My friend Saher is fond of exaggerating stories, especially when they’re about other people. And while I get annoyed by it, and while it results in my constant making fun of him in that “stop exaggerating” kind of way, I admit he is nothing compared to others in Jordan. From the poor to the rich, exaggerations in this country drive me crazy.
Someone knows someone who owned half the country at one point. Or someone owns 100 cars. Or someone once jumped off the Le Royal hotel and survived. Or..or…or…
Every story involves words like “the biggest” and “the greatest”.
Descriptors like: the ugliest, the prettiest, the most brilliant-5-PhD-holder-in-the-world.
The strongest, the craziest, the most decent.
All of these people, all of these events are an extreme of an extreme. That’s it. It doesn’t get any more than that.
Taking a taxi to work the other day, the driver was listening to Mohammad Al Wakeel on the radio who happened to have a taxi driver calling in. The driver was telling Mohammad about a tourist who he drove one day and just happened to ask him what he thought of Jordan. The tourist, based on the basic tal6eesh English skills this driver possesses, told him he loved Jordan except for the “different prices for same place”. Or in other words: the taxi drivers that rip off tourists by charging them high prices; something this particular tourist had noticed after taking the same journey more than once. Now the complaining taxi driver had garnered Wakeel’s sympathy who in turn showered him with the usual gratitude for exposing us all to this issue. The driver said this tourist had paid 4JDs for a daily journey between Shmisani and the 1st Circle, which I found hard to believe simply because tourists are just not that dumb when the meter is right there in front of them to read. But moreover when asked by Mohammad how much he charged the tourist, the driver said at first he refused payment but on the tourist’s insistence he charged him the fair price: “what was on the 3adad” (meter).
Now anyone whose ever taken a taxi in the past couple of months knows there’s no way a standard Taxi meter is going to read 70 piasters for a journey between Shmisani and the 1st Circle. The driver had obviously exaggerated both numbers to what he felt was a believable stretchable limit in order to emphasize the discrepancy.
There are of course many many other stories like this.
Think about the “biggest” parties and weddings you’ve heard about. The ones that involve Hollywood stars showing up at the Four Seasons on the 5th Circle. The ones where the bride and groom descend upon the 10,000 plus crowd from an apache helicopter.
Think about the car accidents that involved 20 cars and 100 deaths and the guy ran from the cops and they chased him into the desert and…and…and…
Then think bigger.
Tall tales have a short lifespan with me, but you know…
Sometimes I figure without these exaggerations, stories in Jordan might be boring.