10 March 2007

the national pastime.

...is not baseball, soccer, or even a highly culturally insensitive-but-acceptable Scrabble word. It's getting and keeping change. The dinar is printed in 5, 10, 20, and 50 JD denominations, but no one wants them. Buy a 2 dinar meal in a restaurant and hand the clerk a 5, and you'll get a look of death as he asks you if you have change. You could pay him with your singles, but then you couldn't take a cab. Drivers always pretend not to have change, so your choice is either get ripped off, start a fight and have him dig out his change, or outsmart the system and have change. I've had a few fights, and they generally go well since they don't expect the white girl to fight back in Arabic, but it gets time consuming.

So, if everyone is giving their change to drivers but they still insist they don't have any, then I just don't know where all the change is going. Somewhere, a diabolical little man is hoarding every 1 dinar bill in the country. Why even bother printing 50s?

I'm going to squelch my growing cynicism about the state of world affairs and focus on the more entertaining aspects of life in al-sharq al-owsat for a bit, at least until my next Islam class drives me over the edge. I think winter's officially ended, which means it's approaching time for me to start pushing the boundaries of what's haram (forbidden) with a little elbow and ankle peep show. Today I learned the words for military coup, to overthrow, political vacuum, and a whole host of economics terms I don't fully understand in English, let alone Arabic. Still can't go to the grocery store though.

I had dinner at Applebee's the other night (don't judge, it's actually pretty delicious here!). It's just like an American Applebee's, with the kitschy Americana on the walls and the bar in the middle. Except the bar isn't stocked. It's just there, occupying space. It's not the cheapest place in town, so the usual clientele consists of wealthy Jordanians and visiting Gulf Arabs (who are among the most conservative in the region). So, you get the constant amusement of fully veiled (and I mean all black, head to toe, only eyes showing veiled) women lifting their veil to drink a virgin strawberry daiquiri from an enormous margarita glass with a picture of Elvis and a Texas license plate on the wall behind them, while their white-robed husband tears into a chicken wing. Aaahh, globalization at its finest. I'd take a picture, but the notion of photographing women hasn't been as effective a cultural exchange as the infidel food and drink.

My grammar-loving soulmate introduced me to what may very well be the most exciting blog on the internet. I'm so excited! Also, the gym plays Copeland's "Appalachian Spring" at least once an hour in the locker room, which makes me think fondly of my band nerd days.

Please look at my revoltingly talented friend's photography, since I haven't taken any pictures here in quite a while.

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