Saturday, February 24, 2007

Lovely Feinan and Other Adventures!

I just drove back from a fabulous overnight in Wadi Feinan. The Feinan Ecolodge, set mid wadi at the base of the mountains is lovely, and managing to survive without electricity is a refreshing change. The special niches in the rooms reserved for candles is charming and we were glad that the one exception was in the bathroom where there was power for one energy saving light bulb!

Yesterday I drove my car to the village of Ghreighra where we parked at the Feinan reception area. We then tossed our bags in the back of a pickup truck and were driven the next 10 kilometers over a rough road to the lodge. Today we did the whole thing in reverse but instead of just tossing our bags in the truck, three of us rode back there too. Another refreshing change from confined cars with confined seatbelts!

Thoroughly exhilarated from our adventures of visiting ancient ruins and the famous Feinan copper mines (which were first used in Neolithic times 8500 BC – 4500 BC) we headed home via Ghor Safi, where we stopped to see Lot’s Cave. Sadly, the newly built museum has yet to be opened, so we passed it on our way up the hill to the staircase that took us to the Cave, the Church of St. Lot and the monastery. Once back in the car the two of us who had counted quizzed the other two about how many steps there were up to the site! Neither guess was close and even we had a discrepancy between us as to whether it was 290 or 291? The guard who was there told us that there were 300 steps, so I guess that settled it for all of us.
Continuing our drive home, I suddenly became aware that the car was quickly running out of gas. Thankfully we managed to get to a station, the first one on the road leading up from the Dead Sea. Unfortunately they didn’t have any unleaded gas, but I was able to put enough super in the car to get us home. Our only unpleasant incident of the day was when we pulled in the station and saw the attendant filling the car ahead of us while smoking a cigarette!! When we protested both he and the driver of the other car assured us that it was okay…no problem. We made them VERY aware that there WAS a problem and he put the cigarette out before filling my car. This is not my first experience with this kind of ignorance, I have had the same thing happen at the one station in Aqaba where one can get unleaded gas. Does anyone know who we can report these incidents to because these stations should be shut down until it can be proved that their attendants don’t smoke!

Thankfully we weren’t blown to smithereens and we arrived home safe and sound with future plans to try out the other ecolodges that are springing up around Jordan. So…where next….Dana….Ajloun, or the new place that I just heard of in Azraq?? One thing for sure, next time we might be safer if along with our overnight bags, we took a jerry can of gas to prevent exposing ourselves to “explosive situations” by ignorant smoking gas station attendants!!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Costly Carrefour Shopping Carts

I have discovered that you can get great baked goods at the newly opened Carrefour. They also have an extensive variety of both tinned and fresh products. There is only one drawback, they expect people to pay 10 piasters to use their shopping carts! Their procedure is that you pay for the cart and then get the 10 piasters back when you check out. Now, has anyone EVER heard about paying for the usage of a shopping cart?? Okay, you get your money back but how often do you have 10 piasters in your pocket?? I know that I seldom do…and then what???

When I protested, I was told that that was the Carrefour policy…which I know isn’t true, at least not in all their stores. I just recently returned from a trip to Oman and shopped at their Carrefour and there was NO charge to use their carts! Because I refuse to comply with this stupid policy, my shopping is now limited to how much I can carry in a shopping basket. That means that I can buy a lot of their bread and croissants, but the milk, cheese, and other dairy products, plus any canned or tinned goods are out….until or unless they change their policy!

Fix It or Remove It

Here is an example of one of my pet peeves in this country. Call it what you want......lack of follow up, poor maintenance, shoddy workmanship or just plain laziness. This billboard/sign was put up last June for Jordan's Army Day. It is located on the main road just past the King Hussein Medical Center but on the opposite side of the road. I drive past it several times every day. It's huge and it's ugly.

