Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Whole World is in Amman

Amman, Jordan

My dear readers, I do not yet have magnificent photos of monuments or museums for you. Alas, my host brother is struck with the double plagues of illness and final exams, and as the family is hesitant to release me on the city alone, my explorations have been very local. What I do have: stories of people.

First of all: my family. I have been adopted not by one family but by a vast network of aunts and grandparents and cousins. As always, I am bowled over by Arab hospitality. I am showered with tea and sweets and whenever I manage to bumble something in Arabic I am the subject of great delight. My family is very progressive – many of them have studied in America. My host grandfather likes to tell off-color jokes and stories from his time in the States. When I said I was studying politics he delightedly exclaimed “ah! The study of bullshit!” and another time regaled me with the tale of his encounter with a stripper in Miami. I am growing quite fond of him. My life drifts between the house of my immediate family and the grandparent's, but there is little distinction between the two. Not a day goes by without one visiting the other, the family wanders in and out of each others homes as if they were separate wings on a single house. The view into the family is fascinating. Today I witnessed the now global ritual of trying to explain facebook to a dubious grandmother.

The other foreigners I meet are adventures in themselves, with nationalities as jumbled as my Arabic. The other day I shared a taxi with a Chinese girl doing an internship here for her masters degree in New York. At school I met several Turkish girls learning Arabic for their study of the Koran, who spoke to me in perfect English after having lived in America for 8 years. The maid, Fatima, is from Shri Lanka, and my teacher is Palestinian. The whole world is in Amman.

This weekend I hope to explore the old parts of the city! (Weekends here are Friday and Saturday) I shall share my adventures when I return to school. I am glad to hear that people are enjoying my blog! I hope it stays amusing!

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Journey Begins!

Before I left the states I tried to put into words the feeling I get before leaving on a trip like this. The best comparison I can make is how I feel before seeing someone with whom I am freshly in love – that giddy, happy nervousness that makes your stomach dance and steals your breath and your sleep.

On the way to Jordan I stopped in Vienna, Austria, where I will return in a few weeks time. Flying into the city is beautiful. The strangely, geometric organized landscape look to me like an impressionist painting, dotted with abstract clusters of villages.

It could not be a greater contrast to the landscape flying into Amman. Jordan is enveloped in a desert so dwarfing in scale that from above I though buildings were clusters of rocks. The landscape is as wild and strange as Austria's is meticulous.

Amman rises out of this desert like a mirage. The uniform white of the endless apartment buildings make it seem dreamlike, unreal somehow. But also very beautiful. It is a soothing city, in its own way, the clean cool white only broken by the occasional brightly colored sign advertising the endless western chains that line the main streets.

Jetlagged and watching the sun rise over the hills. Well worth being awake at 3 am.

Two days into Amman daily life is fantastic: my family is lovely and my school is excellent. More to follow later though, I only have internet at school and it is almost time for class.