A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: October 2007 (Page 1 of 3)

On October

Last night, we were sitting at a place we visit often and we noticed that the huge bright lime-green Omnya banner that has hung on the building across all summer is gone, replaced by an equally gigantic but quite morbid image of a parliamentary campaigner, complete with the evil look and all.

As we sat and stared silently, the street much emptier than usual, it really felt like the campaigner’s serious eyes have signaled the end of summer and the beginning of winter. I do not really like winter much, I get gloomy and pessimistic as the leaves start falling.

But well, winter hasn’t really started, October is now done and Amman is still seeing 30 degree weather.


On March
On April
On May
On June
On July
On August
On September

Voting at Gunpoint



We had just a few shawerma sandwiches from Reem and we were sitting on the curb indulging in the beefy yuminess. Reem is my favorite shawerma vendor in town, their meat is always soft and thick, and their sauce never overpowers the flavor. It also reminds me a lot of my childhood, because my mother would always get us Reem and then sit us all to eat on the sidewalk by the Second Circle, and who doesn’t love Jabal Amman?

Last night though, like most mounts of the city, Jabal Amman looked very different, its circles and lightposts almost unrecognizable circuses of a hundred million banners, posters, and other sorts of shitty promotional materials. The very men and women who are trying to catch our votes for a seat in the Jordanian Parliament with empty promises of a better future are severely damaging the one thing that I treasure the most about this city.

We ate our sandwiches in silence as we tried to take in the visual chaos. Then my partner points out to the lightpost right in front of us, which had four different campaigns fighting for our attention.


“Look,” he says. “Candidate A is just a rich guy who has allegedly made his money off of catering to the American army in Iraq. Candidate B was a member of the last parliament, the same parliament that is universally agreed upon as the worst in the history of Jordan. He was simply the government’s favorite to take over the Christian seat – a seat that at one point could have yielded a communist or a Pan-arabist with a true political agenda. Candidate C is a falafel guy, and I’m not kidding! He owns one of the falafel chains in town, and just look at his slogans, ‘For healthy food and no taxes’. Candidate D is the Muslim Brotherhood candidate.

If you were forced to choose between these four at gunpoint, who would you choose?”

I look at their long mustaches and shake my head, “Do I have to answer?”

“Of course you do, you’re held at gunpoint.”

“Ok. We’ll rule out Candidate D completely, because I’m a secular person and I would never support a candidate whose whole basis is built on religion. He also has a really hideous poster. I mean, yellow? Seriously, dude. I suppose we can also rule out Candidate A. Although if you didn’t specifically mention the American army part, I would have probably chosen him – his poster isn’t too horribly designed and his suit looks nicer than the others. That leaves us with Candidates B and C, and neither of them is really very appealing…”

“The guy running for the Christian seat is probably not even interested in your vote. You are probably not his target audience , plus how can you consider a guy who already had his shot and proved his incompetence?! If I were in the last parliament I will be ashamed to show my face in public, let alone run again!!”

“Mmm, well in that case…”

“Tell me you are not picking the falafel guy. The falafel guy? THE FALFEL GUY, Roba!!”

“Ehhh… I’m not voting for anyone. But falafel beats Shari3a. Who would you vote for?”

“I wouldn’t vote.”

“You can’t do that, you’re at gunpoint!”

“I would slip in a blank voting card.”

“You can’t. They are watching over your head!”

“I am going with the Islamic brotherhood guy. Honestly, and don’t tell anyone, I did it before. During my first year at Jordan University I voted for this guy- tactfully named 3izz il Deen al Qassam. When I was a freshman, the Shyookh-dominated student council helped me a lot. They were really organized and when voting time came I voted for this one guy who showed me around on my first day on campus. As much as I despise the approach of ‘I am the Allah-backed candidate and if you pray you should vote for me’, at least they have a political agenda and are not random ‘businessmen’.”

“Dude, you can’t vote for the Muslim Brotherhood! That’s shameful to your disclosed ideologies and tendencies.”

“Well, if they end up calling for something stupid like banning women from driving, or closing swimming pools, I would practice my democratic rights and throw tomatoes at their homes or something like that”

“Ehh… estafadna menak.”

So, the question is, if you were held at gunpoint and you had to choose between candidates A, B, C, and D, who would you choose?


Beit Teta

… where much time was spent, a lot of growing up was done, and where decades of love and life echoing loudly from wall to wall now echo-
[tired dusty objects once grand. photographs of days gone by.]

It’s 5:10…

and it’s pitch black outside.
I hate it when they revert from daylight saving time.

A Conversation with my favorite Shopstress, and downright one of my favorite 10 people EVER

Hey look, 7 days of unaffordable denim. Which day is you fave? I picked 3.

Wait let me see. 2of what is this website, its sooo slow.

