February 2008

I’ve fallen ill. It started with a sore throat and ended in bed. How weak we great humans are in the face of tiny micro-orgasmic germs. They attack us and make the mighty fall. When I was younger this little cold would not see me in bed; for in sickness and in health I would battle the world. But today… 

Today I rest, I drink tea, vitamin C and plenty of soup. I sit on a couch consuming pop culture, and via remote control I manage small forays into the world. As much as I like loafing around this sniffling and sneezing take all the joy out of laziness. The aching joints and tired muscles cry for rest and I can do nothing but give it. Even the mind that is active is dulled; cloudy, foggy and in a daze, where up is down and down is up.

How I hate to be sick. To be couch bound without choice. I hope the running of my nose dries soon and the wetness of my raw throat returns. The clarity of thought too, should come back. But in all honesty, in both sickness and in health, the mind is never clear.

ntil I am well and off my couch I will consume pop culture, hot tea and vitamins galore. Until I am well, I may write some more, or not?!

A woman’s relationship with her breasts and how she adorns them is a very complex one. We want support, sexiness, beauty, lift, size all rolled into one. Everyday a multitude of women put on a bra, myself included. I do not remember a day when I went braless. Even at the beach I have a special beach bra that I wear under my bathing suit unless there is one sewn into it.

I am thirty one and I have been wearing bras since I was 10 years old! I remember vividly going to a department store and buying my first bras with my mother. It was a very strange experience. There was the confusion of size and which ones to get. We poured over the training bras section religiously. I looked at all these nice pretty bras and lacy ones and sexy ones, even at that young age I knew I wanted something saucy. But somehow with the shame were are taught about our bodies prohibited me from asking for them from my mother. I knew that disapproval would be swift in coming if I voiced these desires. We ended up with two very practical white ones and on beige bra that clasped at the front. I loved that one it was so cool because it was different. Thinking back I cant help but smile and say how tame!

As the years went by my mother continued to supervise my bra purchases and sometimes we even exchanged some. The ones we bought were boring, so I always managed to borrow the lacy black ones and the pretty ones from her bra drawer. Sometimes she never noticed and I got to keep them. But with time the size of my breasts grew bigger and bigger and we could no longer share.

With the breast growth came bra independence too. I would go out and buy my own support and this is where the real dilemma started. I had boobs that were not the standard B or C cup that is Jordan and so finding a bra became a major drama. I bought any bra I could find. But they had to be functional and functionality didn’t always come with form and style. But there will be bras I will never forget, my flowery Hawaiian bra that I bought because it was so colorful. My strapless push up bra that made a shelf out of my breasts and brought them all the way up to my neck, the comfortable cotton ones that had very thin straps and I could wear under tank tops. And then there was the satin black one that made me feel so sexy.

My relationship with each of my bras depends on its color, shape, size and use. I have a whole range of them. There are some that I have in every color imaginable including teal! I love my breasts and my bras, sometimes I wish I can go with out one. Will I ever get the courage to let these babies roam free with out any support, who knows. Until then this woman will need her support system in all its colors, shapes and sizes.

There is a ritual to opening a new pack of cigarettes. You unwrap the box, after packing the cigarettes hard, by tapping the box on your wrist. You opening the box, pulling out the foil wrinkling it and throwing it away. You taking out the first cigarette, lightning it and with that deep first drag is a look of satisfaction and a smile of bliss on your face. I know this because I used to be a smoker. But I quit nine years ago and I enjoy being smoke free. But it bugs me when smokers think they have more considerations than nonsmokers.

Let me explain, if there is a smoker in the group then we have to sit in the smoking section. If it is a nonsmoking environment, like a mall or office building, then the smokers will light up. If the smoker wants to go to a designated smoking section then some will light up on the way, not willing to wait the few minutes it takes to get there. If a smoker on a nonsmoking bus wants to light up they will, they cant wait the 4 hours to get to the destination (think Aqaba Trust bus), even when the bus attendant and bus driver ask them to refrain from smoking. The examples are many and I would like to know why do smokers think its OK?

