Yesterday I was invited by a friend to the opening of the Kalha Stairway. I was very curious as I had never heard of the stairway before, and I really wanted to know what was going on there. To those who were like me the Kalha stairway is one of the many that lead up from downtown into the various Jabals of Amman. This one in particular led up to Jabal Al Weibdeh. The event that took place there was an opening of an outdoor gallery. The gallery was a simple street gallery with artists there, some even painting as we explored the venue.
I must say the person who came across this stairway and decided to turn into a street gallery was someone who has an infinite love for this city and what it has to offer. This is definitely a small effort that is part of a bigger cultural movement currently taking place. What I really loved about this was that there are more and more people becoming aware of the old city. People are starting to come into areas like downtown, Jabal Amman, Jabal Al Webdeh and learning to enjoy the older parts of our city.
I find these neighborhoods authentic and quaint. They give me comfort, even in their dusty raggedy old streets. They have a neighborly feel to them that you don’t find in the newer, more polished emptiness that is West Amman. There is no attempt to impress through stone or marble. There is no flashiness through satin and silk. It is what it is, like an old woman who has matured, with and inner beauty that shines through no matter what she wears. She knows who she is and what she is and she is impartial to whether you take it or leave it.
I worry about my lady Amman, she is changing, and rapidly. The older parts were forgotten and were left alone to mature quietly. But today, with all the change and all the hustle and bustle, even the old lady is getting a makeover. I hope that the attention and the makeover is one that leaves her spirit intact; one that maintains her beauty and essence without corrupting the history that is the old city. She may need a facial, and hair cut, may be even a new dress. But let’s keep the plastic surgeon’s scalpel away for she doesn’t need a nip and or a tuck. What she needs is a little love, care and attention from her inhabitants. She needs respect. She needs us all to be her guardians and to ensure that our fair lady, Amman, remains that, a lady.