I thought it would be taken down when eventually all the other decorations, bleachers, observation posts etc. were removed but no, it remained. Numbers have fallen off, large sections are missing, wires dangle here and there and the whole thing looks strangely out of place. I guess it wouldn't bother me quite as much if it were an ad for Kentucky Fried Chicken or even say Pantene Shampoo. But it's the King!!!..............z
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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ode to 'Art'

"It's a delicate art — trying to have that interaction with Bahrainis and not trying to be too present," said Kevin Aandahl, a US navy commander and public affairs officer in Bahrain, home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, and the command centre for roughly 30 US and 15 allied ships patrolling the waters right on Iran's doorstep …

A delicate art they call it;
… arrogant, fascist and aggressive I call it.
It's also an art to hide the real intentions of these 'war' ships … and then blame Iran for increasing tensions.
It's an art to pursue peace down the barrel of a gun
And then claim 'God' is on 'our' side;
And the fine art of hypocrisy when Israel is concerned knows no bounds.
They call it art;
We call it lies…malevolent deception
All the way to our natural, archaeological, commercial assets,
Held hostage to the evil of dominion.

God's will be done, is it?

God left a long time ago ….

So who will help our people now?


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bite the Bullet

The description in the Jordan Times about the new parking system that the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) has implemented looks positive. However, I have serious doubts that it will solve the problem even in a small specific area such as Rabia, and a lot of money will be wasted. I wish that GAM would ‘bite the bullet’ and face up to the major parking mess in Amman and construct a number of strategically located parking garages in Shmeisani, Sweifiyeh, between high-rise buildings, and inside business districts throughout the city. The money generated from these garages should pay off the initial investment and might even bring extra to GAM’s coffers so that they won’t rely on fines from people who are in violation of zoning codes. Then GAM might actually ENFORCE the zoning regulations - which is what they should have been doing all along. After all, ineffectual zoning is one reason we have parking problems. A good investment for GAM and/or anyone is a parking garage: low overhead, low maintenance, high income, and great cash flow.


Dubai initiative

Glad to see that Dubai is taking the initiative to preserve its architectural heritage – let's hope something along these lines is included in the Greater Amman Municipality's Master plan for the city ... J

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Dibbin Debacle

Overlooking Dibbin by J

It is sad to realize that the debate over Dibbin forest rests on one simple fact: development vs. heritage. It is time this argument is taken to the next logical level; out of the hands of government where political dictates often obscure the reality, into the hands of an independent body with the power to overrule whatever political decisions hold sway over issues of national heritage. And this is because 'heritage', as in identity and state – belong to the people. Governments come and governments go, and we the people have to live with the results of short sighted vision or even corruption – a.k.a. the dam at Karameh, that destroyed a rural community that harvested salt for a living.

For too long our national heritage has been held hostage to the notions of economic development and it's easy to see why – that is the dynamics of the current state of Jordanian politics, one that has allowed for example, the handing over of Wadi Rum region and its nature reserve to ASEZA – a government within a government whose agenda is 'development' along the shores of Aqaba and now into the heartland of one of the world's most spectacular living desert landscapes. I fear the future for this special place.

Without an effective counterbalance to government sanctioned private development projects, will we be able to preserve what little heritage is left – our forests are a case in point. And it is only through transparent laws governing the heritage of the country that this can be achieved. At the moment, there are too many loop holes for people with investment and market returns to leap through … so who cares about such trivial things as a few trees, old buildings, open spaces or rural life.

It is becoming clear that only an independent body such as a National Heritage Trust with legal and political clout can oversee the work of government when it threatens our national heritage. Dibbin is that issue. The government has too many vested interests to have the courage to confront big business. It is a fallacy to believe that private development projects will bring benefits to the rural poor. The only thing they will do is keep them poor and dependent with the main profits going to the investment company. Rural communities need to be given the resources to develop from within and from the roots up - is that not the role of government to provide? - so that a national heritage, in the form of rural living in harmony with the environment, is preserved and development integrated into the needs of a community – one of their own making; not imposed from above with more 5 star hotels that only serve tourists.

