Wednesday, March 01, 2006

About time...

Yeah, I know this is my first post since…uhh...around New Year’s. Although my long absence from the world of blogging is pathetic, personally, I’ve had an excellent last few months. In the beginning of February, my parents came for a visit. We had a wonderful time, although we were far too ambitious in our attempt to see all of Jordan and half the Middle East, as well as all of my local friends, in a period of a meager two weeks. I swear (and they can attest to this!), every minute of every day was filled with either travels or meeting folks. We visited southern Jordan (like Petra), Anne/Palestine/Jerusalem, and Syria. Despite both the propaganda of Fox News/Bush Administration and the reality of Syrian political problems, that country is so beautiful and culturally rich! Back home in Jordan, during our ‘breaks’ from traveling, because of the strong cultural emphasis on hospitality, my friends were ceaseless in their insisting on having my parents to their homes for meals. All in all, it was a great few weeks, but really exhausting! Making the visit especially enjoyable for me was my parents’ fascination with this part of the world. Everything was exciting for them- the food, the scenery, and especially conversations. My mom told me that they will look upon the last month (them here, then me at home) as one of the best months of their lives. Gosh, that made me happy!

The Pootster and I at Petra!

The Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, where lies the heads of John the Baptist and Ali, as well as the body of Saladin. It's actually an incredible place, once the seat of the Islamic Empire.

After my parents left, I spent a week here in Jordan, attempting to cram in as much studying as possible. Then, on to the US! Some of you knew that I was coming home, but for those of you who feel slighted by my not calling, I apologize. The purpose of the visit, however, was to spend time with my grandparents. For the vast majority of my time, I was with them. Some of the highlights of the trip…taking Bill out to breakfast almost every morning, family pictures (oh gosh, that poor, poor photographer), my mom, grandma, and I all sharing a bed, surprising my Grandma June (she chucked what she was holding across the room!), numerous trips to coffee shops with my parents, and a wonderful day with some friends in Northern Indiana. Actually, it was a memorable time for me, and I'm very satisfied with how I spent it. My biggest worry was my grandpa’s health. Although certainly worse, he was not as bad as I had perhaps expected. I know that it meant a lot to him and my grandmas for me to come home to see them. For me, I had a week I will always remember. It’s funny…Here I am traveling all over the world, filling my deepest desires for adventure, cultural experience, and meaning, truly living out a dream; yet nothing in the entire world makes me happier than sitting around doing absolutely nothing with my family.

Finally, this past week, one of my best friends from college was here. Other than his destruction of Roman ruins, I really loved having him! He was actually my first (non-Egyptian) friend other than Anne to see this part of the world, so that was special for me. Although we did some traveling, in general, we hung out in coffee shops, spending endless hours drinking coffee, smoking argeelah, playing backgammon, and talking.

Well, briefly…this next semester will be quite different. First of all, I hope to begin my research, which I've been anticipating for a while. Arabic classes remain somewhat up in the air. After endless pointless meetings which bore little to no fruit, it seems that we may have finally found a way to take courses for free here at Yarmouk. That’s a huge relief! In general, my Arabic has seen a great deal of improvement, but perhaps not what I had hoped. In fact, I have decided to stop obsessing over it. I tend to be far too self-critical about it all, and I need to just relax. I’m trying! Hence, this semester may involve less Arabic. Later this month, I’m heading over to Israel for a MUCH NEEDED trip to meet up with Anne. In April, Will and I are planning a trip to Kuwait.

Okay, I'll admit it. This is what I need!

In addition, Will and I (as well as some local folks) are working on this highly ambitious project to obtain funding to build and/or vastly improve a children's park here in Irbid. Shockingly, this city of over 500,000 people does not have a children’s park of any real substance. In terms of the ‘War on Terrorism,’ these are the kinds of things that people in this part of the world desperately need. At this point, we are attempting to contact both local channels of money as well as US AID. In my mind, money for fighting terrorism here in Jordan, at least long-term, is much better spent (and cheaper!) on children than on tanks and weapons. We’ll see if we can get anything done, but I’m not necessarily optimistic, and it could unfortunately entail a ton of work, much of it bureaucratic. Nevertheless, it's an important way for me to give back to this community.

Kinda blurry, but you get the idea. My parents (check out Tim's hair!) and I with Abu , Um Rami and family. This family, originally from the Gaza Strip has shown truly absurd amounts of generosity to me. They didn't disappoint for my parents!


Blogger Scotter said...

Apparently, everyone else has given up on your blogging. Or at least it isn't worth commenting on. Anyway, I am all for the destruction of Roman ruins or ruins of any kind. Three cheers to Griff. What are ruins, but testaments to wasted government resources. Lets knock down the pyramids and build something practical out of them, like a wall or a dam or public housing. What a waste. The Greeks had the right idea when they blew apart the Parthenon, storing explosives in a ruin was at least practical. They should knock down the rest. I'm sure at least one Greek shipping heir would love to put up a mansion on the acropolis. We should privatize all these ruins and such. Just think what Petra would fetch on the open market. I am sure Disney could do something with it, or I hear Pat Robertson's looking for a site for his Bible theme park. What American is going to able to tell a Nabatean ruin apart from a Hebrew one anyway. So I can only hope Griff is kicking apart India one ruin at a time.

12:22 PM

Blogger Robin Bobo King said...

Scotter, your sarcasm never stops making me laugh! This weekend, when I was in Nazareth with Anne, I gave her your line, [note the condescension] "Now Anne, if you're gonna wear the wooden shoes and bust out the lame kissing cousins statues, you've gotta embrace South Africa and the slave trade." I'm sending you an e-mail later today, by the way. Thanks for reading.

7:16 AM

Blogger katherine said...

why are you always hating on the dutch?!?!?! scott, i'm about to take away your membership card.
(though i suppose you're right; if we're going to embrace any part of our heritage, we're going to have to own up to all of it.)
this is really just to let you know i was here, bobo. i don't always comment, but i have not given up on your blog. thanks for the update and the pictures. hope you're well!

10:41 AM


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