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Picnic By The Bridge December 15, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Amman, Chatter, Jordan.
7 comments

I decided to take a relaxing Friday afternoon drive and maybe even get a glimpse of the recently inaugurated Wadi Abdoun Suspension Bridge in braod daylight.

What a crazy sight it was!!  Dozens of cars parked alongside the bridge, people snapping group photos, children playing, families taking a stroll along the small pathway…it won’t be long before they start bringing grills for a BBQ by the bridge!!

For a Friday afternoon, when the streets of Amman are usually empty, Jordan’s new landmark was packed with pedestrians and inconsiderate motorists who caused traffic by literally parking ON the bridge, completely blocking off one of only two lanes.  They would then jump over the large concrete railings to get to the pathway for a cigarette or photo, then jump back over to get into their cars.  Frickin’ insane!!!

I completely understand the excitement and the curiosity.  Amman residents have waited almost 4 years for the bridge to be completed.  Nevertheless, it’s a bridge people…not a damn amusement park! 

Official: Abdoun Bridge Open To Motorists December 14, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Amman, Chatter, Jordan.
8 comments

On my way back from work this evening, driving towards the 4th Circle from Shmeisani, I noticed the detour sign blocking entry into the tunnel leading to the Abdoun Suspension Bridge, was removed.  So, I decided to drive through…

I had no idea what to expect.  The tunnel curved slightly to the left, and as I drove out of the tunnel, a beautifully lit bridge appeared before me.  Wow!

I drove across the bridge, then through the tunnel underneath Abdoun Circle.  I made a u-turn at Starbucks and Blue Fig and went back along the same route.  The bridge is quite a sight!  Click the link below to see a few of the pictures I took with my phone.

(more…)

The Rebirth Of A Circle December 13, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Amman, Chatter, Jordan.
1 comment so far

Mood:  Pleased 

No more detours, no more dust, no more construction, and no more traffic.   

I would like to genuinely applaud and commend the planners, designers, developers and implementers of the ‘new’ 4th Circle.  It is evident that the designers and planners diligently studied traffic and congestion routes prior to laying the groundwork. 

 Some may think I am being sarcastic with my praises.  Although sarcasm comprises a large part of my character, this time, my praises are sincere.  I am truly pleased with the design of the 4th Circle tunnels and the round-about itself. 

The 4th to 3rd Circle tunnel is wide (two clearly laid out lanes), unlike the 5th Circle tunnel.  The planners solved the 4th Circle – Shmeisani – Duwwar El Dakhiliyah traffic with a convenient yet dodgy exit within the tunnel, which merges with the Abdoun Suspension Bridge traffic going in the same direction.  So, while going to work in the morning, rather than stopping at the round-about and making a left towards Shmeisani, I simply drive under the bridge and curve into Queen Noor Street. Quite nifty… 

I’m thrilled to say that my drive to work now only takes 4 minutes…with traffic!!  I timed myself this morning.  It might take an extra few seconds when the Abdoun Suspension Bridge opens and I have to carefully merge into the traffic coming from that direction.   

The round-about itself looks very modern and well organized.  Rather than erect a weird looking structure (like that of the 7th Circle), or an over-exaggerated fountain with no water, the 4th Circle sports a simple, neat, and contemporary design.

In a nutshell, I feel the urban planners responsible for resolving the chaotic and congested 4th Circle area, have done so in a thorough and efficient manner.  Hats off.

So…So…So…Mansafied! December 7, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Chatter, Food, Jordan.
7 comments

You stare down at the huge pyramid of rice that lay beneath you.  Chunky, tender pieces of lamb rest succulently on top, with roasted pine nuts scattered across the platter.  You dip the large serving spoon into the big bowl of boiling dried yoghurt (jameed), and carefully pour it onto the selected areas, which each person at the table has proudly established for themselves with their very own invisible borders. 

You clutch a juicy piece of lamb. Your hand then courageously plunges into the pile of steaming rice and jameed.  Despite the burning sensation, your fingers skillfully mold a sphere-shaped mixture of rice, jameed, and meat, which you then hungrily chuck into your mouth.  Mmmmmmm…Your eyes gleam as you look back down at the abundance of “Mansaf” left for you to wipe out. As if immune to the scorching jameed, your hand continues for a second plunge, and another, and another, until the section which was quarantined for yourself is completely obliterated. 

