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Monday, October 31, 2005

A little ancient family imagery


While looking at a batch of ancient pictures in my grandmother's house, we came upon this photograph of my great-great aunt. I'm a huge fan of old pictures, and I was blown away by how interesting this one turned out to be, especially as the angle seems to be taken by someone with a very good sense of visual aesthetics.

Perhaps the aesthetically pleasing angle comes from the fact that this is not a professional studio shot, as most studio shots in those days were very systematic and mundane, like the photograph below, which I also found in the same batch.


This photograph is of my grandfather(wearing glasses), his two brothers, and their uncle, in a very conventional 1940's studio shot- notice the symmetry, and how everyone is gazing in a different direction.

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

From the Jordanian Blogosphere

The Jordanian blogosphere has been making an appearance on a weekly basis on the Global Voices Online weblog for the past two months. The appearance is similar to the "Weekly Highlights" on Jordan Planet's homepage, but it is more elaborate and more Jordan-centric, mostly trying to represent Jordan and Jordanian issues through the eyes of Jordanians rather than Western media, as well as images that showcase Jordanian people and daily life.

Please feel free to email me at roba.assi(at)gmail.com with recommendations that you think should be highlighted in the Global Voices round up, with subject "Global Voices Round-up".

If you are not a blogger but have interesting Jordan images, I urge you to start a Flickr photostream, and then email me at roba.assi(at)gmail.com with the URL of your photostream.

Please, please, please add Creative Common's to your Jordan images so that they can be used in the round-ups! Directions on how to add Creative Common's to your images.

"Girl Playing the Flute" by Sabri Hakim

The Jordanian Blogosphere on breaking cultural borders:

Ryan of "Journeys in Jordan" remarks that "it is interesting how people come to learn lessons" and talks about her experience in trying to understand a different culture. Natasha Tynes reports about "Bridge For Peace", which featured Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian DJs drawing over 800 people to Jerusalem’s dance club Haoman 17, then she says that she believes that "these initiatives should be highlighted in the local and the international press as it shows that in spite of the bloody mayhem taking place in our region we can still co-exist peacefully and even create music." Lina Ejeilat reports that the Jordanian band RUM will be performing in Tunisia and Syria this week, and urges everyone anywhere close to "NOT MISS IT! Their music is amazing - passionate, authentic, vibrant… and different!"

Rami Abdulrahman meanwhile reports about an Iftar they organized in Sweden, "We sent our class mates an invitation yesterday to fast today and prepare for a night to remember, surprisingly, the number of fasting non-Muslims was far greater than I expected!"

Eman of Aquacool writes about Jordan TV’s efforts in its national campaign to relief victims of the Pakistan Earthquake, "For a -relatively- small community like Jordan, I believe the results of this campaign are a big success!", and points out that Jordan will have an open day for Churches to gather donations for our Pakistani brothers.

Read the rest of today's post on Global Voices Online.

Read all of the Jordan round-up posts on Global Voices Online Here.

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Friday, October 28, 2005

Pet Peeve

I just hate it when people fail to Google something because "they're too busy" or because it's just simpler if they ask.

I've been giving out this website a lot lately.

Google it, you morons!


By Farooha

Favorite Color: Deep red, no questions asked
Favorite Food: Smoked Salmon! Yum...
Favorite Month: July
Favorite Song: At the moment, "Wonderwall", which is just an absolutely awesome driving song, cheers to good music!
Favorite Movie: Hm, either The Lord of the Rings trilogy or Moulin Rouge
Favorite Sport: Typing
Favorite Season: Summer, definitely.. *sigh*
Favorite Day Of the week: Thursday
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Ganduia with Cherry Vanilla at Frosti
Favorite time of Day: Midnight

Interested in more? Read the rest of the tag here.

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Hell-o-Heaven-Meter

(Spotted at KSU in Saudi Arabia by Farooha of Farah's Sowaleef)

Although I would think that the image is quite self-explanatory, I cannot help but elaborate. On one side is a head-to-toe vieled woman with a little check mark signifying correctness under the image, and a phrase that says "The Hijab of the Muslim Woman". On the other side is another head-to-toe vieled woman, this time with a litte cross mark under the image signifying wrongness and a phrase that says, "The dolled up women."

Between the image, there's a hell-o-meter sort of thing labeled "Choose your destiny", and apparently, the closer you dress to Miss Dolly-doll the closer you are to hell and vice versa(but please do notice how heaven is represented; desert accustomed eyes, anyone?) I will not even bother to translate what's written in the middle.

God! And just yesterday I was having an argument at school because some girl said that covering one's hair is a matter of "Logic" and "Islam" rather than conviction and culture.

