A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Category: Roba (Page 1 of 111)

AndFarAway Joins the New Decade, Ten Years Too Late

No, seriously. Look! AndFarAway has a new design!

This is a huge deal because the last time AndFarAway got a facelift was in 2006. That’s TEN WHOLE FREAKIN’ YEARS AGO, before smartphones were around, so my poor blog had no idea what “responsiveness” was. The good news is that it’s now responsive, so it should look good on your mobile. You can also subscribe to new posts. I do need to create a better header, and I promise I will get to that eventually.

The funny thing is that when I was still a student, and although it was SO HARD for me to edit HTML and CSS, I would change the design of AndFarAway at least once a year. Once I was done with school though and made a career out of building the web, I stopped playing with the design of AndFarAway. You know what they say in Arabic… باب النجار مخلع (the carpenter’s door is always broken).

In the spirit of nostalgia, here’s a look at the various facelifts of AndFarAway during the past 12 years:

September 2004:

(the first design ever)

This design marks the very beginning of AndFarAway. I was a 19-year-old kid who had never heard of HTML, CSS, or any other sort of web-related language. I had never used Photoshop before, and I didn’t even know that DreamWeaver existed (RIP). I chose an existing Blogger template, managed to change the original colors of the header after days of fiddling in what was none of my business. It was so tough that I had to find red and pink by randomly changing the color codes on the template and relying on trial and error. Fun.

November 19, 2005:

(the first “launched” redesign)

I launched this design after the first year of my design program came to an end, and I was more familiar with Photoshop. This design was based on a Blogger template, but I changed the colors and added a header I edited myself. I was so proud of myself. Of course, 11 years later I look at this and shake my head at my shitty design skills back then. What kind of crappy typography is that Roba, huh?
Here’s thepost I launched this design with.

July 13th, 2006:

(also marks the move from WordPress to Blogger)

Young and excited I was. A mere eight months after my last redesign, I decided to migrate to WordPress and change the design as well. This one was based on a portfolio project I had done earlier for a web-design class at school. I feel proud of myself looking back at this one now. I had a good eye for webdesign given the useless shit we were taught in school. Thank you, oh beloved Internet, for being my constant savior.

September 2006:

I was really comfortable with this design because it was simple and clean with a lot of white space. I liked it so much I kept it for a good ten years. Ahem. I did at least change the header every couple of years, you better give me that.

header 1

You’re making yourself look ridiculous if you’re making this common grammar mistake

It’s not 1966 anymore and typewriters are a thing of the past, so why, oh, why, do I see more and more people adding an ugly space before their punctuation marks?

In English (and Arabic), there is absolutely no need to add a space before a punctuation mark. In fact, you look really dumb when you do that. I repeat. Commas, colons, question marks, exclamation points, periods, and all other punctuation marks are written WITHOUT any space before them, and with ONE space after them.


Thank you.

For the love of white noise

I complain about noise a lot. During my last bout of complaining, a reader actually recommended something that turned out to be really useful: an app that generates white noise. See, it’s good to complain sometimes.

White noise is amazing. It neutralizes everything, creating a safe wall of noise consistency that you can safely latch onto in your head. It’s so lovely, and definitely my best discovery in 2015.

(P.S. Thank you Hani for the comment!)

On September, October, and November

I can’t believe I missed three whole months of photo posts. I thought I missed only one.

In my defense, I haven’t really been taking many pictures, because my phone’s camera is stupid. It turns everything that’s not shot in broad daylight into red, and with me spending all day-time hours on my desk at work, it just doesn’t make sense to take pictures. How’s that for an excuse?

So… my past three months. They were full of puzzles, Lego, model-building and home-cooking. Ready for a photo dump?

family picture



















Pictorial Archive of Life

2007: On March | On April | On May | On June | On July | On August | On September | On October | On November | On December

2008: On January | On February | On March | On April | On May | On June | On August On September | On October | On November

2009: On July  | On August | On September | On October | On November | On December

2010: On January | On February | On March | On April | On May | On June | A Captioned July An UnCaptioned August  | On September  | On October | On November | On December

2011: On January  |  On February   |   On March   |  On April  |  On May  |   On July

2012: On April | On May | On June | On July | On August | On September | On October | On November | On December

2013: On January | On Februaury | On March | On April | On May | On June | On July | On August | On September | On October | On November | On December

2014: On January | On Februaury | On March | On April | On May | On June | On July | On August | On September | On October | On November | On December

2015: On January | On October | On February | On March | On April | On May | On June | On July | On August

Genius Marketing from Kalamazoo Grill

Being Allergic to Chicken
Discovering that my Chicken Allergy is Gone
This Was the First Bite of Chicken in My Life
Second and Third Experiences: Good and Not So Good

Look at what I received today:


Is that genius marketing, or what? Genius!

To update you, I haven’t yet had any chicken after the painful allergy I got with my last try (when I ate the carrot – THE CARROT!). I need to chicken-up (ha, get it?) and try something soon, though.

Second and third experience with chicken… good and not so good

Being Allergic to Chicken
Discovering that my Chicken Allergy is Gone
This Was the First Bite of Chicken in My Life

Experience #2 – the good: I’ve never really liked shawerma, and never understood why so many people are obsessed with it. When I ask, the answer has always been “Because lamb shawerma is crap”. That’s why my second bite of chicken ever was a bite from Rami’s chicken shawerma platter from Karam.