Common post-Mansaf action:  Loosening of the belt.

Common post-Mansaf status:  Motionless, speechless, light-headed, worn out, stuffed…yet very satisfied! 😀

Mansaf Urdoni

Longing For Winter December 3, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Chatter, Jordan.
4 comments

 Winter

The picture above was taken two days ago (Friday – December 1, 2006) at the Lake Shore drive in Chicago.  A huge snowstorm blustered across the Midwest on Friday leaving millions in the area without electricity, stranding airline passengers, and closing schools and businesses.

While I in no way wish for this to happen in Jordan; and while I, like many others, am certainly enjoying and appreciating the beautiful, sunny, warm weather we’ve been experiencing lately; I must admit that I miss and am longing for “real” Winter weather.  Dark clouds, gloomy skies, fog, rain, hail, snow…I want it to feel like December rather than March.

Every morning, I wake up and pull the curtains aside hoping to see powerful gusts of wind whirling trees around.  Every morning, I peek through the window hoping to see heavy and healthy rainfall engulf our streets, gardens, rooftops and arid lands.  Soon, I’ll be hoping to wake up in the morning to white skies, below zero temperatures, and snowfall. 

But lately, all I’ve been waking up to is clear, blue, sunny skies, mild winds, and temperatures ranging between 9 and 16 degrees Celcius on a given day.

Put the birds, skyscrapers, and the lake aside in the above photo.  Everything else still remaing (not much I guess), is the image I would like to see when I look out my window tomorrow morning.  That is the weather I want to experience for the next two/three months.   Its’ been one hell of a long Autumn folks….its time for Winter to step in and take over for a while.

“Use Only What You Need” November 26, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Advertising, Jordan.
9 comments

Save Water 1 

Save Water 2

With water restrictions happening all over the world, a very clever and innovative advertising and PR agency in the US, created this ingenious ad campaign for Denver Water, to make people aware of water shortages and encourage them to become more careful with their water usage.

I love seeing unique, “outside-the-box” thinking when it comes to advertising and marketing, which I believe are so much more effective than your regular boring print ads.

Considering the water shortages we face here in Jordan, maybe our Government should hire this company to help get through to our people.  Despite our attempts at water shortage campaigns in this country, you still see citizens dispensing water like it was air. 

This is a grave problem folks!  It’s obvious that our campaigns are weak and ineffective; and might i add, very infrequent.  There should be a mass ad campaign, as inventive as the one above, targeting every city, town, and village in the country, to make sure that Jordanians not only understand the seriousness of the situation, but actually implement steps to save water.  It’s about time we all become more aware of our water usage.

A Leader. A Hero. A Father. A King. November 14, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Jordan.
1 comment so far

His Majesty King Hussein

Today marks the 71st birthday of His Majesty The Late King Hussein of Jordan.

The world lost a great leader on February 7, 1999.  However, his spirit remains alive, strong, and embedded in the lives of every Jordanian across the globe.

Noble, Magnificent, Humble, Wise, Strong, Calm, and Courageous are only a few of the many words I could use to describe this brilliant man.  King Hussein won the respect and admiration of the entire world, and so did Jordan.

His Majesty King Hussein once wrote:  “I believe we must live with courage and will. I must do so because, regardless of any difficulties I face, when the time comes for me to lose my life, I would at least have done my best.”

May his soul rest in peace…

Jordanians Reflect November 7, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Jordan, Middle East.
comments closed

The Ministry of Political Development and Parliamentary Affairs has set up a forum on their website (www.mopd.gov.jo) called “We Are All Jordan” for Jordanian citizens and others to share their feelings and reflections on the upcoming first anniversary of the November 9 Amman bombings. 

Those wishing to take part can visit the website, go to the Forum section, and follow the instructions.  I’m sure many Jordanians as well as the international community alike have much to say and share about that day.

X Marks The Spot November 1, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Jordan.
1 comment so far

I am a huge fan of Treasure Hunts.  I’ve participated in several of them over the last few years.  Some creative and well organized, while others not so much.  But they are fun outdoor activities nonetheless.

iAqaba, the newly established Aqaba arm of iJordan, is planning a Treasure Hunt unlike any other you’ve ever experienced.  The upcoming Treasure Hunt, slated for Summer 2007, is not just outdoors…but underwater!! That’s right…you heard me…an underwater Treasure Hunt!  The event is part of iAqaba’s larger mandate of promoting the sea-side city of Aqaba.

