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Melantrys’ Page » 2006 » November

Archive for November, 2006

Whoops, it’s…. not winter

Monday, November 27th, 2006

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Anyone remember last year?

Apart from it being between 15.5 and 19° Celsius these days, which makes last year look surreal (or maybe rather this year….) I feel the need to mention what they did in Ochtrup on Saturday. They held emergency generator parties in several restaurants in the area (which had been among the areas effected by the power outages last year). With decorated generators running outside and candles illuminating the inside, people gathered to eat pea soup in remembrance of the support and help the communities offered each other during the long power outage last year.

Trip to Amman - pt. 2

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

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Wednesday, August 16th

Wednesday turned into bank day for us.

We took a taxi out to Shmesani, only to be turned away at the Bank of Jordan as well. The man there suggested going to an exchange office; they’d accept my cheques. Yes, we told him, but their rates were daylight robbery. So he sent us down the street to an American Express office. His description reminded me of the taxi drivers in Turkey when they were unwilling to drive you for a “short” way; we definitely walked a lot farther than he had told us we’d be walking.

At the American Express office we were sent up to some other office - which looked much less like American Express than the first door we’d walked through which had had the logo and all…. Sorry, no, they didn’t cash traveller cheques, they only issued them. (Yeah, that makes sense…) But he’d call an exchange office in the area. I’m a bit hazy on the exact rate (you’re not the only senile person on earth, aNarki…) but I think it was about 68 or 69 JD for 100 Euros, so I looked at aNarki and said “Mecca Mall!”

After this fruitless trip I was more than just mildly vexed and pretty parched, so we went to C-Town to grab some soft drinks. What a small place the world is! In one aisle we ran into Micho and her mother. After a bit of smalltalk we all went our seperate shopping ways.

aNarki and me ambled a bit through the area, then sat down at the Strand, his grandfather’s favourite café in Amman, and had tea/a softdrink while deciding upon what to have for lunch. There was a falafel place close by, so we went there. I didn’t like the food as much as the one at the place near my hotel though. Nevertheless I liberated the bread I didn’t manage to eat up so I wouldn’t be breadless at my apartment.
I don’t think aNarki noticed, but there was a dude at another table who kept glancing in our direction. He was more discreet than most and cute into the bargain, so I didn’t mind too much. ;)

Spent some time at aNarki’s parents’ place watching videos and begging the lazy Kid to grant us the honour of an audience on his last evening before heading back to Baghdad. Finally he gave in and picked a café close to his family’s place. :P

The café was pretty packed, so aNarki and me got shooed from the large table we wanted to sit at to a smaller one.
Shortly after us Micho and her mother arrived, so we got a large table after all.
The Kid was being fashionably late. (Is that really that fashionable…?) His excuse was that he had had to cut his beard (which looked indeed freshly trimmed by the way) because I had said that he looked rather satanic. (Yes, dear, I had, but what I had meant was that haughty look you can give people and the general cut of your beard and not the (minimal) stubble, lol, so don’t blame me.)
Ahhhh, I’m afraid I was less communicative than usual as I didn’t know the two ladies at all. I was aware of Micho as being Morbid Smile’s sister, but I think so far we had not exchanged a single comment anywhere, not counting the run-in with the two at the supermarket earlier that day of course.

At some point the Kid stole my camera to snap off a shot as proof of what a perfect pair aNarki and me’d make. (No, dear readers, he had not given up on that “old” joke yet…)

me & aNarki

As you can see aNarki doesn’t just still look like some clown but has also been growing a true camel driver beard. ;)

The Kid was kind enough to stay for some time longer after Micho and her mom had left, neglecting the work he had said he had to do, for which I was thankful, as he had been rather busy chatting with Micho’s mom in Arabic quite a lot earlier on.

We got shooed off to a smaller table again by the way.
I don’t remember how that topic came up, but at some point the Kid asked aNarki if Kurdish was difficult to learn, to which he replied “Of course not, even Kurds can learn it.” (If there’s one thing you have to know about aNarki it’s that - in contrast to his character - he never misses an opportunity to crack an ethnic joke.)

Finally the Kid announced that he really had to go now ([insider joke]”Poor Nabil.”[/insider joke]), so I got up as well and stopped him, saying “Wait, let me get all western and sentimental,” and telling him to take care back over there, to which I think he wasn’t paying that much attention anymore, as he was busy standing there, unmoving, suffering getting hugged by some German madwoman. (Ever hugged a coat rack?) :P ;)
The funniest part was when I let go of him again and he said “That was weird” in a slowly-returning-to-regular-level-of-coolness tone of voice. (Already sorry you had no objections to letting me tell the story the way I perceived it? :P )

After he had trundled off I have to admit aNarki and me still had a lot of fun discussing that little scene. That is, it rather seemed to me though that aNarki sobered up a bit after reflectively remarking that he should probably start getting used to the thought of him getting hugged as well when I was going to leave Amman.


Thursday, August 17th

Finally we cashed some of my traveller cheques at the exchange office at Mecca Mall. Their rate was even more acceptable than I had thought earlier as the 0.82 was the final rate, after deduction of fees, so their rate was only 0.02 lower than that of the bank inside the airport, and not 0.06, as I had assumed.

While there, we also went to Al-Afghani where I got a bunch of typical tourist postcards.

