Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Ramadan in Jordan ...

Is not so fun.

Well, it was 14 years ago when Ramadan fell in the winter. Then it was a mere eight or nine hours of fasting, followed by nights out on a cool street eating ice cream and riding bumper cars. Now it is summer, and we got a special-order delivery on the first day of the month: the hottest weather we've had for the whole year practically.

It's so hot that you really cannot walk long distances plus not drink water plus be attacked by the traffic fumes all at the same time. That means spending more time in the taxis or cars, and they are no picnic, either. You sit in them and still feel like you'll suffocate from both the heat and the car exhaust.

But if you walk, then you feel like you're going to have a heart attack. I actually felt the "tightness in your heart" that is so often the warning sign for trouble, and I am by no means out of shape.

Also special order just in time for Ramadan: all of a sudden, I'm getting ripped off big-time by every other taxi driver. My troubles started the day after I gave a taxi driver 1.25 instead of his due of 1.30. I wasn't trying to short-change him! I didn't have any 5 cent coins, and the last 15 cents had been consumed by a traffic jam so intense that we only moved like 10 yards during that time. So I thought, hopefully he'll forgive me the last 5 cents. Apparently not. I see I have not yet thoroughly repented, because my punishment is on-going.

During Ramadan in 2000, every time you walked out on the streets, everything felt joyful, peaceful and like all the shoppers were best friends. It's not like that this time. I don't really feel anything special at all.

Meantime, the man on the morning radio - not the man with the nice calm voice, but another with a kind of aggressive voice - is giving us lectures on proper Ramadan terminology. He said: all us Jordanians are going around saying "Ramadan Kareem". This is very wrong. Ramadan is not Kareem, because Kareem is a word used only for the One who made the month in the first place. We're really supposed to say, "Ramadan Mubarak."

On the evening of Ramadan, we suddenly started hearing explosions, but not to worry, it was not advancing militants! It was just people setting off firecrackers at their happiness over the advent of the holy month. I know someone, however, who did not like those firecrackers at all because they make such loud, sudden noises. I said, well, at least it's just for one evening. She said, no, it's not just on the first day, but rather we'll be hearing them all month long. I said that in the US, it's illegal for people to set off firecrackers in the middle of a city, because it can be dangerous. She said, it's illegal here, too! But people still do it. You can go into stores that are full of fugitive firecrackers.

Then on today's morning radio, the man with the aggressive voice was giving us another lecture. He was talking about how dangerous firecrackers are, and how they make very shocking noises for the sick, the elderly, children, and pregnant women. He was trying to raise some social awareness. He repeated what I'd already heard: that the government ministries had banned the firecrackers, but you can go into stores that are chock-full anyways. Then he took a call from a man trying to crack down on the crackers. The crack-down man said: people use the crackers as an expression of happiness, but it really isn't...

Then I left the taxi, ripped off big-time.

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