One thing that I don’t seem to comprehend is other people’s perception of my hometown as a city of emptiness. I love to think that Amman is the city of anything. I love the idea of an empty city which like an empty canvas, with so much you can do to make it your own. There are so many places you can go, so many interesting people on the streets you can talk to, but everyone, including me, often ignores it.
Then people complain, about how this is nothing like their stay in Europe, or how those who live in the poorest of villages in the US have better lives than those who live here. These opinions that they hold are irritating because they seem to be based on false evidence. No, this isn’t Europe, nor is it as colorful as some of the countries in Asia, but it is ours. If we abandon it and give our markers and crayons to other cities to color other buildings and civilizations, who’s going to color ours?
Those who say this city is empty clearly have not been to the same places I have been to. Certain areas of Amman are unique to those who live there, reminding them of how much they are in control. This gives them strands of hope to pick up their crayons and start coloring. It feels like magic every time I go there with a friend. There are so many secret hiding places between supermarkets and shops for you to go think and reflect. So many coffeehouses, so many bands playing, so many of those who share poetry. Surprisingly, many of those who involve themselves in the secrecy of its magic are engineers and doctors, those that come to learn things that they have not yet learned through their extensive college experience.
I never take more than three friends. Not anyone can come where I go and understand it, and maybe more importantly, enjoy it. These few places have become our little fun secret. We go when we want to talk, when we want to run away from some of the responsibilities that seem to haunt us and never let go. We go there when we are excited, we go there when we are afraid, we go there we when we are completely free, and we go there when we have a million things on our to-do lists.
I’ve developed a relationship with this place. Just like how I did with this city, which (I confess) sometimes disappoints me, although I’ll never give up on it. And if you are living in its homes and eating its meals, you should never give up on it too.
So, before you claim that the city is far from exciting or adventurous, I suggest you do some research. But remember to keep it a secret!