With a National Trust made up of individuals (not government officials) with a proven track record, can our heritage be preserved for future generations. We already have such bodies as the Petra National Trust, and the RSCN – but their effectiveness to challenge government policies is limited by lack of legal authority. What success has been achieved in the past has been through the sheer determination and social activism of committed individuals. These people whose sole interest is to preserve our collective national heritage now need a helping hand to combat the insidious and very threatening nature of 'private' development.

If you had a choice what would you want to leave your grandchildren, beautiful natural forests in a semi arid desert landscape that make up only 1% of land use, or hotels that pollute and use excessive amounts of natural resources to keep the tourists (and investors) happy … whatever happened to responsible development …? J

PS -As I was writing up the above, z was posting the below cartoon - thanks z, sums it up perfectly!

Protect Dibbin

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Pogo and Arms Sales

The top 5 arms exporters in 2006 were: the United States (double that of any other country), United Kingdom, Russia, Israel, and China. Many of these exports/sales were to countries that are defined as undemocratic by the US State Department's Human Rights Report and many to countries engaged in active conflict. (Wikipedia)
President Bush is saying he has 'no doubt that Iran has supplied weapons used against US forces in Iraq.' It may be true that weapons from Iran have been found in Iraq but President Bush has conveniently forgotten the huge US arms sales to Iraq in former years as well as to Iran during the Iran-Iraq war, just as he has forgotten the arming of the Taliban by the US when they were fighting the Soviets. Many of these weapons have come back to haunt US forces as in a short period of time friendly nations have turned into 'Axis of Evil' and various armies and/or freedom fighters have turned into insurgents.
Pogo was probably right when he said: "We have met the enemy and it is us."..........z

Official Holidays in Jordan

How about this for some forward planning, as reported in the Jordan Times, Friday-Saturday, February 16-17, 2007:

Official holidays identified

AMMAN (Petra) — Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit this week identified official holidays (religious and national) during which public institutions and ministries will remain closed, as well as events which will be observed without a holiday.
The Hijra New Year, Prophet Mohammad’s birthday, Eid Al Fitr, Eid Al Adha, Christmas, New Year, Independence Day and Labour Day will be considered official holidays for public institutions and ministries.
The Prime Ministry also decided that the Labour Day holiday, observed on May 1, will be combined with the preceding or following day if it coincides with a weekend.
Other holidays, whether religious or national, will be observed on their prescribed day.
Israa Wal Miraj, Army Day, the Great Arab Revolt anniversary, His Majesty King Abdullah’s birthday and his Ascension to the Throne and His Majesty the late King Hussein’s birthday will be observed without a holiday.
Last month, the King asked the government to set a clear calendar, pointing out public holidays and daylight saving time for the coming five years to “help public and private institutions set well-defined and long-term plans.”

Official holidays –2007 to 2011
January 1, Monday: New Year
January 1 to 4, Monday to Thursday: Eid Al Adha
January 20, Saturday (Muharram 1): Hijra New Year
March 31, Saturday (Rabee’ Awal 12): Prophet Mohammad’s Birthday
May 1, Tuesday: Labour Day (Note: The holiday will be taken on Sunday. April 29)
May 25, Friday: Independence Day
October 13 to 16, Saturday to Tuesday: Eid Al Fitr
December 20 to 24, Thursday to Monday: Eid Al Adha
December 25, Tuesday: Christmas

January 1, Tuesday: New Year
January 9, Wednesday: Hijra New Year
March 19, Wednesday (Rabee’ Awal 12): Prophet Mohammad’s Birthday
May 1, Thursday: Labour Day
May 25 Sunday: Independence Day
September 30 to October 3, Tuesday to Friday: Eid Al Fitr
December 8 to 12, Monday to Friday inclusive: Eid Al Adha
December 25, Thursday: Christmas
December 28, Sunday: Hijra New Year

