A day in a fasting Amman

Every once in a while, especially in Ramadan, I like to take my car through Amman, in Arabic we call it"

سلي صيامك

Meaning "Entertain your Fast." It is one of the modernist additions to Ramadan, the otherwise religious month, it basically is killing hours before the breakfast at sunset. While normally, I would try to stay away from fasting mobs who are driving on low-sugar, low-caffeine and low-nicotine. A deadly combination in our culture,

Still, it is an exercise in self-discipline and a way to train your self on the value and virtue of patience. This time, I was on a chore to visit a unique venture of the Jordan River Foundation called "Al Karma Kitchen," I couldn't find a page for them online, however, here is a youtube video.

After calling the number for directions and having the polite and courteous lady lead me to the general neighborhood where the were, she ended with "Now it gets tricky, it is better if you ask around"

I was only a hundred meters or so away and I asked two men sitting on the corner of the street, they managed to point the building out. I wondered how many such men are "entertaining their fast" in these old hills of Amman

In a very meager building in the Middle of the old Amman Hilly area of "Jabal Al Natheef" you will find a slightly-better up-kept building, with a security guard in the front. Considering that the workers are all female, it looked like someone has actually concentrated some effort to create a friendly working atmosphere.

In order to disarm the guard that didn't like me taking pictures, I went straight to him and asked where the entrance is. He pointed to the metal door and said "Knock there, they will open it."

Clumsily, I attempted to open the door assuming it was a place of work. I was mistaken, this was a women's kitchen and men where locked out.

I heard a lady behind the door saying "How I am going to open for him," I heard the same voice from the phone call yell, "This place is a mess!"

Slightly opening the metal door, the modestly covered lady kept me clear of entering the assuredly messy kitchen, and passed me my order. Paid for and received there was a few pleasantries exchanged and the door was locked. I could tell there was a very busy hive in the background and not much time can be spared this season to chit-chat.

My box of Eid Mamoul in hand, I went back to the car, with much time to spare before Iftar, so I decided to get lost in the old hills of Amman, something I hadn't done in a few years. See, the old hills of Amman are reminiscent of an older, simpler time. The kids still run around outdoors, and there are still shops that are built underneath houses. You can still find communal stairs and you can always spot where someone has botched an expansion here or there.

Solar Panel on rooftops in Old Amman, next to steep stairs
The houses grow with time, both with inhabitants and onto alleys and modernity stepped it, but the pastels of the earth refused to be quite.

You can tell that some of the old building's "architects" had a balcony here, but then six children later, the balcony was added to the house on this level. On the lower level, there still stands a balcony, although the view it overlooks is some bricks and mortar that lay in ruinous abandonment.

Solar Panel were added here or there in order to soften the blow of the monthly burden that is the utility bill, while others built a small coop to grow a few hens and get fresh eggs in the morrow.

Amman City Hall
In the distance lays the monstrosity that is the city hall, spacious and clean cut, contrasting to the clutter that is Amman.

Beautiful in isolation, an oddity in inclusion to the hills from which it derives its name and purpose.

I pity the missed opportunity to create something truly Ammanite, in flavor, in unison. The architects had created something in stone, which truly aspires to be newly Ammani, however, its clean lines and perfect curves are not anything near the evolution of the surrounding.

Then back to the layperson streets, it seemed everyone was anticipating Eid, maybe not with overly priced and perfectly manufactured  Mamoul. Rather, I suspect there will be a flurry of baking going on in the next two days.

Simple decorations unified neighborhoods, and created a clear opportunity to the tourist-resident of Amman. While I reside in Amman, the few kilometers that separate us, can make me feel like a tourist in my own town.

More importantly, the genuine residents of Amman, will always have their close-knit neighborhoods where they truly reside, as a collective , not as a collection of individuals.

I believe there are lessons to be learnt on how to uphold the values of communities and how to manage non-linear growth. The ingenious nature of the old hills' inhabitants has many lessons for those who wish to learn and build (or unfortunately rebuild) Amman of tommorow
Amman Decorations