AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: August 2010 (Page 1 of 2)

Things that made me happy today

Was just thinking about how amazing it is how the simple things can make people really happy. Here’s what made me smile today:

1. Finding a kick ass new route back home from work. I’ve been looking for an alternative route to Shmeisani that’s not Gardens Street nor Rabyeh, but all the streets that branch off Gardens seem to be deadends. Today, I finally found what I was looking for.

2. Finding Pop Tarts at Safeway, and them being REALLY yummy.

3. Eating really yummy knafeh bi2eshta.

4. Using an automatic coffee machine at home. I’ve always wanted one, though I’m pretty unpicky with my coffee. I ended up getting the wrong kind of coffee though.

5. Finding tiny hair pins at Safeway while looking for Pop Tarts. I’ve been looking for some for years, and they’re always either oversized or overpriced.

Pop Tarts Craving

Once a blue moon, I start craving frosted Pop Tarts, with the delicious looking frosting sprinkled with the rainbow.

I can taste the stuff I used to love as a child just thinking about them, though my head reminds me that the last few times we got Pop Tarts they tasted like sugared paper stuffed with rotten fruits.

From previous musings, dated April 2006:

 

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A few nights ago, I dreamt I was eating Pop Tarts. Pop Tarts! I haven’t had Pop Tarts since the 4th grade.

Naturally, I woke up with an extreme craving for them, and after a trip to Cozmos, I was standing in the kitchen microwaving the iced and sprinkled delicious-looking slices of pastry, stuffed with “natural” strawberry, remembering a day when I was a child sitting around the kitchen table waiting for my Pop Tart to be served. Ahh… for that precise instant, I could almost remember the sweetness of the icing (I love icing) and the juiciness of the fill.

Of course, the deliciousness of Pop Tarts turned out to be nothing more than a figment of an overfertile imagination. Or maybe Pop Tarts don’t taste the same anymore. Or maybe I’m too old for Pop Tarts. I really don’t know.

What I do know though is that they were way-too-sweet, artificially flavored to the degree that it feels like you are eating chemicals, and quite dry.

What a disappointment.

God, the most annoying thing? Everytime I want to blog about something and I start googling for references, I find that I had already blogged about this a few years back. Damn.

 

Zip That

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If you, like me, have spent a good few hours of your life zipping stuff up and down trying to figure out the mechanism of zippers, here’s a GIF you will love.

Intra-Cultural Tourism; Holy Crap, He’s Wearing an Ombaz!

It’s a month of sightseeing. A month of cultural tourism. A month of reviving what is absolutely un-cool during the other 11 months of the year.

It’s Ramadan, and for some reason, Ramadan in popular culture is about kicking the Western lifestyle in the balls and going back a few hundred years in our own lifestyle. It’s about drinking too much amardeen, giggling at grown men wearing clogs while they serve nargilehs, and weird ass tents with fortune tellers discovering the future through cups of Turkish coffee.

Middle Eastern cities themselves turn into Vegas-like Arabian-Nights themed spaces. Amman, for example, shines with the (neon) lights of a million lanterns, imported from China, hanging from every window. The restaurants and coffeeshops adjust their menus and decorations to go with the Ramadan theme of hard-core Arabic food (I love how the really funky and kitschy silks, coppers, and woods make an appearance every year, only to be put away). Supermarkets and malls turn into souqs, suddenly providing certain goodies, like atayef, that are not available during the rest of the year. Entertainment too is affected, as you can see from long running shows that look at the dark ages of our civilization with longing eyes (Bab El-Hara being a good example), or crappy plays that are suddenly the funniest thing in the world.

It’s so fascinating, because Ramadan seems to be that time of the year when the Muslim world decides to go through an intra-cultural tourism trip, way back in time. We become our own tourists, consuming our own culture with blind enthusiasm, sans the historical guidebooks and the pleasures of witnessing that which is new.

Mind you, I am not complaining, though I must admit that I find it really annoying that all restaurants – whether Chinese, Italian, or junk – suddenly serve the same “Ramadan menu” of jallab, stuffed lamb, and 3osmaleyi. My taste buds and visual preferences aside, the cultural tourism aspect of Ramadan is something to think about.

Found: Old Family Picture in Palestine

My grandmother (in white) and my aunt (in black).

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This picture was shot in Nablus, sometime before 1961.

Hal = Love

Roba: You didn’t get the no questions thing though.

Hal: Aaaahh, yeah, I didn’t get it till you explained it.

Roba: Okay though, I’ll leave it out. If you didn’t get it, then no one will.

Hal: Yeah, sorry.

Roba: You are definitely smarter that 99% of most people, and that’s why I love you.

