AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Category: Arab Culture, Art, Music (Page 1 of 30)

How long did it take to walk from Philadelphia to Damascus during Roman times?

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The Roman road in Um Qaiss, the ancient city of Gadara

Living in Jordan means we get to walk on a lot of ancient Roman roads. Some way or another, the Romans built roads thousands of years ago that function better today than the roads the Jordanian government built last year. That’s the first irony.

The second irony is even better. Gadara was some sort of important cultural hub in the ancient world. It produced a number of notable people, according to Wikipedia, at least:

“Gadara was once called the “city of philosophers”. Among others, Gadara was home to:
Menippus of Gadara (3rd Century BCE), the Cynic satirist
Meleager of Gadara (1st Century BCE), the Cynic poet
Philodemus of Gadara (1st Century BCE), the Epicurean philosopher and poet
Theodorus of Gadara (1st Century BCE), the orator
Oenomaus of Gadara (2nd Century CE), the Cynic philosopher
Apsines of Gadara (3rd Century CE), the rhetorician
Philo of Gadara, the mathematician”

Can you imagine? Our desolate, rural North, home of philosophers, rhetors, mathematicians, and Cynic poets.

I know it was thousands of years ago, but it still feels like it must have been a parallel universe.

Anyhow, I somehow stumbled upon this amazing tool that shows you travel time between different ancient Roman cities.

For example, from Philadelphia (Amman) to Roma (Rome), it would have taken only 22 days on foot, and 19 days in a carriage. Meanwhile, from Amman to Gadara (Um Qais), it would take less than half a day.

Check it out here.

How to Eat with Pita Bread

We learn to use Arabic bread as a utensil from the day we’re born. I never thought about how freakin’ weird that is for non-Arabs until a short while ago, when a friend visiting the Arab world for the first time had a hard time having dinner with us.

It was really freakin’ weird for me, too. What do you mean you don’t know how to scoop that labaneh? No, you can’t eat zaatar with a fork – you must dip it in oil first then in zaatar. Shoving the bread in your mouth separately from the cheese really defeats the purpose of this whole dinner. Come on… it’s not THAT hard.

Of course, it makes sense… it’s like using chopsticks in East Asia. When I went to South Korea, I was totally awed by how Koreans can eat ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING with chopsticks, really fast. I mean, I’m really good with chopsticks, but you know, with regular food like sushi, noodles, or stir fry. I certainly can’t slurp my soup with chopsticks.

I guess it’s the same thing with Arabic bread?

As I was having my scooping breakfast of hummus this morning, I started wondering (and googling).

Do all Arabs scoop their food with bread, or is it something Levantine? Do any other cultures have similar eating habits? Is is actually harder than it seems to us, given that we were raised scooping? I didn’t find any interesting answers on the Internet, but I did find a blog with amazing illustrations of how to scoop bread. Looks hard, doesn’t it?

So funny.

Googling images also shows that the Internet absolutely does not understand eating with Arabic bread.

Searching for “Dipping with pita”:
dipping

Searching for “Eating with pita”:
eating

Searching for “Scooping with pita”:
scooping

The world is totally missing out. Must start a crusade to spread proper pita love.

بتونس بيك – طرب عالحطب (Batwannes Beek – Tarab 3al 7atab)

To quote Jana Zeineddine, this video goes out to those who love what they do, and do what they love.

What’s YOUR story?

(Trailer) بتونس بيك – طرب عالحطب (Batwannes Beek – Tarab 3al 7atab)

Kazdara: Jabal Al Weibdeh Art Walk

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This is a really awesome event happening tonight in Jabal Al Weibdeh, 6:00PM till midnight.

From the event page: “For years now, Jabal Al Weibdeh has been the heart of Jordan’s creative community. A community which continues to grow each year with more artists taking up residence in the neighborhood, opening up studios, galleries, and creative spaces. In an effort to celebrate the thriving creative nature of Jabal Al Weibdeh, Malahi Entertainment Inc. is organizing KAZDARA, an annual Jabal Al Weibdeh Art Walk. All participating galleries, studios, cafes and organizations are given the opportunity to open their doors to the public for an eventful night. The goal of the walk is to create awareness for the creative work being done in the neighborhood, giving artists and organizations the chance to display their work to the general public.

Here’s the event page.

Amazing Song by Sons of Yusuf: “Still Got a Lot to Go”

In the past twelve years, I’ve blogged often about amazing artists making amazing music in the Arab world. There’s something really inspiring to me about music.

Think about it.

While music is potentially one of the best ways to deliver a message, creating good music is such a difficult feat, requiring a crazy combination of talent, hard work, practice, and knowledge. Whenever I come across an artist in the Arab world who nails this crazy combination while still delivering a powerful message at the same time, I feel happy. Happy about having talented people representing the Arab world. Happy to be at the receiving end of wonderful creativity. Happy to share.

This time, I’m happy to share with you a project I’ve been involved in from the onset: “Still Got a Lot to Go”, a song about hard work and creativity by Kuwaiti duo Sons of Yusuf. I’m happy — no, ecstatic — to bring to you their story as a part of Bayt.com’s series, #WhatsYourStory.

Stories are much more powerful than most people give them credit for. Our brains are designed to understand and relate to stories very, very easily. Much more easily than a PowerPoint presentation with a horrendous table and a gazillion figures.

Stories are also much more personal than many people are constantly aware of. YOUR story is a living, breathing, happening, changing thing, and YOU are the writer. You have the power to rewrite the plot and change your own ending. Day by day, things change slowly, but when you look back, everything is different.

That’s why I love the Sons of Yusuf story. They have gone out and created their own destiny. Taking chances, writing their own story, making a difference, changing the world. And the best part… their story isn’t about the part of the story that’s done, it’s about there be a lot more to do, a lot more to go. And that’s really admirable. What’s your story?

Take a look at the video and let me know your thoughts. If you like it and think that your friends may like it and feel inspired too, I’d love you for sharing it :)

Let’s spread the positive message!

ElMorabba3’s “Mokhtalefeen” Music Clip… More Ingeniousness by Jordanian Art Team

I just saw this new video for ElMorabba3’s “Mokhtalafeen”, and it is absolutely insane. A mix between Kafka, Ender’s Game, and Pina.

Cast: Shireen Talhouni & Basel Sulieman Writer: Muhammad Abdullah Director: Dirar Shawagfeh Director of Photography: Ali Saadi Producer: Majd Hijjawi Choreography: Shireen Talhouni Production Designer/ Special Effects Makeup Artist/ Wardrobe Designer: رند عبدالنور Art director: Abed Jarekji Bald cap application and consultation: Sleiman Tadros Tailoring: Lorean Ghawi Editor: Eyad Hamam & Dirar Shawagfeh Visual Effects: Ahmad Shamali & Eissa Abdelnour Colorist: Serene Issa Gaffer: Qusai Harb Grip: Ihsan Al-Baqa Grip: Ammar Al-Bayk

ELMorabba3 to Release Second Album. Keep Independent Arabic Music Alive من_نفس_الناس#

Support ElMorabba3 to push the boundaries of independent Arab music with their second album. ElMorabba3 is one of the best bands in the Arab world, and they totally deserve your support.

Support on Zoomaal.

Can you pick out the hand-drawn leaf?

Wow.

By illustator Dino Tomic.

Via BoingBoing

Music Video: Dahab, by Kazz Alomam

With a special appearance from my brothers :)

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