Tuesday, November 27, 2007

cutting down trees

What is happening to our trees? I saw these being cut down and bulldozed. Every one is precious in this country. T

Monday, November 26, 2007

of Weddings and Earthquakes

That was a wedding that was - my first of four yet to come. The most unique part of this wonderful week was the overwhelming power of human kindness and joy, wrapped up in a little bundle called love. So to celebrate, we all went down to the Dead Sea; all fifty of us from three different continents that spanned the world. A true force for peace ...

And then mother nature decided to intervene and have her say.
Earthquake alert, with a 4.5 on the richter scale and we found ourselves evacuated to the car park from the swimming pool.

After about half an hour the all clear was given so we proceeded back to the swimming pool where a neat little wind was gaining a powerful force

.... then torrential rains that threatened to ruin my new camera ....

But by sunset, all was calm, at least on the eastern front ... and we sat and marvelled at the creation of nature in all its wonderful glory .... J
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Friday, November 23, 2007

Rainbow Street

I would love an explanation as to why JD 1.8 million has been spent on Rainbow Street and the reasoning behind certain ideas. I think it is fantastic that the old areas of Amman are being preserved and conserved but I really hate to see the load of concrete at the beginning of the street by the First Circle and further along in a small empty space past Jordan Petroleum which has also been concreted over. What is the point of the cobblestones which are so uncomfortable to walk and drive on? And why are there gutters on each side of the road with no drains built in? It is difficult to know whether to park in the gutter or not.

Will the road be open for pedestrians only at certain times?

I suppose what brought all these thoughts on is that I was driving down there yesterday, turned a corner and went over some bolts sticking out of the road and completely destroyed one of the tyres on my car! T
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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Observations on a Rainy Day

Yesterday was the first rainy day this season and I headed out to play tennis…figure out that one! Naturally it was canceled but since I was already out I headed for Carrefore to buy an electric space heater. I guess that due to the rain a section of the road near the end of the Mecca street intersection had collapsed, causing all the traffic to be diverted up Mecca street. A huge traffic jam resulted and I found myself following an Ambulance with flashing lights, but no siren. It was impossible for him to get through and I felt badly for whomever he might be transporting. I felt even worse as I watched the driver smoke a cigarette and wondered what the patient would die from first…the injury, the smoke inhalation, or the explosion should there be an open oxygen tank.

I finally made it to Carrefore and bought my space heater but was distracted when the loudspeakers announced that there was an emergency in the building and that everyone should evacuate from the closest exit. No one took any notice even though it was announced in both English and Arabic. I stayed in my queue, paid my bill and left with the emergency message ringing in my ears.

I don’t know what that was all about but if it was a real emergency, no one was paying attention…if it were a drill, same thing. It left me wondering why everyone was treating the announcement so blasé and if it were serious, why weren’t the security, staff and Carrefore employees organizing their customers to evacuate in an orderly way? God help us if there is a REAL emergency because if people behave like they did yesterday, a great tragedy might occur.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

recycling entrepreneur

Good for these guys who are picking up rubbish and, I presume, recycling it somehow. Wish the Government had a similar programme. T

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Guest Friendly Wedding

Although all brides are beautiful, weddings are not always the most pleasant of events. Many are show off social gatherings that I try to avoid whenever possible. I have spent too many evenings trapped at a table with strangers while going deaf from loud speakers that belong in a football stadium. Often food is not served before 11PM so the uppermost thought in my mind is when I can leave. This is not the mind set one should have at such a joyous occasion.

Last Saturday I attended a lovely wedding celebration that was guest friendly. The invitation was for 8PM. For an hour or so guests mingled and enjoyed seeing one another. The parents of the groom were tireless hosts making sure that everyone was all right. The celebration began with short speeches by the father of the groom and the father of the bride. Food was served. By 10:30 music and dancing filled the room, and those who cared to leave felt free to do so. I am sure that the evening had been planned with the needs and comfort of the wedding guests in mind. They were successful; we all had a great time. Thanks to J and N for a lovely evening, and a thousand mabrooks for your son.


Friday, November 16, 2007

water bills

Would someone please explain to me how my water bills can be exactly the same (to the fils) every three months since March 2006? At times I have been away for 3 weeks, but never a variation in the bill. Does this happen to everyone? T

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

today is King Hussein's birthday

I first met King Hussein when he was 29, such a long time ago. I will never forget him. T
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Monday, November 12, 2007

Election Craziness

For us living in Jordan, the cities are quite festive with hanging banners, pictures and signs plastered everywhere, promoting the various candidates who are running for Parliament on November 20. For the foreign traveler though, it is a different matter. A travel agent that was here with a group last week said that she thought she would avoid coming the next time (4 years from now) when this happens as it was hard to see the loveliness of the city with all of this craziness going on. I can see her point, but then again, the enthusiasm that is being displayed by all of the election signs is uplifting, taking our minds off more serious issues…such as Iraq, Iran, the rising price of oil, the expensive Euro, etc etc etc.

