Posts in Weblogs

An open question to Mental Mayhem readers

While visiting friends and family here in Amman, the subject of my blog came up on quite a number of occasions. I was quiet surprised — and humbled — that a significant number of my friends and relatives follow my on-line scribbles religiously. In the past few days, I’ve received a lot of feedback filled with encouragement, criticism and some suggestions. One common comment I heard from a number of people was the following: "Natasha, enough of those political posts. We want to read more personal pieces!"

As someone who follows the news for a living, it might prove hard for me to separate my personal self from my political self. However, I’m willing to compromise. Here is an open question to anyone that takes the time to read my blog every once in a while: What’s your preference? A) Personal B) Political or C) A mix of both? I would love to hear from you. Feel free to send me an e-mail or leave me a comment.

Meeting the Sandmonkey

The sandmonkey
The other day, I had a chance to meet face-to-face with the infamous, the one and only Egyptian blogger Sandmoneky. We met in downtown DC, where we talked mostly about the political mayhem that engulfs our volatile region. Blogging in the Arab world was also another topic of intensive discussion. As expected, Sandmonkey is smart, very funny, extremely friendly and tremendously well-informed. This is a proof, ladies and gentlemen, that blogs do provide a realistic picture of their authors.

As a huge fan of the Sandmonkey blog, meeting the man was certainly a real treat! Last month, Roba wrote a compelling post about the blogging culture and how, in addition to expressing themselves online, bloggers are actually forming their own communities off-line. I must agree. I will end this post with a great quote by "power blogger" Ethan Zuckerman:

Become a blogger and you’ll never have to have coffee alone again.

Jordan Planet East Coast Congress

A moment in Paolo's
While the Jameeds were in town, we had our first official East Coast Jordan Planet meeting. Attendants included the Jameeds, Beisan and yours truly (along with the husband). The venue was Paolo’s Ristorante in beautiful Georgetown, rumored to have been a favorite of the late King Hussein. We discussed blogging issues, Jordanian politics, life in the US and the development of Jordan Planet.Continuing debate at Kramer's

I found it fascinating that all of us were able to converse non-stop for hours on end like long-time best friends. I guess, in a way, we were all connected by the love for our country and our passion for blogging. One thing that Jordan Planet has created — in addition to its serving as a platform for self-expression — are these mini-Jordanian communities that are scattered across the globe. So once again, kudos to the man who created our wonderful Planet.

After a delicious feast at Paolo’s, we made our way to another favorite of mine — Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe — for continuing discussions. Oh, and here’s a link to a previous "non-official" East Coast congress, where Laith, Besian and I enjoyed a brief encounter.

Jordanian podcasts

I spent a good chunk of this morning listening to Jordanian podcasts found on this new podcast blog: www.ninish.com. I have to admit, they were highly entertaining. There was an interview with a taxi driver, an ATM operator, a lifeguard, among others. However, these podcasts made me extremely homesick. They made realize how much I yearn to be in Amman amongst my family and friends. Sigh!

Ninish is still a brand new initiative created by a group of young Jordanians and, in my humble opinion, I think the site has great potential. I also liked their choice of music that accompanies the podcasts. Great job guys! Keep it up!

Updating the blog

I guess it is about time to update the blog. There are many things that need modification, including the profile, and most importantly the blog tagline. As one reader said, I no longer live in the Middle East thus the title on top of the page does not fit my current circumstances.

I have a number of ideas for a new tagline. Here they are:

  • Jordanian scribbles in a foreign land
  • Jordanian on the loose
  • Ramblings of a Jordanian mind

Which one is more appealing? If you have any suggestions, they would be highly appreciated.

Jordanian bloggers meet-up

Last night we had our 3rd Jordanian bloggers meet-up and, according to Roba, the meeting was "serious." Well, I guess it was serious in a way, as we are in the process of reshaping and improving the community of Jordanian bloggers featured on Jordan Planet. We discussed various ideas for revamping the planet to make it even more appealing to outside readers. After all, it is a window on our lovely Jordan.

It was fun chatting face-to-face with Isam, Nader, Roba, Ahmad and Ammar. I was also thrilled to meet Lina for the first time since I enjoy reading her blog such a great deal. Unfortunately, I had to leave the gathering early due to some pressing social obligations, but overall I think the meeting was productive. We, as Jordanian bloggers, are on the right path to enhance our community.

Make sure to check Roba’s blog for pictures and her take on the meeting that was held at the Jordan Wild Café in Jabal Amman.

Jordanian blogger feature out

Finally, the feature I wrote about the Jordanian blogging community has seen the light of day, published over this past weekend (the Fri-Sat print edition) and available online here.

The original plan was to publish it in Jo magazine, but they kept delaying, so I got upset and asked them not to run it anymore! I sent it to the Jordan Times and they were interested. Here it is for the next week or so, then perhaps I’ll archive it.

This is just cool!

Le Pain Nu

I have been following a really cool book blog entitled Moorish Girl for a while now and it got its hooks in me. This morning I was checking it when I found that the blog’s author, Leila, was giving away one of her favorite novels, Le Pain Nu by Mohamed Choukri, to the first person that e-mailed her asking for the book. So I got right in there. To my surprise, I was the lucky winner.

She just e-mailed me asking for my address. Isn’t this so cool! I just love the blogosphere. It keeps getting better and better by the day.

The Nasr Allah legacy

Lebanese blogger Raja, writes passionately about Nasr Allah shattering the Lebanese dream of unity. His post is worth highlighting:

My impulse tells me that Nasrallah is responsible for this division. He is responsible because he made the decision to not join the opposition’s ranks. Thus far, all we can do is speculate what his rationale behind that decision was. I hope it was a good one though … because he is responsible for shattering the illusion of unity. For although it was an illusion, it had strength; and in the future, when we all look back to this moment in time we’re going to say: "oh that was a frightening stage in our history… a stage where sectarian animosity spilled out into the streets."

Had Nasrallah made a different choice, we might have looked back on these past few weeks and said: "those were the glorious days… the days when Lebanese forgot about their sectarian animosities and united behind a single message." Nasrallah … why??? was it worth it??? You shattered our dream!

I don’t think I have the right to rant about the politics of Hizb Allah, as I’m just a Jordanian voyeur. But if I was Lebanese I probably would have felt the same as Raja. Watching from afar, I think Nasr Allah is making a huge mistake opposing the "people power" that took to the streets. I’m a believer in the school of thought that says Hizb Allah should be disarmed. They don’t need arms after liberating the south. Well, I’m just a voyeur. I’ll leave the punditry on this to folks like Raja.