The trip back ‘home’

I’m back to the US after a hectic 20-hour trip from my parent’s place in Amman to our apartment in Maryland. The 13-hour Royal Jordanian flight from Amman to Chicago was long — way too long. I was — and still am — suffering from a nasty cold that left me coughing and sneezing for the duration of the trip. It was truly awful. As for traveling RJ, everyone on the plane was animated as usual. For some reason, the concept of reading on the plane is practically non-existent amongst the majority of RJ travelers. As a result, everyone was quite sociable and chatty, making the idea of taking a nap almost impossible.

Anyway, enough ranting about Jordan’s national carrier. The best thing about traveling with RJ is that everyone on the plane claps upon landing. Quick question: Is this only a Jordanian tendency? Don’t get me wrong; I really like it. When arriving at Chicago’s airport, the immigration official there told me "welcome home." That was when it hit me. I left home to go back home! This is my existence nowadays. I live in limbo, with my heart divided between two different places. It’s really an overwhelming and -– sometimes — trying existence!

Meanwhile, here in Maryland, the spring is just wonderful. The weather is very pleasant and the cornucopia of spring colors is simply breathtaking. Yes, I’m really glad to be back.

If I were to evaluate the two weeks I spent in Jordan, I would say that they were simply wonderful in every sense of the word. The most important thing for me was the quality time spent with my family. As for my assessment of the capital Amman, it seems to be doing really well. Money seems to be pumping into this city, as it becomes more cosmopolitan by the day. Construction is taking place literally everywhere. Brand spanking new projects are mushrooming up all over the place and the talk of foreign investments is continual.

Even my friends who mange their own businesses in the city seem quite content and optimistic. They assured me that new projects are being handed to them all the time and that their business is booming. However, everyone was complaining about the hike in gas prices in Jordan. I was shocked to realize that nowadays filling my old Kia Pride with gas requires double the amount I used to pay only a few years ago.

During my visit, I could not get myself acquainted with all the security checks taking place all over -– an aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Jordan last November. One shocking and unusual scene was finding a security guard in front of our church on Easter morning. I asked my sister about the unusual scene and she told me it was nothing compared to last Christmas when a number of police cars were parked outside the church during the service. It was really sad to realize that churches are among the potential targets in Jordan. Churches, of all things; churches that are attended by no other than Jordanians themselves.

Anyway, on a totally different subject I’m glad to announce that I returned armed with all the goodies that make life worth living: Baklava, Turkish coffee, Jameed, Arabic spices and nuts. Happy times await!


  1. jareer April 27, 2006 at 10:56 am

    Welcome back ! You made me re-think of going to Jordan for a visit. It has been now five years since my last when I “harramet”, should I really go?
    For non-Arabic readers: “Harramet” = vowed not to go back; otherwise, I should divorce my wife!.

  2. natasha April 27, 2006 at 11:51 am

    I think you should go. Jordan has changed a lot during the past few years. You’d be surprised!

  3. Peter S. April 27, 2006 at 12:07 pm

    You should consider a sideline importing Jordanian foods & specialty items into the U.S. I’m sure there are many Arab expatriates who miss the taste of home. A side business would be a good way of making money for a house in Maryland which (as I know you are well aware) isn’t cheap. Nobody gets rich being a journalist (unless you’re Bob Woodward). 🙂

  4. Dad & Mom T April 27, 2006 at 12:16 pm

    Welcome home, Natasha! Looking forward to seeing you soon, Mom & Dad T

  5. Yehoshua April 27, 2006 at 1:27 pm

    I took A Continental flight from L.A to Malaysia last month where the majority of travelers were “white” Americans-Maybe some other nationalities. No one was reading a book and the majority was quite sociable. A group of teenage girls were storming the flight by their ugly voices while singing. An old traveler kept throwing up leaving the plane stinks and sickening. The flight attendants were by all means rude. This is much worse in comparison to the RJ flight I took to Amman in 2002. RJ was clean and its crew was professional and well mannered. On the contrary to everyone I talked to, the crew did smile and was all responsive. As to the passengers, they were all neat, polite, and sociable. We in America have reached the moon and yet we find difficulty walking a block to meet a new neighbor. The friendliness and warmth of Jordanians is something I envy them for. I wish all Americans can be a little similar, away at least from their psychological intricate.
    Moreover, Maryland is a state where everybody is trying to leave. I was raised in Baltimore and have no good feelings for that place. Can you walk at 9 pm alone in Downtown Baltimore on a weekday, where 60% of the population is composed of crack-heads, jobless, welfare recipients? I bet you can walk at 9 pm in Amman with no problem! I can’t imagine how you took the officer’s words so passionately about Maryland. I am an American who studies foreign affairs with emphasis in Middle Eastern politics, and it hits me always how Arabs in general are so repulsive and ignorant about their culture and how better off they are, sometimes.

