Since I’ve moved to Beirut not a week goes by without someone telling me they hate Amman. It invariably happens when I first meet someone new and within seconds of them knowing I am from Jordan.  And I don’t know why they have to make that definitive statement. It is not endearing in any way, shape or form. I don’t want to know how bored you were in Amman, how hostile you found it, how bland you think the buildings are, how unsmiling the Jordanians are or how much you hate the food. That is your experience and if you hate it so much, just don’t go back. And if you hate it and are still there then leave. But what I really don’t want is a 15 minute tirade about how you found Amman to suck and why you think it is so.

There are many reasons I don’t like being put in this situation and one of them is I am not sure how to respond to these statements. Am I supposed to agree when I don’t? Am I supposed to offer advice and tips on enjoying the city, when clearly this person has made up their mind? Do I go into attack mode and tell them why they are wrong? Or do I tell them what I really think about Beirut and enumerate all the things I hate about it and make it a pissing contest? I’ve tried all the above strategies, and because of them I have been asked why I take it so personally, why am I so defensive. I guess the appropriate response is to smile, shrug and if possible walk away?

I’m really tired of hearing people crap on a city I love and miss and it gets more tiresome when you are trying really hard to integrate and live in a city you don’t.  I’ve been accused of romanticizing Amman and painting such a glowing picture of it. Well, guess what, yes I confess I love that city, and I loved my life there. I had numerous wonderful experiences and I was part of a movement that was involved and engaged in making that city and that life better. It’s not that I am blind to Amman’s shortcomings and its problems but rather I was able to do something about it, and that has made all the difference!

I think it is completely insensitive and rude to tell someone their home is ugly, boring, retarded…etc. especially to someone you barely know. And at this point I would like to remind everyone of the sage old advice handed down over generations “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything.” Because really I didn’t ask you if you love or hate Amman, so spare me. We will not bond over Amman hate. And please don’t get me wrong, Amman is not an easy city to navigate as a stranger, it took me years to become a part of the city and understand it, and everyone has a right to their opinion and a right to hate the city.  This is their personal experience. But what I am saying is if you meet someone from a place you hate, and they don’t ask you, there is no need whatsoever to tell them their home sucks. It’s their home.

 

I had arrived at my doctor’s clinic on time and as is the case in any doctor’s clinic you wait. The appointments are packed back to back without any real thought to how much time an appointment requires. But that’s not my gripe today.

 

So knowing as we all do that there is wait, I took a book. I sat myself in a chair and strategically placed my backpack on the chair next to me, ensuring some space from other patients who like to sit close and start conversations about their ailments. And there I was pretty in my black suit, sitting cross legged, totally engrossed in my book when these two women appear in the waiting room. One sits across from me and the other thought about the seat next to me but takes the one to the far right. Immersed as I was in Iranian history and politics I barely notice her come up to me until she was upon me. Her big black coat open on either side of her like massive black wings of a bat. She stood over me and enclosed me with her coat and told me with an innocent smile on her face that I might want to modestify myself! And so I was accosted by a veil wearing coat wielding woman.

 

I was expecting this, overzealous moralists had tried to pull that on me before; and so I looked up at her and without batting an eyelid I told her thank you but I am fine the way I am. Her smile was immediately wiped off her face, her chest fell and flustered she slinked back to her chair. I turned back to my book and continued to read until the nurse called me in for my appointment.

 

What I had really wanted to do was to lecture this woman at how inappropriate her behavior was. What right did she have to impose her moral beliefs on me? How would she feel if I went up to her and told her I thought the way she dressed was inappropriate and that she shouldn’t cover her head? Who knew that the fate of this upright society rests on my bare legs?


This woman, in my opinion, has a filthy sex obsessed mind such that when she sees skin that is what she thinks. And its not her its everyone and anyone who constantly watches innocent people doing their own thing yet think the worst of them. They are constantly pointing fingers at others accusing them of immorality or indecency, yet to me, they are the filthy, dirty–minded and immoral ones.

 

Next time a woman comes up to me and tells me I am immodest I will ask her for her veil to cover my legs maybe that way we will both be happy!