Yesterday Samar Haj Hasan spoke to a group of English speaking ladies (voters) laying out her platform and discussing issues that concern us. She was most impressive and we were left feeling that she would be a very positive choice to represent us from the 3rd district of Amman. When I mentioned this to some friends this morning I had a mixed reaction, with one telling me that she wasn’t going to vote! That caused me to put on my “civic duty hat”, urging her to do what every conscientious citizen should do, meaning….vote! Let’s hope that my argument convinced her and that she, along with everyone else who is eligible, will be at the voting stations in force, on the 20th…even though the government has proclaimed that day a holiday!!!

Good luck to Samar and to the other (over 200) courageous women who are running from the many districts around the country. You are a great example, especially to our youth, and we applaud you and your efforts.


conserving the Doum Palm in Aqaba

I have never noticed these particular palm trees in Jordan, but it is interesting to learn something new. The nut, or fruit is quite large. So, for anyone going to Aqaba keep your eyes open!! T

Aqaba has a group of historical trees called the Doum Palm. In the past few years some of these trees have been cut down to make room for development. Recently the Aqaba branch of the Jordan Red Crescent has started to implement a series of actions designed to protect the trees in question. This is supported by the UNDP small grants programme and the Global Environmental Facility.

DOUM PALM (Hyphaene thebaica): A native of Upper Egypt, Sudan, Kenya and Tanzania, the doum palm was considered sacred by ancient Egyptians. Seeds of doum nuts have been found in the pharohs' tombs. The doum palm, also known as the gingerbread palm, grows a red-orange, apple-sized fruit that tastes like gingerbread. The fruit's hard, white nut is used to make buttons; Rind from doum nuts is used to make molasses; ground nuts are used to dress wounds. The palm's leaves are used to make mats, bind parcels and writing paper. The doum palm can reach heights of 20 to 30 ft.

Friday, November 09, 2007

advice for all members of parliament

I love this quotation written in 1818 on how members of parliament should conduct themselves, it is still mostly relevant today -

"Enter the House of Commons as the temple of liberty; do not dishonour that temple: preserve your freedom as the pledge of your integrity. Read, inquire, hear, debate and then determine.

Do not without enquiry approve of, nor without good cause oppose, the measures of the court. The true patriot will lend his assistance to enable the King to administer justice, to protect the subject, to agrandize the nation. Avoid bitter speeches: you meet not to revile, but to reason. The best man may err, and therefore be not ashamed to be convinced yourself, nor be ready to reproach others. Remember, that your electors did not send you to make your own fortune, but to take care of theirs.

When you do speak, take special care that it is to the purpose, and rather study to confine yourself to the subject with brevity and perspicuity, than to indulge yourself in the unnecessary display of a flowery imagination.

If you feel all right within, you will scorn to look round the House for support: for be assured, that God, your conscience, and your country, will support you."


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Minister fined

A minister was fined for using a mobile phone whilst driving. ok don't get excited, this happened in UK. Would we even see a minister in Jordan driving him/herself? And if one were caught using their mobile would the police ever dare to fine him/her??? It seems the traffic police let everyone get away with breaking the law.

I could make a fortune for the PSD (or is it the Municipality who benefits?) by just going down a couple of roads and fining everyone who was parking illegaly. Then what about those not wearing seat belts or children being put into danger by their parents by sitting them on their laps in the front seats? Or driving one handed whilst having a conversation on their phone? There is a fortune out there!!! Hit people in their pockets and they will obey the law. T

Sunday, November 04, 2007

This Can't Be Serious

The photo of the electoral poster for a veiled candidate in today’s Jordan Times is the limit! A veiled face cannot be accepted on a passport or a driver’s license because these two legal documents exist to show the identity of an individual. How can a veiled person be accepted as a candidate for Parliament? Until the average citizen is able to carry around a kit that identifies finger prints or eye scans of another human, he must rely on the human face for identity. A vote for a veiled woman has to be a vote for no person at all, or maybe her sister, brother, father, or neighbor!

