Thursday, October 13, 2005

Ramadan in Irbid

“Koll ‘am wa intoom bi-kheer.” That’s the traditional Ramadan greeting here in Jordan, and it literally translates “Every year, you all are good.”

Well, another week down, and slowly but surely, I’m building a life here. Recent positive developments in this regard include: finding a research advisor, someone who genuinely seems excited to work with me next semester, calling my research proposal “sexy”; opening a bank account (I know, it seems small, but after you read my last story, you’ll understand that these types of things are no small task); and finding an Arabic tutor. Ramadan is now a week in, and it’s been fascinating to see a society literally shift overnight. Certainly not everyone is privately observant (as you will see), but publicly, there are no restaurants open during the day, b/w 5 and 7 the streets are literally empty (IfTaar), and after 7, people are flooding the places to spend the rest of the evening celebrating. I find certain aspects of the month so cool, like that the fact that there are special ‘Ramadan drinks and sweets,’ that are only drunk and eaten during this month. In fact, the whole cuisine seems to change. While Will and I are behind in our IfTaar invite goals, Ramadan is still young! We’ve certainly kept busy. Some IfTaar highlights thus far: 1. The first night of Ramadan, breaking the fast twice, first by ourselves due to some confusion, and then 20 minutes later (to avoid rudeness!), with two Malaysians and a French Tunisian. 2. This same French Tunisian preparing us a delicious Tunisian vegetable dish. 3. Cooking fish and Ramadan sweets with Abu Hammad (our Egyptian haaris) and his brother. 4. Breaking the fast with some good ole’ Scotch (more on that later!). Generally, Will and I have done a good job of keeping the fast (water aside), out of our desire to fully appreciate the IfTaar meal, but also out of respect for the Islamic faith. But man, by 4:00 we are not happy! We have some interesting IfTaar nights ahead, the one I’m most excited about being camping in a valley of pomegranates with some farmers we recently met.

As some of you may know from my personal e-mails (thanks for the encouragement Griff and Dean!), perhaps the most surprising development for me lately has been missing home. This is truly weird for me. Of course, I always miss people from home, my family and friends- but not like this. There was a two-day period where I found myself craving specific places from home, like hanging out on Dean’s porch with everybody in GR, going out with the guys at Mickey’s on a Wednesday night, waking up on a Saturday morning for a deep talk with my parents (and Speedo) at 710, sitting down for dinner with the Venhuizen’s in MT, or laughing with my whole family at 242 or Anderson. Perhaps it’s the length of my time away that gives me this craving; perhaps it’s the many uncertainties when I return; perhaps I’m not as invincible as I thought. I don’t know. What I do know is this: I really love my friends and family. You all are more to me than a mere passing thought from time to time. Those scenarios I described and so many others are connected to my soul; you are connected to my soul. I miss you, and I am now realizing the sacrifices I have made to be here. I am happy to make them, but know that I miss you, and I am eager to see you all again.

Okay, enough of the sappiness. On to the good stuff! I split up the posts a bit, so the next post has a few short stories from the last couple of days. I hope you enjoy them. I never know what you want to hear about. In all honesty, I could fill this thing every other day with the unusual story (although they become the norm); in fact, I have at least two stories of crazy adventures undertaken that I’m saving for a draught in the posting. Are these the things you want to hear? What? More about everyday life? Less about everyday life? More about my observations of Islam? The political system? More of how I’m feeling? WHAT?!! This blog serves as my own diary, but it is also for you, in order that you can follow what I’m doing here. Let me know. And read the next post!


The Jordan Valley

5 Comments:

Blogger Nate said...

Robin, after reading all about this ramananoodle festival ya've got goin' on down there, all *I'd* like to know is:

Why do you hate Amurrkuh?

Aside from that, I should tell you that your writing is great & you've got a really good thing going here. So, as far as what I'd like to hear in the future, I'd probably say more of the same. Especially the things that set that place apart from the good ol' U S of A (these colors don't run, by the way) - so things like Ramadan, etc: all really interesting & good to read about.

Keep it up man.

5:37 AM

 
Blogger Robin Bobo King said...

Thanks Nate. I take it you're pounding away at the ole' office! Good to hear from you man. I miss you, and I look forward to (Sometimes) Catching Up on Your(Almost) A Picture A Day (Maybe)

6:08 AM

 
Blogger Emily said...

Hi Laban
Oh missing home...I totally understand. My first month in Cairo last year was very lonely and I missed "home" so much. But it all grows on you and you start redifining what is normal in your life. I glad that you have a friend to do stuff with, that always helps.
Maasalama wa ramada kareem.
Emily

4:15 PM

 
Blogger katherine said...

bobo! i must confess, i haven't checked your site in a week or so. maybe two. but, i seem to have conquered the pneumonia, and thus am allowed back to the office and the internet. i'll write an email soon, i promise. thanks for posting again. i really love hearing about ramadan, and i'd like to know what is sexy about your research proposal. also, you look like peter pan in that last picture. just thought you'd like to know. :D

10:11 AM

 
Blogger Jazzy J said...

Miss you too Robin. But, I'm sure you're doing some great ambassading over there (in the informal sense; not the corporate/diplomatic sense). You're the best representative I can think of to give them an accurate picture of America. Keep on keeping on.

9:55 AM

 

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