Monthly Archives: January 2013

Picture Jordan: Gadara (Umm Qais)

On December 2012, I went to Gadara (known in Jordan as Umm Qais). Luckily, the weather was so nice and sunny.

Umm Qais
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Click on any of the pictures below to see a slideshow with some pictures captioned.

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Jaraad is back to blogging

I arrived Queen Alia airport in Amman at 2 am. The check-in line was moving extremely slow until I arrived at the counter and found that the computer system is down!!! Yes, you read that right. The computer system was down. Hence, the check-in process was done manually. I was charged 50 JD (71 USD) for checking in my second suitcase. I was told I need to go to another window to pay for my second suitcase and come back to finish the check-in process. I am not sure if this is because the system is down or this is how it is done at Queen Alia International Airport.

Fortunately, Queen Alia airport is not busy especially at 2 am. There were hardly three flights taking off early in the morning. Otherwise, it would have been chaos with a broken computer system. No wonder it is one of the World’s Worst Airport Terminals.

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Queen Alia International Airport in Amman at 2:30 am

The good news soon Amman will have a new airport. I hope it comes with a fault-tolerant computer system and better services though.

The first thing I did when I arrived Heathrow airport was locating the nice Multi-faith prayer room they have in every terminal. I prayed Fajr.

I found something interesting in the room, a “Wudu Stone.” I know Muslims can perform Wudu using sand instead of water in some situations but I am not sure about using stones. Besides, the airport has many toilets one can perform Wudu easily there. The only concern is washing the feet which one can skip by wiping his/her shoes or socks. Anyway, I was grateful to find a place to pray peacefully.

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Photo Jan 22, 2 35 51 AM

Another interesting observation about Heathrow airport is the airport staff. I was shocked to see the staff regardless of the position; security, maintenance workers, operations officer, engineers, counter services, shops sellers, cleaning services and almost every job you can think of being an Asian (to be specific of Indian origin.)

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Heathrow Airport in London

My worst experience was at O’Hare airport in Chicago. Entering USA even when you have a visa is not an easy process. I will talk about it later.

Segregation in Jordan

Some countries like India and Mexico started the service of “women-only” buses to solve the problem of sexual harassment from male passengers. I think this is a good idea especially in crowded cities were passengers in public transportations are crushed together while standing. In such cases men and women may be too close and it becomes inevitable for their bodies not to rub against each others. And the worst could happen.

Some people living in ِNorth America or Europe may think this is ridiculous. But we should never judge a solution unless we experience the problem.

Jordan is not as crowded as India and Mexico hence we don’t have such problem in the public transportations. But we still have cases of sexual harassments in the streets. The worst is of course when there is touching but the common one is verbal. To solve verbal abuse restaurants in Jordan have two sections; one ‘for families only*’ and another for single men.

Most restaurants in Jordan have a section that is limited to families only. The purpose of such segregation is to eliminate the looks and the bad mouthing from single men sitting near by. This segregation is not religious gender segregation but a culture thing.

I don’t like such thing because it can be very stupid. Here are a few examples why “For Families Only” is a bad idea:

Story #1:

I entered a coffee shop in Irbid called “Friends”. There was no sign that says “For Families only” or “Wait to be seated.” So, I pulled my laptop from my bag and put it on the table while three staffs were looking at me. When I was ready to sit, one of the staff came to me and told me this section is “for families only” and he pointed to a coffee table near the entrance that I can sit on. I didn’t care much because I understand the culture but when I was ready to sit on the other table I found it is very close to the entrance door and whenever the door opens a cold drift is going to hit my face so I decided to change the coffee shop.

Now, the section that is according to the staff is dedicated to families only was occupied with girls. My shock was when I found that all girls there were smoking hookah not because they were smoking but because it was 11 in the morning. Who smokes hookah in the morning?

I am 39 years old who has 15 years of experience teaching college students yet the coffee shop denied to serve me some respect in favor of college students who smoke hookah at 11 am.

Story #2:

My cousin (he is my age) traveled from Irbid to Amman (90 km) to return an item his wife bought from a mall in Amman. The security guard at the door refused to let him in because that day the mall is limited to families only. My cousin tried to explain to the security that he traveled 90 km just to return this item but his pledge met only with denial. My cousin is an optometrist and a father of  two daughters.

Story #3:

Three 30 something men (two optometrists and one medical doctor) and their 45 year-old Jordanian friend who is visiting Jordan from Italy for the first time after 12 years decided to go to the Dead Sea only to find that they were denied entrance to one of the beaches because entry is for families only. Traveling 173.8 km from Irbid, being 30 something and married, and having a 40 something tourist from Italy with them were not enough reasons for these poor men to enjoy seeing the Dead Sea beach.

This shows how hard it is for single men in Jordan to be treated with respect. Regardless of age or status, men are treated with no dignity or respect if they are not accompanied with a female. Maybe it is time for a business man in Jordan to invest in opening an escort sevice**. How else would a single man be treated with respect in malls and restaurants?

*’For Families only’ sign means a man or men not accompanied by a female regardless of her age are not allowed in.
** I am being sarcastic of course I don’t agree with such line of service.

Jaraad blog in 2012

Jaraad blog became my sanctuary. It is my not so private journal. When I am sad I write and when I am happy I also write. It became my companion living alone in my expat life. Unlike a private journal, a blog is more interactive. I am very lucky to meet wonderful people via my blog who some of them became my friends on Facebook.

Every year, WordPress sends annual report to its bloggers. Here are the two most important things in this 2012 annual report:

First, thanks to the following sites people were able to find my blog. In 2012, I noticed that more readers are sharing my posts via Facebook.

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Second, a blog without readers is like a book deserted on the bookshelf. Thankfully, my blog readersship increase every year and along comes more comments. I am very glad that my blog made a new reader in 2012 who also became one of the top 5 commenters. Her name is Amber and she has a blog called Little Steps Home.

whowerethey

Finally, thank you for reading my blog. I hope Jaraad’s blog continues to improve.

Picture Jordan: The Bride of the North

My home town, Irbid, is called the “Bride of the North.” Last Friday, I went with my family to the countryside. Although, it was December but the weather was warm and nice.

Going to Ash Shuna Ash Shamaliyya
Going to Ash Shuna Ash Shamaliyya

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To get to this beautiful area we had to leave our IDs with the military border control unit. The officer said “Don’t cross [the border].” The purpose of such scattered border control units is to make sure no one of the Jordan side crosses the border to Israel.

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Growing back my Star Trek ears as a sign of happiness

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Orange tree
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The uncle with his nieces and nephews
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My brother BBQing shish kabob Arabic style. Lamb meat, no beef