Wednesday, April 20, 2011

some anecdotal evidence

I am struck in these last few weeks at how much is different. When I wake up, instead of thinking Thursday of my fourth week in Jordan, I think, if I go back to sleep for fifteen minutes will I still have time to catch a cab in time to make it to eighth circle by nine?

Instead of inviting me to breakfast, showing me to my seat, piling and piling my plate with food, Aziza calls for me to come and put the tea on and serve the zeit and zatar. When we’re done, instead of shooing me out of the kitchen, she goes to sit and watch television while I clear the table. My host family knows what foods I like and which I dislike and I know the same for them. They know to get me when Forbidden Love comes on and that on Mondays, which are long days, I will probably be a little moody. I know what kind of chips to bring home to share and when Ziad is in a mood to joke around and when he is not. These are comfortable, familial things that bypass culture: we are not novel to each other any more.

Two particular moments shocked me with how at home I feel here:

The first was when I came home for spring break. It was raining and I was tired and I had a cold and my butt and thighs hurt from riding camels in Wadi Rum and I was hungry. The bus from Petra was taking longer than I felt like it should and I was sick to my stomach from reading on the bus. The bliss of spring break was quickly fading into the reality of school and work and upcoming tests and papers, and I thought: I just want to get back to Amman and go home.

And by home, I realized, I was thinking of the Shweikeh’s living room. I wanted to see my family and eat some maklubeh and get in my cozy bed and go to sleep and wake up and have a nice Friday morning breakfast and watch Arabs Got Talent with Ziad. I was tired of traveling and wanted to get back to what I knew: Amman.

So that was weird.

Second anecdote: I was walking home from class, trying to get a cab by second circle, and it was very hot and I was grumpy because there was bad traffic and taxis were few and far between. And when I finally flagged one down—I had walked to third circle and was outside the Intercontinental hotel, it pulled up ten or so meters ahead of me, and before I could get to it, some tourists in khaki shorts and dopey –looking hats had come out of the Intercon and stolen it!

And I thought goddamn tourists.

I was so mad that those tourists had taken my taxi. SO mad. I had important places to go! I was running late for work!

Then an ever weirder thing happened: as I was passing them on the sidewalk (glaring a little) the man waved me over and said, “Excuse me, do you speak Arabic?”

He couldn’t explain to the driver where he waned to go.

I knew the restaurant—had been there once before—and I knew how to get there. So I told the taxi driver, and he nodded.

I translated. Arabic. For some American tourists in Jordan. Who were lost in my city.

I felt so hardcore that I forgave them for the theft of my taxi.

102 days down, 10 to go.

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