Bandits and bank robbers cover their faces to hide their identity and protect themselves from responsibility for their acts. No one should vote for a masked man or woman. A little more respect for Jordan’s Parliament, please.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Joining the dots of history

Here's an interesting bit of 'balfouric' history for you: When Chaim Weizmann, became president of the English Zionist Federation in February 1917 and later served as Israel’s first president, he played a vital role in the Balfour discussions that culminated in giving one country - Palestine, to another – Israel.

Now here's the clinch: 'Weizmann was greatly assisted in his efforts by CP Scott, the non-Jewish, Zionism-supporting editor of the Manchester Guardian (now The Guardian), who set up high-level government meetings for Weizmann.'

Zoom forward to Monday 29 September 2003 when The Guardian printed an interesting article by Ahmad Samih Khalidi, a Palestinian writer and former negotiator, and a senior associate member of St Antony's College, Oxford:


Where are the peace loving editors now just when you need them? But maybe that's the point, Khalidi wrote an article not a letter!

Don't you just love history!! J

Friday, November 02, 2007

Lord Balfour - Thank you for Peril of the most Pernicious kind

Today is the 90th anniversary of the issuing of a letter that changed the course of history in the Middle East. It rewrote the principles of the UN Charter to suit its dubious political doctrine and gave legitimacy to discrimination and blood letting on grounds of religion and race.

Have you ever known a simple letter to cause so much violence, division, hatred, and racism than the one written by Lord Balfour to Lord Rothschild that became infamously known as the Balfour declaration? A piece of paper that led to the perils of partition and gave legitimacy to the decimation of one race of people and its culture, for the sake of another. And while the people of Israel and worldwide Jewry commemorate this day as a victory for Zionism – a racist, political, non religious movement - the Arabs commiserate with the Palestinians and mourn their loss of loved ones and homeland that was and will forever remain, Palestine. For they too will never forget … and the vicious cycle continues.

We can only watch on in horror as the blood letting in its 90th year in the name of Zionism is yet to be sated.

Today I mourn for courage and statesmanship; for without them, the principles of justice and legitimacy for all will remain forever under lock and key with the refugee people of Palestine. J


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bedouin camp

Am I being overly sensitive in objecting to the ZITS cartoon published in the Jordan Times today where Um Zits describes his room as, "a Bedouin camp minus the camel"?

I have read that a sign of a society's maturity is the ability to laugh at itself, but I don't think this should be interpreted as accepting total insults. What if Um Zits had said his room was like a North American Indian's teepee, an Inuit igloo or a kibbutz? Can you imagine the outcry?
I think we should expect better from our English newspaper!

Education, Reform and Development

I was really disturbed when I read Ayman Safadi’s comments in the Jordan Times Arabic press commentaries section (Jordan Times, Monday Oct. 29) in which he talks about the regression of education in Jordan, particularly in the universities. Unfortunately, I have heard many of the same complaints many times from people from all walks of life. It seems to me that the top priority of any government in regard to development should be education, education and education. One can build all the roads, bridges, high-rises, hospitals, nuclear power stations etc. in a country, but without smart, trained, thinking people the country will develop artificially and not in the way which is really desired.

For Jordan with its limited resources extra effort must be put into developing the quality of education in its schools. This is not to say that good schools don't exist. But they are generally for the elite. The large majority of students attend schools with poorly qualified teachers or even go without teachers and textbooks well into the school year. They face a limited curriculum in which they are forced to take certain subjects and most of their learning seems to center around memorizing. The debate in Jordan about schools often focuses on such issues as cost, the administration, class size, whether it is co-educational or not, and such things as the books used. Judgment of the school depends largely on testing results rather than on the actual process of education within the school. What needs to be debated is how what goes on in the classroom affects the minds of the pupils. The whole purpose of education is to help students learn to think and understand what they learn and then be able to apply that knowledge to make good judgments or innovative decisions regarding new situations. For this to happen, highly qualified teachers, an open curriculum, and an atmosphere that encourages real thinking, interaction with teachers and other students, and creativity is absolutely paramount.

Over the years there has been much talk of reforming the educational system in Jordan. But I fear there has been far more talk than action. If what Mr. Safadi writes is true, it is clear that reform in education is desperately needed and there must be a deep and honest look into what kind of citizens we want our education system to produce. Anybody can memorize the facts and figures related to engineering, biology, chemistry etc. but that’s not enough to develop prosperous and thriving communities. Students must also be able to connect the facts they learn to this world in terms of innovation, social responsibilities, ethics, and values. This needs high quality education starting in the primary schools and going on up through university; education where students can obtain the necessary knowledge, then develop critical thinking to understand it and thus be able to apply it. How well Jordan is able to provide this will ultimately determine much of its success in development............z