Monday, 29 December 2008

Anger Spills Into the Streets of Amman


Around the world, crowds take to the streets in one Gazan solidarity chant; while anger spills into the streets of Amman.
Up until this moment 345 innocent Palestinians were killed as the Israeli air strikes bombard Gaza for the third day in a row. The world has silently witnessed a genocide unfold. A modern day riot against silence has erupted demanding action from all governments, leaders and political bodies.

But the world of leaders remains silent.

Jordanians take to the streets, protest in universities, camps and unions - even the local MPs burn the Israeli flag inside the House of Parliament in an un-precedented act of protest.

The voice of the people still isn’t heard.

A Royal Jordanian blood is on its way to Gaza, and dozens of donating campaigns are being organized.

But the world of power remains crippled.

And while in Jordan – the country with less population, less influential powers (due to the lack of resources, i.e. oil), less number of TV networks ( Rotana, MBC, Dubai for instance are still blasting and streaming trivial entertainment and American TV Junk), people in Jordan chant “Long live Gaza” - people round the globe chant a free Palestine, and "Israel, USA, how many children have you killed today?"


All that going on, and the ignorant Israeli War-mashine is still hunting innocent lives by the dozens in a unique stupidity stunt before the Israeli elections in February!!

Saturday, 27 December 2008

The Fear that is GAZA

“ History Will Have to Record That the Greatest Tragedy of This Period Was Not the Strident Clamour of the Bad People, But the Appalling Silence of the Good People” -Martin Luther King
photo courtesy:(aljazeera)

Jordan home to a little less than 3 million Palestinians, almost 50% of the population, together with the other 50% were glued to their TV screens, or any source of news about Gaza.
It’s almost impossible to mention Jordan as a separate entity from Palestine, or what’s happening west of the river Jordan.

So far 195 innocent Palestinians were killed in air raids by Israeli F-16 bombers.

The world is shocked by the news of civilian casualties, and many people have taken to the streets in protest.

Gaza is now a synonymous of fear, felt within every street corner, of every Arabian city. Amman is no exception.

Gaza now rhymes with anger, expressed by millions, at the appalling silence practiced by so many.

The frustration and anger is also expressed by the King of Jordan.

Sadness is felt in the air, Jordanian chests are tightened with fumes of smoke, massacres and burdening realities. But Jordanians are no exception.

Many have taken to the streets, hearts filled with paryers for Gaza. Ammanis are no exception.

But in the dictionaries of death; the laws of sacrifice; the epitome of courage; the tolerance of in-justice; the Palestinians were and still are the only exception!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

A Moderate Christmas: Jordanian Style


Having a small ride round the town would give you a feeling of a Jordanian Christmas. The city is somehow alight with Christmas trees and decorations, the local radio stations play the Christmas songs and count down the hours till Christmas. The Queen lights the Fuhais Christmas tree in a Jordanian Inter-faith Initiative.
December 25th is now a public holiday enjoyed by Muslims and Christians alike.

A lovely painted picture of a moderate Jordan; the country we aspire to be; where friends of all faiths are welcome - So change is happening, and now Christians are practicing their full religious rights alongside their Muslim friends. A Middle-Eastern success story amidst the turmoil and sectarian-infused havoc of our region.

Which makes me wonder…
Are we too obsessed with fighting to be the moderate model we aspire to be that our attempts at achieving our goals seem a bit over-done sometimes!
I know - although I am no expert - that in marketing strategies; simplicity is the key to winning most of the time, and we seem to over-do every thing while branding our country with modernization and moderation, that we might not be really winning!

In any case, a celebration of a Jordanian Christmas to please Jordanian Christians is a noble thing, especially that they constitute about 7% of the population, regardless of the marketing and branding agendas involved. Although, looking beyond the glitz and tinsel, some Jordanian laws are still pretty tough when inter-faith relations are concerned.

But, shall we forget all that and enjoy a…
Merry Moderate Christmas - Jordanian Style!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

On Why It Should Rain More Often in Amman! Please Let It Rain!


Having lived in the UK for more than four years, and have complained about the weather almost-always more than once a day, and dare I say, never liked the wet weather, nor the dampness, nor the rain. And always longed for sunny DRY Amman, with its extended dry days and the beautiful all-day sun exposure -- up until I arrived here, and now it’s almost mid-December, and there’s not a single drop of rain!

The climate change that is affecting Amman, and causing a dry and bitter cold, is taking its toll on people’s health: germs are spreading; heating bills: excruciatingly rising and wardrobe confusion for so many; who are certainly agonized by the difference between day-time temperature and night-time cold weather. More reasons to worry would be the likelihood of limited collection of water in the reservoirs and thus more agony during the summer.