There are so many things I want to say that I will not say because I do not want to sound culturally insensitive or intolerant towards other people's ideas and beliefs, but for God's sake! There are limits to tolerance!

Ameen Malhas once asked me a very thought-provoking question that I will pose now, "Is it intolerance to not be able to tolerate the intolerant?" (Albeit intolerance mixed with ill-logic)

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

L'Amour Nokia

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(So does "Je amour Nokia" spell "I love Nokia"? So much for 10 years of French at school.)

Anyway, the latest Nokia fashion phone collection, L'Amour, is just so hot that I think I have a crush on it. Oh, sweet plastic!

+ the delicious Shiny Shiny


Every time I go downtown, I find myself entranced by the overdramatic use of color in almost every single aspect of display. It really becomes difficult to fully take in all what the eyes perceive, unless captured by images which could be carefully studied later.

I'm aware that not everyone shares my fascination when it comes to the use of color, but these pictures are absolutely fascinating by their own right; the organization of objects and the mind-numbing variety.

Downtown Amman, Jordan

Downtown Amman, Jordan

Downtown Amman, Jordan

Downtown Amman, Jordan

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

More absurdity

While the whole deal about gravity was amusing, this deal is disturbing:

"Recently, a newspaper photographer was detained by the mutawwa (religious police) for photographing a row of trees uprooted during a sand storm in Riyadh. The reason given for his detention was that trees are God's creation and that by photographing fallen trees, the photographer was making fun of God's creation."

[Source: Arab News via Saudi Jeans]


And while we're on it, here's a very interesting article on the use of hip-hop in the Islamic world.

Operation Smile

A friend just called and informed me about a fundraising mini-concert happening today(Tuesday) to raise money for the Operation Smile campaign. Operation Smile is a nonprofit organization committed to repairing childhood facial deformities, and they will be operating on children with such deformities in Jordan this December.

The mini-concert will take place tomorrow evening at Shisha in Sweifieh, near Hardees, at 8:00 PM. Tickets cost 6 JDs each and each includes a Ramadan drink, mezzas such as hummos and fool, and a live concert by the fantastic Jadal. Considerable portion of proceeds will go to spreading the smiles of children nationwide.

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Influence- Autumn Rhythm

"It's all a big game of construction, some with a brush, some with a shovel, some choose a pen."
-Jackson Pollock(1912-1956)

It was Pollock who first "broke the ice"- instead of using the traditional easel, his canvas was on the floor; instead of using brushes, he poured and dripped his paint from a can. He manipulated his art with `sticks, trowels or knives', sometimes adding `sand, broken glass or other foreign matter'.

What I love about Pollock is how shocking his paintings are. They are also more real and expressive than a naive eye might imagine- this method of painting, called Action painting, results in a direct expression or revelation of the unconscious moods of the artist, and although it seems random, Pollock extensively edited the canvases by trimming or destroying the whole work.

+ Jackson Pollock by Miltos Manetas- an applet to help you paint modern art in the style of Pollock.
+ Short and Sweet Jackson Pollock biography

: The Influence
:The AlHambra Vases


"Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held "theory of gravity" is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling, "Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down."

He3. That's hilarious. I'm totally amused.

+ Earth to Omar

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Saturday, October 22, 2005


Truth is, although I would never want to live there again or spend more than 5 days a year visiting because the general belief system and the way of life are a good 180 degrees against everything I believe in(check this horrible example of mentality here. God, what a poor little girl!), most of my memories were formed in that city.

Memories, memories- it's so hard to rip a memory of its sentimental value, as little as it may be. I really do wish Saudi Arabia is open enough for me to take pictures of these memories, but unfortunately, it's a country where girls started muttering "Camera" when I was showing Farooha pictures, so these pictures that I can't help but share will have to do. Oh, yeah, all pictures grow when clicked...

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My mother loves painting motifs on walls, and ever since we were kids, I don't remember ever living anywhere that didn't have Disney cartoons in bedrooms and beautiful paintings around the house. When we moved to the this compound, my mom took the house-painting thing a step further by painting the common area. The second picture is of a very Arab thing to do- Argeeleh.

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For years and years and years, my dad would take us to Fuddruckers every single Friday to have lunch, so when he asked us where we would like to eat this weekend, the natural answer was Fuddruckers. Sarah and the boys... The second picture is the view of Riyadh.

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The pink sky, and Manarat from the car.

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Riyadh is shopping heaven, but we went so early(that being 1 PM, the instance the stores open) that no one was there but us and the salespeople!

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Shopping proved very useful though, because I bought these shoes that I'm so utterly in love with. I've been looking for flat boots for ages, but I was getting hopeless with time as all the boots in the market are really heelish... Aren't they cute?