Hal: I am SO NOT. You KNOW that the reason you love me is for my capacity for airheadedness.

Roba: True. Good point.

You know you love her too:

On Love and the Internet
Classic Case of Split Personality

Hala is Obsolete
25 Years of Facebook Friends
Monkey See, Monkey Do.
Rainbow Bright
A Conversation with my favorite Shopstress, and downright one of my favorite 10 people EVER
The Internet changed my life
Better than icecream…
Will
Roba through the Grand Canyon of the Middle East
Quote of the day
The message after the beep

Macro Eye Photography

Freaky. Look at the texture, it’s amazing. I would have never guessed that that’s how an eye looks up close.

View all the collection here, via Kottke.

Testing

Don’t you just love test posts?:)

Pain: To Know Reema

Note: this post was written by Aboosh.

لا كلمات تعبر عن أسى فقدان شخص عزيز، أحب الحياة وأغناها، على أيد عنف غير مبرر…
رحمك الله يا ريمة، الكثيرون سيفتقدون تفانيك في عملك و اخلاصك لمن أحببت. 

نشكر قريبك عبوش الذي كرم ذكراك بكلماته وذكرياته … حتى يعرف الجميع من كنت ومن ستبقين في الذاكرة …
علينا الأن رفع أصواتنا حتى يأخذ العدل مجراه الصحيح …

تفاصيل: http://bit.ly/aWlLO6

نطلب منكم توقيع الحملة التي بدأتها أية فوارس هنا: 
http://bit.ly/ax13nl
وهي من مجموعة “قف” :
http://bit.ly/c2P2Mn

To Know Reema
19/8/2010 By Aboosh:

She was too young to deserve this.

She was too beautiful inside and out to endure this torture and misery.

To
know Reema, is to know that she was the youngest sister in a family of 4
brothers and 6 sisters, my mom being the eldest. My 86 year old
grandfather was never supposed to bury his childern, especially not the
youngest. لا اعتراض على حكم الله.

To know Reema, is to know that
she was a small village girl with big girl dreams. She was bubbly,
smart, full of life and energy, a jokster, and the smile never left her
face, or those who surrounded her.

To know Reema, is to know that
she was an artist at heart, but was short from making it into Yarmouk
Uni College of Arts. She finished her studies in English Literature at
Philadelphia Uni, and became an English teacher. Soon enough, she proved
herself a valuable asset to the local society. She rose within the
teacher ranks to become a course coordinator for the English teachers in
the region. She was the leader of the local Scout Troops chapter,
saluting the Jordanian flag every morning at the Al-Mastaba Girls High
School.

To know Reema, is to know that she was shot less than 4 days after she finished her Higher Diploma exams for her IT degree.

To
know Reema, is to know that the title of her IT degree graduation
project was “التغيير للمستقبل الواعد” which translates to “Change for a
Bright Future”, focusing on improving the tools the teachers have and
making the student the pivotal point in an increasingly IT-integrated
education process.

To know Reema, is to know she was a high
caliber teacher who participated inQueen Rania’s Jordan Education
Initiative and has presented her with appreciation letters from Queen
Rania’s office. She defied all the odds in the community and she had the
initiative to open up a Yarmouk Uni section in Al-Mastaba, so that her
other female colleagues won’t have to travel to Irbid City during the
week, but rather have the professor come to teach them; All in the name
of easing their daily suffering!

To know Reema, is to believe
that she was the best in what she did, plowing through the daily
husbandry abuse that ultimately cost her her life.

To know Reema,
is to know that she is one in many. She is the one whose life was cut
short, but speaking for many who continue endure daily physical and
mental abuse on the hands of their families and husbands. Yes, violence
against women is a global disease. But this one, oh, struck too close to
home, and the heart refuses to let her go in vain.

To know Reema, is to love Reema, and to promise her that her message is heard throughout the four corners of the universe.

However,
we are awaiting to hear a single word from the Jordanian leadership
which does have the political well and the moral obligation to bring in
the change that was due the morning of last Friday! Your apathy, your
indifference and your silence is deafening!

I challenge you to
take on the responsibility that the people have entrusted in you. I
challenge you to uphold your mandate that defines your role in the
society. I challenge you to protect the constitutional rights for every
woman and child in Jordan, and assure them the safety they are entitled
to.

We have a problem that we all need to face with courage and
humility. Reema was a victim of abuse, and she died a martyr. For how
long are we going to tolerate the abusers in our society? For how long
are we going to accept bruised women with missing teeth walking amongst
us as if it is the norm? For how long does the schizophrenic reality of
this society going to take a free pass before we intervene and cure it?
For how long are we going to allow one more frigging magician to destroy
more homes of the country we love and belong to? Do we have to actually
witness the sacrifice of every abused woman’s life before we put an end
to this insanity? Or is it because Reema is an ordinary woman with an
ordinary last name, you’d think she’ll be forgotten with the passing of
days?

