"there is no sahil."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


So nothing all that exciting has been going on here in Ramadanamman. A few days ago I had another near-miss with the bus, but I just figure raising that adrenaline every once in a while probably has amazing health benefits. I liken it to eating chili peppers.

I can’t promise anything substantial in the way of photos or observations until next week, since tomorrow we leave for our SOUTHERN TRIP!
A taste of the itinerary…
Day 1: Mt. Nebo, Umm al Rasas, Karak, Baida, camping for night
Day 2: PETRA, then hiking and camping in Wadi Rum
Day 3: pre-breakfast camel ride (can’t say I’m too psyched for this one, camel riding has gotten some pretty mixed reviews from those I’ve spoken to, and I do not have any desire whatsoever to ride one…it’s kind of like taking a gondola ride in Venice. Tacky?)
And then bus ride home.

Last Friday we had a ridiculously amazing BBQ in the backyard. We didn’t really eat anything until 6pm, iftar style, and I learned how to make (the best) babaghanoush. I was also glad that I did not decide to try and be vegetarian here, as I have never had lamb like that before.

Something I have been thinking about quite a bit is the naqib (the name for the full facial veil—usually with a slit for the eyes but sometimes a translucent veil showing nothing). I never really thought too much about it before; in the U.S. we are kind of indifferent in our attitudes towards dress. I thought maybe being here would give me a great respect for it or at least a better understanding, but that has not happened. In the UK last week an MP spoke out against the naqib, saying that he was uncomfortable not seeing the face of the people he was speaking to. I think he also claimed that the naqib is a barrier of the cultural understanding, coexistence and harmony (not necessarily integration) that a country like the UK stands for. I agree with him on that; the naqib is hard. For the reputation of Islam its revival is debilitating. The professor I have for Islamic Civilization (a religion course) who veils and wears a common chador-like, ankle-length coat, called it unnecessary and extreme, in a negative way.
On a social level, it is weird and isolating. People treat you with extra caution, especially on buses and in the hustle and bustle of daily life. I wonder if I will talk to or befriend a woman or a girl in naqib. I remember when I first got here and started seeing it more and more. At first I was kind of fascinated by it; think of wearing a huge black cloak, that people can’t even see your EYES through—it’s almost like Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak. No one can see your dirty looks, or your dirty (or clean) hair, or your smile. I’m not sure whether it is like a get out of jail free card, or if it is like being in jail.

On a lighter note, somewhere along the line the word for “salon” was lost in translation from English to Jordanian English. If you want your hair cut or styled, you will only find “saloons” in Jordan. It’s kind of hilarious. I’ll try and get some photos up soon.

Katja, lizz, Jill, my dear brother, and nick ferrante all deserve a special thanks for attempting to maintain correspondence with me. I love it. The internet, in the words of my neighbor Karen, “is as scarce as chicken’s teeth,” and opening that inbox a couple of times a week is quite an exciting event for me, you must understand. Keep em coming.


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