24 September 2006

Giving blood and eating in Jordan

I'm not down, but I'm worried about this sign.

Today V and I went to the hospital to have our blood tests done for our visa paperwork. We will go back in three days to pick up more paperwork from the hospital, and then we will likely take it to an entirely new office to get additional stamps for no apparent reason. Today is the first day of Ramadan in Jordan. We wanted to go early before people were too hungry. We arrived at about 9:15. The only time this could be done was during school, so here it is only the second week and we’re already missing school! As we were standing in line a man tried to go ahead of a woman who was there first. She edged in ahead of him, and they began to argue in English. He said that there were two lines, one for women and one for men, and it was his turn since a man was supposed to go next. She told him to go fuck himself. I started laughing, and he seemed more enraged. But, she took her turn! Then, up several flights of stairs to a room where women were having their blood work done. Since no one gets in line in Jordan, I just walked up and was immediately taken. I feel guilty for this sort of stuff, but I’ve waited for coffee after people who arrived after I did, so I suppose it all works out. I greeted the lady in my best Arabic (which sucks nonetheless), and I was done in no time. V was next. She told the lady that she didn’t want to do this. The woman told her to stop being scared, and jabbed the crap out of her. Then, we went to school to the International Student Office with our Ithbat Talibs, and gave those to a nice lady who will generate more forms for us to cart around Amman this week. I have no connections in Jordan; there is no Wasta for Frances. But I have seen over and over that being polite and patient with people generally does not go unrewarded. A SNAFU with V’s paperwork was fixed this morning. One must smile a lot here, and be nice, or one is hosed. All this done, we went to class in time to chat with M at the break, and then catch the second lesson.
Amman is beautiful right now. People have put up decorations and green crescent-shaped lights on their balconies. The heat is finally dissipating, and the evenings are really beautiful. Yesterday “I” and L took me all around Amman. We had breakfast in the downtown souk at this wonderful restaurant. L and I were the only westerners there. The three of us split hummus, foul, and 10 falafels, and tea of course. A guy walks around the restaurant, which is mostly outside, with a big salad bowl containing falafels. As he passed, we asked for 10, and he reached his hand inside the bowl, and counted them as he plopped them on the table! I can’t believe I haven’t died of food poisoning! The food is so damn good. Damn, I’m hungry. Later, we had dinner and two of our three tea glasses had food on them (and, it wasn’t our food). “I” said if we wanted clean dishes we needed to spend more money on our grub. I suppose that’s right, but then where’s the charm? I love a restaurant where the waiter smokes while he takes my order! We went on an eating tour of Amman yesterday. “I” said that we needed to eat all day because it was the day before fasting would begin, and because the temperature was perfect, and we needed to celebrate. After our 80th or so meal, we walked further into the Souk and “I” took us to a place down an alley where they serve this amazing desert. I didn’t catch the name, but it was cheese covered in what I think is wheat, and topped with ground pistachios. It’s served warm, and with honey. No wonder everyone here is diabetic. We sat on the dirty curb of this alley and chowed down with all these older men. It was so good! Then we continued our alley tour and had amazing tea at a little shop where the men could not stop staring at L and me. We looked at gold again, and “I” took me to a place downtown where there are Umayyad ruins. I don’t know how I missed these on previous Jordan trips. It’s smack in the middle of downtown, and I apparently have walked around it a million times. It was neat. V was home sick (and homesick), and L got sick when we returned home. So, “I” and myself went down to the souk right by where we live, and I purchased a toaster. Now, I don’t have to go downstairs in the morning and talk to any of the douche bags who also live here. Must do homework. Then food.


Blogger weeping sore said...

Happy Ramadan. I hope your culinary adventures continue unabated. Your experience with the bureaucracy proves what seems to be a universal rule: don't piss off the little guy because he may not have a lot of power to help you, but he can sure hurt you.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Miss Carousel said...

i like that things are totally arbitrary there (i.e., stamps for "no particular reason" and random line-less rules) yet it is out in the open. while here, things are so fucking arbitrary, yet we try to pretend that meaningless shit hasreal relevance.

happy ramadan! :)

8:41 PM  
Blogger kathrynzano said...

Thank you for your beautiful decriptions--your posts are a bright spot of glittering sunlight in my current tempestuous existence. I miss you! And you look great in your 17 JD dress. How much is a JD in American, anhow? I still miss you!

8:32 PM  

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