A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: November 2010 (Page 1 of 2)

The Picture of Everything

The most amazing thing you will see all week.

The Picture of Everything

The funny thing is: it’s not even completed yet.

Some zoom ins:

After all those years…

80's ad - 1981 Braun hair dryers
(A Braun hairdryer ad from 1980, picture by Gugue on Flickr)

My hairdryer blew up last week.

Blew up is the wrong word. I was hearing funny sounds coming from the wall behind my toilet for a few days. Finally, I decided to check the electrical outlet of my hairdryer only to discover that the white piece and the plug where melted into each other. Permanently.

I spent the rest of the week going to work with weird-looking hair.

I didn’t feel too sad for the Braun hairdryer, because I have had it for the past seven years, and before that, it belonged to my mother. Duty well served, I thought, after all, it has been used daily by myself and my mother before me for at least 15 years. It was time for a replacement.

Today, we went to Smart Buy to get myself a new one. It was to be the very first hairdryer that I bought myself, and I wasn’t looking forward to the experience. Most of today’s hairdryers have a weird thing going on with the buttons, and I am very happy with the one button on mine.

Imagine how exceptionally pleased I was to find that Smart Buy stocked the same model from Braun. Of course, the design is different. It looks much slicker, with the transparent Lucite covering the plastic as well as a multitude of other nifty design decisions. Yet, the shape is exactly the same, and the buttons are in the same location and do the same thing (as opposed to new hairdryers, like I mentioned earlier, which confuse the hell out of me).

(Picture from MidCenturyDesign on Flickr)

Later that night, I told my mother about how my blowdryer incident and how I happy I was to have found the same exact one at Smart Buy.

She goes, “What? That dryer blew up? Amazing. I didn’t realize you still had it, it’s been in the family for over 25 years.”

“25 years?” I asked, incredulous.

“Yes,” she goes. “I bought it when I was working at Wafa Al-Dajani Storehouse. You must have been around one or so. I took it with me to Riyadh when we moved there in 1988, and you brought it back with you when we moved to Amman.”

Wow. Shit.

My melted hairdryer is a vintage. Given the 1-year life cycle of new models when it comes to gadgets, the one I bought today is the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter of the one I had last week.

Creepy for an electrical gadget to last that long, isn’t it? Thank goodness for the Germans.

Now my old hairdryer rests in it’s ancestor’s new box in the back of my closet. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to throw it out. 25 years is a heck of a long time.

Office Conversations: Part Deux


Rani: Eish hada, remove the “ma ba7ebesh”, ana ma ba7ki “ma ba7ebesh”, ana ba7ki “Ma ba7eb”. “Ma” is not, and “ish” is another not, that’s a double negative.

Not + Not = True.

Office Conversation: Edition

(After a conversation where we were trying to get Rani, drama queen a la excellence, to stop freaking out)

Rani: Ma ba7abesh at3amal ma3 ashkhas, ba7eb at3amal ma3 computer. Beddi atzawaj laptop, fee 7ada 7awaleh laptop zahri?

Translation: I do not like dealing with people, I like dealing with computers. I want to marry a laptop, does anyone have a pink laptop lying around?

Things that have caused me to lose much sleep over the years:

The Internet.
The Internet.
Drying my hair after a late night shower.
Unexplained urges to think too much.
The Internet.

Tonight, two things are causing me the loss of precious sleep, although I have barely slept this week: reading the entirety of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows today (for the sixth time, I’m such a NERD), and an explicable urge to consistenly check my email every few minutes, and as you can see, blog.


To Harry, with love

I was 14 when I was first introduced to Harry.

We were out for Friday lunch and I didn’t have a book with me as my mother had just placed a new family rule; no reading while eating.

My brother Omar, on the other hand, had a book report the next day and was thus allowed to lug a book around, and that book happened to be “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”.

I picked up the copy to entertain myself during lunch, and I was immediately sucked into the brilliant magic, devouring that book and the second installment within days.

Ever since that fateful Friday 13 years ago, I have been looking forward to a Harry Potter something. The books, the movies, news about the books and the movies. You see, I grew up with Harry.

When I was 15, we went to Bahrain one Eid holiday to watch the first Harry Potter movie. I read the fourth book during the 35-minute drives back from school in Riyadh in my final years of highschool. During my freshman year at university, my mother got two copies of the fifth book so that the boys and I don’t argue over reading rights, and I read most of it in English 102. I watched the fifth movie with my family. Omar and I stood in the line outside Prime Megastore at midnight to get the sixth book. I read the last book in my first ever day as a member of the workforce, cursing the fact that I couldn’t start the job a few days later to finish it first.

