me in the ME

the semester of fun, sun, and Arabic

Nommage, snow, sunshine, WOAH.

Oops, it’s been a while. Let’s just say I’ve been really busy?  Or snowed in. That was fun (not). But the weather is now thoroughly gorgeous! Snow and 75 degrees in the same week… shway crazy, welcome to Jordan.

Since I last posted I have had mansaf TWICE. Once with our friend in Al-Baq’a and then once again at a restaurant. Eating at the house was awesome and totally an experience. Only problem is… I never learned how to eat with my hands only. Like seriously. I eat ribs with a fork and knife. In Jordan, there are a lot of things you eat with your hands, generally with bread as your only “utensil”. Mansaf is not like that. Generally a bed of rice (and sometimes also bread), with chicken or lamb on top, with  a yogurt based sauce that you pour over all if this.

That monster plate of chicken mansaf is for three women. THREE!

This then gets (ideally) smushed into a ball using your right hand (don’t use your left!) and then nommed! To say I struggled at making little mansaf balls is an understatement. But it was lots of fun! And I understood more when we visited this time which is always nice. But so much food! And when you think it’s done, there’s cake, and then coffee, and then tea, and then soda… So much, so good, I will be so fat at the end of the semester! Having had both now, I can definitively say lamb mansaf is the best. Also that I have been properly trained to eat all my mansaf, a fact I only realized when I think I was the only one in our group of eight (half of which were guys) to finish my restaurant dish of mansaf. At least I didn’t have kunafa on top of that?

Back to the snow- Jordanians get really serious about their snow, though they don’t know how to deal with it. I definitely noticed way more damaged cars after the storm. Coincidence? This past week was honestly the most snow in recent memory so there were some crazy snowball fights. Also, a shooting at the University of Jordan campus. (Note to parents: STOP freaking out, everything is fine) The story goes that the shooter was visiting a student and got hit by snowball, got pissed, said he would shoot the person if they threw another at him, they did, and the person got shot in the leg. Apparently a bunch of CIEE kids were around/saw it happen and that’s how we all know about it because several of us have friends in CIEE. I stole the following from a friend’s blog because it actually gives a quick rundown of the situation and what’s happening:

Today there is a heavy security presence on campus and around campus. You will see some of this at the main gate, but on campus it’s largely under-cover. The shooter is in custody and everything feels “on pause”The pause is deliberate and marks the start of a deeply ingrained, generations old method of sulha or conflict resolution designed to prevent revenge seeking…

The offender’s tribe will ask the victim’s tribe for a period of truce, which the  victim’s tribe will traditionally accept. During this period of truce, calm will prevail between the groups. The offender is in prison and the police and the government is informed of the intent of the offender tribe to make what is called an atweh:  the gathering the most important men among the tribe,- those are men with high social, political or academic status, to serve as a formal delegation or Jaha  to visit victim’s residence (Jaha) and  offer to make amends and  make up for what the son of their tribe did. The larger and more important the Jaha, the stronger the atweh. 

During this visit, the offender’s tribe apologizes to the victim’s tribe and asks them to name what they want as a compensation for what happened to the victim. Traditionally, the victim’s tribe asks for the medical expenses of the treatment of their son and sometimes they ask for nothing.

The reason behind this Atweh is that having the offender’s tribe most respected men as visitors at the victim’s tribe residence is an indicator of good intentions and is seen as a declaration from the victim’s tribe not to seek revenge from any member of the offender’s tribe.

Afterwards, the offender is normally let out of the prison on the basis of what is agreed between the tribes, although he is required to sign written commitments the police. As an official consequence, he cannot apply for a government job or join a public university, and the incident is permanent recorded in his personal file.

Our program on the other hand hasn’t mentioned it at alllll. I assume they know? But definitely some interesting info on the justice system. It’s times like this when I really don’t like the language pledge because it’s hard to explain cultural things. There aren’t equivalent English words to a lot of cultural things and it takes a long, loooong time to explain the meaning and concept of every word in a conversation. In Aamiya this past week, we learned about Arab marriage customs. Fascinating- but really we need a paragraph to describe each word. I’ve also been forgetting words in English, so even if I know exactly what my teacher is talking about in Arabic and I know that there’s an English word for it… nope, not coming to me. And typing in any language- English, Arabic, or Arabizee- is very interesting (read: struggle) nowadays.

This week, a bunch of us also went a soccer game: Jordan v. Syria. My very first professional soccer game! To be honest, the quality wasn’t great and we made up about 1/10 of the total fans there for both sides, but it certainly was an experience. Women don’t go to these. At all. We were fine because we were foreigners and surrounded by our guy friends- but we were literally the only females there. One of the girls nearly started a mad rush in her pursuit of the snack man and our Arab friend who had come with us, hurriedly snatched her back. There were ordinary people taking our pictures, the press focused on us at halftime. No pictures from me because I’m so easily intimidated by the word “gendarmerie” (just ask anyone who’s ever been with me in France), and there were a LOT of gendarmes there. All very nice, but they tell our group to leave before the match was over. Understandable given that we included the only females in the crowd and at soccer games there’s always that chance- though Jordan certainly isn’t like Europe with it’s soccer riots!

Thursday night, I got together with a few friends and celebrated Holi! For those of you who don’t know, this involves throwing a lot of paint and water at each other. It happens every year at Tufts in a very intense fashion.

Before Holi freshman year

Before Holi freshman year…

…and approximately 15 minutes later.

We weren’t quite so intense because it was all planned in about a day, but mega fun! Four of us throwing water balloons and homemade dye powder on a roof with the city laid out behind us and Indian food that was two hours late. There’s a video on Youtube that I can’t figure out how to share, but go check that out. I may have been pre-painted, but inshallah, next time I will be more prepared with a truly white T! Mumkin, Holi needs to happen every month and not once a year. Mumkin, definitely.

Midnight Holi in Amman!

Seriously, they just all went after me! Jokes- I was pre-painted.

And then yesterday was Ajloun! Castles, and soap, and ponies, and green things! So much fun and pictures that it will get it’s own post… in the future. Inshallah, by Wednesday. Inshallah…


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