As a nonsmoker I have the right to enjoy our outing as much as smokers. If I want to sit in the non smoking section and smokers want the smoking section why does the compromise always happen on our part? Is it a desire that we all suffer and that we all become passive smokers. A lot of the smokers I know light up without regard to those around them and it is only after the cigarette is burning and the smoke is in my face that they realize of wait here is a non smoker that doesn’t like this. I can’t wait for the day that restaurants and bars becoming non smoking places, and we can walk in to places without their being a great foggy cloud of smoke hanging in the air.

Captain Abu Raed Poster

Last weekend I went to see the Jordanian film Captain Abu Raed. I left the theater in a thoughtful mood. This film is set in Amman, with characters that are there from our everyday lives. If I were to sum it up in one sentence it would be the Jordanian dream. It talks of struggles, passions, lives, living, dying, and so much more. 

The movie I think is a strong social commentary on the world around us. By the world I mean Amman. It talks of abuse and child labor, it also talks of societal pressures. It shows us sides of Amman that some people are not exposed to. I heard and was surprised by some of the comments made by audience members that made me think how sheltered and ignorant some of our Ammanis are. The film’s portrayal of East and West Amman, the divide, the lifestyles, the attitudes was very poignant, and to me at least reinforced how we should work to remove those barriers. The portrayals were mostly positive, however some were not and I don’t think we should be ashamed or upset by this. This is our fabric and every thread counts. 

The film was funny in parts, and slow in others but the ending was sad and uplifting in one. The messages were many and all positive ones. I’ve heard that some people critiqued the film for not being factually correct, well it is a piece of fiction so it’s OK. And some of the inaccuracies are positive ones that should be presented as messages to the public, like girls and boys playing together in Eastern Amman, why can’t that be our reality?

If there was one thing I would have liked to see more of in the film, that would have been more character development for some of the secondary roles, through some stronger dialogue. But you know this was a film about Abu Raed, and Abu Raed as a character was written well and acted well. In his silence as well as in his lines Nadim Sawalha did a good job.

I do have one thing that ticked me off at the end of the movie and that was the commentary made by audience members as they left. The only comments they had about the movie was who funded it and how they are millionares now. These shallow, naïve comments shocked me and made me think was this the only thing they could take away from the film? Anyways it is not always my place to ask why, but I did want to say something!

I must say it was very hard writing this piece without spoiling the movie. I have much more to say, but go see the movie if you haven’t already, and maybe we can have that discussion offline or via email, without spoiling the movie for others. It is a JD 5 and a couple of hours well spent, if not for the entertainment value then for the support of the local, budding film industry.  

I was at a restaurant yesterday and I was thinking I have no incentive to give the waiters any incentive. When we arrived it was a while before our order was taken. Drinks arrived late at the table (we were the only ones there). The food took forever to come. My plate was not empty, I was still eating, but the waiter thought it was time to take away my plate. The table was not wiped clean after we finished eating, I had to ask for napkins and wiped it off myself, at which point he brought a sponge to wipe the table, a bit too late in my opinion. And to top it off I never got exact change back, it was rounded up to the nearest dinar in the favor of the restaurant. Now why in the world would I want to leave a tip?


Nothing in the quality of service left me thinking ok I need to give this young gentleman a bit of incentive. Even his attitude was one of nonchalance and disinterest. A smile would have been welcome, but even that was not forthcoming. The thing is this is not just something that happens at this restaurant, it happens just about everywhere I go. It is rare that I find someone in the service industry who is doing his or her job with a smile. When I do it is refreshing and adds to the whole experience.

It is called the hospitality and service industry for a reason. If the staff hired are not capable of providing the quality of service willingly and with a smile then why are they there? There are other positions that do not require them to wear a smile and serve people. It has become so normal to have your waiter, server, bartender look bored or angry that when you do smile at a customer they ask you why are you smiling? (true story).

