Feeling Like I Actually Live Here
I could live here for 15 years and still not really feel like a local but I had a few funny moments over the past few weeks that give me a bit of hope (not to mention that I have a brand new mini Jordanian flag hanging in my car)
Dancin’ with my Barber: Right at the end of spring break, I went to the hotspot restaurant here in Madaba called Haret Jdoudna (which my fellow faculty and I have been to mmm maybe 50 times) with a few new Belgian friends that I met in the desert with my parents. It was a weekend night, and the restaurant always turns into this strange mix between a restaurant and a dance party, with an equally strange mix of loud American techno remixed pop music and loud Arab techo remixed pop music. We got up and danced around a bit, though I was certainly reluctant – scanning for a way to get out of it, I noticed that my barber, Nasri, was standing off to the side, so I went over to say hi. We did the awkward kiss hello which I still haven’t mastered (it’s one kiss on one cheek and then like 2-6 on the other… maybe?) and we had an awkward mini-conversation in broken, trying-to-talk-over-loud-music Arabic. I said goodbye and then went back to pretending I was dancing (mostly just clapping) when all of the sudden Nasri’s head was between my legs. I looked down in confusion and was told I had the strangest look on my face… he stepped forward, jammed his shoulders into the back of my thighs and lifted me up in the air so that I could dance-clap for everyone to see. It was absolutely hilarious, and was really the only time I got into dancing with the strangers. I can’t wait to get my next haircut to see Nasri again (and also because I looove haircuts here).
Did your parents go home? Then, earlier this week, I took a few students to one of my favorite spots that I have mentioned probably six times already – it’s called Hashem’s and they sell basically hummus, bread, falafel and wonderful tea, all for like 2 bucks a person. When my parents visited I took them there; when Brian and Val visited I took them there; whenever I want to escape from campus and don’t feel like paying Amman prices for eating out, I go there. Every time I go, I see this one waiter who kind of runs the show, a portly dude with a good humor about him and he always lets me order and speak to him in Arabic (even though I’m sure his English is better than my Arabic). This past time, when I was paying (5 JD = $7 for me and 3 students) he asked me if my parents had gone back to the US yet. It took me a bit to figure out what he was talking about until I realized that he actually recognized me and had recognized that my parents were visiting (and weren’t regulars, because I am the regular), but when I did I was pretty pumped.
Moral of the story: I need to find new places to eat, because I go to the same places pretty much every time. But Moral Jr: Life is good when you feel at least a bit more ingrained in life here than the average tourist.