Thursday, February 05, 2004

Tuesday 3/2
We are now in Amman. It is cold and cloudy and the city is sinking in a kind of hibernation. The
streets are almost empty and the houses are closed. There are no kids playing in the streets as is
customary during the summer months. I haven’t even seen any people, except for the taxi drivers.
Where are all the people? I keep asking myself. In the summer Amman becomes busy with people, both
local and others from neighboring countries. All the hotels become almost full, the streets become
busy with cars. The cars with foreign license plates exceed those that are local. I would see
young women and men walking energetically. I am always so happy to see them, I wish them a beautiful
future. Amman is a small, beautiful and clean city. However it looks more like a small village
compared to Baghdad, from the point of view of the area and the population. It has a very distinct and
beautiful architectural nature. Sometimes it seems to me that if I close my eyes and open them
again that I would find myself in a European city, I think that because of all the advertisements
that are sprinkled all over the city. The commercial stores, the way they display their merchandise,
the streets and the traffic lights all remind me of European cities. Baghdad has an ancient feel
to it, it still has the style of an Arabic city, whereas I feel that Amman is losing some of that
Arab identity and heading towards a western influence. Especially now with all the American chain
restaurants. Like McDonalds, Kentucky and Boston, there are also advertisements for night clubs,
casinos and billiard salons. This doesn’t sadden me too much, Amman was never the capital city of
Al-Rasheed (fifth Abbasid caliph, arab ruler, eighth century, Baghdad was the capital city). Now it
is becoming a European city. On the other hand, I would be very sad if this happened to Baghdad. I
don’t know, I think it would become foreign to its own people. I am not against progress, the
opposite I am for it. But, I believe in progress while maintaining our unique identity. When I lived
in Amman in the late seventies and the eighties, It was more like a small village. Now it is
crowded with signs and advertisement by big companies that seem bigger than the cities capacity. Amman
is like a girl from a humble family that is trying to dress up and pretend that she is from a
higher class than her own. I love simplicity…nothing more beautiful than simplicity to face life with.
My sister is temporarily living in Amman, as a result of the war conditions. She keeps complaining
about homesickness. I tell her to be patient, this is a temporary stage. I hope that she and her
husband and daughters go back to Baghdad soon when things are calmer in Baghdad. Her friends came
over and asked me how are things in Baghdad? I laughed and said, perhaps better than here. Here you
have quiet and boredom. There we have American helicopters, with their buzzing sounds filling our
days with fun and excitement. At night we get the fighting jets piercing the quiet of the night. I
don’t know what these pilots are looking for, perhaps just having fun so that the engine of their
jets wouldn’t rust. Our sleep is worried, does he know? Does it matter to him at all. And then the
sudden explosions that shake the windows of the house. I usually jump from my place when these
happen. Despite all this I miss Baghdad and I hope to return soon. But then there is this reasonable
voice inside my head that says, be patient and enjoy your vacation, don’t go back too quickly you
will regret it. So I listen to the reasonable voice and wait, until it is time to go back.
I will try to go to the city center to look for new or old books. I will look for museums and
galleries. I am wasting time because I miss this quiet and emptiness. When I am in Baghdad I am always
nervous especially when I see a convoy of the American military machine. Their sight is
confrontational and it ruins my mood. Here is Amman it is too quiet. This quiet is also confrontational. I
love movement and energy. That is life. Life is a beautiful gift from the creator
[traslation by]

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