If a four year period can show such significant change in weather and climate, I am really worried about what the coming decades have in store for us. While more studies are showing a decline in rainfall over the past fifty odd years; the impact of which may result in serious effects on desertification, drought, water resources and agriculture, a touch of change on how the weather is different on the small scale is quite unpleasant as well.

While the above would justify for a status quo of utter panic, I can’t see people worried the least! Which puzzles me especially when I see the degree of chaos driven by any change to the petrol prices. For some odd reasons, Jordanians worry if the matter involved that they will be required to WALK for a couple of hundred metres, but care not about the fact that they might die of thirst in the near future!

So after four years of hating the rain, and wishing for it to go away, and to come back another day, I am now ACTUALLY hoping for some rain! let it rain, let it rain!

Monday, 8 December 2008

A Spotlight On A Jordanian Childhood, A Western Union Stop And An Indonesian Community in Amman





All the mentioned above is inter-related in a manner I find hard to describe, but I’ll try and speak about as much as I can. Although a much more shocking title would be in the lines of: A whole Jordanian generation is being raised by a newly formed Indonesian community, or Jordanian Parents no longer raise their kids, or even, Jordanians abandon the lives of their children. How shocking these titles may seem from a child’s rights perspective? I can’t yet describe the situation as problematic, but surely it cannot be less than alarming. What is the secret behind our fascination with maids in our households? How come Jordanian parents no longer play, eat, and engage with their kids, because, sadly, these precious parenting activities are now considered a maid’s job, or a baby sitter’s, or a servant’s.
A mere visit to the playground or the schoolyard or the shopping centre would tell you that Jordanian parents aren’t there for their kids. Has it become a degrading position in society, a hands-on-parent? What is so shameful about it?
Coming back from the UK, a country that celebrates abolishing slavery, I gasped at our fascination with the very own word; although I am being ironic here, and a maid’s job is categorized as a form of employment and a maid in Jordan gets a monthly salary from her employer, which brings me to my second observation about how Jordan is turning into a Western Union stop.
Basically, when most of the men “Jordanian men” are abroad, usually in the Gulf States transferring money into Jordan, a large part of this money is transferred via the same stop, to countries like Sri Lanka, Philippines and mostly Indonesia. Money made in Jordan, is a vague term, superstitious according to many, and that’s why Jordan is turning into a large Western Union stop, where money is just being transferred either into or from.
I really wonder about the outcome of such a phenomena! When I meet with kids, who speak in a confused language; an Arabic or an English or whatever sort of language it is, I get confused and wonder if they know who they are, where they belong. If their mums aren’t there for them to teach them about right and wrong; then surely, a whole parenting institution is falling on its face. What does the future hold for them? I ask myself!

My last observation is trying to shed a positive light on an emerging Indonesian community in Jordan - Immigrant workers or ex-pats who are inter-communicating in their own little gatherings, perhaps casual meetings beside the see-saw or the swing. Whatever involves their chats, they are acknowledging the fact that they are entrusted with the nation’s most precious thing: its children, and whether we as Jordanians are understanding the fact that this multi-cultural new society is giving them their full rights or ignoring the role that they play in our children’s lives - remains to be decided...

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Jordan: Tradition Vs Transition

One of the most magical things about Jordan, is the desert!
Let them fool you not the stretched-up high buildings; the westernized names given to recent developments; like The Vertex or The Living Wall. This country’s pride is the desert and its Bedouin culture. Bedouin traditions govern everything in this small aspiring country - the means that we live by belong to the west, but the traditions remain Jordanian and Arab in a unique contrasting way!

Do you still have your doubts?

Try and listen to this song (Hadabatly*) by Omar Al Abdallat, which describes his fondness of his Bedouin mother - the song carries a lovely sentiment and pride of Bedouin tradition.

Note: This is the best video I could find on YouTube

*Hadabatly means fixed my Shmagh with trims.
Shmagh : (traditional Arabic headdress – the Jordanian one is a distinguished red and white pattern)

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Amman Revisited: After Four Years


I took this picture almost four years ago. Amman has changed a lot since then. I was atop "Le Royal" thinking I got the best of whatever height the city architecture could give me back then. It's all changed now.
Somehow Amman is reinventing itself; waving last goodbyes to its childhood, and entering adolescence in preparation for the state of adulthood; and like rebellious teenagers; the city is transforming madly. What belonged, and what’s belonging and what is to belong to the city is what makes Amman - the city I am revisiting.