Category Archives: Life

Hello again

Yes, back to school it was in October. I did the second level twice, because in winter, first time since I moved to Amman, I caught one bad cold after the other and dropped out at half term. In February, I restarted and now there is only one week left till the final exams. No matter the outcome, it was worth it, but it took more than I had anticipated. Five days a week, three hours – full hours – every morning and a teaching level that is meant to prepare students for entry in university within four semesters. Heavy on grammar, to a point that my arabic family has given up helping me. I enjoy it, although it was often overwhelming and I am all but sure how I will do next week. This morning, I should be studying, but it felt I also should get ready for what comes after that. Not the summer course with the third level, if ever I dare to try that one, I will need a better chance than I would have in the heat and with the month of Ramadan ahead. Maybe in October, or better February again. InshaAllah.

Due to my sickness I spent time cuddling under a blanket on the seat and managed to finish my 2013 NaNo project on time, rewarding me with a paid version of Scrivener. This will be a help to my next big one.

The NaNo project, actually counting close to 80K words, waits for editing during June and July. I chose a more simple story, crime, some interesting background, again in German. With some luck and a lot of work I hope this to be the first one that I will actually be able to publish – or to offer to a publisher, I am still debating with myself about self publishing or not.

August might see me in Europe – which will mean less time and concentration for new writing. But I might do some research for the new one, and maybe for a historical topic I have been playing with recently.

Enough of this talk, I should go back to my grammar. But I hope after this I will make myself blog more – here and on the German sites. Comments and questions are most welcome, I realized that I thrive on feedback.

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Update

Ramadhan came and went, as well as the Eid, the big holidays at the end of the month of fasting. Unfortunately my Arabic summer course was extended in order to finish the first level, so I went to college five days a week until the very last day of fasting.

I loved the classes, learned a lot and enjoyed the company of about twenty other students from a variety of countries – Australia, China, Thailand, Nigeria, Columbia, Indonesia, Mexico, Brasil, Kirgistan, Kasahstan – and most of them half my age. Tell me about feeling old sometimes. But they were all so nice and we had a great time. I was no fan of our teacher, a twenty-something guy with bad english (better for learning arabic, maybe) and not much of an idea about sucessful teaching. His behaviour against some of the students made me insist on finishing the first level on any cost, because the idea of having to repeat it with him and spend four months like this made my study diligently for hours at a time. Maybe he felt the same about me, I passed and will be able to attend the second level in October.

None of this was good for my writing and blogging, as you may well see here. Still, we had the best month of fasting that I had until I moved here: we had iftar (the meal after sunset) at home nearly every day, my husbands nieces and nephews enjoyed our small garden so much that they preferred not to invite us but brought their food to eat with us on the terrace. Weather was great: hot in daytime, but never humid, and after sunset getting so cool that sometimes we retired to the salon.

Now, Ramdhan is only a memory, ten days gone, weather changed to really hot and some humid, but now it does not matter so much. I enjoy my time off, but somehow still feel strange and don’t get started with anything decent. Maybe due to the fact that we will have visitors arriving on Friday, to stay with us until october. I try to prepare the house – I know I will enjoy the company, I only have to adjust the plans I had made for the time until classes start again.

Lost?

Since the first night of ramadhan Miss Grey is missing. As she made it her habit since the summer nights became so balmy and starfilled she left about midnight – but did not return at dawn as usual. For weeks she would wait outside the door until one of our boys leaves for work about 4.50 am, so he could let her in to wake us up and make us feed her. Though, unlike her mother she is not so avid for food, often it seems it was her main aim to kiss us and be cuddled and loved. Food came later, she would only start eating after running around for a while and then see us busy.

But on Wednesday morning I waited for her in vain. Neither at 3 am, for our morning meal, neither at 4.50, when the boy left, neither when one of us left the house she was anywhere to be seen. Coming home about 2 pm I hoped she would be waiting in the garden and complaining for being left out in the heat – no sound, no movement.

Whenever I am home, the door is left open, unless Miss Grey’s boyfriend, Romeo, hangs around and tries to sneak inside the house. He has been circling the house for months, we hold him responsible for the state Miss Grey is in – but I am not quite sure he had been able to fight off the other contenders. Now, he looks as forlorn as I am feeling. My husband feeds him the leftovers of Miss Grey’s food from the fridge, no use to let it rot. But the three of us look rather sad.

Wherever I walk in the house or garden, I tread carefully, as if there was still a small grey paw or tail I should not step on. I expect to see her on one of her usual places – but only the empty spot looks at me, coldly. I wake up in the night, turn in bed carefully, not to disturb my kitty when I move the blanket with me on which she might be sleeping, then remember, she is not here.

What might have happened? Where could she be? We have no idea. No one saw her, my husband asked around, the boys playing on the street, the shopkeeper across the street, they all know the little grey cat with the funny walk. Our boys pretended she could work as a belly-dancer, just missing the dress, the way she shakes her narrow hips while walking. Rude, because the poor thing fell very sick when she was just for months old, a virus, we believe, and since then her hind legs sometimes seem to give way under her – although she can jump well enough if she wants to reach the cheese on the breakfast table.

Now, a new morning. Our parrot, Aziza, and I sit at the open door until it will be time for me to leave for my school. Aziza has been nagging a lot this last week, as if she also asks us what became of her friend. She has been knowing Miss Grey since she was born and see her grow up, play around, have her first babys, become the joy and amusement of the house.

I see a shadow behind the curtain that shields us from being seen from the street – but it was just a dove flying by low. No cat. No “mau”. No soft furry feeling at my naked ankles. No small scratches on my legs from her idea to climb up my dress.

Will she be back? I do not want to lose hope – yet.

