Tuesday, December 26, 2006

members of parliament

Could anyone tell me if you are allowed to stand as a member of parliament if you have been convicted of a crime and served a prison sentence? I know that one of our members was sent to prison for three months for smuggling many years ago but came under a pardon or amnesty from the King. T

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Scrap Metal

Dear Municipality,
Do you remember the pictures that I took a couple of months ago of the poor, dilapidated, broken down dust bins that are scattered all over Amman? I have the solution for how you fund their replacement or repair. Remove all of the “one way” signs that are around the city and sell them for scrap! There is no need to have them as no one pays any attention to them anyway, and the money that you get should pay for a bunch of new shiny…with wheels intact, dust bins!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Good will to all

As the Christian communities of Arabia prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ
and the Muslim communities, the Eid al Adha - can we hope that the 'will of god' ... will soon be translated into the 'will of men' to return to their senses, and spread a little goodwill to all?

Here are some brave people doing just that:


Seasons greetings! J

Friday, December 15, 2006

am I a spoil sport?????

As it is Friday I thought I would go home over the new Abdoun bridge and was surprised and shocked to see cars parked on the bridge with people (and young children) walking along the edge and on the road. Not a police officer in sight of course and when I called 192 there was no reply!

There should be signs up saying 'no stopping' and warning of the dangers of walking along the side. Now, am I trying to spoil peoples fun? T

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dear Elizabeth

Dear Elizabeth,

Each of us at Jordan Journals has been asked many times what living in Jordan is like, and what being married to a Jordanian is like.

If you look through the blog you will find a variety of postings about life in Amman and the positive and negative aspects of living in the Middle East. There are, however, some things that we can tell you that are very different from life in the USA, England, or most countries in the West when one is married to a Jordanian.

Jordanian life revolves around the family, nuclear and extended. Their traditions regarding family relationships are respected and observed. For the most part these traditions make life here appealing, but they do encroach on one's privacy and concerns at times.

Moslem laws regarding inheritance are applied to all Jordanians regardless of one's religion. Women who are not Moslem cannot inherit from a Moslem husband. This law, in particular, is one of the most difficult for all expatriate wives to accept. Women do not have equal rights in other instances as well, so it would be in your interest before marriage to ask about your legal status in the case of divorce, alimony, child custody, child support, as well as inheritance.

On the other hand, marriage is a great leap into the unknown, but hopefully to a person with whom you want to face the uncertainty. If you're not sure, it's probably better to wait for a while. Ideally a visit to Jordan to meet your future family and situation would answer many of your questions and initiate many more.

We hope that these comments help you with your decision.


Answers photos 11-12

Know Jordan Photo 11

Well the clue was a dead give away, however it is the site of the battle of Yarmouk, located about 20 km north of Irbid in the direction of Um Qays. A wonderful day trip for a picnic and a bit of peace and quiet as the site is located at the end of a landscape of oak trees that overlooks the Golan Heights and the valley of the Yarmouk River. Quite ironic really when you realise this is where in 636AD, an Arab army of 40,000 men under Khalid ibn Walid defeated the Byzantine army of 120,000 men. Fierce fighting descended from the plateau into the Yarmouk River around a hill known as Khalid's Hill, all the way from Mukheibeh to Wadi Qwaylbeh ... a decisive defeat for the Byzantines who fled to Antioch.

Khalid's Hill - located in the Yarmouk river bed

The statue at the site was built in 2004 as a symbol of the sword of Khalid ibn Walid ... and although in my photo it appears to lean towards the valley ... optical illusion? ... it is perfectly straight. Perhaps it's time to get a new camera ....

Mabrouk to Huttonian, and Anon 2 ..

Know Jordan Photo 12

We had some interesting comments for this one, but it is, as nasimjo said, the door of the new King Hussein Mosque in the Al-Hussein Park, West Amman, that is quite beautifully lit at night.

Thanks to all for sharing. J

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Abdoun bridge

I stopped to take some photos of our new architectural marvel which is nearly finished. I hate to be pessemistic but I can see that if the speeds are not strongly controlled on this bridge there are going to be plenty of accidents. Just look at the bend. The whole thing may be aesthetically pleasing but is it safe? T

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Clue - Know Jordan photo 11

Here's a clue to photo no. 11 as nobody seems to know where I am - surprising really, this is such a gem of a place .... J

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Know Jordan Photo 12

Where am I?

Know Jordan Photo 11

Where am I?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Between Christmas and Easter

What is it about approaching holidays that makes me want to houseclean? Maybe it’s the probability of company, although I’ve never had company inspect my cupboards and drawers. Regardless, when this spirit moves me to clean, I obey because that is the only time I will get into those hidden places and look at what I have. Without fail I discover packaged food that has expired, congealed and dried up cleaning products, out of style clothes, books I bought because I had a fleeting interest in the subject, and the list goes on. What disturbs me, though, is that I bought much of this stuff in ‘anticipation’ of need, which approaches hoarding. When I see a familiar article in the shop that hasn’t been available for a long time, I pause, I consider, and if the temptation is great, I buy it. Not because I need it, but because I need to have it - ‘just in case.’ In case of what?