  6. Dar April 27, 2006 at 3:15 pm

    Hope that yr flight back was good , and it was a real pleasure meeting u 🙂

  7. David April 27, 2006 at 4:56 pm

    Regarding applause upon landing, it doesn’t only happen on RJ. I took a flight in Indonesia once on Garuda Indonesia without realizing that it was then listed as one of the world’s five most dangerous airlines. The engines pulsated and groaned unnaturally and there was literally smoke coming through the air conditioning vents. The flight attendants seemed calm enough, so my wife and I tried not to worry. However, when the plane finally landed all the Indonesians on board applauded and cheered. Somehow, I don’t think the applause on RJ happens for the same reasons.

  8. Linda April 27, 2006 at 5:14 pm

    Once, on my way to Kentucky to vist my uncle, everyone on the plane clapped, but now when we landed, only when the free drinks and peanuts were being passed out.
    By they way, you just left and my parents just lnaded in Jordan and my mom is already saying how much she loves it and vows to back next year taking all of us with her and every year.
    They are staying at the Royal Hotel and she said its a really nice place and the people that work there are so kind, the kindest you would ever meet.

  9. Hal April 27, 2006 at 7:28 pm

    Natasha, lovely to know you made it home safe and sound, but you’re missed here in Jordan! Wish I got to see you more than just that one time, but the days will come. Take care babe, and stay in touch! Missing you for sure… 🙂

  10. dm April 28, 2006 at 1:45 am

    I found your comments about America quite insulting. I for one am quite proud to be an American. I have been on many flights, both national and international, and have found that no matter whom you are with, people can be annoying. The comments you have made can be true of anyone in the world. I am so sick and tired of people trashing the United States and its citizens. I have been to Baltimore and I love it! I wouldn’t feel comfortable walking anywhere, in any city, alone at 9pm on any given night. I am from, and currently live, in the Boston area and I wouldn’t move for anything in the world. I love it.
    I disagree with many of the American policies, especially when it comes to the Middle East; however, I am insulted by the insinuations that you make. I do not think that those in the Middle East have it better than the Americans do. I won’t pretend to know everything that is going on over there, but I don’t think that they are any better than Americans are, just as much as I don’t think than Americans are better than they are. I judge people not on their heritage, but for their character. If you are a good, non-judgmental person, than I think you are great. But, if you live life by judging others (as many Americans as well as Middle Easterners do) than I have no use for you. People are people, no matter where you are from. One can’t walk anywhere at 9pm and feel safe. I’ve been all over Europe and have witnessed the dangers of the world. I can’t speak for other parts of the world, but find it difficult to believe that it would be any different than it is in the United States.
    So, before you go insulting Americans, I suggest you look at mankind in itself. Yes, there are Americans that just aren’t good people, but you’ll find that in any part of the world that you go to.
    Again, I’m so sick and tired of people blaming America for the world’s problems. Trust me, I am by no means a fan of American policies towards the rest of the world, but we aren’t the sole providers of the world’s problems, and I wish that people would recognize that.
    Arabs should absolutely not be negative or ashamed of their heritage, but I don’t think that Americans should be either. We should all be proud of who we are, who our ancestors are, and where we come from. My ancestors came from Ireland and Italy and I’m damn proud of that. But, before anything else, I’m and American and as much as I disagree with much of the government’s politics, I’m proud of it!

  11. kinzi April 28, 2006 at 10:16 am

    Welcome ‘Home’! I suppose home is where Jeff is now, yea?
    I had a customs officer at O’Hare say the same thing, but he added “You’ve been away a long time” and I burst into tears.The heart and homeland are mysteriously linked, no matter how long we live away from it.
    To have a divided heart is a hard thing…the land you long for changes slowly while you are gone, and the today is never like the memory of yesterday completely. But the blessings that come from living with the tension of it are worth it; until you see how it affects your kids, then it is another ball game!

  12. Yehoshua April 28, 2006 at 11:13 am

    Thank you for your strong defense. I appreciate your love to your country. Yet your argument and justification is way out of line. I too love my country. I aspire to work in my country’s government in the future. I am not a leftist by any means. Let me make things very clear at the outset, I am a Zionist and a devotee to my country, America, like the rest of my people. I would not let any harm be inflicted upon our great culture. Yet I don’t express those feelings often and I rather am interested in talking and learning about other cultures. I am a big fan of Jordan. I feel affection for this small country. I was only making things look better for my fellow Jordanians. My point was simple, not only Jordanians do not read books on their flights, but even Americans don’t. It is simple and naïve enough to show that Jordanians are not a special case.
    Your overwhelming nationalism is worrisome and beautiful at the same time. I wouldn’t go that far. It’s our country. We have the right to criticize and to share our thoughts. Criticism can build societies, but will not destroy it. When I criticize Israel that does not mean I want to destroy Israel, rather, to make it a better place. The same falls into the American category. America needs intellectual citizens, not hard-core zealots. Secondly, I never attacked the policy of the United States. In fact, I am a supporter of American foreign policy and that made me hated at sometime. Also, I am a supporter of American-Israeli relations. Where did you come up with such an accusation? Are you responsible for shaping this country? Listen habibi, I came from a family of policy makers and state officials. If I don’t like Baltimore, it’s my personal opinion. Perhaps I like Boston better. I wouldn’t let my children be raised in Baltimore. I want to love whatever I find appealing. My defense was to show that Jordanians are a subject of admiration to me. Perhaps this would not be the same when I choose to write about Saudis-No generalization.
    Thank you for your avid patriotism. It’s striking. Maybe you should move a little to the south.

