The Black Iris Comes Back To Life!

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 – 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 2001รขโ‚ฌโ€œ2006, 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.


  • Also, you might want to get the Chunk URL’s plugin for wordpress (wp-chunk), to shorten those long URL’s, like the one i just spammed your blog with ๐Ÿ˜›

  • Alfayn mabruuk on all this great stuff!! It would take that many congrats, and definitely about 7 posts worth to cover all the details. The synergy of your blog-leadership was sorely missed.

    (Your work in JB has caused my husband to jump ship on our household’s brand loyalty to Al Farideh Publications, btw.)

  • Welcome Back! We missed your interesting posts…
    Mabrook for the uni acceptance and the poems bublishing.. Keep up all the good work..

  • wow that’s really big! the University of London ang getting published, congratulations!

    Grand Cinema Mecca mall is really awesome! I’ve been trying to convince some friends of that but they insist to go to the one at Zara Expo… duh! people seem to have a problem with cinemas at malls, Mecca Mall cinema created such a hideous stereotype!

  • W 2a5eeran the Black Iris is back.. I really missed this blog.. Anyway, congratulations Nas, I will send you the email for knafeh ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Mabrook Nas, and welcome back! Inshallah your excitement about grad school doesn’t wear off anytime soon ๐Ÿ˜‰ Mine did shortly after the 2nd week, and as I’m approaching finals week, I tend to curse myself every once in a while ๐Ÿ™‚ Getting accepted is probably the most exciting part, so enjoy it and best of luck!

  • Congratulations!! and welcome back…

    P.S. and you are so right ….both Che and Samra are awesome ๐Ÿ™‚ .. isn’t Che much nicer in person? lool

  • welcome back & congratulations ๐Ÿ™‚ which college did you get accepted in? (don’t have to answer that…just me being nosey. but i’m guessing it’s either SOAS or London school of economics. I studied at Birkbeck so I think that U of L is the best ofcourse ๐Ÿ™‚

  • It’s so good to have you back ๐Ÿ™‚

    Speaking of Cups and Kilos, did you check out their new branch in Rabieh?? They have neat indoor seating for winter, with Internet and stuff ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • The Jordanian blogsphere was very pale without your posts last two weeks. It is a necessity to have you back. By the way whenever you want to write an article about water, energy, environment or agriculture in JB just ask for any background info and documents. I have a few good resources about oil shale.

  • Congrats on getting admitted to the Masters program, and congrats on the publications…FedEx me some of that Knafeh ๐Ÿ™‚
    I know such a loss you wont be here in Toronto for the book launch…I would’ve loved to meet you..I know more than one person here who would’ve loved to too…
    Seriously, missed this space…will miss it more when you launch the new design…make sure to post your insights on the elections…again..I was looking forward for that
    and dude..a2al shee Mr.Maani is reading your blog…
    one last thing,,,I really only bought the JB issues this summer to read your articles…make sure that your chief editor knows that ๐Ÿ˜›
    God bless

  • welcome back nas, thanks for your congratulations about Captain Abu Raed, it is very exciting for us, also a Jordanian documentary is in this year’s festival…good year for jordanian films.

  • Nas,
    welcome back and congratulations for all the good news..
    I have been reading black iris for few months and am still sipping info about your background since you have a very diversified writing and rich literature. The poems are nice and I liked that of Samer the barber most as it describes hundreds of people we came across in Amman throughout the 90s.. That thing called Palestine is just beautiful.
    One thing I would like to ask: Is “Salon Siyasi” exclusive? can it be attended by the public?

  • Welcome back babes!

    i am so proud of you baby brother. but i do have a question…how come you can articulate thoughts into amazing poetry but i call you and i get cavemen grunts that i spend hours interpreting? you want to impress me…SPEAK!

    i have stopped saying Congrads on everything you do Nas because i feel it’s become a knee jerk reaction to your daily life…i am now waiting for the next big thing in your you do, probably the take over of the world or something in that ball park, so i can send cake and a card…let me know if you need help on the take over thingy.

  • thanks for the welcome everyone and all the congratulatories. you’re knafa vouchers will be emailed to you shortly!! ๐Ÿ˜€

    bakkouz: i’ll keep that in mind man, thanks ๐Ÿ˜€

    kinzi: that’s good to know! ๐Ÿ™‚

    ohoud: you would be right!

    iman: i can’t deny that ๐Ÿ˜€

    mona: the program is run by soas and lse, with the former being the lead college. ๐Ÿ™‚

    lina: rabia? really? i will def check it out!

    dana t.o.: i’ll be sure to tell him lol ๐Ÿ˜€

    laith: man you guys really did something truly amazing and i’m very proud of you all! i just heard about recycle, so that’s another smile on my face ๐Ÿ™‚

    ahmad: thanks man. far as i know, it is open to the public

    fad: don’t encourage me!

  • Salaam ‘Alaikum

    Caramel & chocolate together? Now I actually feel semi-motivated to go to Cups & Kilos. I also feel semi-motivated now to read about oil shale, a subject which normally causes me to fall into a deep sleep.

    ^5 on the Andalusia thing. I noticed that one of my stories is in between two of your poems.

  • Mabrook again ๐Ÿ˜€

    You’re welcome …it’s a materialistic thank you for all the insight through the years. it’s also proof that wishing never hurts …you never know

    I read your article, great work as always, i should forward it to all my american friends who give me the line “what ?? Jordan is in the middle east and has NO OIL”

    Welcome back….i have a lot of reading to do …soon i will have all the time in the world to read ๐Ÿ˜‰

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