January 1, Thursday: New Year
March 8, Sunday (Rabee’ Awal 12): Prophet Mohammad’s Birthday
May 1, Friday: Labour Day
May 25 Monday: Independence Day
September 20 to September 23, Sunday to Wednesday: Eid Al Fitr
November 27 to December 1, Friday to Tuesday: Eid Al Adha
December 17, Thursday: Hijra New Year
December 25, Friday: Christmas

January 1, Friday: New Year
February 25, Thursday (Rabee’ Awal 12): Prophet Mohammad’s Birthday
May 1, Saturday: Labour Day
May 25 Tuesday: Independence Day
September 9 to 12, Thursday to Sunday: Eid Al Fitr
November 16 to 20, Tuesday to Saturday: Eid Al Adha
December 7, Tuesday: Hijra New Year
December 25, Saturday: Christmas

January 1, Saturday: New Year
February 15, Tuesday (Rabee’ Awal 12): Prophet Mohammad’s Birthday
May 1, Sunday: Labour Day
May 25 Wednesday: Independence Day
August 30 to September 2, Tuesday to Friday: Eid Al Fitr
November 5 to 9, Saturday to Wednesday: Eid Al Adha
December 25, Sunday: Christmas
December 27, Tuesday: Hijra New Year
Fixed dates for daylight saving time in Summer and Winter:
Clocks will move forward by 60 minutes (GMT + 3) at midnight on the last Thursday in March.
Clocks will be set back by 60 minutes (GMT + 2) as of 1:00am on the last Friday in October.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Give Me Your Tired Your Poor........

The news is full of reports that the US has decided to 'dramatically increase its intake of Iraqi refugees - up to ten times more than they have previously accepted.' When I first heard this I thought to myself; that's good and about time since they caused this problem in the first place. But when the figure of 7,000 (yes a mere seven thousand!!) was mentioned I was shocked! as that also means that in the past three years the US had accepted less than 700 Iraqis. As my husband said, they would be lost on one street in Manhattan......
Jordan has to date taken in more than 750,000 Iraqis - nearly 1/6 of our population and Syria more than 1,000,000. Obviously there is no comparison in the size and wealth of these two countries to that of the US.
Recently the UNHCR has suggested that the US and its allies help Jordan and Syria in coping with these refugees. I certainly hope their response is more generous than their intake of 7,000 refugees!!!...........z

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Obedience vs. Judgment

When I read in the newspaper that road accidents are among the leading causes of death in Jordan, I remembered a discussion that I had had with a Jordanian some time ago. One comment he made has stayed with me, “If a European is walking after midnight and there are no cars on the road at all, he would stop at a red light and wait until it turned green before crossing the street!” I felt his remark showed disdain for the law-abiding attitude of ‘foreigners,’ and also he was hinting that his sense of judgment was better than the European’s. He would cross the street without waiting for the light to change. This is a bit of silliness of course, but it does pose an interesting question

How much does a driver’s attitude affect accidents? Some drivers choose to overtake another car recklessly, operate their vehicles with mechanical problems, be distracted by mobiles, switch lanes without signaling, tailgate, weave in and out of traffic, and speed just because the road ahead is open. If they do this believing their judgment is superior to good driving rules and existing traffic laws, they are wrong and the statistics prove it.


Monday, February 12, 2007

scroogle it!