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Whitey's sister is just the most adorable cat ever... and Whitey in her new red collar to go with the family mood.

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Me and Auntie Maha in her beautiful Ramadan tent, and em, while we're on decoration, the only picture I managed to snap at a 3-hour "Leave-me-alone-I-don't-want-to-leave" stroll at Ikea.

Anyhow, I'm back after an entire week of trying to figure out how to keep a scarf put, quite unsuccessfully because it mostly ended up in my bag... I'm glad that's done with! Good to be back in Amman. But it's cold! BRR!

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Friday, October 21, 2005


Last night, I met the one and only Farooha. Night as in night, because in this country, pre-9:30 PM is for sissies(I'm actually blogging from a "S7oor" dinner at some family friends' house and it's 2:50 AM and they still didn't have dessert. I totally miss the national vampirish routine), but saying I "met" Farooha isn't actually right. Believe it or not, but Farooha and I actually graduated from the same class at the same secondary school in Riyadh, except that Manarat is so horribly subdivided that I don't remember her at all and she remembers me as "The tall girl".

Anyway, we had a wonderful time sipping Frappacinos at my favorite Starbucks in town, and Farooha is absolutely adorable. She's even more interesting offline than she is online! I don't think I've ever met anyone as hyperactive as she is, or as interesting.

We actually had a little communication problem as I don't understand the Saudi accent and she has a hard time with the Jordanian one, so we settled for English.

Truth be said, I've never really intermingled much with Saudis during the 18 years here except for my friend Sara, who apparently shouldn't be my Saudi stereotype, because most of the stuff Farooha and I discussed totally shocked me, like less-immediate Saudi family units. For example, in some families, it is actually considered taboo for a male cousin to hear his female cousin's voice, while my cousins sleep on our couch for months at a time.

I also found out about the Saudi class system, and it's very different from the one in Jordan although that is to be expected with a quite huge number of people carrying the title of "Princess". At my highschool, which was unbelievably diverse, the class system actually depended on nationality, and in Jordan, the class system(from the eyes of an outsider), is school-based(ex. the Bakaloria/New English/etc group, Kuleyeh/IlRaed/etc group, and so on) which really sucks for someone who didn't go to highschool in Amman.

I still manage to get amused at my Ammanite friends' preconceptions of people who grew up in "the desert that is Saudi Arabia", and even more so when it comes to the talteesh of educated and open minded people(bte3ref 3an meen ba7ki si Fabio).

It's really quite unbelievable how different the life we've lived amongst Riyadh's various housing compounds is from real Riyadh, and it's just as unbelieavable how different the Jordanian community in Riyadh is from the Jordanian population living in Jordan. Although I've always known it, the extent of how fake my life has been is finally hitting me... Tailor-made life.

Anyway, more about about that later, there are too many thoughts in my head but they're not making much sense anymore as it's 3:46 AM and we're still having s7oor at some family friends' garden in the beautiful weather of the tailor-made sections of Riyadh, but I'm getting really sleepy. Ah, I'm turning into a jajeh.

I can't wait to get to Amman this Saturday though, I really miss my friends, my car and Whitey.

Nighty, nighty.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

From the desert

Did you know that the sky of Riyadh at night is pink? Yes, really pink. So many lights! No wonder I love lights.
Ramadan is also wonderful here! Ramadan for real; the tents and the whole deal. I love the people! There's no nakad like there is in Amman.
Riyadh also has the awesomest malls... I already got two Really cute pairs of shoes.
Will be seeing Farooha tomorrow!
It's awesome being in Riyadh after so long.
Will be back on Saturday.
I know, excuse my elloquence.

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

"If heaven is filled with people like them, I don't want to go"

I've been keeping and eye on Post Secret ever since I found it in February. It's really quite inspiring- not only in terms of interesting secrets, but also in terms of creativity, both aesthetic and intellectual.

Here's a bunch from the last 2 weeks that fascinated me:

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Saturday, October 15, 2005


Formica(Jordanian pronounciation: fer-may-kA) is a plastic.

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Friday, October 14, 2005

Life is Suite and the Fat Lamp

Two interesting pieces of furniture that caught my eye were the "Life is Suite" couch upholstering service and the Fat Lamp.



"Life is Suite" is an upholstery system by Raw Nerves that takes a client's memories or ideas to create custom graphics for the re-upholstery of any old sofa. Pretty interesting idea don't you think? I can't help but try to imagine what kind of graphics my re-upholstered couch would have. I certainly do love the look of this one though- the play with type, pattern, images, and line sketching against a white canvas is just absolutely fascinating. (+ MoCo Loco)

The Fat lamp slowly melts when turned on, becomes more tactile and giving more light. The process of melting takes two hours, then after turning it off, it becomes solid again. Awesome. What a fascinating concept...
I'm a little flabbergasted by its mechanics, but apparently, the lamp is filled with soya oil and the light bulb makes it melt, because soya isn'’t conductive. (+ No Garlic Please)


Feeding is sacred to Jordanians- sacred in such a way that it represents affection, economics, etiquette, talent, and (to some extent) fear of God.

