It’s been 11 days since my last post and as many of you know, the Black Iris was down during that time due to technical difficulties from my host (who decided that their customer would have no problem waiting out the thanksgiving holiday). The wheels are already in motion to move the Black Iris to a different host – currently set up as www.black-iris.org – while keeping the dot com domain. So things will looks funny for awhile (press ctrl+F5 for good measure), and I’m working on that, but it I’m going to be relaunching a brand new design in the next few weeks.
I would also like to thank everyone who called me, sent me emails, facebook messages and sms messages inquiring about the sudden disappearance of my blog. Special thanks to Roba, Lina, Batir and Hareega, for informing my readers of my absence. Also, If you’re in charge of an aggregator such as toot or jordan blogs, and you’re reading this, then help a brotha out and please check my RSS feed. I will be emailing soon to bother you.
But anyways, a lot has happened in those few days. I found myself writing an abundance of posts in my head, but I’ll never get to publish any of those. I missed out on the aftermath of the parliamentary elections, the new government, Annapolis, and something about a toy bear in Sudan named ‘Mohammad’, to say nothing of life in general. So yeah, I have been suffering and I need to sort unclog the mental blockage. Here are some random highlights…
– I was accepted into the University of London last week, to finish off my final year of masters. I will be staying in Jordan while I complete an MSc in Public Policy and Management by distance. To get an acceptance from such an institution was a honestly a big moment for me. (email me your address and I’ll send you some leftover knafah)
– I’ve had several of my poems published in two books these past few days, so that’s been another unplanned smile on my face. The first is The Andalusia Prize Anthology 2001â€“2006, which evidently has three of my poems, including War Dreams, Water and This Thing Called Palestine, the latter of which, some might remember, I won the the Andalusia Brilliancy Prize for back in 2005. The first poem is not one that I am particularly proud of writing, but I still like the second. The book launch is on December 2nd in Toronto, so I guess it’s kind of ironic that I no longer live there. Meanwhile, the second book is actually quite interesting. “Amman de pierre et de paix” is a book written in French (obviously) by Myriam Ababsa, and it’s about “Amman’s social actors”. She translated and featured a poem I wrote almost this time last year about my lovely city, called “The Circles of Amman”. I’m told it will also be translated to Arabic fairly soon. The book launch is at the French Embassy, on December 3rd at 6:30pm. I was invited to recite the poem, but unfortunately, sadly and yes, ironically, I won’t be able to attend because of prior commitments that I just can’t get out of. Why the stars conspire to make my scheduling life a nightmare, I haven’t a clue.
– The Axis of Evil was in town a few days ago and they absolutely rocked. It was great getting to experience something completely new and refreshing in Amman for once, not to mention the rare opportunity to laugh at ourselves. I also got to meet a cool guy by the name of Khalid Jarrar at the event. Khalid is a blogger, comes from a family of bloggers, and is a frequent commentator on the Black Iris.
– Speaking of meeting people, I also got to meet two very cool people from back in the day. “Samra” and “Che” were both prominent users at the Mahjoob forums when I was still there and when I left, both have been reading and commenting frequently on the Black Iris. Samra, aka Maha, has become a good friend of mine over the (4) years and meeting her and Che, aka Layla, at Jafra a few nights ago was pretty awesome. Maha showered me with gifts which included a Simpsons Monopoly board, and a navy green canvas bag loaded with books from my Amazon wishlist, which I’d forgotten about. They include a book by Marc Lynch on Jordanian politics, which I am looking forward to reading. Anyways, Maha is the personification of awesomeness and the many people who I know are reading this and have met her already know this to be true. Thanks again Maha! I should also take this opportunity to finally thank another commenter, Bashar, who got me a few books back in July and whom I never got to officially thank in an actual post (being my forgetful self).
So I guess the true lesson behind mentioning all of this, is to say if any of my readers feel the urge to shower me with gifts it’s really best not to resist that urge but rather succumb to it. You will feel a lot better.
– I wrote, what I think, is an interesting cover story for Jordan Business this month on the country’s oil shale. Usually I don’t talk about anything I write but I make it a rare point to mention it because I honestly loved writing this piece for some reason. The idea came about during a meeting at the World Affairs Council (aka, salon il-seeyasi) a few weeks ago when I turned to my boss and said: “this is cover story material”, to which he thankfully agreed. Oil shale is something we’ve all been hearing for years and years now, so the process of writing this article was quite frankly enlightening for me. Also, making a topic like oil shale sound interesting enough to a large audience was a challenge that I enjoyed trying to overcome. Hopefully people will enjoy it. (should be online by Monday).
– My top secret project has been moving along nicely (thank God) and most of its destiny will depend on news I (we) hope to be receiving in the next few days.
– By way of important announcements: The Action Committee will be visiting the Souf and Gaza camps in Jerash, which for my money are probably the worst refugee camps in Jordan. They’ll be distributing a lot of things collected a few weeks ago on the Baqa’a trip, but are always in need of more, so if you have the time and will, feel free to contribute in any way you see fit. Join the Facebook group or call Sara Sharif (079 5154498) to find out how. As for the Baqa’a house that was visited a little while back, renovations have just started so if you feel that that’s something you’d like to contribute to as well, feel free.
– The other night, my boss, Marwan, attended a dinner at the home of the South Korean Ambassador, in honor of Amman’s mayor HE Omar Maani. Marwan asked me before hand if I had any interesting questions he wanted me to pose for him. So I gave him one or two questions, and when he told Maani he has a colleague who is a blogger, Maani asked him who it was. When Marwan told him, Maani said something along the lines of “yeah, I read the Black Iris all the time”. So that was some neat validation. Anyways, I had told Marwan to ask about the new Jeeran-powered Amman City Blog, specifically what their plans were with regards to commenting liberties and censorship. Maani said as long as it was nothing offensive, then the ‘sky is the limit’. The whole e-government experimenting in Jordan is quite interesting to say the least.
– Some of the best news I’ve heard this past week is actually Amin Matalqa’s film Captain Abu Raed getting into the Sundance Film Festival! That just blew my mind. I’ve never wanted to go to Utah until now. I also can’t remember the last time I was this excited to see an upcoming movie. And having had no blog these past few days meant that I told everyone I met lately “did you hear…?”. Congratulations to Amin and his whole crew that made it happen!
– Speaking of: I got to watch Nadine Labake’s movie “Sukar Banat” (Caramel), which I thought was pretty cool. If Nadine continues to make films like this and doesn’t sell out like every other director that tends to make it big in our region, then I can definitely see her making history on a regional and international level. Also, I was able to see it at the new Grand Cinema in City Mall, which is officially the best cinema in the country and the closest thing I’ve seen to a more western-style theater.
– I have also recently discovered the hot drink that will, for me, define the Amman winter of 2007-2008: the caramel-flavored hot chocolate, with sprinkled cinnamon on top, from Cup & Kilos. That stuff absolutely rocks.
I think that’s about all I can think of right now. Please excuse the lengthy post but it was, as most of them are, inevitable.