The new Amman lifestyle

Yesterday, I went through security checks on two separate occasions while out and about in Amman. The first was at the entrance of Mecca Mall, the second at the main gate of the Meridian Hotel. It was only yesterday that I actually felt the aftermath of the 9 November terrorist attacks — an event I observed and blogged about remotely from my safe little space in the US. For me, these security stops served one major purpose: A reminder that my dear country was attacked and, sadly enough, remains under threat.

It was the first time for me to observe the ramifications of this drastic event up close and personal. It was surreal. It was also fascinating to see how Jordanians seem fully adjusted to this new lifestyle, marked by constant security checks and metal detectors. They stop at the security guards, turn over their belongings or get a quick search by the guards and then proceed with their mission; no muss, no fuss. I guess this has become part of mundane, daily existence in Amman.

Fortunately, the city is still buzzing with life, as usual. People are getting about everywhere with no sweat — an indication to me that the terrorists haven’t managed to instill fear into the hearts of Jordanians. Restaurants are packed and busy while the streets are more jammed than ever! I even saw a number of foreign faces while cruising around the city, proof that Jordan is still considered a safe haven by locals and foreigners alike. That was reassuring.

From my brief conversations with friends and family during the past few days, I think Jordanians are more worried about bird flu than an imminent terrorist attack. Although the WHO today declared Jordan bird flu free, Jordanians are still discussing whether eating chicken is a good idea or not.

Putting my quick observations aside, I’ve got to admit that I’m more in love with this place than ever. I really cannot it describe my feelings in mere words. In addition to Amman’s decided advantage of being the city that hosts the majority of my family and loved ones, this place has a unique flavor that never manages to disappoint me. It is the place where authenticity and originality still have a niche. It really is the place where I feel fully human. In a nutshell, I’m ecstatic to be here.

5 thoughts on “The new Amman lifestyle”

  1. Natasha, glad that Jordanians are going about in a life is normal manner but there really is NO country like Lebanon. We’ve been stopping our cars at every mall parking entrance so they can be checked for bombs and automatically hand over bags for over a year. Despite the threat of bombs and constant political and ecomonic instability, it’s packed now with foreign tourists, mainly Gulf Arabs! And it’s only April!!! Usually they come in the summer. On Monday I went to Gemayzeh, the new ‘in’ street with pubs and cafes, and all the parking lots were packed. My friend noted that only in Beirut do people get drunk on a Monday night.

  2. Natasha,
    Given your love for your native city and your husband’s love of photography and filmmaking, why not do a documentary on Ammam? You could show all the funky qualities of the city–the sushi bars, the Jordan planet bloggers–and how they mesh with the older culture.
    Most Westerners, I imagine, have very limited and stereotypical perceptions of Arab cities and culture. I think there would be a real audience for this sort of thing.

  3. Natasha, I haven’t been back to Amman since last August so I haven’t seen the changes you’re talking about. I hope that by the next time I go there these things have died down a little. Probably by the time I get to Amman, the more noticable change is going to be the mopeds everywhere :p
    Peter, a documentary about Amman is a very good idea, but sushi bars? I don’t think that belongs in an Amman documentary; it’s just not a good sushi destination. Flavored tobacco being served in every coffee shop, now that’s something that you will most definitely see in a documentary about Amman 😀

  4. The observations you made Natasha were sound and correct. The fascinating thing is the Jordanian collective response to terrorism and to the increase of the oil prices. They seem to be resilient and composed and that reflects a deep love for the country that the decision makers in the governemnt must appreciate. I am not very certain about the limits of this resilience in the future. Let us hope there will not be more sources of economic pressures to make people adapt to the threats of terrorism.

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