Here's a tip from my IT savvy brother ...

and as he says, "don't google it - SCROOGLE it" ... for starters anyway ...

what's your opinion? J

Sunday, February 11, 2007


The following is the damning indictment of the Bush Regime by former U.S. National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, in his testimony before the American Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 1 February 2007 …

About time is all I can say … J

"If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large. A plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks; followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure; then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the U.S. blamed on Iran; culminating in a "defensive" U.S. military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
A mythical historical narrative to justify the case for such a protracted and potentially expanding war is already being articulated. Initially justified by false claims about WMD's in Iraq, the war is now being redefined as the "decisive ideological struggle" of our time, reminiscent of the earlier collisions with Nazism and Stalinism. In that context, Islamist extremism and al Qaeda are presented as the equivalents of the threat posed by Nazi Germany and then Soviet Russia, and 9/11 as the equivalent of the Pearl Harbor attack which precipitated America's involvement in World War II.
This simplistic and demagogic narrative overlooks the fact that Nazism was based on the military power of the industrially most advanced European state; and that Stalinism was able to mobilize not only the resources of the victorious and militarily powerful Soviet Union but also had worldwide appeal through its Marxist doctrine. In contrast, most Muslims are not embracing Islamic fundamentalism; al Qaeda is an isolated fundamentalist Islamist aberration; most Iraqis are engaged in strife because the American occupation of Iraq destroyed the Iraqi state; while Iran -- though gaining in regional influence -- is itself politically divided, economically and militarily weak. To argue that America is already at war in the region with a wider Islamic threat, of which Iran is the epicenter, is to promote a self-fulfilling prophecy.".

One year on ....

... and they continue to dig away at our mountain side along the Wadi Sakra Road. Does anyone have any idea what is going to be built in this monstrous hole?

Well here is something I came across the other day while browsing through some magazines in a dentist's clinic ... the secret 'design' apparently is called a 'Living Wall' project ... recently recognised in a Dubai architectural show ... complete with the usual offices, malls, tower blocks et al .... did we really need that in the midst of a residential/medical area of the city?

... and meanwhile back in Amman, we are none the wiser... and I wish we had a living mountain with trees instead. I am so fed up with a house full of dust as a result of this mammoth undertaking and I hope they have spared a thought for proper parking when it's finished, otherwise Wadi Sakra Road - the one designed as a thoroughfare for easy driving - will turn into another nightmare on Garden's Street. J

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Iraqi refugees in Jordan

oh, so heart rending. T

Friday, February 8, 2007
Dear Friends,

Yesterday I felt so much outrage, rage at what is now being referred to here as "the 'G' nightmare." Iraqis are being told they must return to Baghdad to get the new "G" passport. It is now required by the U.S. and British embassies. One older couple who has loved ones in the states has been waiting in Amman for almost a year now. Recently they received the good news that their visa has finally been approved! In the same breath, they were advised that the passports they hold are no longer valid. The Iraq embassy in Amman is not issuing the new passports; they can only be gotten in Baghdad. I find this impossible to grasp.

I heard that the passport from Baghdad can be obtained in just a few days if someone is able to "pay" $500, $750, or even $1,000. Those who cannot pay, and go through the "normal" process, should count on a month's time to get the new "G" passport. The long lines at the Baghdad office are prime targets for bombs. It is no longer possible, someone said here the other day, to cross the city of Baghdad let alone travel the road from Baghdad to Amman. As if that weren't bad enough, if one is fortunate enough to survive the deadly road from Baghdad to Amman and have the "G" passport in hand, there is no guarantee whatsoever that they will be allowed to reenter Amman at the Jordan border. With no monitoring presence at the border; it depends entirely on the mood of the border authorities and arbitrary regulations.

A dear friend of ours (she lives with immediate family in Amman because of death threats she received} is presently in Baghdad with her three children. To our distress, she said she needed to see family as well as get needed documents from the Ministry of Education there. In the last weeks she has been in contact by phone, each time with desperate accounts of increasing violence and bloodshed.

She couldn't get to the Ministry of Education building because of fighting between different armed groups, military, police and coalition forces in the area. Her sister-in-law's apartment (we know the family of nine well) is now unlivable as a car bomb went off at the corner blowing out windows, plaster, etc. A couple of days ago this friend called saying "It is a miracle we are alive." She and family members had gotten off a bus when 100 meters further down the street the bus exploded. "There were dead bodies and parts of bodies all over" she told me in a shaky voice. It is into this horror that people are being told they must return.

