Sunday, September 11, 2011

staying up late and skanky clothes.

Perhaps god did take offense to my corny joke, because I wasn't able to use my computer for a day! (I left my electricity converter at home...)

I spent my first two nights with Manar, a friend and former Fulbright Arabic TA at UCDavis. Manar, along with her friends and family, helped me enormously with all of my living logistics: apartment hunting, internet purchasing, food shopping, and basic navigation around Amman. I really can't thank them enough.

Aside from giving me a place to sleep, living with Manar's family helped me acclimate to the rhythms of life in Jordan. It's different here. At home, my dad goes to sleep by 9pm. Manar's dad stayed up with me until 1am. Here, we watched the news together on TV; at home, my family spreads the New York Times all over the house. At Manar's it's ok to leave cleaned dishes on a drying rack-- at home, not so much (hi mom!). Small differences, sometimes a little better, sometimes a little worse, sometimes completely neutral, but always a learning experience.

In many ways, I'm returning to a familiar place. The piece of Amman I inhabit now overlaps quite a bit with the Amman I knew two years ago. I'm staying in Jebel Hussein, and studying at Qasid--just down the road from my old dorm and former Arabic center. I'm grateful that I know how to take a cab (make sure the cabbie starts the meter!), how to ask how much bread costs ("addeish?"), and how to dress. More or less. Though let me pause for a moment. I'm convinced that Jordanians are dressing skankier than they were two years ago. (And, obviously, I'm an expert on Jordanian clothes, so you should take everything I say very seriously.)

When packing for Jordan, I was careful to bring clothes which would completely cover my legs. I tried to pack shirts which were long enough to cover the back pockets of my jeans, and whose sleeves reached my elbows. And, I swear, I didn't think I was packing like a Puritan; this is what I saw my Jordanian friends wear in August '09!

As an American, and particularly as a young American female, I remembered getting a lot of unsolicited attention in Jordan. This time around, I'm trying to dress more like Jordanian women to minimize the amount I stand out. I aim to dress at maybe the 25th percentile of Jordanian modesty. No head covering or anything, but I want to be as conservative as at least a quarter of the women I saw. Mission accomplished: I saw a girl wearing capris yesterday.
scale of (adult, female) modesty on the streets of Amman

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