Category Archives: Amman

Tears and smiles

I neglected my blog – my studies went well, but took a lot of time, Ramadhan was taking lots of my energy and we had visitors for six weeks – wonderful, but a three-year-old can change the whole life of a house.

And, at first, I was still waiting for my grey shadow. But Miss Grey did not come back, no one had seen her – neither alive nor dead. Was she kidnapped? Or had she had an accident and hidden somewhere to die? Not knowing it makes me still sad.

But then, August came and two of our young nephews turned up. They love cats very much, but are not allowed to keep one – father has an allergy and mother is very particular about cleanliness. But still, when they had come to her with a baby-cat, maybe six or eight weeks old at that time, she fed it, gave it a shower and tried to find a new home for it. When the neighbors who took it in at first gave it back, the boys called us. And here was this empty space, food and water dishes unused since four weeks – we could not say no. At first, we attempted to keep it only temporary, but after a few days the little guy had taken over our hearts. Other than our capricious ladies before he is soft, unobtrusive, even when hungry. For the six weeks our grandson was here, they were best friends and playmates, it turned out that our new cat is babysafe – he might play rough with my husband or me, but never with the very young ones, does not even sniff at the two-year-old when he pulls his tail a little.

IMG_0732_1

 

I love his surprised look.

And so, now, after all these events and also past Eid-al-Adha, the biggest muslim holiday during the past week, we will be back to normal – inshaAllah, if not anything else will bring new changes.

From tomorrow back to school – but that is a new chapter.

Countdown till Ramadhan

Jordan is a mostly muslim country, as you would know. So, every year, Ramadhan, the month of fasting, ┬áis a major event. This year it will inshaAllah start on 9th July – or maybe one day later, if on that evening the new moon is not visible yet. The muslim year is counted after the moon-calender, so the month starts when the new moon is first visible. As this can differ, it will only be known on the last minute.

But that is not so very important, as the first day of Ramadhan does not need so much preparation. Only one should set the alarm for the right time: fasting starts at dawn, i.e., before the first light is really visible. Easy to know here, because at that time anyway all mosques announce the arrival of dawn, time for the first prayer of the day.

In these days before Ramdhan, most people already do some of their shopping; supermarkets are fully stocked and every year the government tries to prevent sellers from raising their prices due to the expected consumption. Sounds funny, people buying more food because they are fasting, doesn’t it? Fact is, in most families that can afford it, the meal after sunset which breaks the fast every day (iftar), is the opportunity to enjoy it with the family and often with guests. Depending on the financial possibilities this can be very rich food – but in Jordan, I think, this is only for a minority. Plus, many people also make sure that leftovers are either kept for the next day or distributed to poorer families. Ramadhan is also the time for charity – rich donating more than any other time of the year.

A custom that seems to me having been copied more from the west is the inflation of lights and blinking ornaments in windows and on balconies. Sometimes a little too much – but seeing all this stuff in the shops now gives a better understanding that Ramadhan is expected with much more joy than with apprehension – although fasting can be hard, the time itself brings togetherness, love and care, so many love it.

Probably you will find more than this post to the topic here during the next month – the whole lifestyle changes and revolves around the schedule of sahur (last meal in the early morning), fasting and iftar. I hope you will keep on looking in and share our life in this month.

Amman – First Impressions

Since I moved to Jordan four years ago, I learned that many people in Germany hardly have an idea where it is or how Jordanians live. They might now that a majority here is muslim and from that get a lot of wrong ideas about how uncomfortable it would be to live here. I have stayed in more remote corners of the world, so, for me, Amman is rather modern – sometimes more than I like – and easygoing.

A visitor’s first sight would be the all-new airport-terminal. The old one was not that bad, I quite liked it for the short ways. The new one, opened only this year in march, is spacious, lots of glass instead of walls to give you a good view of the aircraft around – but arriving, I had to walk for what seemed miles, and I always carry too much luggage. My good luck that more often than not someone has a hand free to help an elderly lady.

People are polite, in general. Changing money, paying 20 JD for the entry visa, going to the immigration counter can be done without being pushed around. The employees are thorough, but not slow, and I usually get a friendly “welcome back” when I arrive and they check my residency card. Last time was 2 am – and the young man still managed a smile.

The airport is south of the city. The highway is wide, but in daytime still hardly can hold the traffic. In the night, though, it is an eerie feeling of driving on the yellow lighted road, blocks of housing and other buildings rising right and left of the way. Some say the city looks boring because most of the walls of the houses are covered with local sandstone, so the general colour is a creamy white. But among the greens provided by palms, olive trees, oleander and others I like it quite well and together with the sun that shines most days and the intensive blue sky it is a place where you can forget your depression.

The closer you come to the city, the more different lights appear. Amman, if you don’t consider the arabic script on signs and advertisements, does not look so much oriental in the night. But still, there are the green lights on the minarets of all the mosques in the city, and there are many, some  – mostly – elder men on their way wearing traditional dishdasha and headgear and here and there the smell of cardamom-scented coffee, sold from small booths close to the street. You find them easily, not only because of the wonderful aroma, but also because often as not a young boy or man stands up at the border of the lane, holding a metal tray and giving blinking signs with it to advertise their coffee.

It is what first greets me after a short absence and I enjoy it. Then home – and good night.