Sunday, May 20, 2012

In my place

During my first week back in Amman, I was being my feisty self when my friend's husband kept rejecting my offers to pay for my taxi fair.  As the taxi twisted and turned around the bends towards my apartment, I waved the money in his direction to no avail.  The taxi driver chuckled to himself and said "sister, you live in a man's world and what the man says goes. You are a lady and we respect you and want to protect you and do things for your good." My friend's husband looked at the driver apologetically and said, "She's an American and doesn't get it sometimes." The two smiled to themselves thinking that they had won the hospitality card for the day.  I was appreciative of the hospitality but my mind was preoccupied with what the taxi driver had said that afternoon.  Do the men do what they do to protect us and to show us that they love and respect us? In many respects I believe this is true.  Too many people forget the second portion of the quotation and just see the Middle East as a man's world that is hostile toward women. Yes, you do have to be smart and yes, you should be modest but as a single woman, I am just as safe here as in any bigger city.

My students are great! I'm so excited to have them all here.  When my first intern arrived, she said that Jordan is like my baby and I just want to share it with everyone.  This is true.  I love sharing my Jordan with others.  Each person that comes experiences the culture, the food, the smells and the people through a slightly different lens.  My first morning in Amman, I got kanafe khishna for breakfast and purchased a kilo of askedinias. Askedinias are my favorite fruits and kanafe khishna is my favorite dessert.  As time as passed and my Arabic has improved, so many opportunities and treasures have presented themselves to me. It has been a journey and a wonderful one at that.   Today I showed the students my favorite art galleries, Dar al-Anda and Dar al-Fanun.

I have finally gotten a chance to visit my dear relatives. It's comforting to know that they are close by. My apartment is small, quiet and clean. It is very modest, but I love it.

This past week I have decided that I need to learn more about Edward Said and his works. Not only do I think it would be interesting to read given my interest in Hisham Sharabi's memoir, Embers and Ashes, but also because of the Palestinian perspective that he offers about Orientalists and their sometimes condescending approach to Middle Eastern civilization.

I wish that I had more time to do everything and explore all of my curiosities.  There are so many books on my "To Read" list that I have lost track completely. Life is quite busy but I am content and am quite literally stopping to smell the flowers and grow a few of my own.

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