Ustaadh Amer

July 9, 2009 at 10:06 pm (Uncategorized)

Our beginning Arabic class has two instructors: Ustaadha Rania for two hours and then Ustaadh Amer for two hours.

They have very different teaching styles. Amer is like a big teddy bear, with a broad smile, deep laugh, and ready smile.

Rania is very classy and poised. She takes her time and explains things as clearly as she can.


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July 9, 2009 at 10:01 pm (Uncategorized)

“Blindness” is the title of a well-received book by Jose Saramago from several years ago. I think he writes in Portuguese.

The word comes to mind because being here and unable to read anything feels like a form of blindness that I am overcoming by studying Arabic. It’s like a wall between me and understanding any of what is going on outside my room. Quite isolating. A flurry of signs and shapes and letters that make no sense. I can’t see the forest or the trees.

As my reading improves, I can start picking out letters I recognize in signs and sometimes sound out entire words. `Progress!

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Wedding Bells

July 9, 2009 at 9:58 pm (Uncategorized)

“We’re going to the chapel and we’re gonna get married…”

Does anyone remember that song from “Four Weddings and a Funeral”?

That is one of my favorite movies.

I’ve been invited to a wedding tomorrow! I’m excited and already thinking about what I’m going to wear. I’ll need to wear hijab (a headscarf), since it’s a Muslim wedding, at least when men are around. The genders will be segregated for the party, I think, and then I can remove it. It makes me sad not to hang out with the other gender, but at the same time there is a camaraderie here among the women that we don’t have in the states.

I’ve been watching Muslim women here layer various articles of clothing to create quite beautiful outfits even while covering almost all of their skin. I have a Gap dress that I might wear over a light long-sleeved shirt, with my khaki pants underneath, and brown gladiator sandals. I have a matching teal scarf to the long-sleeved, thin cotton shirt (laundry is currently soaking in the bathtub :-)).

I came here to meet Jordanians, and am grateful for the opportunity to go to a wedding. I’ve already met several of the family members, but I have a feeling there are many more! Compared to Americans, Jordanians really take care of each other. Family is everything–why wouldn’t someone want a ton of kids? They take care of each other and fill the house with love.

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The sun also rises

July 9, 2009 at 9:44 pm (Uncategorized)

It rises very early in Amman–close to 4:30am, so that by 7am it feels like high noon.

Note to self–being still up from the previous night when the morning call to prayer happens (i.e. before sunrise) is not a good sign.

It is quiet now, save for a few distant cars traveling in the distance, the slight sound of my fridge cooling itself, and the occasional disturbance from the police station across the street.

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Power to the people of Iran

July 9, 2009 at 8:28 pm (Uncategorized)

May their voices be heard and respected. No more violence!

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Soap gets in your eyes

July 9, 2009 at 2:17 pm (Uncategorized)

Today I went to Turkish bath in Amman. It was unique, fun, but not fabulous. The massage was the best part. I think it would be more fun to go with a group of friends.

The interior itself was beautiful, though, but I think the architecture is probably Roman, originally, rather than Turkish, since the Romans settled the Mediterranean earlier…

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Love has 99 names?

July 9, 2009 at 2:15 pm (Uncategorized)

In Islam, God has 99 names (i.e. the Compassionate, the Merciful, etc). Since I’ve been here I’ve learned about new forms of love I never knew existed, so I’m wondering if perhaps love has 99 forms.

Muhammad and Malek and Khalid are the brothers I never had. This is why I came to the Middle East; to find people who are wealthy on the inside, and to see whether I have any of that wealth, too.

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Michael Jackson

July 7, 2009 at 3:22 pm (Uncategorized)

The other day, on Rainbow Street, I saw two felafel-stand employees rocking out to “Billie Jean.”

Later that same evening, a fancy car drove down Rainbow Street, blasting Michael Jackson tunes the same way folks turn up rap or rock music in their cars in the states.

Good times in Jordan.

