, and you
don’t follow established rules. Unfortunately, you’ll have to follow some rules if you ever want that promotion at Starbucks.

That really reminds me of the conversations I’d have with people when I finished high school. People would ask the ever famous question, “What do you feel like majoring in?”
My answer was always; “Art.”
“Are you crazy? Why? You did very well at school.”
“I want to do art.”
“Why don’t you do medicine? You’ve got the grades for it.”
“I want to do art.”
“Why don’t you do computer science or something, you’re always sitting on that machine, you must be really good with it.”
“I want to do art.”
“Fine, then do architecture! That is art you know, it’s just art for smart people.”
“I want to do art.”

Ironically, none of my college applications were sent with “Art” as a major or minor. I had architecture, economics, and English.

In the end though, I ended up doing art anyway.