I have been struggling unsuccessfully to come up with an appropriate image to describe this newest "G" passport development. A warehouse in flames? On fire with deadly explosions going off randomly throughout the building. And people are being told they must go back into the burning building? Going back to Baghdad is not an option.

Feeling the need to do something, anything, I went in the afternoon to a small office downtown that acts as a go-between for people seeking visas from the U.S. The owner's anger and indignation at what is being asked of people matched my own. "Do you know how many people are crying here in the office, grown men, grown men breaking down? They are suffering so much, and now this!"

As part of a trip to the Middle East, the High Commissioner of the UNHCR, Antonio Gutierrez, was in Amman this week. A friend sat in on the press meeting and was able to give me a report later that day. High Commissioner Gutierrez had met with the King as well as with Jordan's Minister of Interior, Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Justice. He said that the International community is not fully aware of the Iraqis who have been displaced by the current crisis ( 1.8 million within Iraq, 2 million outside). He spoke of the need to combine maintaining a "protected space" for the Iraqi displaced population in addition to recognizing and supporting countries [like Jordan] that "are making such a remarkable sacrifice" to carry this weight. He is calling on the International community to assume full responsibility.

Last November, here in Amman, Human Rights Watch's (HRW) released a report on Iraqi refugees, "The Silent Treatment." President Bush was in Amman at the time of its release. I highly recommend the report. Voices for Creative Nonviolence (VCNV) had a small part in that work last spring as we were able to direct their research lawyers to an area in Amman where Iraqis are particularly vulnerable to police pickups and deportation. Yesterday, together with a trusted friend translating for me, I went to see friends there. I had secured copies of the report in Arabic from HRW in New York, and wanted these courageous folks to see the concrete result of their willingness to speak with HRW representatives.

Our friends welcomed us warmly but were highly nervous. A raid had taken place earlier that day, causing everyone to flee. We learned that the daily raids have increased, and that vehicles in the city are now being stopped and IDs demanded of the inhabitants. Tragically one of the persons quoted in the report, and for whom I had brought a copy, had been picked up and deported back to Iraq over a month ago. We were told that he was returned to Iraq even though he had an ID from the UN on his person.

Our friends were frightened to even take the report in their hands. They felt if they were caught having it in their possession they might be put at even greater risk of deportation. In addition to their fearfulness, we felt a sense of overwhelming hopelessness on their part. "What can we do?" one said, "We only want to live in peace."

I greet you with love,

Friday, February 09, 2007

Thank You Amman Municipality

I have to admit it, I LOVE the 4th circle tunnel, I love the bridge and I love the tunnel under Abdoun that allows me to get from Shemisani (once I get out of my driveway) to the Abdoun Mall area in something like 10 minutes max! I know, we complained and complained about “why do we need to build that stupid bridge.” We said, “I will never use it” or “watch it collapse with the first rain” or “what a waste of money!” Yet, I now plan all of my routes around how I can make use that bridge!

So here it is…and you haven’t heard me say this very often, but Thank You Amman Municipality! Thank you for not listening to the many complainers like me and thank you for building that traffic complex. There might be some glitches and it might not be perfect, but it sure has made my driving life easier….and….I can’t wait until this is all connected to the airport road….so please hurry!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Where Does Guilt Lie?

Two nights ago I saw a re-run of an old movie called ‘Judgment at Nuremburg’ with a great cast of actors. The film was made in 1961 about the legacies of World War II – specifically the Nazi war criminals who were put on trial at Nuremburg. I know I saw the film before, but this time around, it gave me an eerie feeling. Although the movie posed a number of time worn questions there was one that I found particularly provocative.

Where does guilt lie in a war? Can the people of the aggressor nation claim ignorance? Can people wash their hands of the crimes their countrymen commit and say, “We never knew that was going on?” I am sure that would be the easiest, safest, and most pleasant route, but is it the truth? Do people seriously not know or do they just choose not to know?

