AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

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Jordan Gate Park: Genius Idea by Hanna Salameh Design

Here’s a genius idea on what we can do with the horrendous towers shamefully lining Amman’s skyline with their constant reminder of corruption, retardation, and poor planning.

Hello, US Aid, GIZ, et all… help us with something we actually need, please?

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I Successfully Ate Half a Smoked Turkey Sandwich

Okay, so turkey.

I have been exercising regularly for almost three months. I’ve never been much of an exercise person, so it’s actually a big deal for me. Being a child of the super-trackable, super-measurable internet world, I’ve found that systematically doing a body-composition analysis, on the (very) unreliable InBody analyzer, and logging the journey into an Excel sheet really helps me stay motivated.

Except that last month I only gained 100g of muscle. Not so good for motivation when you spend 5 hours each week tearing down your muscles in an attempt to grow them. I was speaking to a trainer about it when she asked me the dreaded question: are you consuming enough protein?

I’m getting 50g of protein on a good day, I said.

That’s not enough, she said. You need at least 120g, and that’s not enough even.

How the hell am I supposed to get a 120g?

Eggs. Tuna. Protein shakes.

I do all three above. That’s 62g. Where am I supposed to get the other 60g?

Meat. Chicken breast. Turkey.

But I’m allergic to chicken and turkey and I really am not a fan of red meat.

Fish.

Fish in Amman? Are you crazy? I’m not rich.

And so, I must find new sources of protein.

After my bad experience with chicken in November, I went back to stubbornly avoiding poultry like the plague. The human brain is an amazing thing, isn’t it? I just did not want to feel that familiar chicken-induced nausea.

But after my conversation with the trainer, I had the fatalistic attitude of screw-everything-where-the-hell-am-I-supposed-to-get-60g-of-protein-from. I got home, and without thinking or dreading, shoved down half a ready-made turkey sandwich that I found in the fridge.

And guess what?

Nothing happened.

No red dots on my tongue. No weird, bloated tummy. No feelings of nausea.

This is a really big deal because I’ve always been the sad child who ordered club sandwiches with one empty layer (where the turkey is supposed to be), and never had Hawaiian pizza (because they always make them with turkey or turkey pepperoni).

The turkey sandwich was even delicious, which chicken is not.

Wow.

My life will change.

Previously:
Being Allergic to Chicken
Discovering that my Chicken Allergy is Gone
This Was the First Bite of Chicken in My Life
Second and third experience with chicken… good and not so good

Ghazal from the East: Farida Khanum

I urge you to take 15 minutes to read this piece about a Pakistani classically-trained signer called Farida Khanum, ملکہ غزل (Queen of Ghazal).

Khanum is a legend in Pakistan. The piece covers her recent journey to Kolkata, the city where she was born. Partition forced her family to move to Pakistan when she was 6-years-old.

You can read the piece on Caravan Magazine.

“Please Take Me Off Your Kill List”

A haunting post by a peace activist from the border area of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

I know the Americans think me an opponent of their drone wars. They are right; I am. Singling out people to assassinate, and killing nine of our innocent children for each person they target, is a crime of unspeakable proportions. Their policy is as foolish as it is criminal, as it radicalises the very people we are trying to calm down.

I am aware that the Americans and their allies think the Peace Committee is a front, and that we are merely creating a safe space for the Pakistan Taliban. To this I say: you are wrong. You have never been to Waziristan, so how would you know?

The mantra that the West should not negotiate with “terrorists” is naive. There has hardly ever been a time when terrorists have been brought back into the fold of society without negotiation. Remember the IRA; once they tried to blow up your prime minister, and now they are in parliament. It is always better to talk than to kill.

I have travelled half way across the world because I want to resolve this dispute the way you teach: by using the law and the courts, not guns and explosives.

Ask me any question you wish, but judge me fairly – and please stop terrorizing my wife and children. And take me off that Kill List.

Read entire article

How I Feel About the World These Days

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The High Cost of Starting a Business in Jordan

Watching Rami start Toffimelt during the past 3 years has been an eye-opening experience, especially in regards to how difficult the government makes it to start a business. In a country with limited resources, high unemployment, and a crappy economy, the barriers to job creation that the government places are simply absurd.

Here’s an interview with Rami on how difficult his journey has been so far:
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Happiness 101: “Let reality be reality”

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Little pockets of wise insightfullness are not usually found in publications like The Guardian. Until they are, that is.

Here’s a lovely little piece on accepting things for what they are.

Often, it’s more stressful to try to zone out from [unpleasant situations] than to accept them for what they are. This first struck me forcefully when I started running without headphones. True, listening to music or podcasts did distract me from the discomforts of physical exertion, but it also served as a constant subliminal reinforcement of the notion that exertion was something unpleasant from which I needed distracting.

With the earbuds off, there’s at least a chance that I’ll actually enjoy the running. Research suggests even intense physical pain can be reduced through paying mindful attention to it; by contrast, mental gymnastics to distract yourself from the situation you’re in never definitively works – because you are, despite all your inner efforts, in that situation.

“Let reality be reality,” said the ancient Chinese sage Lao-Tzu, who admittedly didn’t have to deal with a gruelling commute, not least because he may never have existed. All the same, he’s right: “acceptance” needn’t mean resigning yourself to fate; but it does mean stopping pretending things aren’t how they are. You’re on a late-running, scandalously overcrowded train, and you hate it. So quit your job! Or don’t quit your job. But don’t imagine that half-quitting it – quitting on the inside, but not the outside – will help. The external world is annoyingly stubborn like that.”

Indeed, it is.

Jordanian Lama Qubbaj Wins International Jiu Jisu Championship

Just found out that Lama Qubbaj, who won gold at the World Jiu Jitsu Championships in November, is now fourth in world rankings. The January rankings by the International Jiu Jitsu Federation also list Lama as the top Asian fighter for the start of the year.

THAT’S BEYOND FREAKIN’ AMAZING.

I feel terrible that I only just found out. Late is better than never, and who wants to miss out on the few silver linings we have in our cloudy lives?

Congrats to Lama, and congrats to Jordan. What an accomplishment.

Overseas Filipino Workers

I’ve always been humbled by the wonderful attitude and dynamics of Filipino communities outside the Philippines. They have an inherent ability to connect, grow, and thrive, even in the most desolate of places.

But there’s another side to that. From an article about a Filipina nanny in New York:

The label confers status in the Philippines, which receives more money in remittances than any other country except India and China. Since the nineteen-seventies, the government of the Philippines has promoted labor exportation as a strategy for relieving poverty and alleviating the national debt. A tenth of the population now works abroad, supporting nearly half of the country’s households and leaving some nine million Filipino children missing a parent. In the past decade, three-quarters of O.F.W.s have been women; former President Corazon Aquino has praised them as “the heroes of our country’s economy.”

Read article

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.

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