For the younger generation such as myself, this phenomenon is extremely irritating. For example, I cannot go have lunch at my grandmother's house without being stuffed to death because I get faced with sad puppy-faced looks of "The food isn't good? Don't you love me anymore?" I can't go have dinner at a friend's house without their parents will consider it rude if I don't put huge proportions of everything they have taken their time preparing for me, and so they keep piling and piling food on my plate, "Yalla 7abeebti, eish a7otelek kaman?"

So when I told my grandmother that I'm having a potluck ftoor, she freaked out, "What! You're having your friends over and you're having them bring their food with them? That is so 3eib! You can't do that!"

But anyhow, it was fun, especially as my friends are actually really good cooks. I did have someone prepare soup, samboosak, and spaghetti for me, but the only thing I actually did cook was atayef stuffed with the most the random toppings such as peanut butter with Nutella, which my friends loved so much that we finished a whole plate of atayef asafeeri in 5 minutes.

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Abu Il Abed just got a make over!

(picture courtsey of Nada)

Or perhaps he just made so much money off his coffee that his son Abed underwent several cosmetic procedures and an identity renovation. I must say though that I really do love the way the new, more Amr Idiab than Sha3ban Abdel-Raheem Abed is pasted over his original(or previous) persona.

I don't remember when I stopped seeing cheeky Egyptians standing in the service lane of of Garden's Street(among others) with their thumbs up trying to sell speeding cars "il qahwah il 3arabeyah al-asilah", but it happened. Is this sign signalling another new trend in the Qahwet Abu il Abed industry?

Below are original signs of Abu il Abed that are still shining their pearly whites at Amman's streets. Pictures courtsey of Mohamed, who has a very interesting Flickr album about visual discourse in signage in Amman.

(everything grows when clicked)

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

"I never wanted to be a painter. I wanted to be a tap dancer."

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(All images grow when, you know, you click...)

When I heard that some real Andy Warhol silkscreen prints are in town, I totally went nuts. Anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with Andy Warhol, and not just with his art, but also with his philosophies, as eccentric as they may seem.

So this evening, my friends and I went to get a piece of Warhol, and not any Warhol, but the Marilyn serigraph Warhol! I love the Marilyn serigraph Warhol so much that I used it as a concept in last semester's final interior design project.

Oh, Andy, Andy- he fascinates me to no end! The bright shocking colors... the large scale standardization... the beauty behind predictability... I can go on and on forever about how much I love his ideas about time, boredom, and repetition. What a lot of people fail to understand about his serigraphs is that repetition lends the subjects an anonymous and somehow threatening character- they become less real, as if they had been placed away from reality... *sigh of adoration*

(I'm trying to end the yapping with the previous paragraph, but I can't get myself to, so bear with me! The next paragraph is me yapping about what these Warhol serigraphs mean to me, so if you're not interested, skip paragraph below)

In his famous serigraphs of celebrities, I feel like Warhol mocks the human values in a mechanized world. All of the serigraphs were based on photos, usually made for public-relations, and the endless sameness of the technique heighten the cool, impersonal, idol-like character of the celebrities- Elvis, Marilyn, Jackie O, Che Guevera- not flesh-and-blood human beings but the products of a commercialized society. In a culture glutted with information, where most people experience most things at second or third hand through TV and print, through images that become hackneyed and disassociated by being repeated again and again and again, there is role for cold art. You no longer need to be passionate, you can be supercool! Over the course of his career, Andy Warhol transformed contemporary art; he defied ideas about the nature of art and erased traditional distinctions between fine art and popular culture. *another sigh of adoration*

No seriously, I have like, this major crush on the man! Dude, I'm in love.

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Anyway, besides the love, it was an absolute treat to be surrounded by these prints, set up in a line in perfect Warhol style. It's weird, but I felt as if I was in a corner in my own head.

Alright, enough about Andy and let's talk about some local girl power, because also present in the exhibition were some really interesting creations also dealing with the banality of the commercialized modern world by young Jordanian artist Haya Y. Awad. I found her work really interesting, especially for a young Jordanian woman. What do you think about her work?

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Interesting details:
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The exhibition is taking place at the 4 Walls Gallery at the Sheraton Amman, and it will be on till the 3rd of November. Unmissable...