I think that my countrymen, Americans, do not know the truth about what their government does because the government acts in secret and the media comply. But how long can they allow themselves this delusion. Doesn’t anybody know history, recent history like Vietnam? Doesn’t anybody put two and two together to decipher the meaning of what is actually happening?

Obviously, I’m asking questions that are not easy to answer, and certainly the answers won’t be agreeable. But I can imagine another scenario, in another time and place. The war criminals could be the Bush administration and the crimes against humanity would be the 10 year sanctions and invasion of Iraq. Will the American people say, “But we didn’t know?”


the project in Dibbin forest

I have been sent this photograph of where the proposed project of hotels, houses etc etc are to be built in Dibbin Forest. Now, I cannot verify the truth of this but I hope someone can give me an answer. Is this correct? And if it is what a disgrace to even contemplate taking this part of the forest. T

From One Mother to Another - A Poem

After I had read the writings and speeches of Nurit Peled-Elhanan, a professor of English and human rights activist, I felt inspired to write the following poem - from one mother to another living in the Middle East - J

She speaks not of muted tongue,
Nurit Peled-Elhanan;
but in the tongue of many languages
and I hear her loud and clear; do you?
or is it Babel, all over again?
This time, she speaks to me
The mother, the widow, the sufferer;
In collective mourning for our lost humanity.
And I understand.
So why doesn't he or she over there?
The Megalomaniac who likes to tear my world apart.
The Megalomaniac who loves racism, fascism and death deemed appropriate
in a peculiar notion of what is right – a war on terror …?
A war on peace it seems to me; on motherhood;
on you and me and a child.
And as I quote Nurit Peled-Elhanan, when she writes
"Why does that streak of blood, rip the petal of your cheek?"
I strain to find the reason

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Trashing our Country

I drove down to Aqaba a couple of days ago and was distressed and disgusted over how much garbage is strewn across our roadsides. I have come to expect seeing this on the Dead Sea road, but guess what….there is now competition on the Desert Highway! The numbers of plastic bags, broken bottles, and plastic containers on the sides of the road was shocking. My suggestion is to mobilize the army to do a mass removal and then enforce strict littering fines to stop this epidemic! Of course it would help if there were containers along the road where the garbage could be deposited, but in lieu if that, citizens should be educated to carry their garbage with them until they find a proper trash bin l to put it in.

I cringe when I think of what impressions visitors to Jordan have of our apparently careless society. Why do people who would never litter their homes think it is okay to trash their countryside?? I just don’t get it! People need to appreciate this beautiful country and treat with the respect that it so justly deserves!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Of Carrots and a disappearing seed stock

As if it's not enough to contend with fascist foreign policies in our part of the world, we now have to contend with the battle to control the food we eat.
Watch out for the 'terminator seed' of Monsanto and its ilk;
or is it already upon us?

I have long searched for the elusive Jordanian carrot;
the one that used to grow on the plains of Moab, near Madaba.
Crisp, tasty and fresh – the one with a natural sweet flavour;
But alas, our indigenous seed stock is threatened,
and the humble Jordanian carrot is no-more;
replaced with acidic replicas from all over
Bulgaria I heard was one source, Turkey another, and who knows where
this batch comes from.
They just don't taste the same anymore.

With tampering and modifying, genetically and otherwise,
what are we really eating these days, does anybody know?

And what of the tomatoe?
Gone down the same sorry road?

Over two decades ago I heard whispers of seed experimentation down in the Jordan valley, and was concerned then. But since the floodgates of agricultural imports/technology/commercial hitmen entered the indigenous market, that succulent, juicy, delicious and almost affectionately ugly tomato, is now also gone; assigned to the memory of those old enough to remember …
… how it used to make a delicious 'galayat bandora', at a price everyone could afford.

Needless to say, I rarely buy tomatoes these days.
They simply look too fake! J