June 30, 2006

Getting Ready for the Motherland... the “Blaad”

With every passing day, the mess in my room and generally on all three floors of my house has been steadily increasing with suitcases and shopping bags sprawled across bedrooms, living rooms, and all over the basement. Yes, it’s that dreaded time of year, getting ready for vacation in Jordan.

In a few days, I’ll be flying thousands of feet above the ground, crossing Europe and the Atlantic, heading for Amman’s “smoke free” international airport. Before I get there, however, the soles of my feet have been working over time, crossing thousands of tiles and dozens of hours in shopping malls and department stores here in the suburbs of D.C. The unavoidable, endless chore of filling the suitcases with gifts for family members, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, the housekeeper… Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy buying gifts for those whom I love, because it’s the thought that counts, right?

Well, not exactly. For a birthday gift, yes, it’s the thought that counts. But coming from another continent after being gone for 10 months (oh the horror), it’s the size and quantity that counts. It’s not like my family members are picky and give us a list of things to buy for them, not at all. We have to guess what everyone likes and wants, and we can’t possibly hand them a little gift bag with a bottle of perfume or a nice piece of jewelry, can we now? It has to be worth it, whatever that means. But really, we enjoy that part, guessing shoe sizes, handbag styles, color preferences, lotion scents, and all that. We love it! And the best part, is the diversity of the reactions of our beloved family and friends who receive the gifts, oh so enjoyable (no, i'm not being sarcastic!)

But c’mon, there’s so much more to traveling than shopping! For me, it’s an endless supply of “to do lists” before I leave. Because here in the US, you can’t just up and leave for a 6 week vacation across the Atlantic. You have to put a stop on the mail that will be rushing into your mailbox. You have to prepay the bills that will land you the calls of credit collectors if you delay them. You have to mow the lawn and trim the grass and make sure someone does it while you’re away so your neighbors won’t call the police. You have to empty the fridge, take out the trash, and make sure the house is spotless so you can return to a nicely cleaned home.

But anyway, let’s fast forward to the plane ride, where I will sit contemplating the next six weeks of my life in Jordan. There is some excitement of course. I miss my extended family and can’t wait to see them. I can already smell my teta’s (grandma’s) great cooking. I can also picture the streets that will take me from the outskirts of Amman to University Street in Irbid. I can already hear the car horns working overtime the minute I step out of the airport. I can smell the diesel fumes. I can picture the latest BMW driving next to the old pickup truck. I can picture the old men sitting outside of their mini-markets and the shawerma stands surrounded by hungry teenagers.

Sitting on the plane for more than 12 hours and another 11 hours in the airport gives you a lot of time to think. Of course I will also be contemplating the changes that will occur during this vacation. An organized and detailed person, I am, who will miss the punctuality and structured life style of the US. I can’t help but say that I will miss “my own space” which will definitely not exist in a Middle Eastern country like Jordan. I won’t have access to the Internet with as much ease as I do here, which will surely drive me a “little” nuts. Nor will I have access to my own car with the ability to drive freely and safely as I do here. I will miss knowing exactly which isle to pick up my cereal and milk from, and swiping my credit card for a transaction as small as a pack of gum. And of course will miss most of the good customer service I take for granted here in the mall, gas station, grocery store, doctor’s office, hotel, gym, library, and of course restaurants of all price ranges.

Ok, ok, I know it’s only 6 weeks! Just think about all the shawerma and falafel I’ll be eating, yum! And of course all the new historical, cultural, and artsy places that I will be visiting thanks to my fellow Jordanian bloggers who have been sharing their experiences and news about all the places to visit and things to do in Jordan :) I hope to be able to meet as many Jordanian bloggers as possible, and any other bloggers visiting Jordan in the next month or so!

I’ll be blogging from there as much as I can and it might include more personal and less political posts than usual as well as lots of pictures, which I hope you will enjoy as well. Ok, back to the packing now, only a few days left!

(I can't just keep things short, can I now? This post wasn't intended to include all those details about gifts and such, but I just like to ramble! Concise isn't in my dictionary.)

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At 9:42 AM, Blogger Fatima said...

Wow, well written. Check out this blog, he has an entry on meeting up with some Jordanian bloggers: www.healingiraq.blogspot.com

At 11:53 AM, Blogger moi said...

Fatima--Thanks :) I did see that post and I find it fascinating to see Arab bloggers meeting up all over the place!


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