Monday, May 13, 2013

Hashim's and Taxis

I moved into my new apartment a few days ago. We cleaned it up a bit and unpacked. We haven't started our internships officially yet, but have a meeting on Thursday this week with the people at the Ministry where they will explain everything and then get us off to work! I will wear my finest suit! Because we don't have to be in for work for a few more days, we have taken the time to enjoy the food, people, and city! I have been suffering from the effects of jetlag... I don't feel that bad, it's just that I usually wake up around 2 am and can't sleep until 7 or 8 am, when I usually fall back asleep for a little bit before the day gets going. It's really weird and I've tried everything to be able to go back to sleep... reading, listening to music, just laying there, reviewing all the arabic I learned that day, etc. Nothing has worked. So two nights ago it happened again, despite my staying up till like 12 to try and get really tired. I got up at 2:30 am and wanted to exercise really bad. I didn't think it'd be wise to run out on the streets, so I went into the other room and did push-ups, situps, lunges, squats, and every other exercise I could think of until I was totally exhausted. That worked. I was pooped and slept from like 4:30 till 11. Wow that felt good. So then last night I decided to stay up until 2:30, when I usually wake up, in hopes of finally sleeping through the night. It worked! I slept till 9:30 الحمد الله. So right now I'm really trying to not fall asleep and make it to 11 or 12 tonight and hopefully sleep through the night!

[Cleansing the Citchen]

[The Front Porch... and interns. The two guys are my roomies, Mark and Logan l to r.]

Our apartment is wonderful. It took a little bit of cleaning, but it is very beautiful. We have to entry seating areas, one outdoor and one indoor. The indoor seating area has a beautiful table with a elaborate Qur'an in a special wooden case. We have some Qur'anic sayings on the walls and lots of tea cups and rugs. It's quite nice. We are on the first floor right next to a humongous school and a smaller supermarket and restaurant cluster. The girls live a 5-minute walk away. There is a gorgeous mosque 7 minutes away. The minaret lights up green at night. People crowded the mosque last Friday for their main worship and sermon. We can hear the call to prayer from several directions and sometimes we hear sermons that are played through the loudspeakers. It is really cool to see so many religious people unite like they do here. I really love the people I've met! And I want to be Arab in so many ways. They are hospitable and complimentary and charitable to strangers. I love the way they can quickly connect with you and make you feel happy and grateful about what you have in life. I am trying to adopt their good ways. In fact, today we were is the city center and went to this wonderful place called Hashim's for lunch. They serve and specialize in hummus and hummus-like dishes. It's really really good and kinda famous. When we got our table, we were seated next to this table of like 15 senior-aged tourists and I was just like, "Ugh, Americans..." Woah! I actually thought that. So did my roomie. Even though that is us too! It was weird how quickly that happened. But it's kinda true—I just want the original experience biduun all the foreigners... I am glad that I am here for the summer before the internship though. That way I can do fun touristy things and get to know the city so that I can focus on having real Arab experiences and making lasting Arab friends in the Fall. I want to get some close friends, both Christian and Arab, so that I can participate in things like weddings and parties and awesome cultural meals during holidays. That would be marvelous.

[Eating falafel and hummus for lunchies. Notice old Americans in backgroud. Sorry, Jordan, for polluting your beautiful country with our presence! I love you.]

We get around mostly by taxi and serviis. Some of these details might bore an Amman-savvy reader, so feel free to skip this part. You just hail a taxi like any normal city and tell them where you are going, etc. Since I am a guy and I'm usually traveling with some girls, I sit in the front seat next to the driver. Girls don't sit in the front with the driver if it can be avoided. The taxi rides are very fun. I usually make a good friend by the end of the trip. We talk about Jordan, the weather, politics, and his family, usually. I like asking questions. You have to be a little careful about what you ask and how personal you get, but most drivers are pretty open about a lot of things. Last night we met up with some Christian Arabs and hung out at some cool streets and shops for a while. Then we had some great Indian food with the Jordanian twist. After the meal, I needed something sweet. I realized that I hadn't eaten anything sweet since coming to Jordan. So we went to a shop. I ending up eating some crazy versions of Turkish delight. Then I asked one of the guys working there about Jordanian deserts. They had lots of British, French, and German chocolates and candies, but I didn't see any real Jordanian varieties. The guy told me that they don't have lots of those! They like their kunaafa and sweet and baked goods better. This guy talked a little different from most people, but was of course still super friendly. We got to talking and he told me that he was a refugee from Syria that had just arrived with his family. Tough stuff. The issues and conflicts of the Middle East really start to become important to you when you live here. The news stories have an added impact on you and you start to see how each story affects lives...

Oh yeah, taxis. So we hailed a taxi to go home and we tell the guy where we want to go and he says okay, asks a few questions to make sure exactly where we want to go. We start the trip and get to talking. He told us he wasn't able to go to school as a kid because of his money situation, but learned to read and write through other means. On the trip, he should've taken a right at this one road, but took a left instead. We realized that he was trying to take advantage of us because we weren't from Amman, so we called him out on it. He tried to cover and talk out of it, but we just decided to get out and get another taxi. He apologized and gave us 50 cents off the cost because he knew he wasn't being fair. That was a really nice gesture. But sometimes you meet people like that. You're in a big city and you can find all kinds here. He was still a really friendly guy and we enjoyed the conversation. I love Arabs of all kinds.

I also had a nice Arabic blunder yesterday that I won't forget. I was in the front seat again telling the driver where to go even though my two roomies were in the back seat (who are double Arabic majors and are here to do research and finish their degrees). I told him to "liff shamaal" at the next roundabout, which I thought meant "turn left" because that is what I learned it was in Egyptian Arabic. Well, he goes through the roundabout and turns all the way around so that we are going the opposite direction! I was like, "Dude? Uh... I thought you were gonna turn left back there?" He said that I told him to "liff shamaal" so that's what he did. My friends in the back realized what happened and redirected the driver. I guess that in Jordanian "liff" doesn't really mean the same thing! And they don't use shamaal as much, either. So that's why he turned around. Shamaal can also mean north, but in Egypt they use it for left all the time. I think most Jordanians get that we mean left if we say shamaal, but this guy didn't. That's what I gathered from my roomies, but my Arabic isn't that great so I could be wrong about some things. Anywho, I should've used yisaar for right, but now I know better. It was a good lesson that cost me an extra 20 cents in taxi fare, but a lesson that I would pay 20 cents for any day. Experiences like this really cement words and such into your brain.

Lastly, some pics from part of our little excursion today! We went to the Citadel in Amman. It's an old historic point with Roman and ancient Islamic Empire ruins and such. Much fun and beauty!
[Temple of Hercules from way back when]
[The whole gang. Minus 3 other girls who didn't come/haven't arrived yet.]
[Old Islamic building. The dome was rebuilt recently, but the rest is real old.]

On the way home we stopped at this guy's shop. He was making little mosaic things out of little shards of stone and glass. Cool guy.

[This was his little workbench. He went back to write his name and number on a paper so we can stay in touch.]

[Some finished product. Very cool. It says, "Ma shaa' allah. La qawwa illa  allah." = "What God has willed you. There is no power but God."]

1 comment:

  1. keep them coming. we eat your words up like candy.
    love you