28 January 2010

New Filling

I got a new filling this afternoon.  I noticed last month that an existing filling was discolored, and I began to overreact.  I have no insurance in the States, but I knew I’d be in Jordan soon, so I decided I’d see if I could have it taken care of here.

So I called Dr. Bustani at 11 this morning.  I met him in 2006 at a Friends of Archaeology trip to Salt.  He personally got on the phone to make the appointment, and told me I could be there at noon.  I figured I have to wait until next week, or worse, he’d never have time for an appointment, so I was so happy that I could show up an hour after calling.  I walked into his office, and he introduced himself again, and asked me about trips with the FoA crowd, and we talked about archaeology in Jordan.  Then he asked me what I needed, and I told him, and he looked at the filling, and agreed that it needed to be replaced.  He gave me the shot to numb me, and then did the cleaning while we waited for that.  He used this crazy thing that was loud and vibrated a lot, but the cleaning was done pretty quickly.  Then, he drilled out the old filling, gave me a new white filling, and did a fluoride treatment.  The whole thing took about 40 minutes, and the entire time he was talking with me, and making sure I was ok.

When it was done he gave me handouts in English that talked about all the procedures, and follow up care.  Then, he asked me if I have insurance in the States, and I told him no.  He asked, “Why do they do that to you?”  Good question.  The entire bill was 38 JD, or around 60 USD.  The fluoride treatment was the most expensive thing at 16 JD.

This is my second time seeking medical treatment in Jordan, and I’m again really happy with my experience.  I’m actually envious of the care available here.  It’s the same standards as the care I can’t afford in the States, but here I can actually have a filling and cleaning done for about 40 USD.  Dr. Bustani was nice, and helpful.  I’m a big baby, and he was perfectly kind about all of it.  I’m pleased with the work, and if my face wasn’t still half numb, I’d feel better.  As with the first time I went to a doctor here, everything was done in English, so I didn’t have the additional nervousness of trying to get through all of it in Arabic.

It’s official: I’m a medical tourist.

25 January 2010

East Amman: Now Further Away Than Ever

I can’t decide if I’m still jet lagged, or if going and seeing one family in east 3mman last night (and returning home early this morning) is what caused me to wake up at the mid day prayer.  My desire to quit coffee has officially failed.  I had A LOT last night.

I’ve been here a few days, and until last night I’ve been around west 3mman.  B, the director here, invited me to her lovely apartment for dinks a few nights ago.  I showed up at 6:30 in my customary un-tucked t-shirt and wrinkled pants to find an apartment filled with 1) people much older than me; 2) much better dressed than me; and with 3) real jobs.  B is as thoughtful as I am awkward, and that’s pretty thoughtful.  She introduced me to several people and made sure I had a constantly filled glass of wine.  I spoke with Jordanians and Europeans/Americans about my work, following the thoughtful prompting of B.  Though these people have lived here for years, or for their entire lives, I get the impression I’ve seen much more of 3mman than they have.  Every single person was shocked to hear that Urdustenees in the camps are very religious people.  Many actually said, “What a shame,” a sentiment with which I’m inclined to agree, but only because I dislike religion, and not because I think that Palestinians “need to learn to do better.”  In any event, it was a good reminder of how disconnected 3mman’s elites are from everyone else here. 

Last night I was picked up at 8 to go have dinner with one family in one of the camps in east 3mman.  First off, there are a lot of new babies to meet.  So far everyone I’ve seen has at least one new kid, and one woman has had two in the last three years.  My mother will be happy to know that I delivered her gift to A for his wife.  He quit smoking just over a year ago, and went to 3mmrah last year (that’s going to Mecca when it’s not 7ajj time).  They have a 5th child, a son.  They are doing well, though I haven’t seen his family yet, just him.  The family I went to visit last night, however, is not doing so well.  There are more kids, and less to go around.  The tone of our conversations seemed different to me.  I’m not sure if it’s just that I’m not used to it anymore, or if we all really have changed. 

Some things have stayed the same; they still dislike worldly stuff, and they still think I need to come to my senses.  W, the lady of the house, asked me if I finished school, and I told her I did.  She told me that I shouldn’t get too hung up on the accomplishment, because “these things are not what matters to God.”  Then, not 10 minutes later when a neighbor came by to say Salaam, W went on and on about how a doktora is visiting them.  So much for not important.  I’ll just wait right over here for my graduation gift…

I found them to be even more religious than last we talked.  I thought that wasn’t possible, but I stand corrected.  They are focused more on Iran, and remain convinced that Iran has taken over Iraq.  That’s not so far off the mark.  I was surprised to learn that many of them have begun to interact more with the Iraqi Shia here, though.  There seems to be a big push to convert them to Sunni Islam.  According to my friends, this push is pretty successful, because, of course, Sunni Islam is the obvious truth, and it’s based on evidence.  I guess I was surprised to hear them speak more openly about direct action, as opposed to talking about Islamic praxis and proof, which was the theme 3 years ago. 

Also surprising, they were willing to talk about politics.  This is big.  This has never happened.  Last night, though, they did it unprompted.  That’s going to take some getting used to.  Of course the Zionists are still responsible for everything terrible, but this time they were able to be much more specific instead of relying on the good old Middle East standard unit of information: The Rumor. 

They like Obama, though I could not convince any of them that he is not Muslim.  The good news for Obama is that despite his inaction, he has not yet pissed away the good will people here are extending to him. 

I guess, in short, east 3mman has moved to the right, while west Amman has shut its eyes even tighter. 

But, some good news.  S took me to a cupcake place in 3bdoun.  We went late, and they were out of everything.  But, it’s wonderful to see such a great shop here.  I hope I get to try one before I head back.

Some weird news.  My phone number is only one number different from A’s.  He told me that his oldest son asked about me, and 2 hours later I called him. 

23 January 2010

Hello, Jordan

I just returned from a wonderful dinner with S, who graciously took me to Fakher al-Din.  We shared about 700 appitezers, including the exploding chicken balls.  Yum.   It was really nice to talk about research and feel no sense of suspicion.  Our work is different enough that she teaches me a lot, but it's similar enough that what she does really interests me, and I hope vice versa. 

I've been away from here for almost 2 years, and I'm amazed at the changes to the landscape.  First off, the amount of construction is incredible.  There are a trillion new buildings, and the downtown redevelopment projects seem well underway, for better or worse.  The only indication I see of the depressed economy are lots and lots of for sale signs in the windows of darkened apartments.  I haven't talked in depth with any of my peeps from east 3mman, so stay tuned.  I see that gasoline is very expensive, and I assume this hits taxi drivers pretty hard.  Perhaps most weird, there are street signs everywhere!  M.H. informed me that 3mman is being GISed, and thus the street signs are part of that undertaking.  Still, it's striking to me.

Today I walked to the Suq as-Sultan, and was happy to see that my favorite bakery was open on a Friday.  I purchased several of the z3tyr/jubna rolls that I love, and I've already consumed 3 of them.  Tomorrow to the Balid, and then to begin seeing families here.  I'm excited, and terrified.  I know I won't sleep for the next 2 weeks, and right now while I'm jet lagged, I'm pretty protective of my rest.  But, no more of that.  There is no time.