Friday, October 5, 2012

Week 6: Rain?

About a week ago I was walking back from my oud lesson when a drip of water hit my shoulder. At first I thought someone must be cleaning their balcony above me, but when I looked up there was only a power line overhead. My next thought was there must somehow be water dripping off the power line. I honestly did not think that it could be raining. The concept had become so foreign to me it was not until I stood in an open parking lot, letting a few more drops hit me, that I accepted it was actually raining. Because of the weather cars were honking as if a huge wedding was underway. People came out of their homes with their arms spread wide and looked up to the sky. I was laughing at myself the rest of the way home, in disbelief that something so normal in the States had become so foreign and exciting for me here in Jordan. Since last Saturday it's rained a few more times. Like lake effect snow in Central New York, this has effected drivers' reaction times. It was a bit unnerving to see cars fishtailing through the traffic circles of Amman. This week my cultural dialogue group composed of both Americans and Jordanians met up at sheesha place near the Amideast offices. Our topics ranged from discipline within American and Jordanian families to the health risks of smoking tobacco through a water pipe (sheesha). I've heard statistics that %90 of people my age here smoke cigarettes and/or sheesha. Smoking sheesha is a staple of social gatherings here.
To the left is the oud I practice on once or twice a week. Last night I went to a gathering organized by fellow members of the choir Dozan wa Awtar and had the pleasure to hear a fellow Dozaner play oud as everyone else sang along. He played so late into the night and everyone sang so loudly that neighbors began to yell at us from nearby windows. I spoke with him about the scales I've been learning and I learned that every call to prayer I hear is in the same scale: Hijaz. In addition to the choir event I visited the market in downtown Amman yesterday with a group of friends from Amideast. Try to imagine the smell of any citrus fruit and the sicky sweet taste you get when taking a vitamin c tablet. Upon entering the covered market you are overcome with this sensation. It's also loud from time to time as the vendors chime in singing songs about bandura bandura toofa toofa (tomatoes tomatoes apples apples). Huge chunks of meat hang off the hooks of each butcher's stand. Every butcher's chop comes so close to his hand you are left wondering how he still has all his fingers. Also like much of Jordan there are signs everywhere within the market that make references to Koranic verses and the 99 names of Allah. From what I can tell the ones below say something to the effect of blank(save/deliver?) us from the fire, ...from the fire, ...from the fire amen. The smaller orange sign references Allah.

Here's an example of the geometry I've been learning in my Islamic Art class. You see patterns like this all over Amman on mosques, private residences, and storefronts. My girlfriend pointed out that she sees patterns like this in older structures throughout Spain. The reason for this is clear as Arabs lived in Spain for just under eight centuries. There is still much more to come on the remnants of cultural syncretism in the Iberian Peninsula and how they relate to what I've seen here in Jordan. The day after tomorrow I'm travelling to Petra with my entire program. I hope all is well where ever you are reading this. 

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