Are you serious? It’s pretty fast for me! Maybe that’s cause my computer is used to online shopping by now [grin]

Haha, mine is a novice. Anyway, I don’t like any so far, the skinny jeans make a size 2 model look stocky.

Yeah, it sucks. Your skinny jeans are hot though, you better wear them. Remember what I preached at you a few months back? LOVE the skinny jeans. LOVE the heels. LOVE the skinny jeans with heels.

me: Hehehe, well, I HATE heels, plus, I can’t drive in them.

Hala: Ahooooooo, hopeless case. Your red heels are gorgeous, and practice makes perfect, I cant drive in flats.

me: The red heels are currently laying on the backseat of my car.

Ahooooooo, let me explain why you shouldn’t and why I cannot drive in flats. It’s cause when MY HEELS are on the floor of the car, they turn BLACK. As in heel of foot, however, when wearing high heels, heel of foot is thus elevated, and toes are the ones doing the driving, and everyone knows that one’s strong muscles are in one’s toes, so there you go, this is why it’s much easier to drive in heels.
Plus it’s good exercise for your calf muscles, contract – relax – contract – relax.
Hello, you still there? Ok, ok, wake up, I know this is boring for you.
OY. DUDE. Fine, I’ll stop harassing you with shoes and jeans and boots and heels. Wanna talk about coats instead?? Ok, I’m kidding, kidding. Eft. Come back don’t desert me.

me: Hehehe, wow,  I go away for like 2 minutes–

Why, wow? You know I can very easily entertain myself and talk to myself for at least two hours–

me: — and have as much reading to do as I did collectively during my four years of college. But that’s why I love you.

Hala — if not for three.
Ha Ha. very funny.

[smile] mwahhhhh. I’m so blogging this.

Hala: Fine. Blog it up till here. Don’t leave anything out.
Let the world know the truth. Then maybe freaks will stop e-mailing me once they realize I really don’t care about much in this world other than fashion. Am gonna go back to my trusty shopping sites now, you go save yourself whilst you can. As for the pants, I like three: the working girl one, the coffee time one and the date night one. The rest suck.

Wait, let me tell you which pants I like. I like 5 and 7.

OK, 5 is like mine, the date night one. But I like 1 and 3, not 7. Cool, we have different taste, and yet we are friends
I think this is known as democracy! Or some such shit. Can you blog ‘shit’?

The Kingdom

Like most of the “compound society” that lived in Riyadh, our lives were heavily influenced by the Riyadh 2003 compound bombings, especially as most of the victims were, typically, Palestinian. That’s why when I heard about ‘The Kingdom’, Hollywood’s attempt at portraying the events, I was curious, and so yesterday, we went to Century to check out the movie. Honestly– the movie wasn’t a quarter as bad as I expected it to be.

The negatives:
1. It was your stereotypical example of Hollywood’s love of blowing up cars, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM.
2. Too many gunning scenes in a country that is relatively free of such things- Saudi Arabia was portrayed as a country with a raging civil war.
3. America saves the day (when in reality, America can’t even save itself!).
4. The incident was too Americanized, when most of the people affected were not American. Even most of the “Americans” involved were really Palestinians with American nationalities.
5. They showed too many supposedly Saudi women with their faces uncovered, even is “infamous neigborhoods” and I assure you that that would NEVER happen.

The positives:
1. They did too damn good job at being unbiased in portraying Arabs and Muslims- perhaps a little too unbiased.
2. They were right on spot with the scenes of Saudi Arabia, showing both its regular neighborhoods, and the few highrise skyscraper streets.
3. They had some historical facts about the region that made it possible to analyze for those interested.
4. They analyzed the cycle of violence in a very interesting way.
5. The Arab actors did excellent jobs.

The Dull Colors of the Rainbow

After they closed off Rainbow Street for over half a year for “renovation”, the top part of it is finally open again, unveiling to the public a partially cobalt-covered road, bigger sidewalks, and nothing much else.

Most of the stores are still dull and irrelevant to the “culture” the street is supposed to represent, including a handful of dust-covered clothes shops that were cool 40 years ago, overpriced antique stores, and several gun-collector paraphernalia shops. On the corner, Rainbow Theatre, the first theatre to stage daily shows in town, is rundown and appears to be out of order.  The few bookshops scattered on the street do not really deserve to be labeled as bookshops, due to the measly quality of their books and the lack of diversity.

A little into Rainbow Street, there’s the Saudi Embassy, with its fence so high you cannot see anything of the actual structure inside. There’s some sort of governmental organization with a plethora of multicolored flags waving hideously in the air.  Right across from it, there’s the British Council, with barracades stacked and patterned with “you’re not welcome here” on its tiny sidewalk, and several armed security personnels standing threateningly outside, glaring at any happy teenager who tries to park anywhere near the vicinity.