To know Reema, is to know she’s nothing but ordinary.

I
call for the establishment of a foundation in her name, focused on the
educating, protecting and empowering local women in all Jordanian
govetnorates, and having the highest level of social, psychological, and
psychosocial training to quickly act in response to domestic violence
and abuse.

I am aware of the fact that such programs do exist in
Jordan, but we need these programs and laws to be enforced, and the
punishment to be stiff (as it is the case in other developed countries).
This is the only way we can deter any one claiming to be a man who
abuses a woman, believing it is his God-given right as a man.

Speaking
for myself and for my family, I personally thank all of those who
extended their condolences and prayers for my Aunt, may her soul rest in
peace. The outpour of support, sympathy, and anger over her
victimization is humbling.

The public outcry against this crime is overwhelming, both locally and internationally. A petition on change.org
ushers the Jordan government and Royal Family to enforce the laws to
protect women in Jordan. Global Voices, Elites TV and 7iber have also
ran extended pieces on the story. Many follow bloggers and tweeps have
been highly vocal and supportive in the need for change to honor Reema’s
memory.

To know Reema, is to have the courage to walk high in her footsteps.

Visit لا شرف في الجريمة at: http://lasharaffiljareemah.ning.com/?xg_source=msg_mes_network

Championing Good Customer Service: iSystem Jordan

It’s no secret that we Jordanians are probably the crappiest ever when it comes to customer service. There just isn’t a culture of that; if you’re a waiter, then your customers are “bit2amaro” 3aleik. If you work at a retail store, then your customers have to be the ones making the effort to deal with you. If you’re a service (like Orange), then you try your best to make your customer’s lives as miserable as possible.

That’s why cases of good customer service are always such a pleasant surprise.  ATICO, for example, are always consistently fantastic. Their food is always amazing, their employees are always friendly and helpful, and they always make an effort to solve any issues a customer might have. Although I’ve heard many people disagree, I have also always had very good service with SmartBuy; several times, they refunded my money within seconds without even making sure than an item was faulty.

The list of good places with terrible customer service is much longer. A few examples spring to mind, the first being Murphy’s. My brothers and I went to review the place as Nox was covering it. They had the rudest bouncer in the world, power tripping about how he wasn’t going to let us in because we weren’t a “family” (two brothers, their sister, and her husband, I have no idea how it could be more familyish). To make matters even worse, the owner of the place did not handle our complaint very well either. Although he wasn’t rude, he completely ignored the fact that he probably has the rudest employee in all of Amman, and did not even bother apologizing.

The second example is Orange, which the entire blogosphere has written about. Apparently, their deliberate strategy is to ignore bad feedback completely. Doesn’t work.

I guess ignoring is Jordan’s national customer service strategy. HELLO.

But this post isn’t about ignoring; it’s about a bunch of passionate employees working about iSystem.

Lo and behold, my faulty gadget curse strikes down. Again. A quick google of the matter made me realize that there’s a very small percentage of iPads with faulty wi-fi. Typically, mine had to be one of them.

We went to Carrefour to change it, but the guys there are hilariously inept at dealing with technology.

Customer Guy 1: “Wesh hath?”
Customer Guy 2: “Hatha ibod.”
Customer Guy 1: “La2 la2, hatha telifown”
Customer Guy 2: “Roo7i 3end qism il telifown”.

They end up sending me to iSystem, who are their provider.

Fortunately, the guys at iSystem are very well aware of the difference between an iPhone, an iPod, and an iPad. Unfortunately, the damned wi-fi started working as soon as they laid their hands on it (how typical, technology hates me as much as I love it).

After fiddling around with it for 20 minutes trying to get it to not work, they gave it back to me with dissatisfaction and asked me to try it again.

It worked perfectly well for exactly a week, and I went back the next weekend with the wi-fi busted again. This time, they didn’t even attempt to turn it on. They took it and told me they will call me back.

A day later, one of their very friendly and helpful employees, Yazan, calls me and tells me to come pick a new iPad the next day.

Just like that. No fuss, no hassle, no running around a million branches, or waiting a week for the sold-out iPad to arrive (I know it is sold out, I have no idea how they got it so quickly.)
 
Kudos to the guys for being so, and I hope that doesn’t change. I wish everyone in Amman is as efficient and friendly as iSystem.

Next time, I’m not buying any pretty, shiny gadgets from any other place. Why would I?

 

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