I’m in that de-pressurization phase post-Arabic class where my brain is recovering from the shoving of so much grammar down its throat. It’s like a cross between feeling cross-eyed and like a zombie.

That’s why I came, though, to learn Arabic. Homework is making my existence increasingly monastic as I stay in my room more to get it done.

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Borat is BACK

July 5, 2009 at 11:31 pm (Uncategorized)

YouTube – The Best Of Borat.

I remember feeling mortified on an entirely new level when I saw “Borat” in the theaters, with my equally mortified but uproariously-laughing friends.

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Syrian President, First Lady Praises Obama

July 3, 2009 at 8:22 pm (Uncategorized)

Syrian President, First Lady Praises Obama

Posted using ShareThis

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“Ana Taalib”

July 2, 2009 at 9:26 pm (Uncategorized)

How strange it is to identify myself as part of the Taaliban when speaking with a cab driver about why I’m in Amman.

“Ana Taalib” simply means “I am a student.” I think the word “Taaliban” is simply the plural version of “student.” I capitalize the “T” because that’s how the transliteration works (i.e. capital T is pronounced differently from lower-case t), so “taaliban” and “Taaliban” would be two completely different words.

Leave it to those bozoes–the organized Taaliban in Afghanistan–to pervert a term such as student. Islam has a special reverence for learning and knowledge, and I’m sure there are more than a few (hundred million) Muslims out there who are perturbed about their religion being used as a guise for violence and fear.

This morning we had a talk by the school’s director, Omar Matador, who offered a few words of wisdom (literally quoting an Arab poet) about the importance of studying well and getting as much as we can out of our experience here. He said Qasid started as a two-room school, where the teacher slept in one room and taught in the other.

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Good luck

July 1, 2009 at 9:45 pm (Uncategorized)


I downloaded this colorful little map, and while this size may be too small for you to make any sense of, I have a larger copy on my desktop and feel hopeful that I might be able to find the Jafra Cafe on it!

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July 1, 2009 at 9:42 pm (Uncategorized)

After class I decided I should tear myself away from Rainbow Street (my usual post-Qasid destination) and try something new. I’d heard good things about one “Jafra Cafe” in al-balad (downtown), and I managed to flag down a cab driver who know both the district and the restaurant. I managed to get myself lost almost immediately, however, because I couldn’t see the cafe once I alit from the cab.

My lost-ness must have plainly shown, because a guy in a group of about four asked if he could help. I mentioned my destination and he pointed and indicated where I could find it.

Nope. I asked several other people. No dice. I even tracked down a French tourist, conspicuously holding the very same travel guide that I use, Lonely Planet Jordan, and asked to use the map. Lo and behold, I could NOT find the cafe.

Amman isn’t big on maps or street signs. I gave myself a few more calculated guesses before I gave up and flagged a cab to take me to Rainbow Street. I did manage to get some exercise, which is good, and got to see the downtown district, which is about as stereotypically “Middle Eastern” as Amman gets, with narrow streets and vendors everywhere. Quite charming, but also dirty and touristy. The al-Hussein Mosque is there, which is one of the oldest, apparently, in Amman. I’d like to spend time there one day.

Now I’ve been studying for an unexpected quiz tomorrow, but my eyes are giving me a hard time. We’re trying to make plans for the weekend; thinking about scoping out some of the luxury hotels because they allow access to their pools for a small fortune (maybe we can get a group rate?).

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Weather Update

July 1, 2009 at 8:21 am (Uncategorized)

It’s 11:20am and 93 degrees.

It’s now 12:22pm and 97 degrees. I’m wearing brown cargo pants with a long-sleeve navy blue top, and my hair down. I usually put my hair back when I go outside b/the pollution is so bad.

It’s 9:43pm and 86 degrees…

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Revolution Fever

July 1, 2009 at 8:07 am (Uncategorized)

First Iran, now Honduras…?

AND unrest in China?

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