Wait staff in the service industry have to know that the attitude you put into what you do comes right back at you. The more enthusiasm and energy I get from a waiter or bartender the more willingly and generously I give, and vice versa. I am under no obligation to leave a tip, it is a reward for a job well done and if it isn’t well done then I wont be leaving one!

Written: July 8, 2007
We’re all guilty of it. I have yet to see one profile without one of these applications if not all of them. I know I have three applications to tell me what my fortune is everyday. And lets not forget the coffee cup, palm, and card readings we’ve all had.What am I looking for? What do I want to find? I tell myself it is just entertainment. But it isn’t just me. We all want that crystal ball that will tell us what to do, where to go from here, what the future holds, don’t we?

I still remember one of my earliest readings. It was by a Sri Lankan woman who read both my palms and my feet. She told me that I was very smart and head strong, she then pointed to everyone in the room and said I would be richer than all of them put together. I was a teenager back then. I look back and well yes I am head strong, but richer, well, let me put it this way: I am richer in spirit and experience. One of my last readings was in Bangkok, in which through numerology I was told that my coming years.. well here is what he said “30 good, 31 better, 32 BETTTTTER, good money, good job, good lover”. It’s an entertaining story if you haven’t heard it already, and well if you had my 28th and 29th years ANYTHING would be better than those two years. So I guess he wasn’t off the mark.

I read people’s coffee cups sometimes, its really interesting to see how people (myself included when it’s the reverse) will listen, try to interpret the words to suit the circumstances, will hold on with hope for the right words to come out of the tellers mouth. All of us looking for a clue, a sign to help us wade through life. I think it’s a need to reaffirm, but reaffirm what? I don’t know but I know I am getting my Tarot Cards read this week. Let’s hope it’s a good reading, after all my fortune cookie tells me I will have extremely good luck.

If in animate objects could speak what would they say? Would your pillow whisper sweet nothings at you and lull you to sleep? Or would it complain about your choice of bed partners and comment on your sex life or lack thereof? Will it remind you when you need to change the sheets? How about the bed will it complain about your weight or wake you up every time you find the perfect position to curl up to tell you its bad for you back? What about chairs and doors and other furniture will it gossip with you or about you? Will they tell all they observe or quietly keep their secrets? Pots and pans will watch your every move and tell you when your recipe has gone awry. What about your boots? Will they sing out “These boots are made for walking…” or will they tell you to watch your step? Too much mud, this patch of floor is slippery, this one too rough? Will your clothes give you feedback about the way you look? “Wear me, I make you slim” from your new black skirt, while those old well worn pant call out “honey you cant come near me you make me look hideous with your big butt!” Will your toothbrush gag from your morning breath and tell you to use mouth wash first? Forget what they will say think of all that constant noise! I am glad that all the objects in my life can’t speak, humans, radios, cars, TVs, the hot water kettle and cats are more than enough. There is a constant din around us and thankfully there are things that don’t need to speak, hum, protest, complain or make one noise or another. So as curious as I am to hear what the walls have to say or where my boots want to go, I’d rather just improvise it all in my head.

I’ve recently visited a couple of malls and more than one coffee chain, these are things I rarely do. On these visits I noticed that the staff manning most of the stores and cafes were Jordanians. This may be one of the few redeeming qualities these places have. The creation of all these jobs and the fact that the “lazy” Jordanian is filling them is heartwarming.

Seeing  our youth working at these blue collar jobs is heartening. I guess gone are the days  when rigid parents and spoilt children refused the concept of labor in service, retail and hospitality industries. This is a small but good step forward in building the  character of our youth, now becoming the majority of our population, and tomorrow’s leaders.