I always took for granted that the products I want will be available, but within months of living in Jordan, I learned that ships unloaded every few weeks/months and supplies were limited. That’s the time I began to stock up when I could afford it. I know that frequent instability and wars in the region increased my nearly panicky need to hoard. Now I find that my need to buy is made worse by marketing skills so efficient even the most reluctant shopper is lured. I dislike being wasteful where there is so much need, so I will fill a box or two with salvageable items during these cleaning frenzies knowing someone will be able to use them. This soothes my conscience somewhat. Now I resolve that between Christmas and Easter I will consciously control my urge to stock up and hope that I will get over this habit. I have also discovered that writing blogs this week has allowed me to ignore the cleaning spirit- maybe it will go away and leave me alone until Easter.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Eid il Burbarra

Today, December 4th, is Eid il Burbarra or the Feast of St. Barbara. I first experienced this unknown (to me) Christian celebration when I came to Jordan in 1959. The story behind the feast, as I heard it, goes that Barbara was the daughter of a pagan who converted to Christianity. In so doing she broke with tradition which caused her some problems. One of which was a marriage her father planned to force on her, so she ran away in fear for her life. She hid in a field of ripening wheat and was thus saved. Later she went to, or started a convent and lived a pious life. But the feast is supposed to commemorate the planting of wheat. It is celebrated in Jordan by serving a sweet porridge or pudding made from boiled wheat, raisins, nuts, and flavored with aniseed candies and spices. This dish is called Burbarra and is a special treat when shared with family, friends and neighbors. It’s always a big hit with children.

Although this feast really has no direct ties to Christmas it serves as a sort of jumping off place, as it were. December 4th falls on the same day of the week as Christmas will three weeks later. I was told that since calendars were not common years ago, people used this feast day to mark off the days until Christmas. But the wheat aspect is more directly applicable to Christmas. On December 4th, people begin to sprout wheat kernels, lentils, and beans on saucers layered with wet cotton. These they leave to sprout in a dark place, carefully tending them and keeping them moist so they will grow tall and green. A few days before Christmas most families make their cave for the holy family which is prepared from crumpled brown paper and spattered with mud. The figurines of the Holy Family are placed inside the cave and the saucers of green sprouts are placed around it making the scene resemble a real landscape.

Every household I visited in my husband’s tribe during Christmas had their nativity cave with all the sprouts proudly displayed in their sitting rooms. Even the churches made more elaborate caves for the Christmas season. I remember Eid il Burbarra so well, but unfortunately there has been little in the past years to remind me of it. But it is December 4th.


Friday, December 01, 2006

A List of World Betterments

Domestic violence, wars, and carnage in the region are issues that demand news coverage and action, but I’m always ready for a diversion from the big problems that I am helpless to change. Although the following is something that I am also unable to do anything about, it’s nice to dream a little.

My niece sent me the following article from Slate Magazine and suggested that I might reference it on our blog. She is curious about what I personally, plus the other joladies and commenters could add to the list of world-betterments!
website: http://www.slate.com/id/2153314/

I read it, and of course agree with all – that one million dollars isn’t much these days and won’t go far – but the idea is challenging. I would follow Nobel Laureate Muhammed Yunis’s fantastic idea and give ‘minuscule loans to the destitute.’ Only I would give small loans to rural women in Jordan. I know that there have been funds available in the past and may currently still be through various NGOs. Also from what I understand, the results have been phenomenal. The women repay their loans and have bettered their own lives and that of their families. So my million would be spent on loans to empower women economically. After all, a woman without money of her own is a slave. What would you add to the list of world betterments?


our security services with a sense of humour

According to the NY Times today -

'Jordan's security services were perhaps the biggest winners... "We kept the situation under control and still the people were able to protest", a senior official said Thursday evening speaking anonymously because he was not authorised to speak with the news media. "They burnt some flags, but for us, burning flags is not a security issue, it's an environmental issue". T

it's about power

'It's about power ....... men beat women up because they can get away with it.'

An interesting article in the Guardian today about the 35th anniversary of the refuge movement in the UK reminds me of the difficulties we have in Jordan in dealing with husband/wife abuse.

A 7 month pregnant lady is beaten by her husband with a belt and buckle, she flees from her home and ends up where?

Where do abused wives go when their husbands beat them? Probably to the police station or the governor or end up with an NGO, but there is no safe haven for them. For nearly eight years there have been many efforts to get the Ministry of Social Development to provide a shelter but unfortunately this has yet to come to a reality.

We do not need to begin with a state of the art place, we just need to start with somewhere where a woman (and maybe her children) can be safe for a few days while the police can take the case to court and social workers can calm the situation and try to help the woman to find her way, know her rights and what are her options are. The Family Protection Department of the police does not deal with these cases as they wanted a co-ordinated approach to the problem. All the training that has been done over the past few years is being wasted because there is no official refuge. A reconciliation centre has been set up by the Ministry of Social Development but, as far as I know, is not operational but I think the name is completely ridiculous. These victims need a refuge.

If you have seen, like I have, a woman who was just blood from neck to toes because her husband had beaten her with electric wires, you will know how desperate the situation can be. We have moved forward with child and sexual abuse but domestic violence is still lagging behind.

I believe very strongly that we in Jordan can tackle anything that faces us so please, these women should not have to sit in silence or live with fear, they should have somewhere to go which is safe. T