The verdict: Hmm, is that zaatar? It tastes like zaatar. I can’t taste any chicken, actually. The garlic sauce is awesome. I feel like I’m eating zaatar with garlic. Does chicken shawerma always taste so mild? It doesn’t taste like lamb shawerma at all. It is definitely better than lamb shawerma. It’s also not as crinkly dry around the edges. Interesting. I really love the zaatar taste. And yaaay, no stupid onions in my sandwich. The texture is nice, sort of like tuna melt. Not too chewy. Not bad!

So, what’s your favorite shawerma place?

Chicken shawerma: 7/10

Experience #3 – the really bad: Yesterday, I ate two little baby carrots that spent the day getting roasted in the same pot as some chickens. The dish was completely homemade. I didn’t eat any chicken, just the carrots.

Within seconds, my mouth, throat, and face were itching madly; I had little red dots on my tongue; and I spent two hours feeling like I was about to throw up. All this from two baby carrots.

What the hell, body? What the hell?

And I was so looking forward to having turkey for the first time in my life tonight. Now I won’t dare.

This was my first bite of chicken in life

Being Allergic to Chicken
Discovering that my Chicken Allergy is Gone

If you’ve never had chicken before in your life, what would you choose to try for your very first time?

My choice, a week after discovering that my allergy is gone, was one of the things I’ve been craving since I was a very little girl, sitting sadly at the fast-food joint and watching my brothers munch-away with jealousy. It was always completely off limits, with zero friendly options. Even their famous mash and gravy had little pieces of chicken.

Can you make a guess?

Popeyes… Fake, oily, deliciously and disgustingly processed junk food.

A few days ago, Popeyes was my first taste of poultry, ever.


Rami, my wonderful fiance and guide on this chicken culinary journey, got me chicken tenders.

(Let’s just take a minute to repeat that. He got ME CHICKEN tenders. Whoa.)

He said the tenders are not as “stinky” as other things on the menu. After an hour of pep talk, I shoved that first bite into my mouth.

It’s strange trying food for the first time. Everything is weird… the texture, the way it gets chewed, the flavour.

The texture of the chicken was very, very strange for me. Is it always that dry? The fibers are much more separated than in fish and in other sorts of meat. It felt like someone pulled the fibers apart and then put them back together in a square, before frying it in Cajun batter. It was also really, really chewy, leaving a strange sticky sensation on my teeth. Sort of like when you eat Twizzlers. Is that just Popeyes, or is chicken always like that in texture and chewiness? The taste of the chicken itself was alright, definitely not as bad as I expected, but really, really bland. Sort of like cardboard.

The Cajun spices were amazing though. They tasted as good as the smell I’ve imagined my entire life. That was pleasant.

My stomach didn’t feel too well after eating two tenders. I didn’t get the itchy allergic reaction I used to get, so that’s great. Rami tells me that of course my stomach didn’t feeling well… It’s oily, disgustingly processed Popeyes, after all.

So there. My first experience with chicken.

Popeyes: 5/10
Cajun spices: 10/10
Chicken: 1/10

I’m not even sure you can separate the Cajun rating from the Popeyes rating. I’ve never had that flavor before.

What do you think? Also, make suggestions. What should my next meal be?


Yesterday we watched “Hamlet”, a performance at the Odeon amphitheater by English troupe London Globe. The performance brought to my mind one of the first paintings I ever loved, which was of Ophelia.

I may have been 6 or 7, and the painting was the star of a “Spot the differences” gimmick in Majalet Majed or something like that. I didn’t know what Hamlet was at that point of course, nor was I familiar with Millais. But even though I was so young, I fell in love with the beautiful layering of hair, tulle, and flowers floating on water. I couldn’t understand how the artist made them flow that way. So I cut that page and saved it.

It was years later that I became familiar with Shakespeare, Ophelia, and Millais.

It’s still one of my favorite paintings.

There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up;
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes,
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element; but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.

An Open Letter to الناس اللي بغزو بالدوار الأول

The title is the title I found of a draft I wrote in 2009 but that I never published: “To the people taking over the First Circle”. Funny now, because the First Circle area has been a wasteland of junk and shit for the past several years.

I’m in a very nostalgic phase of my life, in the season of migration, again. Almost every single one of my friends has just started the trip to greener pastures in the world.

I lived through this season twice in my life before. The first time, I was one of migrators, moving to Amman after life in Saudi Arabia, and I had to build my social network from scratch. The second time, I was on the other side, a nester. I had to make new friends and acquaintances after the vast majority of my friends moved away from Jordan after we graduated from university.

I’m 30 now, and the cycle is starting again. But I’m too old for this shit. Ahh, the various forms of 3rd world problems.

Chlorine-soaked book pages

It was always one of my favorite things in the world. A book covering my face while lounging under the hot, hot sun. My nose buried in pages that smell like chlorine and salt water, dog eared, wrinkled like wavy sand dunes. The sound of crashing waves mixed with a plot line. Pinning the wet book for a week under a mound of hardcovers to try to salvage it back into straightness.

I am not one to romanticize books over e-readers. I love my e-reader more than I love a lot of (arguably) very important things.

The only instance when I miss physical books is when my Kindle is safely tucked away at home, protected from the elements and splashing kids of the beach or the pool. That’s the only time I miss a book.

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