Wednesday, November 21, 2012

No holiday for us

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. and while it is in the consciousness of many people in Amman, it is not a holiday that is celebrated widely. It will be a work-day for us, but I'm sure we give it its own flare.

After going to the dentist today, I visited one of the local Latin-rite pastors. He is a hoot. His last name is Hizajin, which means he is from a sheikh class in Saudi Arabia. He is from a powerful family. He has the gift of conversation. I learned much about the history of the area and of local tribes. He is a man of passion too. He has a very caring heart and he is always looking out for the Christians on the East Bank. I had a delightful time talking with him.

After a delicious lunch (grilled lamp chops), I took a ride to the Taj Mall. The others in the house did not want to go because it is a wealthy shopping area. I wanted to go merely because they talk about it a lot and I want to experience what it is like. I realize if I ever wanted to feel like I am at home, I'll just go to this place. Most of the stores are American and many are high-end. I like it because it has advanced standards. Smoking is not allowed indoors and the construction of the building is very solid.

On my way to the mall I passed through a tunnel. It is hilarious because whenever a native driver goes through the tunnel, they blow their horn the entire way. It seems like something a child would do. I wonder if the driver is happy he is doing it. If so, good for him or her.

The first store I entered was Pieces of Africa. It had elegant, exotic carvings and ornaments. I spotted a chess set with intricately carved pieces. I would feel like a tribal king playing chess on the soft stone base. Quite nice.

The next store was similar to a hallmark store. All the stuffed animals were of goats, sheep, and vultures. I thought it was an odd combination, but the themes worked. One that that i noticed is that the store clerks always stand very close to you as you look at an item. Because of space boundaries it feels intrusive, but they don't mean it that way. They just want to describe the item to a customer so they can make a sale. I'm a terrible shopper and a good browser.

What's with all the smurfs in Jordan. They are in every mall and in many stores. Their distinctive blue is seen everywhere.

It is still an odd sight to me when I see two men holding hands in public. One security guard was holding the hand of another when he was gladly giving instructions. It is quite innocent and friendly.

I passed by a Nestles' tollhouse store and I thought I might come back and buy three small cookies. It is the first cookie store that I've seen. Most bakeries have cakes and pastries, but no chocolate chip cookies. Then I walked to the food court and I saw all those fast food restaurants. I was sorely tempted to buy chicken tenders at Popeyes or Kentucky Fried Chicken or one of the three other chicken restaurants, but then I realized that I just came from lunch, I really wasn't hungry, and that my real objective was to visit the Starbucks across the street. Once I convinced myself of that, I realized that I still had a full belly. It is amazing what marketing can do to make us feel hungry. At the mall, they are building a P.F. Chang's, which will be open this winter. The supermarket also has many products you can't find elsewhere, like Coke Light and Ginger Ale. I keep wondering if I really want to make Amman conform to my American standards. I also want to be mindful of those who really cannot afford many of the items that we prefer to have.

Starbucks. It was a three-level building and it was just like visiting a Starbucks in the States, except they don't yet believe in decaffeinated coffee or Skinny Vanilla Lattes. Nothing is diet. Anyways, I ordered a Flat White, which I haven't ordered since Australia. It was very good. I had it served with an apple caramel tart since I won't have pie tomorrow. It was my Thanksgiving treat to myself. I felt so good sitting there. When I looked around I saw five other Anglos. I felt like I was back home. Even they were playing a Dean Martin Christmas song on the radio. (Earlier this week, I saw my first Polish  Christmas ad on TV.) I like that most of the sections at Starbucks on non-smoking. Two of the levels are completely smoke-free, while the third level has a third of the floor for smokers. I hesitated going there because I thought the second-hand smoke would be everywhere. It is nice to find this place.

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