The Only Way is Amman
I sensibly left myself a mere two days to find a flat before the start of term. So I hit the streets around the University and rang some numbers. Then I got hold of my friend Hassan who went so far as to fix a meeting with an estate agent and spend an afternoon driving me around looking at places (seven flats in all!). A healthy dose of vitamin Waw (Jordanian arabic for: connections).
In the end I decided to take a cheap room in a flat with two professional Jordanian guys, Mohammad and Abdul Aziz. It’s close to the main gate of the Jordanian University and a 5-10 minute bus ride to Qasid (language institute). All sorted I moved in after the first day of classes.
Our welcome present was an impenetrable wall of vocab to learn by the following day. In response I spent a peaceful afternoon drinking coffee and staring at my favourite spot on the wall. There are more class hours than last term, as we are doing modern standard arabic, dialect classes and media arabic classes. from 9.30 – 2.30. Plus four hours of farsi classes spread over sunday and tuesday afternoons. Thankfully we were saved by snow and a subsequent five day weekend.
The first signs of the coming storm were the bakery queues and excited chattering about the prospect of a holiday. As well as the customary panic buying, Jordanians like to give unofficial names to their storms, so this one was called Huda (guidance).
It was a struggle for everyone to keep warm. The refugee camps in the north must have been horrific. I found it hard enough sleeping fully clothed under four blankets. But in the absence of a toaster I found my guidance in gas-hob-heated bread and peanut butter.
After the snow had settled then came the ice scare. A sort of suggested curfew was laid down by the government to prevent people using the roads past 5.30pm. For those without watches the air-raid siren would blast out to remind you of the icy danger. However, this only served to motivate the shebabs more to go out and watch people skid off the roads.
My flatmates had already fled to their families to weather out the storm, I was alone and bed-bound for fear of leaving my duvet. On first hearing the siren I assumed IS had taken the opportunity to launch an attack over the border and I was going to have to confront them in my blanket, brandishing a broomstick.
It was a useful time though. How else would I have been able to learn the essential winter phrase: “keep yourself warm” (daafee halak mneeh), if it hadn’t been repeated so insistently.
On the first day back after the snow, I was powering down the street to catch a bus when I came across a man who seemed to be in a predicament. On closer inspection he was using two pieces of cardboard to shuffle glacially down the hill. As I sped past he said “deer baalak, a’shaaria zahhlag” (watch out the road’s slippery). “mashee” (ok) I replied and the promptly collapsed onto my arse.
Another recent highlight was accidentally flooding the flat. I put my clothes in the washing machine, turned it on and went out. Then returned just before the end of the cycle to a three centimetre deep pool of water spreading out from the bathroom. My heart sank as the wifi rooter bobbed by.
Mohammad had neglected to inform me of a key aspect of this washing machine. It requires putting the hose into the adjacent bath tub to drain the water. My negligence made for a long afternoons mopping and furious carpet squeezing.
Oh well at least now the snow has all gone, the flat is dry and term is in full swing. It has been a hectic few weeks with catch-up sessions on saturdays to make up on lost time, and mid-terms already looming.