Some of you might have heard of the ‘Humans of New York’ project, which paired pictures of everyday people in- you guessed it- New York with a brief story about who they are. A similar ‘Humans of Amman’ sprung up in the wake of the popularity of Humans of New York and it’s a pretty fun read. (Check it out here: http://www.humansofnewyork.com/ and http://beamman.com/beamman/amman-through-the-lens/916-amman-through-the-lens-of-humans-of-amman)
I bring this up because I’ve recently met a few great humans of Amman who have made me laugh, think, and most of all enjoy this city that I live in.
I was in a cab riding from work to where I take Arabic classes the other day and I was pretty tired. Usually I’m content to tell the driver where I’m going and then space out, tired from a long and frustrating day of sitting and staring at a computer. This driver, however, was super chatty and spoke great English and since I’m incapable of turning down a conversation we began to chat.
This guy was gregarious and hysterically funny. He spoke with such energy that I couldn’t help but smile and laugh at this ridiculous individual! He was teaching himself Chinese and had lived in Manhattan for a few years, both of which I find impressing because I can’t imagine doing either of them.
“I have a plan,” he whispered conspiratorially.
Oh god. I thought. “What’s your plan?” Dare I ask?
“Tonight, we will rob a bank and take the money. The police will chase us but we will get away. Then, we will run away and not see each other for ten years. We will accidentally meet in a restaurant and I will invite you back to my yacht, which I bought with the money we stole from the bank.”
“But you cannot stay on my yacht. The police will know and they will find us. I will bribe them. But you still can’t stay on my yacht.”
Now that we’ve established that I won’t be staying on the yacht he buys with his stolen funds….
“But first, before we rob the bank, we will each drink a bottle of whiskey.”
Yeah, that sounds like a pretty typical Wednesday night to me. Carry on.
“So, you are in on the plan, yes?”
“Obviously.” I reply. It’s a great plan. No.
“Ok. After you are done with your studies I will give you 2 hours to finish your whiskey. I will pick you up at 11 and we will rob the bank.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I am writing this blog post from a surprisingly fast prison internet connection. Just kidding! I enjoyed my taxi ride, never ended up robbing the bank (or drinking whiskey), made it through my Arabic class, and ran into a few other characters of Amman.
Second character was another student I often see in the cafe attached to the building where I take classes. He is taking French classes and spoke to me in French, which was obviously met with a confused stare and a “huh?” coming from this definitely not French speaking woman. We got to chatting, albeit at a halting pace, and I found out that he is a currently unemployed artist who has written a ‘romance book.’ I didn’t pry into details of that little venture but I have to admit I’m slightly hesitantly curious.
I also got the rundown on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is likely to happen in Jordan where roughly half the population identifies as Palestinian. Suffice to say that his question, ‘Do you know what happened in 1948?’ was met in the affirmative.
In a series of random events I ended up at the house of a friend of a friend (also later that night) and was treated to a delightful home cooked Arabic meal, which is probably the best thing ever in my opinion. I laughed, met some new friends, and thoroughly enjoyed myself before tearing myself away back to my friends who happily squished themselves in my tiny apartment to celebrate Labor Day (a day off!) together.
Even though I ended that day exhausted I enjoyed the people I met. Hospitality and friendliness abounds here, among expats and locals alike. I ended the day with a smile, happy to have stories to tell.