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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Trip to Amman -- Prologue

I may be a little late in telling/posting but before and during my trip I just felt too preoccupied to sit down and write anything.

Everyone's been asking the same questions, so here goes:

The story of me conceiving of the idea of going to Amman.

As I was having some spare money (well, not actually spare money as such *cough, cough* but accessible money ;) ) I had decided to treat myself to a real holiday this year, possibly in Turkey or somewhere. Sometime after my colleague A.'s and the boss' vacation. Whenever.

Then I heard that aNarki-13 was not just staying in Amman for a short while but for weeks.
And Attawie was there as well.
About 20 unanswered yahoo offline messages, 10 SMSs - unanswered - and one threat to phone him (just to be silent at him) later the Kid confirmed that he'd be staying until around the end of August as well.

A quick calculation showed that even with the boss going on a three-week vacation it should be possible for me to go to Amman and still see all of these people.
Of course, with bosses things are never quite as straightforward as they seem to regular people, but after a couple of - long - days spent anxiously waiting for his final verdict things worked out the way I wanted them to. (You feel like a rather sorry sod phoning the Jordanian embassy asking about how long it will take them to put a visa into the passport that you have applied for three weeks ago and which should be arriving soonish while not even knowing whether the holiday is going to take place or not....)

Well, it was going to take place, and right after I got the ok from the boss I went to the nearest travel agency to book my flights.
Took the lady there some heavy wrestling but then she managed to include my meal request in the booking and to arrange for an earlier flight than the computer originally wanted to book for the first leg of the journey. The original booking would have left me with only one hour to change planes at Schiphol (Amsterdam) airport - with only one KLM flight from Amsterdam to Amman per night! Better having four hours to waste than the possibility of missing the flight and arriving in Amman a full day later.
She also - as per my request - tried to book me onto a later second flight for the return trip, but either the computer didn't accept it or she made some mistake. She figured it might be because that would leave me with a stay of six hours at Schiphol airport. But she assured me that I'd have no trouble changing planes in the 50 minutes that the booking left me with. Well, what the heck, I thought, if I miss that plane, there'll be several going back from Amsterdam to Germany on that day.

Even earlier I had ordered a load of traveller cheques and finally gotten myself a credit card, so nothing could go wrong anymore. :)

Unfortunately Caesar of Pentra went on vacation in Syria a tad earlier and could not make it to Amman, nor could the Average Iraqi (note: blog still "dead", author happily not :) ) leave Iraq (Get a passport, you bozo!) but more and more people seemed to be flocking there, such as Morbid Smile, Treasure of Baghdad and 24 Steps to Liberty.

When I first started planning my trip to Jordan, my Turkish/Kurdish/Martian colleague A. was already away on his holiday. As he is constantly poking fun at me - or rather implying improper behaviour on my part - whenever he hears of me going to festivals or parties and sharing tents or bedrooms, another colleague and me were wondering what his reaction might be when he returned and heard of my plans. I laughed and said "I should tell him I'm going there to marry aNarki." S.: "Do that!"

So the plan was born. On his first day back at work we kept dropping hints that he unfortunately failed to pick up on. What with him usually being "nosy as a goat" as we Germans say our only explanation for this was that he was still dreaming of his holiday.

Hints included
- me showing a picture of aNarki to a colleague, K., and practically bouncing up and down with joy while announcing that that was HIM by the way and her answering that he looked like a very nice person,
- K. inquiring whether I'd have to be veiled for the wedding.

Finally, a few minutes before my lunch break, I simply showed him the pic, asking his opinion. First he got sidetracked by the other people shown in the photo, then he too announced aNarki to be looking like a friendly person. When I told him that I was going to marry him A. totally disappointed us by merely saying "Congratulations!"

After both him and me had returned from our respective lunch breaks he asked another colleague, Ma., if that marriage story was really true. She said it was, so A. simply accepted it. Blast! S. and me had expected him to be sceptical and - once finally convinced the story was true - to try and talk me out of marrying a person I had never met before. Behind my back he apparently expressed some reservations but not to me, oh no. Actually, he was being so nice and helpful (giving tips for immigration and whatnot) that the joke wasn't funny at all and I soon felt so bad about it that I prematurely cancelled it before S. was due to work that week.

But the joke stirred up something else.
Ma. started getting the idea that what with me meeting several young men over there I might end up marrying someone else. I don't know what possessed her to get this into her head - she knew right from the start that the thing regarding aNarki and me was a joke to pay A. back for all his past comments on me and my male friends and nothing else - but she kept discussing it.

Kept discussing it first mainly as a joke as well but then with mounting concern, probably due to my replies. But how can you reply to someone who's convinced that marrying an Arab - any Arab - automatically results in you ending up wearing hijab (or worse)? So I answered stuff like "Look here, if I were to marry any of the Iraqis I know and started wearing hijab they'd declare me insane cos none of them would want me to." Somehow for her this seemed to imply that I might seriously be considering marriage.

She also told me to not get too involved with the locals when saying goodbye and wishing me a nice holiday. I didn't even ask whether she meant actual Jordanians or the bloggers I was going to meet, as I felt it didn't really matter anyway.
Camel drivers, the lot of them!

A neighbour only half-jokingly asked what I'd do if I got kidnapped into a harem, while his wife was more concerned with Jordan's vicinity to Israel and Lebanon.

So, dear readers, I spent my entire holiday sitting in my hotel apartment and ordering pizza which I had them deposit in front of my door.
The weather was a steady 25°, thanks to the AC in the bedroom; the scenery got a bit boring though after two weeks of staring out into the same street.