What’s interesting to note is that in Thursday’s (Feb 7) Jordan Times the lead story on the front page was about unemployment. We still boast a very high rate: 13.1%, however, it is down from 14% last year. A major step in the last six years according to the article. Now I am no economist but with the growing population rate and the number of employable people, what that means to me is that there were enough job opportunities created that exceeded the rate of growth  for job seekers. How much of this is related to the boom in malls and global chains? I don’t know. I just hope we can continue to create more employment opportunities in all sectors, and in white collar as well as blue collar jobs. Perhaps this will help boost our economy and our people before they both collapse under the pressure of rising prices and inflation.

Amman is a land locked city, in fact if it weren’t for the Dead Sea and the Port of Aqaba all of Jordan would not have any water bodies to look out to. These two tiny places offer some relief from the desert landscape that surrounds us. I’ve recently visited both places and was irked by these visits as much as I have been relaxed by them.

When visiting either place you can spend nothing to enjoy them, or a fortune. There are public places where you can sit and see the waves lap up and the sun set very beautifully. But God forbid you want to go to a cafe and just sit and drink a cup of coffee. As soon as you are at the door of one of the resorts these cafes and restaurants are housed in you are asked to fork over a payment for a meal ticket or an entrance fee, or better yet have a reservation to spend the night.

This is ridiculous and aggravating. With so few options in either place this policy is discriminatory. The minimum entrance to any of the Dead Sea resorts is JD 15 on a weekday. I have yet to pay JD 15 for a cup of coffee and I’ll be damned if I am forced to consume more food just to sit somewhere for 30 minutes! It is not good value for money in any way. I can always bring my own cup of coffee and find myself a nice quiet rock to sit on elsewhere on the beach.  But this isn’t about the money. To me it’s about exclusion, when you create such a policy you are widening the gulf between the haves and the have-nots.

I’m not rich, but I am not poor either, I can afford the “fees” to get into these resorts, yet I consistently choose not to enter. I work hard for my money and so I choose how to spend it, I even try to make wise choices! But to be forced to spend a minimum amount for the privilege of a brand name resort, that is something I can do without. I don’t want to have to pay my way into places like that, to me it is not a wise investment, nor is the value for money worth it for me. When I spend my money I like to spend it freely and by choice.

This policy of exclusion based on finance is clearly creates a bigger and bigger divide between the rich and the poor. The middle class caught in between is more and more often having to choose sides. Once again I choose to be in the have-nots.

Its official and if you didn’t get the announcement , here it is again. I HATE SNOW! Yes, yes its pretty as it falls and when you look out in the morning everything has a clean white blanket covering it, but that’s where the niceness of it ends for me.

Someone once said “hate” is a very strong word. I agree. That word carries with it the strength of my feelings towards snow. Its cold, wet and gets everywhere. It piles up and takes way too long to disappear. I don’t play in the snow. I don’t like to walk in it. I will not put my hands in it either. And you know what, taking pictures of it is not very high on my agenda.


These very strong feelings stem from the fact that on two separate snowy occasions I got very sick from my interactions with the snow. On a third occasion it resulted in a major fight with my boss. Putting that aside there is the snow itself cold and wet, it make my knees creak, my fingers ache and my toes cold. It soaks through shoes, and clothes and leaves the skin clammy and cold and I  can never feel warm again the whole day especially my toes.  And lets not get started with the layers and layers of clothing one has to wear to arm against the cold or shed once indoors!

I also dislike the after effects of snow. The muddy wet ice that was snow piled up on the side of the roads. The continuous run off in the streets for days. The muddy wet foot prints wherever you go. And at night and in the early morning hours the treacherous ice that forms makes for scary slippery footsteps that may lead to a nasty fall. Its no longer white, its not pretty and it sure ain’t nice!

So yes I hate snow. That’s been my mantra for days and it wont change anytime soon. So when it snows again you’ll know what I’ll be saying, and just to make sure there is absolutely no confusion it is: I HATE SNOW.

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