A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: September 2007 (Page 1 of 3)

The Story of My Life

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Okht Irjal ;)

Links for those who are interested

Although I am personally not sure what such a service would add as a lot of the resources on Jordan come from tourists and expats, but there’s now a Jordanian search engine called  “Search 4 Jordan”, and it actually enables the users to search for any word or “sentence” within jordanian page (articles, news, texts).

Also, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation has announced its annual Ibn Khaldoun essay contest about freedom in the Islamic Societies. This year’s theme addresses the relationship between free-market economic policies and freedom in the Islamic societies. The contest is open to university graduates, or students: undergraduate and graduate levels, who are or below 30 years
of age.

How Christmas came early this year

Just as September began, the town started to twinkle with little lights shaped as stars and moons that were hanging from windows, balconies, trees and rooftops. On and off they flicker, in different colors and different shapes. By the first week of Ramadan, it became almost impossible to find a street devoid of the flashing moons and stars. Everyone in town, it seems, is making sure that their houses celebrate the onset of the holy month of Ramadan. A lot of people in town, it seems, are on a competition to have the most celebrative house.

Although the moon and the star have long been the leading man and lady of Ramadan, the mass commercialization of the image of the month is quite a new phenomenon. The first Ramadan I spent in Amman was as recent as 2003, when the mall hung a few modestly-made cardboard moons and stars from the ceilings and when just a few houses sported very small green or red moons. As the years passed, the Ramadan decorations kept increasing in amount and diversity until they reached the hideous stage they’re at today.

For a society that still hasn’t developed a finer taste for established things such as advertising, it would take a very long while for it to develop any sort of taste for lights and decorations. I guess that means that we will have to put up with several more years of flickering blue lights.


Anniversary Number 3

This September, “And Far Away” reaches the three-years-running milestone.

In blog years, three is a big number. Three takes you back to when we would actually discuss options for the term “blogging” in Arabic, long before “Dawen” came to be. It takes to you to when Flickr was a new born baby, and when YouTube was not yet conceived. It takes you to the start of the Jordan blogging community, when Jordan Planet, the first Jordanian blog aggregator, housed less than a dozen blogs, made up of mostly tech geeks and journalists. In blog years, a lot changes in three years.

I started this blog because I needed a space to “thought dump”. I’ve always been a very expressive person, and having had just moved to Jordan and started my university education exactly a year before, I had a lot to say. I was amused by everything I saw around me, by the culture of a city I was starting to love so much, and by an increasing fascination with design and digital technology.

At that point, it felt like I was lighting the wick of some new, unexplored types of fireworks and standing back to see what happens. It took me forever to make the first post, because typically, it was an image, and at that time, image insertion wasn’t as compatible with Blogger’s editor. I spent the entire night Googling how to insert it, as I had no idea what HTML was in the first place, or how to insert an image using its url. But I figured out, and I pressed publish, not really expecting anything to come beyond that first post.

But well, all things started rolling.

Somehow, Eman found my blog. She commented on a photo of Amman, citing that she was really to see some photographs of Amman as she really misses it. I felt like I did someone good, and so I blogged some more. Then Isam added me to Jordan Planet, and I discovered the community-feel of blogging. Then Haitham introduced me to Firefox and gave me many blogging tips, which made it all so much easier. Then Natasha organized the first Jordanian blogger meet-up, which took blogging offline. Then blogging came popular, and Jordan Planet became bigger. Then I became a part of Toot, the first Arab blog aggregator. Then blogging became too popular, and Jordan Planet shut down. Then Khaled started Jordan Blogs, and then Mazen bought Jordan Blogs. Now we’re all wondering what the heck is Jordan Pulse, and it keeps going on and on; a never ending cycle of fast-pace change on the blogosphere.

In human years, and when you’re barely 22, a lot changes in your life too in three years.

I can easily say that blogging was the best damn thing that ever happened to me. It has affected my life in every single possible aspect; from the big things such as my career and the man I want to spend the rest of my life with, to the little things like how to use Photoshop and where to go tomorrow morning. It introduced me to so many people who literally changed the course of my life, both wonderful and not so wonderful, some of who have become my closest friends, and others who have taught me a lot. It gave me many amazing experiences, and taught me about things I would have never learned about otherwise.

