The days and nights have converged into each other since moving into my apartment a month ago. Tonight is the first night I’ve been home at dinner time, 9 PM, and the first time I prepared a real dinner.
During Ahmad Canaan’s visit, I met one of Jordan’s most notable and historically important Palestinian artist’s: Abdul Hay Mosallam Zarara. Meeting Abdul Hay and viewing his art was a truly deepening and uplifting experience – culturally, historically, aesthetically, intellectually and spiritually. Abdul Hay Mosallam Zarara deserves special recognition, so I will save him for a future blog. The following is a photo of the stairwell leading to his apartment, and another of the view from his entryway:
The following is a photo of my new hair-do, blowing in the wind. Although it’s not apparent in the photo, my Elvis duck tail is just what I wanted. I invited my hair stylist in Arizona, Lorrinda, to visit me while I’m in Jordan, but so far she hasn’t accepted my invitation. Yosef is now my “trim” hair stylist. I couldn’t have asked for a better or more affable “away from home” barber!
The following is a photo of Yosef with Khalid. Khalid was sent to stay for awhile in Jordan by his father, a good friend of Yosef’s.
Everything that is essential for daily living is available in Paris Circle. We have the Stop and Shop that sells every item a household could want or need, including a food counter with ready made entrées, cheese and condiments. Stop and Shop has every soft drink in the world, including canned coffee from Taiwan, kitchenwares and mouse traps.
The Arab bank is in the Paris Circle (for withdrawing and exchanging money) and there are plenty of cafes within the first block of the five intersecting streets that converge in the circle. We also have shops for stationary, Jordan Hand Crafts, Mosaic Tile (and ceramic ware), beads and thread, fresh fruit and vegetables, hookah lounges and restaurants, and an internet cafe.
The internet cafe, @Cafe, is owned by Amjad Al Barcothy (pictured in the photograph).
Today my mission was to get photocopies of documents. I thought I’d need to traverse a million steps to find a copy place Downtown. I was pleasantly surprised to find Amjad’s @Cafe in Paris Circle. It is the second shop from the Circle on the street next to Sandra Flowers and More. @Cafe charges one JD per hour for use of one of their many laptops, free coffee and photocopies for ten piaster’s per page, with a discount for seven or more copies. It is open from ten in the morning until one in the morning. Amjad and I had an enjoyable lengthy conversation, using the translator on one of his laptops, while Mohammad printed photocopies of my documents.
Now that I’m familiar with the neighborhood, I feel more comfortable about branching out into greater Amman. The shops are, almost on the whole, owned by generation after generation of the same family. The family business has been passed down from one generation to the next, ad infinitum. Each generation has pride of ownership that is evidenced in the quality of their service and hospitable interaction. As I said before, I couldn’t have been plopped in a better place in Jordan than Jabal Al Weibdeh (pronounced, and sometimes spelled, Web-dah).
Each day and night I do some beading on the canvas. Beading through thick, heavy canvas isn’t easy, and the light at night is not good, but art must go on!
The city of Amman is built on seven mountains. And the word mountain means mountain – not a hill! Many years ago I saw Andorra from the top of nearby mountains as the car headed downward on steep windy roads. Andorra is a little country tucked between Spain and France, I was astounded by the verticalness of the buildings constructed on the side of a mountain, nearly 90 degrees. Amman is even more vertical than Andorra. I have never seen, or walked, so many 95 degree stone staircases and stairwells in my life. It is impossible to get from one destination to another without trekking up and down millions of steps. The residents here undoubtedly have the strongest thighs and lower backs in the world. The photograph above is one of the staircases that provides residents access to their homes on the opposite side of my mountain. The residents, from babies to great grandparents, climb hundreds of steps daily just to get to the street above or below their home.
…looks like lips…
The walls of the buildings that line the staircases are spotted with assorted graffiti expressing everything from short thoughts to more complex issues about Jerusalem and Palestine.
…man without a voice…
Love for Jerusalem mural
When I leave my apartment I usually walk up a sidewalk with a hefty incline to Paris Circle. After passing the water shop, I usually say hello to Ibraheem, whose family business is the flower shop nearby.
Today Zohreh, Randall, David and I trekked to the Shoman Foundation’s Darat Al Funon, an arts and culture center with a terraced cafe.
While drinking my mini-cup of thick coffee grounds and sugar I saw the artist I met recently, Mohammad Abu Aziz drinking coffee and was introduced to his artist friend, Iyad Kan’aan.
Both Muhammad and Iyad have absolutely gorgeous and profound art.
You might want to take a look at it yourself here:
On our walk home we saw Fulbrighter Matt on the balcony of another coffee shop. We stopped to say hello and proceeded down the tile and stone sidewalk, window shopping.
Fifty years ago, the Jabal Al-Weibdeh neighborhood area was considered the most stylish and upscale place to live in all of Amman. As far as I’m concerned, it still is. The historic arabesque architecture, and the multitude of cafés, shops and cultural centers are in direct contrast to the newly built “upscale” neighborhoods that have popped up throughout Amman.
Muhammad and Iyad invited me to meet with them at the Jabel Knowledge Culture (art gallery and cafe) at nine that night. Jadel is one of the oldest buildings in Amman, hidden away in one of the many dimly lit excessively long stairwells. Unsure as to whether or not I was taking the right staircase (in the dark they all look the same), I stopped at a barber shop and requested directions. Not knowing how to speak Arabic, or the exact name of the place, I returned to the barber shop twice after heading out to re-review my directions. The third time that I returned to the barber shop I decided to get my hair cut. I asked the barber for a trim by using hand gestures. He refused by using hand gestures and holding up an electric razor. Unless I wanted a buzz cut, I was in the wrong place. Thanking him for his time I headed off to another stairwell and eventually ended up at Jabel Knowledge/Culture.
Steps to Jadal Knowledge Culture center
Entrance to Jadal Knowledge Culture Center
After meeting Muhammad in Jabel/Knowledge and looking at the current exhibition of paintings by a Syrian woman we walked downtown to the oldest hookah lounge in Amman, secreted away at the top of a multitude of well worn stone steps with sawdust scattered on them. The lounge is in one of the oldest buildings in Amman.
When I entered the lounge I noticed I was the only female in the room, but my presence didn’t seem to bother anyone. Iyad showed up and we smoked hubbly bubbly, drank mini cups of thick, black coffee and talked about the important aspects of life: art.