Countdown till Ramadhan

Jordan is a mostly muslim country, as you would know. So, every year, Ramadhan, the month of fasting,  is 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.

When fiction becomes reality …

One of these days I wrote in my German Writer’s forum: You don’t need to invent much actually if you want to write a thriller – just write about what is happening and everybody will say it is unrealistic.

No, I am not talking about Prism or the UK-listeners. In Germany there are at least two not so big issues, but still, they teach a lot. I follow the news  from my safe home in Amman and enjoy being at home here.

One of the issues is directly related to me. Given the fact that due to the difficult language German news often are not widely spread internationally, maybe few people out here followed this scandal: from about 2000 to 2007 a group of Neonazis murdered nine people: one german policewoman, eight turkish men and one greek (which, supposedly, they believed to be turkish). All with the same weapon. The german police never thought about a racist angle, but searched through every aspect of the victims‘ lives, making the lives of the families hell.

In 2004, after the first five or six murders had already happened, a bomb exploded in the street where I lived. By the grace of god nobody was killed – the police considered the bomb well able of killing a multitude .

Most of my neighbours were also turkish, down in the street all the shops and small restaurants, too. Also the killed men all had been owners of small businesses. I saw the relationship – but only me. Never the police. There was a picture from a camera that showed the two men who had placed the bomb – short pants, basecaps, bicyle. Same description also fit men seen at one of the murder scenes.

But the police searched for criminal foreigners, clues in the busines of the neighbours. They did not even bother to compare the pictures with the list of wanted people.

Neither of these cases was solved – until late 2011. Two men, believed to have robbed a bank, killed themselves (as far as it is known). Short time later, a women who had been living with them, turned herself in to the police after having set fire to their appartment. CDs were sent to different people from which the police learned that these three who had gone underground about 1998 and had been wanted for criminal deeds related to hate and right-extremist circles had also commited the nine murdes and placed two bombs. The faces of the two man were easily recognizable as those from the camera close to my street.

Since some weeks the case is in court. During the last 18 months there have been several inquiries in the parlaments of thuringen, where this group had lived and hidden, in Berlin – and the results show that a lot of police and secret service staff had either not wanted to turn their sources in or had just looked the other way. The whole thing is sickening and for those Turkish living in Germany and following the news (good for Germany that not very many do that) it shows the neglect with wich their interest have been treated and the blindness of many officials when it comes to racist crimes.

I, myself, am furious, sick – that day, it was a close miss that my husband would have walked into the bomb. It was exactly on his way to our home, and the time when he would come from work every day. Not that day, thanks to God. He, helpful as always, had gone after work to pick up my new dress from the seamstress what made him half an hour late. But I will never forget the half hour when I saw the glass all over the street, destroyed shops and cars, blood everywhere and could not reach him. The helpless fury when the minister of interiour called this a crime that could not have any relation with racism when the street was still covered in glass and blood and nobody could know anything yet – so he directed the police what not to follow up.

And now, since 2011, all the dirty details of neglect, lies, cover up come out one by one. Had I written a thriller containing all this and tried to publish before 2011 – I doubt any German printing house would have wished to publish it. If I do it now, it will just be telling what the newspapers already wrote. Maybe I will, maybe not.

There is more … but not today.

Another sort of Bug

I did not write any more since my account of Miss Grey’s hunting. Miss Grey, by the way, has been out since 2 am and not returned back today, which is a first – I am worried.

As to my not writing – yes, a bug was the reason. Neither spider nor cockroach, but one of the unhealthy type: gastro-enteritic Virus, that came over the whole family and had me crash  down for four days. Only today I was in the mood to enjoy my morning tea and some more. Awful. Sometimes, just holding my laptop on my knees was too much and I retired to watch TV – always a good method to sleep as I never find anything interesting. Or if, usually it is the last few scenes of a nice film.

Today, getting better. Lots of things to take care of that just were kept in line, like my language lessons, housework … and then some. Hate it.

Still, had time to read, one YA-novel in German, by a collegue, nice read, and then Rutherford’s “New York”. Like with most of Michener’s novels I wonder what amount of research it must take to get this sort of book that good – history of a place running over centuries (although I must say, “Sarum” was more of this).

And now? Weekend for the family starts after noon, so I’d better be going.

All new – maybe

I must be crazy. Starting this new blog now after I decided last month to finally take classes in Arabic. Fact is, I have been here since four years. I can read vocalized texts, with non-vocalized I try a guess, I understand some, mostly single words or everyday conversation. I CANNOT reply in more than one-word-sentences, and this has been annoying me from the first.
Most people seemed to expect that I should learn the language just from living here. Two reasons why that did not work out: I was always quite good at learning languages, but never, never just from hearing it spoken. Without book, grammar and some explanation I just cannot make it. Second reason: the persons to whom I speak most talk English with me, and no one has time or nerve to teach (and I know that this is hard to impossible within the family).
So, now, as I saw the chance to get into a decent school, I had myself admitted for the summer course. Starting at 9th June I will attend classes five days a week from 9 am to 1 pm and then come home to study some more, as I was told. I am rather excited. InshaAllah this will work out.
Still, I am apprehensive: the summer course runs for two months, meaning, nearly all of Ramadan. That will be hard on me this year, I am afraid. On the other hand, I did not want to wait until the next trimester starts in October, especially as the shorter summer course is much cheaper and I just wanted to give the place and their teaching methods a try. If I cannot manage or do not like it, it will not be such a big loss. But I do not know if I will make it ….

Thinking about it, I have some hopes – meeting other people, hearing new things and, if all goes well, have better means for communication. I might write about my schooldays here, too.
Tomorrow starts with an entry test to find out, which level I will have to start at.