Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Amman: City of dust

(A Lebanese in Jordan) 
It has been almost a month since I arrived to Amman for my 6-month assignment. I haven't been out much, haven't been to the Dead Sea or Al-'aqaba or Jarash or Wadi Rum or Petra or any of the must-see places in Jordan. My movement was restricted to this cement city called Amman and my encounters did not go beyond Iraqi, Syrian, and Jordanian taxi drivers and Medhat, the Egyptian concierge. It is hard not to notice though the embryonic connection between cities and your mood, and Amman is a city without a soul. A city of dust. I did notice however the full moon projection on my balcony. I seldom look at the sky, I said, to myself, and I don't know if it was the loneliness inside or the ugliness outside that made me turn my head upward. But, I thought that a full moon is unnecessary in places where no full moon dance would follow. Yesterday was the first day I saw people smiling, and I smiled too. I have been to pubs and restaurants, and there too, smiles are a rare commodity. Though I have always despised the fake Lebanese so called "joie de vivre", I have looked around for some fake smiles. Faking a smile I believe can delude you into thinking you are happy. You could be but you fail to notice. The first lesson I learned here is not to mention that I am Lebanese. Now I am a Syrian here. Hell with those who would now accuse me of not having any sense of patriotism, because yes I don't; I don't feel any less Syrian than a Lebanese anyway. But to those same people, I say, that's what being a Lebanese here is like: a marriage proposal from a taxi driver (as a second younger, sexier, cuter wife, using the words of the taxi driver himself, and that was after he learned my nationality), a comment from another taxi driver that the Lebanese got the best accent because it is soft, sexy, and flirty (and yes, those were the exact words), and an offensive compliment that unlike the Lebanese, Jordanian women are fat and ugly. Of course, by no means I blame Lebanese women for this, and none of it justifies the comments of these men. But you would understand that saying that I am Syrian comes as a protection measure. Well my safety is my first concern here, and educating these men is my least. The word Lebanese seems to have become equivalent with prostitution here. But you Lebanese, are no better, come to think of it, you have the same connotation for Ukrainian, Russian, and Eastern European women. As for Medhat, he needs a post on its own.

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