So this is to a space that has become an essential part of my life during the past three years, a space I have come to love with all my heart and my soul. This is to a place that has taught me about life, been there for me when I was in need, and gave me so many opportunities that I would have never dreamt of having.

Uncharacteristically corny, I know, but you see, And Far Away has long ago stopped being just a blog, and became a living, breathing entity that I have to thank on our three year anniversary.

Anniversary Number 1
Anniversary Number 2

I love…

My brothers.

CB-Zeft: The Miseducation of Arab Comedy

Although we swore off any type of theatre production after our exceedingly horrible experience with Jordanian “comedy” last month, we found ourselves with 2 free tickets to a much acclaimed play last night, “CBM”, performed daily at the Le Meridien Amman. With our fingers crossed for a better experience, we decided to give it another shot.

Understand, our hopeful attitude comes from the framework surrounding this play; besides the fact that the tickets cost an overpriced 30 JDs each (including dinner), the play is actually a very popular show playing on one of the major Arab television networks, MBC. It features a diverse Arab cast from around the region, with some big names. In fact, some Googling of the play yields such results:

CBM is a sarcastic program that mocks politicians and popular people in a comedic style and presented by celebrities from the Arab countries. This program recently won an award for being the best entertainment show among Arab channels.” [link]

“The equivalent of Saturday Night Live, except that this show is recorded and then aired. The program showcases skits, satirical newscasts and song parodies. It boasts an international cast, hailing from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt, among others. Also like SNL, famous actors and singers appear on the program.” [link]

Typically though, after 50 whole minutes of suffering from excessive STUPIDITY, we soon discovered that perhaps we were a little too harsh on Jordanian comedy. I mean, if one of the best regional performances dubbed the equivalent of SNL is so darn terrible, then the obscure local play we went to is just an inch below the A-list of plays.

CBM was, well… shitty. I can’t decide what was worse: the gargantuan bellies of most of the actors, who were also wearing horribly fluorescent outfits, or their absolutely shitty routines. It was either aural or visual assault, and either way, neither is much fun. As for being funny, since when did a series of cliched jokes that everyone has heard become funny?

– “Ana koli Hamas!”
– “Hamas willa fate7?”
HA HA HA, how edgy.

Ten minutes into the show, I stopped trying to bother listening to the humor or lack thereof, because honestly, it reached a point where it was far too much effort. Amazingly, some of the audience was laughing. I guess Arabs have officially sold their souls to the Gods of shitty comedy. Or perhaps it’s me lacking the humor.

Eitherway, judge for yourself:

Put those shutterbug abilities to use this Ramadan

With the Ikbis team trying to join the festive spirit of Ramadan, they’re giving away Nokia NSeries devices to the Ikbis user who sends them the most interesting photographs expressing what Ramadan means to him/her.

So go ahead, get your cameras out, snap a few pictures of the moon, your family on the Iftar table, Ramadan decorations around your town, or I don’t know, some other type of insanely creative idea that reflects Ramadan (Ahhh! Shoes hanging instead of Fawanees!), upload it to the contest channel, and cross your fingers and hope that the stars are shining bright.

Yalla. Get them cameras out to make sure you celebrate Eid with a brand spanking new phone.

ikbis logo

The secret of the letter “I”

What’s even worse than people who use butcher language and say things like “u r 2 good 2 b true”, “keep smilin’ alz wiz friendz”, and “krazy”?

People who don’t realize that YOU CAN NEVER SAY “Am so happy”, “Am so upset”, “Am thinking of doing that.”

Dude, “I” is a gorgeous, gorgeous letter that MUST PRECEDE “am” at ALL TIMES. Think: “I am so happy”, “I am so upset”, “I am thinking of doing that.”

Reading sentences in which the “I” is omitted is one of the few things that I simply cannot stand.

Everything aside…

What kind of absurdly horrible slogan is “A wonderful world”?

Your Urban Guide to Ramadan

urban ramadan amman

Our festive spirits would like to celebrate Ramadan by adding a special to our series of urban reviews; Your Urban Guide  to Ramadan 2007 in Amman. It can be accessed through the sidebar throughout the month. Please feel free to email us with further events happening in town during Ramadan, and happy argelling!

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