Saturday, 26 December 2009

Essential Items for Travel

Okay, not really essential, but things I always have to pack.

Toilet paper (top left).  Bathrooms generally do not have it, even in some homes.  They do have spray hoses, but it is nice to be able to dry off.

Hand sanitizer (top right). Bathrooms usually lack soap and towels. Luckily there is a market for little personal bottles of hand sanitizer, the large stores have whole aisles of them. I haven't heard any protests from Muslims here about alcohol jelly being haraam. It's haraam to drink or otherwise ingest intoxicants, and we're not drinking our hand sanitizer.

Chocolate. In case of low blood sugar, obnoxious men, or general chocolate deficiency. I managed to find actual M&Ms, made in the UAE.

Qu'ran and misbaha (bottom right). For long waits, bureaucracy, air turbulence, and terrible drivers.

An extra niqab. I forgot to include that in the picture. I can't count the number of times I've gotten coffee on a light-coloured niqab and walked around for ages without realizing it.

I should have packed an extra pair of glasses. Mine have been sat on, mangled by small children, and dropped repeatedly.

What are the little things that you always pack?

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Winter in Amman

It's strange to hear people in Canada talking about Christmas and snow, while we have dates and olives ripening, flowers opening, and clear blue skies here. It's sort of a combination of spring and fall right now. The leaves on the grape vines are turning yellow and rust-coloured and falling into crunchy brown piles in the corners of the courtyards, the big hand-shaped fig leaves are wilting slightly and their verdant green beginning to leach away, and the nights are getting colder. Along the roadside, the top halves of the silver green olive trees are dotted with black fruit, the lemons are turning from green to yellow, and the orange trees are loaded with brilliantly coloured globes. A glance down shows parchment white narcissus budding, rose bushes covered in coppery emerald new shoots, and pink cyclamen flowers rearing up like fireworks among the fallen leaves.

When it started to rain in October, everything green was roused out of dormancy. The city is dotted with plowed fields tucked in between buildings and roads, sparsely skimmed with the pale green of new grass shoots. We have a lush patch of edible greens, mint, and thistles which appeared miraculously a month ago out of the previously dry, cracked, bare ground by our door.

These cyclamen are actually pinker than they appear here, my webcam does not deal well with daylight. They are native to Jordan, and sprout up all around the edges of our yard. For some reason, the kids don't stomp them like they do the narcissus.

I have no idea what this one is, but it does smell nice. (Edit: it's an eskeddunya tree)

The first image below is bougainvillea climbing an olive tree next to our gate. My roommate's mother calls it 'crazy flower,' but we don't water ours, so it doesn't get too crazy. I see it billowing over the walls of the rich people, who can afford to water theirs. The second is a photo I did not take, showing the actual colour. My webcam bleaches everything.