Amman, Jordan

It’s hot. It’s 3am, I am awake with the twins-jetlagged babies. It’s time to play.The prayer call will start in about 20 minutes, an eery and haunting lullaby that echoes through the city. Then the streets will start filling up with the vendors driving around and beckoning over their loud speakers much like the hot dog and beer guys at the ballparks, only here they are pimping propane, plastics, extra water. The citizens protested and appealed a few years back against their incessant horn honking so they are now forced to be more creative and less peace disturbing. So they play ice cream truck tunes and chant their wares in amusing tones and rhymes. It makes the big girls giggle.
We stuck out like sore thumbs in the city today, a gaggle of red-faced blondies; it’s obvious we are not accustomed to the heat . At every stop we are leaning against walls and pouring water over our faces. The local woman are dressed from head to toe in long sleeved dresses and full head hijab, they look comfortable and put together. We look like misery’s business.
The city is a maze of buildings in various phases of construction. There are concrete shells of apartment complexes that may never get completed. They fill up the landscape, giant beige boxes ornate with frames filled with images of a dusty background.

There are no car seats here. The twins are in our laps being suffocated by paranoia. The cab driver is very casual as he maneuvers through what to outsiders looks like certain death. There are no lanes, there are no rules.
The haggling and arguing also makes the big girls laugh. They now understand their baba better. He’s always haggling and never backs down or gets uncomfortable in confrontation, never takes it too personal. Being in his native home we see why, it’s second nature here. Getting yelled at by the cabby because he slammed the door too hard they argue for most of the ride home. But it ends well with a smile and a mashallah. Americans are not accustomed to this, we shrink from confrontation or are beyond offended by any lack of politeness. But to paint a picture of a rude people would be inaccurate . On the contrary. We were greeted at the airport by 3 cars of people, a crowd of family come to welcome us and caravan back to my husband’s childhood home. The men jump off the sidewalk for a woman pushing a stroller or for any woman for that matter. Women enjoy a certain safety here, a culture of respect designed to protect them.

The prayer call begins, Nafiseh has finally fallen asleep. My son climbs up on the bed protesting his turn. He nuzzles in for milk, nurses and falls asleep.


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