At first I thought Independence Day had come early this year, or that Jordanians were just overly-eager to start the celebrations early. But lo and behold, in the middle of an unexpected, unavoidable traffic jam, it was soon made clear to me that a Jordanian by the name of Qwaider was a finalist on the popular Arabic junk food program, Star Academy. If it was a weekday, the result might have given a kidney-punch to the Jordanian economy for the day, but luckily it was the weekend. Unfortunately, this meant traffic. Abdoun circle was a prime location for celebrations. A public TV screen was put out front and the cops had quarantined the area around the bridge to try and direct traffic. People were just stopping their cars in the middle of the road and converging on the Circle like it was the end of the world. So I, with nothing better to do, thought I’d join, in an attempt to videotape the ongoings and compare it 48 hours later to potentially similar celebrations for the Kingdom’s independence, or lack thereof.
What I saw sent a shiver down my spine in fear of our future. Teenagers climbed the lamp posts and ended up breaking one or two of them. Garbage was scattered everywhere, and every one was under the impression that the ground was a legitimate dumping ground under these “special” circumstances that called upon celebrations. Worst of all, even with the presence of so many policemen, teenagers started pulling stampede pranks whereby a group would spontaneously start running, forcing everyone to think something had happened and join in on the running. It was very dangerous with the number of families, women and children that were around.
The moment Qwaider lost, people just turned around and all walked home. No one was really sad or disappointed and then I realized that most people probably didn’t care. Everyone was just coming to look for a reason to wave their flags or perhaps in search of a larger population of female fans. Cars packed full of guys from outside the city had come in, probably for this very purpose, and I had 4 cars stop me to ask directions to obvious places for Amman residents.