Laurel and Associates, Ltd. – Madison, WI

Deb in Amman

Deb in Amman

On March 24, 2012, Posted by , In Travelogue, By , With Comments Off on Deb in Amman

This morning at breakfast I watched a woman come in with her husband. He was wearing a tee shirt and she was entirely covered up so that the only thing you could see was her eyes.

They ended up sitting very close to me and I was curious to see how she managed to eat. When I first looked at her, she had removed her veil so that I could see her entire face. However, once her husband sat down, she put her veil down and ate by bringing her food under her veil. That can’t be an easy way to eat!

It was a beautiful day (most of them have been) so I decided to walk to Rainbow Street, which is one of the oldest sections of Amman. On the way, I passed the Embassy of Turkey, the Embassy of Iraq, and a huge area that was apparently the King Hussein Club. All three places had armed guards.

I also passed a grocery store and promised myself I would look for my chunky peanut butter on the way back.

Cassie had told me it would take 30 minutes to get there, but I got there in 20 and decided to walk to the end, which was down a very steep hill. There are lots of cafes and shops all along it. There are also excellent panoramic views of the city, so of course I took some photos.

When I got to the end of Rainbow Street, I decided to explore a side street that went up a steep hill. I was able to see some of the Roman ruins on another hill. There is also a huge Roman amphitheater in Amman, but I haven’t been near that yet (at least I don’t think I have). Luckily, this long steep side street emptied out onto Rainbow Street, so I didn’t get lost. If it hadn’t, I would have had to retrace my steps.

It was very very warm, so off came my hoodie, and even then my thin cotton shirt was almost too much. I did stop into the grocery and spent some time in a fruitless (or should I say peanut-butter-less) search. It wasn’t until I went to check out (with two sodas and some fig cookies) that I saw lots of peanut butter. I purchased two- one is chunky (which is very peanutty and great) and the other is crunchy- I’ll have to see what that tastes like later.

Mohammad came to pick me up at 2:45 to go to the office and meet Lina and pick up the rest of the training materials. Lina didn’t get there until after 4 p.m., because she was getting one of the video cameras fixed. In the meantime, Mohammad told me about how he met his wife.

He had been in love with her for 3 years (she went to school with one of his sisters). When it was time to marry, his mother went to check her out. Then Mohammad went to meet her father, very nervous about what her father would say. His father ultimately gave Mohammad the green light to meet and have coffee and talk with his possible wife-to-be. It wasn’t exactly clear to me whether or not she had a real say in this- I think she did.

Then the families came together to meet, with the men in one place and the women in the other. The chief man (I’m assuming that meant the oldest?) for each family conferred and agreed to the marriage. Mohammad said he cried when he was given approval to marry his beloved. Then Mohammad was able to go and put a ring on his wife’s finger.

Mohammad is apparently from Palestine and he said that Palestinians prefer to have these celebrations in their home rather than at a hotel.

We also discussed my trip to the Dead Sea and Mohammad said he would be happy to taxi me in his own car. With a third child on the way, I’m sure he needs the money. So I’ll arrange any future trips with him.

Once Tina got to the office and Mohammad had loaded everything up, we went to the hotel where the training was scheduled. The staff there were incredibly accommodating, moving heavy tables, helping put things on the walls, checking the LCD projector and laptop hook up, and bringing in extra flip chart easels and paper, taping down wires, etc.

Maha was there with her little girls, Miriam and Sarah- I think 5 and 3. They helped put items on the tables and put up the kites. I had to split up what I’d packed to make sure that we would have enough for both classes. I’m glad that I always pack more than I need, but even so there will not be everything for everyone in the class by any means.

The training site is in a kind of ballroom, which meant that there really wasn’t a long wall on which to put my agenda map. We put it up on a far wall, but no one was going to be able to see it.

The ultimate solution was to get three double dividers made of wood and tape the agenda map on four places where the room dividers created a V. It’s far from perfect but much better than the alternative.

Then I had to write the learning objectives for all five days on flip charts (the participants will be putting stickers next to the objectives of greatest significance to them), which took some time. Miriam and Sarah had a ball with the extra Koosh balls and other items in one of the suitcases, making lines and then designs. At one point, Miriam took out the balloons I use on the 4th day so she could count them as she put them back in. Miriam was very helpful (Sarah not so much..) but they are absolutely adorable and were incredibly patient.

It was 7:30 by the time we were done and Lina took me to Rainbow Street to eat sharma, which is chopped chicken or meat (probably lamb or goat) mixed with spices and placed in a rolled flat bread. I ate everything but it wasn’t my favorite dish. I really missed having a salad, which I’ll have to eat tomorrow for dinner.

We had a long chat. She is 28, is divorced and has an 11 year old. As a divorced woman, she is not looked on with favor. She has no option to date so either she gets married or continues to live with her parents. We shared our experiences as single parents.

Lina is a beautiful tiny woman. It’s a shame that her culture constrains her options so much. She is also a very dedicated office manager. When I asked her about taking a vacation, she said that she was responsibility for logistics, so she was needed in the office. But it’s clear that she does socialize and have fun- including at the office, where she enjoys everyone. She played Arabic music for me in the car (which is a huge 4 x 4 that she expertly maneuvered through very narrow streets).

The music was very catchy and upbeat. I’m going to upload it into my computer tomorrow so I can play it during the training. She said that if I did that, they would get up and dance. I’m not sure if she was joking or not, so I guess we’ll see what happens.

Well, it’s been a very long and enervating day, so I’m going to take a shower and go to bed! Wish me luck tomorrow!



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