The only drawback to such an innovative idea is that you have to be a diver to be able to participate.  If you don’t dive, you’ll have to settle for being an observer (like myself).  However, if you find this idea to be very exciting and adventurous, you have a 9-month head-start to begin working towards getting your diving license; which only takes about 4-5 days to complete.

The Treasure Hunt is also international.  So if you live in the Levant region, the Gulf, Europe, or anywhere else in the world, and have been wanting to experience diving in the Red Sea (one of the most amazing places to dive on this planet), then this is your chance.  You may even end up winning the cash prize, which I hear is four figures!!

With iJordan’s well-known reputation for organizing regional and international events, you can rest assured that iAqaba’s “X Marks The Spot” will surely be a success.  I will provide you all with more information and updates on this exciting event as I receive them, so keep checking back.

 iAqaba Treasure Hunt

Welcome To Queen Alia International Airport October 31, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Amman, Chatter, Jordan.
7 comments

Queen Alia International Airport Sign 

There is only one thing I hate about travelling.  No, its not fear of planes; its not worrying about losing my luggage; its not even the extremely heightened airport security at almost every airport in the world.  The one thing I hate about travelling is Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport. 

Departing from QUALIA is not as bad as arriving.  Sadly enough, every foriegner arriving in the counrty for the very first time will no doubtedly shape a horrible impression of Jordan.

Let’s put the actual airline, Royal Jordanian, aside for a second.  I won’t go into the poor shape of the planes; the dirty seats, the broken headphone units, and the discoloured screens.  Neither will I mention the constant delays and shitty check-in and on-board service.  Let’s focus on the airport itself for now…

Firstly, as soon as you arrive and walk up to immigration, you see eight empty counters and only two operational ones.  Once they realize that the plane is full, or that another flight has just arrived, they start calling in the reserves.  So, after waiting in line for about 20 minutes, the people in the back of the line run towards to the newly opened counters leaving you stuck to wait it out.  As soon as you get to the counter, there is always some new technological security system they are implementing.  So they either take your picture with a web-cam, or they scan your fingerprints.  Mark my word, in a year or so, they’ll implement a retina scan system, realize its an absurd idea and that it malfunctions all the time, then go back to the regular finger-printing and photo-taking systems which they will have to start all over again.  Typical!

Once you pass immigration, you are greeted by another man, just by the escalator, who’s job is to check that your passport has been stamped.  Talk about hidden unemployment!  Where else in the world do they have a passport stamp-checking man who does no more than create a bottle-neck right by the single small escalator leading to baggage claim?  Completely nonsense!

Then you have the infamous QUALIA baggage claim.  Two baggage carousels dating back to the stone age.  Its either one or the other.  Many a time have I stood long enough at one carousel that clearly shows my flight number and departing city on the monitor, but for some reason, we are all moved to the other carousel.  Anyway, the carousel starts moving and the bags start falling.  Either the baggage handlers pull off all the bags as soon as they come out and pile them next to each other on the floor, or they leave the bags to fall off and sit back watching.  Either way, you’re going to have a horrible time collecting your luggage.  Pure frustration!

And finally, some hot shot at the airport came up with the brilliant idea of buying and installing three baggage X-ray machines of which only one is functioning.  So basically, once you collect your luggage, after a frustrating wait or search, and load them onto your trolley, you have to unload them once again on this X-ray machine where other travellers are coming at you with their trolleys from every direction, which creates yet another bottle neck.  Aaaaaaaaaaagh!

By the time you’re walking out of the airport, almost 45-minutes to an hour have passed whereas the whole process  could have taken 20-30 minutes.  You’re just happy to be getting into your car and heading home.  In fact you’re so happy, the 50 men running up to you asking you if you need a taxi doesn’t bother you one bit. 

Am I the only one who notices all these inefficiencies with our airport?  Do they not have intelligent, able-minded people running the airport who see these inefficiencies and work to fix them?  Isn’t it Jordan’s aim to attract as much foreign investment and tourism as possible?  Well then…you know what they say:  “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

QUALIA 1970s