April 2009

I know I have written about this topic before but it never ceases to catch me by surprise or inspire me. If you are wondering what I am talking about I am talking about this city, and walking its streets. Today, I left the office (a new office since I recently changed jobs) and decided to walk around the neighborhood as I headed home.

As I was walking in this quiet neighborhood, I turned a corner only to be confronted by the most exquisite fragrance. It was light, and full and sweet. I tried to find out where the smell was coming from but I didn’t succeed as I was surrounded by it. I was in such sensory heaven that I did really care where it came from, I just slowed my pace to take it all in.

After work I made it down to Ras Al Ein for a couple of events where again I was walking, this time through municipal grounds. We were in the middle of the valley surrounded by the tumbling hills of Amman terraced with homes in differing shades. But the surprise was this little yard filled with flowering trees, in full bloom with explosions of beautiful white flowers. And later still it was the Jasmine of Jabal Amman.

Throughout my walks the sounds of the city came to me whether it was the honking of the cars, the boys playing football, or the minarets calling out the athan at sunset, vibrating throughout the valley. But my favorite sound is that of the birds singing all over the city.

I really enjoy Amman and especially at this time of year. So go out, take a walk down some side streets and enjoy the smells, the colors, and the sounds of this city like I do.

I feel I have to share this as it shocked me so much when it happened. Flying in to JFK this weekend the pilot rocked as he arrived 40 min ahead of schedule landing at 5:20 am woohoo right? Wrong!

Apparently, and despite JFK being an international airport, we were not allowed to leave the plane until 6:00 am. The reason being that there was no customs staff and the airplane doors cannot be opened unless there is a customs officer.

This surprised me and shocked me because here we are in dinky tiny Jordan, a developing country, with an international airport that is open and fully operational 24/7; I’ve flown into various airports all over the world at odd hours and not so odd hours and this had never happened before. Yet here we have a massive, international airport in a major city in the US which could not accept an incoming international flight. And to add insult to injury, they had to make the passengers wait on the cramp crowded plane, we were already on for 11 hours and additional 40 minutes! How does that happen? You’d think NYC gets more air traffic than Amman and so would have even more reason to stay open and operational everyday, all day?

Anyways, we disembarked, got checked through immigration and cleared customs quiet easily after the delay, and so started my week long venture into Obamaland.

Kite Flying at Jabal Al Qalaa (Citadel)

Kite Flying at Jabal Al Qalaa (Citadel)

A couple of weekends ago I was lucky enough to be part of the start of a new initiative. The aim of the initiative is to bring the diverse people of the city together and find fun and meaningful ways to connect and learn from each other outside of the traditional. What that translated to was that a group of friends and myself headed to the citadel to learn how to make and fly kites.

Arriving in the morning and seeing all the old friends arrive with their kids, walking over and meeting the other kids in the neighborhood youth center built up the anticipation to what was to become an explosion of colors, string, wood, and a lot of smiles.

I never expected kite making to be such an intricate science, and the way these kids made them made seem so easy, but kite making is exact, delicate and time consuming. What amazed me is the kids didn’t once use a ruler or measuring tool, they instead measured with the string they were using against the sticks. They used staples to put things together if they couldn’t tie them securely. And then when they were done with the body of the kite with string they made a tail. I learned that without a tail a kite won’t fly.

The kids were so giving and so full of information. Some were amazing teacher others were fantastic kite makers. But whatever role the children took on they gave willingly and freely. My friends and their kids all had a great time watching and learning, but what really made the difference to me was the connections they made with the people from the neighborhood over a labor of love and joy.

When we went to fly the kites everyone’s face was turned upwards watching their kites fly. Collectively they took pride in their efforts but everyone was overjoyed that they flew – the winds were not favorable that day. But despite the poor wind the kites fly high like the aspirations of everyone on that hill. I remember two women coming up to me and what they said “This is better than playstation” to her I say YES AKEED. The other woman said “my daughter has nevr been so happy”. Thank you to everyone for making it a great day.

But here is where I want to do a plug in about the neighborhood and the hill where we played. This is a small flat area, free of artifacts and ruins, it is not the best but it is the only place the kids of the neighborhood can play. Currently it is used a parking lot for the citadel and for RVs. If you want to help make the space free for all to play in and maybe even made into a community park then please contact Raghda Butros (raghda@gmail.com) an Urban Activist.

We each can make a difference go visit the space, understand the dynamics of the location, meet the people, and contact Raghda. Our children need to be outdoors need to play, need to grow. They have a right to all of that, help preserve those precious spaces today.

Flying kites is a thing I have never really done. I don’t know how to fly a kite let alone make one. This weekend I have the opportunity to do both in a community event in Jabal Al Qala’a made possible by Adraaj Amman. So if you want participate in kite making and flying free up your Friday morning. Places are limited so do confirm your attendance.


Date: April 10, 2009

Day: Friday

Time:10:30 am 

Location:  Jabal Al Qala’a

Meeting point: Citadel Entrance

Cost: JD 5- 10 (you will participate in buying materials for both yourself and for a child from the Local Jabal Al Qala’a Community.


Contact info: Raghda Butros raghda@gmail.com 079-6637377

Confirm by: Thursday 3 pm

Note: Children welcome


See you all there and get read to see your creations, and those of the kids’, soar in a beautiful spring sky.


OK so for the first in a series of events we will be walking below are the details:

Jabal Amman Walk

Date: Friday, April 3, 2009

Time: 5:30 pm

Meeting point: Jabal Amman- Rainbow street- public square across the street from Sadeq home

Cost: ZERO 😀

Duration: As long as you want to walk with me or chat J but I would say an hour or two at most.

Jabal Elweibdeh Walk

Date: Saturday, April 4, 2009

Time: 5:30 pm

Meeting point: Duwwar Paris/ Paris Square (near French Cultural Center and Stop n Shop)

Duration: As long as you want to walk with me or chat J but I would say an hour or two at most.


Wear comfortable shoes, parking available if you take the right at Sadeq home – there is a new parking lot on the right in that street. Bring friends.

Stay tuned for:

1- Kite flying in Jabal Al Qalaa

2- Treasure Hunt in village in Al Gour

3- Renovations of a Women’s Center  in Gaza Camp