Abu Il Dahab Center, which spells happiness in the hearts of a lot of Amman’s 20-something population, stands dark and shutdown somewhere in the middle. It breaks my heart to see it looking so forlorn and empty. When we were children, it  housed two stories of arcade games, and going there was always the ultimate treat of the year. Some of my best childhood memories were formed in those halls, running around during the birthday parties and learning how to bowl on a kids-sized bowling lane right across from the cafeteria that served Slush Puppies. As we grew out of the games, we moved our outings to the last floor of Abu Il Dahab, which had the only bowling alley we ever bowled at, as well as some pool tables, a few computers, and a cafe. We would always bowl for a few hours, sit around and laugh for a few minutes, then go downstairs to Falafel AlQuds and eat falafel on the sidewalks. Then we would hail several cabs and we would all go home.

The restaurant and cafe scene is slightly less dull, as Rainbow Street is home to some of Amman’s most beloved eateries, the most successful one being Falafel AlQuds, established in 1966. Their stock for the day usually runs out by 7:30 PM, and thereafter, you resort to going to the late-night sandwich places, like RnB or Batata (and who doesn’t love Batata?). For breakfast, The American Bakehouse around the corner has been a favorite to fafi Ammanis for ages. There are several gorgeous coffee houses on Rainbow Street as well, my current favorite being Coffee and News, where we sometimes sit on the sidewalk and drink our coffee. There’s Duinde Gallery, which has unfortunately been closed for a while, and Basement, which college students seem to love. Towards the end, there’s La Calle, the streets only bar, masquerading itself as an Italian restaurant.

During all the time in which Rainbow Street was closed for cobbling, I was hoping that the grandeur of it will somehow be regained, but somehow, I found it more old and forgotten than ever. I know it is too early to tell, but hey, at least half of it is back.

The Blouzaat Store: إنتاج شركة بلوزات للجرائم الغذائية

The clock struck 7:00 and the excited audience flocked their way through Rainbow Street to witness the brilliantly colored first breath of an urban art project breeding on the H20 of Ammanite culture. There were no ribbons cut by anonymous people with large names (bire3ayat il ameen il 3am), nor were there silver trays filled with petit four; there was Pepsi on the walls, tshirts tucked lovingly in wooden boxes, and a whole lot of slap-happiness.

The changing room went crazy as Blouzaat finally unburdened their graffiti-covered shutters to unveil a little store of unique status in our little city.

Aside from the awesome urbaness of the store, you can actually now get some t-shirts with local blood running in their veins at the Blouzaat Shop, as well as funky recycled bags made by importing ruralism of other countries, and yet more to come.

Exciting to see such initiatives. 

How can you get to Blouzaat?

إنتاج شركة بلوزات للجرائم الغذائية

Architecture of Density

These are absolutely mind blowing photos of architecture in Hong Kong from German born photographer Micheal Wolf. It really amuses me how simple it is for architecture to cease looking like architecture, but instead, start looking like images of scrolling binary code.

[via Computerlove]

Urban Review: Salute/ Beer Garden






Parking (valet available)



Roba: After a dry Ramadan, spent mostly at home and at Books@Cafe, the urban reviews are back up and running. Since Salute was our 4th to last outing, we decided we’ll review it quickly.

In the Salute building there’s something for everyone; head to Grappa on the first floor for an oldish crowd, Salute on the second floor for a youngish, loud crowd, and the Beer Garden right at the bottom (our favorite) for a mid-twenties to mid-thirties crowd. They all share the same menu save for Grappa, and their food and drinks aren’t all that bad, especially the pizza and the arageel. My favorite part about Salute though and what keeps me going is the ambiance- the view is fantastic and the crowd is always surprisingly diverse.

What we dislike about them though is the staff, who are very unfriendly, rude, and extremely slow. We’ve had several bad experiences with them and that makes us avoid it as much as possible.

Moose: Salute will always have a special place in my heart since it brings back the memories of Netherlands beating Yugoslavia in the second round of the 1998 world cup.

Every time I walk down the stairs I can see Predrag Mijatovic’s penalty kick shaking the whole goal as it bounced of the cross bar, while Mhammad and I jumped and hollered with other Dutch fans. (We later found out that they were not real fans, they were just hoping to win a scotch bottle in a raffle based on randomly picking the Dutch to win) . That was a great Dutch team and their coach at the time is proving that he is easily the best coach in the world who can single handedly change the fortunes of any team (just look at Russia these days).

Ah yeah, Salute… an excellent place, the downstairs garden is one of the coolest places in town. But if I were them, I will take my chances with the occasional bar brawl over having a fat idiot “greeting” the people at the door, giving them the impression that they are walking into one of the offices at the eighth circle (formerly al-Abdali), not to a really nice and laid-back hang out spot.

Salute__13_ Salute3 Salute2__3_ Salute3__7_ Salute3__6_

Salute3__5_ Salute3__2_ Salute3__4_ Salute3__10_                      

Location: Jabal Amman
Reservations: Yes
Phone: (06) 465 1458


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