  13. Yehoshua April 28, 2006 at 11:29 am

    By the way, your parents, grandparents, or maybe great-grandparents were Irish and Italian, but not most likely ancestors. It’s good to be proud of your heritage. But why did you choose to bring this subject. Did I mention my ancestors? No. well I am proud of my ancestors that I can trace 5000 years ago. My ancestors were the Hebrews and I can name my twentieth great-grandparent. My great-grandparent came to this country in 1888. He was a Sephardic Jew from Palestine, and came with a group of Spanish-Portuguese Jews (merchants) and opened up a shop in New York. Well, I am self-righteous about my ancestors. But I believe in Golda’s statement, “don’t be proud, you’re not that great”. See my family’s history in America goes back to the Nineteenth century and I still follow the traditions of my forefathers. Yet I carry the traditions of my ancestors 5000 years ago. I still don’t know why in heaven did you bring this subject?

  14. dm April 28, 2006 at 1:26 pm

    I’m sorry I upset you so much.
    First of all, I am by no means a right winged person, nor am I a leftist. Yes, I love my country but you are way off line about what you claim I am, and I should’ve been more clear about that. I didn’t do much to portray myself with my response. I wrote it with a quick hand and should’ve read what you wrote more clearly and for that I apologize.
    However, saying that I should move to the South, etc…let’s just say that you don’t know a damn thing about me and if you did, you’d realize that that is one of the DUMBEST suggestions anyone could make. I know that my response didn’t provide you with an accurate depiction of who I am – and that’s my fault.
    By the way, did you seriously call me habibi? So ridiculous…

  15. dm April 28, 2006 at 2:11 pm

    So I just went back and re-read what I initially wrote. To answer your question as to why I brought up the various subjects, I have no idea. I was half asleep and completely out of it when I wrote all that and I really went off the topic at hand and made little sense. Again, I sincerely apologize, and Natasha I apologize to you as well for raising such an issue on your blog.

  16. WM April 28, 2006 at 4:32 pm

    DM, I find myself agreeing with you more often than not on this blog, and while I mostly agree with you here as well, it was a bit more harshly worded than your usual entries. That may have jolted people a bit. But hey, I guess we all do that from time to time.
    BTW, are you officially an RN now? If so, congratulations. Off topic, but just wanted to say that.

  17. dm April 28, 2006 at 6:18 pm

    WM, yes it was definitely much more harshly worded than what I normally write and I do sincerely feel bad for that. So, to anyone I may have offended or angered, please accept my apologies. My entry was quite uncharacteristic of how I would normally act.
    No, I’m not officially an RN yet. I have my final exam next week, had a monster of an exam last night and have been studying non-stop, running on an average of about 4 hours of sleep per night. After the final I still have to take the state boards and THEN it will be official 🙂 I’ll be so glad when it’s over, but it will also be so worth it.

  18. amal April 29, 2006 at 10:33 am

    Welcome back to the States, wish I could have met up with you. And yes, on Lebanon’s national air carrier flights, MEA, they also clap but it has decreased in recent years.

  19. shy April 30, 2006 at 5:20 am

    Irish people clap on flights too, but its usually on charter flights taking them on package holidays. I hate the clapping thing!

  20. jareer April 30, 2006 at 8:37 am

    Its good if you can express your joy in the way you like; every time I travel,I feel the fear, then the fear vanishes as the aircraft stabilizes in the air and the passengers get more relaxed. When turbulance occurs, fear comes back..and so forth. Whether you clap, you say a prayer, or just take it easy; the trip and risk are over; its worth expressing what you feel.

  21. skye April 30, 2006 at 10:34 pm

    Jareer, I’m like you, I feel fearful during turbulence and during takeoff and landing. And I always cheer when the plane lands, with others if they clap and to myself if they don’t.

  22. Muna May 2, 2006 at 6:46 am

    Tash, it was so good to have you back and sit in our little gatherings and talk about this and that…it felt like you had never left …i especially thank you for being here on my birhday, it couldnt have been any more special, for all of us to be together like old times was just the best gift i got this year…(with your under the table feet habit of kicking me )…lol..
    we miss you a lot and cant wait till you come back….until then, Baklava, Turkish coffee, Jameed, Arabic spices and nuts will all be missing you too …


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