AP Photo – Jordanian children wait for their turn to have a ride on a wood traditional swing during the second day of Muslim’s Eid al-Adha, in Amman, Jordan, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009.
The thing about Eid is that it’s a time when people typically spend two full days visiting each other. In Amman, they go from house to house of one relative to another. There is, of course, a whole social etiquette that dictates and governs these procedures, such as who visits who and in what order, but that’s a topic for another Eid perhaps. What is interesting about these visits is that they tend to offer brief bursts of sporadic conversations. Think of it like speed debating – you go from one conversation to another, hosted in one home and then another. Often times, the conversation repeats itself. It is the “Eid topic”. This year it was the King’s decision to dissolve the Jordanian parliament. But there are other topics, like the flooding in Mecca, or the cold weather, or whether we think it’ll be a good year for the tourism industry, etc.
The reason I posted this photo (and the ones below) is actually based on one of these topics. The argument posed was how Eid has changed, and how kids don’t play any more. Keep in mind that those hosting this discussion are all 20-something year olds, so it’s interesting to see how my generation reflects on their childhood, which was obviously not all that long ago. The argument posed was that back in “our day”, we used to have a lot more fun during Eid, and how either the open spaces that facilitated that fun are either disappearing or how these days, kids are just spoiled, glued-to-TV brats who fail to see the fun in life.
However, someone suggested that some still manage to find the fun in Eid. Having visited family in east Amman, my friend depicted a scene for us that consisted of a group of kids who had piled garbage bags on to each other, only to gather around and swing one of their friends in to the air and in to the pile of bags on the count of three. They also practiced lighting cherry bombs next to unsuspecting relatives before dashing away. Naturally, we found that funny. But despite the humor I was instantly comforted by the story. It reminded me that the majority of kids in this country still find fun in the simple things. No matter how much we disapprove or find their activities funny, they are not bound by any sense of social restrictions or social etiquette associated with the larger society, or even with Eid.
And so that comfort was reaffirmed upon seeing these series of pictures. The swing they play on is made of rope, wood, and a piece of old mattress. It’s something that a lot of us have probably seen (if you’ve been outside the west Ammani bubble lately). But that’s it. You’ve got a bunch of kids, most probably dressed in their “new” Eid clothes, and despite all the restrictions we impose on them, despite their disappearing open spaces, despite their poverty and lack of resources, here they are; resourceful when it comes to pure childlike joy.
These pictures, for me, define Eid in Jordan.
On Eids like this Eid, I wish I was a kid. Unbound, unfettered, exempt, uninhibited, and most of all, infinitely happy.