A conversation from 2006:
Omar: “Roba will read Harry Potter first and I call next.”
Hisham: “No! You can’t call next! I already called it next two years ago! This is the first time you bring it up.”
Omar: “Two years ago is too long ago, I’m reading the book after Roba.”
Gus: “How about I read it second?”
Hisham: “No. You’re too slow. I’ll definitely read it second, I’m the fastest out of you three.”
Mom: “So they released the book?”
Roba, Hisham, Omar, and Gus: “No.”
Mom: “When is it going to be released?”
Omar: “Umm, still no date decided.”


This year, the epic franchise that is Harry Potter comes to an end. I have one final Harry Potter something to look forward to, the final movie this July.

I will be 26 this July, 13 years older than the day I met Harry. With Harry, I started highschool, applied to universities, got a degree in Fine Arts and Design, went through my first job ever. It is not often that a story becomes so embedded in one’s life.

Harry, I will miss you.

An Open Letter to Amanet Amman Al-Kobra

Dear Amanet Amman Il Kobra;

Five days a week I make my way in the wee hours of the morning to my office on Gardens Street. During these five days a week, I spend a good 15 minutes feeling like I am playing Frogger with pedestrians.

Swerve to avoid running over that crazy lady who is looking at the other side as she crosses the street. Break suddenly as I spot a poor old woman who looks like she’s been waiting to cross the line for an hour. Yell at a suicidal idiot who jumps into the street without any concern for his life. Let me add that I get tense after playing Frogger for 15 minutes on the web. When there are no lives involved.

Unfortunately, that’s not the end of it.

A few hours after my morning trip, it becomes my turn to play frog instead of car as I attempt to cross the monstrosity that is Gardens Street to get to lunch across.

Let me tell you this; it is not fun, neither from a pedestrian point of view or a driving point of view. In fact, it is an absolute disaster.

Since your latest hobby is adding pedestrian tunnels, building pedestrian bridges, and turning Amman into a visual jail with fences in the middle of many streets (which I have to add defeats the purpose as people are always jumping over the fences increasing the chances of disaster), I kindly beg you to try to solve the pedestrian crossing problem in Gardens Street.

Yours truly,
A Deeply Concerned Citizen

Amman Street Culture Versus 7ara Culture

Here’s an interesting video-slash-mini-documentary about street culture in Amman:

CityLanguage (Amman Street Culture) from Bashar Alaeddin on Vimeo.

Unfortunately, Amman’s street culture mostly revolves around lewd catcalling, narrow-minded commentary, and the most inartistic and unimaginative public displays of “art”. It stunts the mental growth of the inhabitants of Amman and embeds fear of being different, innovative, or interesting thanks to aggressive verbal rejection.

On the other hand, the “7ara culture”, i.e. the more minuscule neighborhood culture, has always been brilliant in the city. The latter reflects smaller circles of people from similar socio-economic backgrounds, often mingling under the reign of sports. The kids grow up together, moving from tricycles to soccer games, from talking about the other sex to working out together at the gym. They help each other face new things, like highschool, university, and then the bigger world of work and new families. The 7ara culture is the perfect embodiment of how time spent on the curbs and turfs of Amman can help people cope with emotional and physical growth.

The major differences between the horrendous public street culture and the emotionally rewarding semi-public 7ara cultures are a testament to how our society functions on a deeper level. I always think about this; a person can be an rude asshole on the streets while driving, walking, or simply loitering. The same asshole will be absolutely amazing with people who know him or his family on a first name basis. That reflects on everyone.

We just do not feel the same way towards the anonymous passer by, when compared to the Ahmad’s and Sarah’s of our life, whether we like them or not.

The question is how can we take the intimate 7ara culture and apply it to the much wider street culture? We probably need a few more decades and a major mind shift before we can accomplish that, but Culture Street’s skateboarding culture is a step in the right direction.

Stuff I ate last week

Three keywords for finger-licking good food, at least as far as I’m concerned:

1. Fried
2. Garlic
3. Coriander

Secondary delicious-adding ingredients:

1. Fish
2. Smoked
3. Lamb
4. Cream
5. Rice

Spanish food Spanish food
Spanish food Spanish food
Spanish food Spanish food
Spanish food Spanish food
Spanish food Spanish food
Spanish food Spanish food

Family Tradition: Pecan


My grandfather brought six small pecan trees from Palestine back in the 60’s, and they were planted on the curb of my great grandmother’s house.

Every November, the pecan-picking season begins in my family. It is exciting; the drying, the peeling, the cracking, the eating, the freezing, and the sharing with friends and family.

Here’s a little of the last phase of the festivity. The one in my tummy :)






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