In the past 12 days since I’ve last blogged I have been to 3 malls, which is 3 more malls then I’ve been to probably in the last 2 years. I avoid malls and I dislike them- they are crowded and I can’t afford anything, so why go?
Well, this is Jordan and mall culture is alive and well, so, to answer my above query I will say that people watching is one great reason to hit the mall! Meandering through the many floors of an Amman mall is a past time not just for teenagers, but for people of all ages and backgrounds and you’ll see a bit of everyone here.
Mall experience #1 was City Mall, a huge complex on the edge of Amman close to where I work. My coworker had a car and knows a guy who works in one of the restaurants, so we took advantage of the transportation and the lunch discount and headed over. Wandering through City Mall is fun but it is also overwhelming! Lots of stores that Americans would be familiar with, like the Gap and H&M, although things are just a bit more expensive here. I’ll stick with my current wardrobe, as long as I continue to have my same salary.
Second mall experience was with Claire, Hannah, and Claire’s mom who was in town this last week for a visit. We ate dinner at a great restaurant called the Blue Fig before going down the street to Taj Mall, one of the newer malls in Amman. We were whisked through a giant revolving door into this 4-story mall, complete with the usual retail options and a P.F. Chang’s. For those of you who don’t know me well, P.F. Chang’s is one of my favorite places to eat in the states! I know it’s nothing special but I think I might have to save my pennies and splurge on some crispy honey chicken and lettuce wraps.
What was different to me about Taj Mall was that there were a ton of young guys just lurking around the entrance. Now, lurking young men are nothing new in Jordan- some nights it seems all the women have disappeared and all that happens to have remained are a bunch of dudes catcalling us. It seems that security at the mall had caught wind of the young men’s plans to hit on any female within the confines of the mall and have done their best to keep the shebab (young males) out. I was glad for the peace and quiet inside the mall and enjoyed talking to Claire’s mom, who has been here once before but still marvels at many of the realities of Jordan that I consider normal(ish).
Yesterday was another mall experience with my coworkers, to Mecca Mall which is also near our office (SO MANY MALLS). My same coworker knows another guy who could give us a discount lunch and hey, I’m always up for that (make friends with people in the food/beverage industry… hello, savings!). This time we meandered around the mall and goofed around, taking pictures with silly hats and sunglasses and marveling at the fact that they sell tie-dye denim short shorts. Don’t know who’s buying those because it’s definitely not me!
In one store (which was an absolute hoot) we found bedazzled lamps, tissue boxes, and silly t-shirts. I also found a plastic banana holder for those days when you need to carry your lunch banana to work in its own case. I wanted it for the sheer giggle factor but I forgot take a picture of it!
The majority of the employees of these stores are male, which is kind of odd when you’re a girl and you are shopping alone and need some commentary on whether or not what you’ve just tried on is flattering or not. I don’t think I’d be asking the 20-something young man who is employed but still lurking around the store! I haven’t been in this situation recently, but you can imagine.
So there you have it- a look inside a Middle Eastern mall. I promise to start taking more pictures of life in Amman since I’ve been bad about it this time around… I also promise to have more adventures, because I’ve been quite boring recently!
Sorry to anyone who hasn’t watched How I Met Your Mother, but here’s a little video about going to the mall. It’s been stuck in my head a lot lately. I’m sharing the joy.
UPDATE: How could I forget the place I get groceries every week? Majdi Mall, right down the street from my apartment and home of a delightful grocery store called Carrefour. I haven’t done any actual shopping in the winding aisles of Majdi, but it’s there if I need it. 4 malls down, hundreds to go!