A friend had told aNarki that he knew of a decent night club which he himself frequented. So, in the evening we met up with aNarki’s long time pal, the V-Knight, and went to that place.
It was called “Rouge” but over the entrance it invitingly said “Bar & Restaurant”. Shortly after we had sat down the waiter approached us and asked aNarki if they were Iraqi, which he confirmed, then if they wanted a woman. He declined. So much for this being a decent night club just for quiet drinking. But this place was definitely more classy - at least on the outside terrace; we didn’t care to find out what went on inside ;) - for it was indeed possible to simply sit there and drink and only pay for the drinks and no other imaginary services. The 5 JD for the canned (!!!!) Budweiser also included a waitress in a mildy belly-free top pouring the beer for me while throwing herself into some vaguely sexy pose. Her efforts were wasted though, as I am hetero, thank you, and my male company was stoically staring at nothing (aNarki), respectively out into the street (V-Knight) instead of at belly or pose during the pouring of the beer. So I guess it’s my place to remark that she looked a lot better than the ladies from that… other… place.
The beer was dreadful of course (Canned beer!), but it was beer, with alcohol in, and it was still nice already just sitting there, unmolested. The waitress was clearly bored, yet attentive and totally unobtrusive, sitting at another table on the terrace and waiting for possible drinks orders.

aNarki’s and my drinks, the V-Knight’s shirt

It was here by the way, Kid, that your SMS (re hug) reached me. ;)


Friday, August 18th

I was up and about before my faithful guide/entertainer/bodyguard :P was fit to come over and pick me up, so I went over to Grand Supermarket to refill my drinks stock and do some lazy food shelf browsing. The dude at the register kindly packed all my shopping into a plastic bag, but I had bought so many (heavy…) drinks that this was really impractical, even for such a short trip.
So I stopped at the corner and sat down at a ledge on the pavement and stuffed most of my shopping into the backpack I was carrying. While I was busy doing that a car abruptly braked right in the middle of the street and the dude at the wheel sat staring at me for several long seconds before driving on. Rrrrrright.

When I later told aNarki about that incident he got all worked up and apologized for not having been with me. Er. Dude. That had been meant to entertain you. And, sorry, I was there to visit you guys, not to enslave one of you as my permanent personal bodyguard.

Lunch was with the whole family (i.e. with aNarki and his parents) at the nice falafel place around the corner, which also provided me with several days’ breakfast as they literally forced all the leftovers on me. (Sometimes I wonder if I look like a starved alley cat to some people……)

Later on we went to Mecca Mall, but didn’t stay for too long as it was just too damned loud and crowded. Well, it was Friday.

So we spent a long lazy day at the parents’ place, watching Euro Trip and Just Friends and doing the usual daily online stuff.


Saturday, August 19th

Woke up, showered, dressed, had breakfast (read: bread and hommus) in front of the tv.
Around 1pm several men started shouting out in the corridor. As they were doing that in Arabic of course I had no clue what was going on and was a tad worried.
I SMSed aNarki and told him that I didn’t care about the house rules and that I wanted him to pick me up from my room if things weren’t quiet again when he got to the hotel. Thankfully the corridor was quiet and empty by that time though.

We headed out to Swefiyah to wander a street my guide doesn’t recall the official name of; shame on him! :P Inofficially it is called Istiklal Library Street.
Of course we also went to the Istiklal Library, where I bought some marbles for myself (yeah, I collect the oddest things ;) ) and some Pretty Ugly Pottery as a souvenir for my sister. I think I should visit her and snap a shot of that mug and put it up here; I just love it.

Pretty Ugly…

… Pottery

(My sis dropped by and brought the mug, so I could take these pics. :) )

While wandering around the area (aNarki assures me that was the day we were doing some uphill walking and I was babbling something about the Black Forest region…) we ran into his cousin. Yup, the nosy one, who had been playing airport taxi. :)

Spent some time at aNarki’s parents’ place again, you know, internet, blah, with aNarki busily contacting people and arranging things in the background. :)

The V-Knight picked us up and we went to Mecca Mall to meet up with Attawie. aNarki had been repairing Attawie’s guitar, so this was a good opportunity to give it back to her.
From the Mall we took a taxi to al-Hussein Park, or King Hussein Park, if you prefer.
There we met with 24 and BT. We aimlessly ambled a bit through the park until we found a couple of unoccupied benches.
Hhhhhm, bugger, what do I recall? I am sure not even half of it.

Of course, some guitar was being played, “Knocking on heaven’s door”, for instance, and the Iraqi anthem. Maybe I should have requested the German one, lol :P

al-Hussein Park

me filming “Knocking on heaven’s door” © Treasure of Baghdad

After 24 was done with his excessive SMSing (and don’t you deny it; I got photographic evidence) he participated in the inevitable politics talks (lol, poor aNarki), though this time even some German politics were mentioned. Another topic was Islam and alcohol. Hhhhm, either my memory is very selective or I talked mostly to 24 that evening. He was being really sweet and trying to think of jobs I might be doing that might be more to my liking than my current one. Thanks for caring.

We tried to catch that car exhibition the Iraqi bloggers had missed on some previous visit to the park cos they had come on the one day per week when it was closed. That day was the right one but it was too late already, so no exhibition this time either.

At a fountain BT and 24 snapped off some group pictures and I am seriously pouting for not having seen a single one of them so far!

No-one had thought to bring food or drinks, so we decided to leave the park and grab something to eat at Mecca Mall. Due to our number BT and 24 took off in a different taxi again.

We were just approaching one of the escalators when two young men stepped up from the right, one of them demanding to know “What are you guys doing here?!” Which of course saved aNarki the trouble of calling or SMSing the guys to meet up again, lol. First we checked out the cinemas, then headed down again to the food court. To my delight I found that one of the meals at the Chinese place was just rice and vegetables, so I tried that. It took a while until we could sit down, as the food court was rather crowded that evening. The food was different from the Chinese food around here, but I had been kind of expecting that already, seeing that it is different over in Holland as well.
We ate, we talked some more, and suddenly the evening was at its way too early ending.

Never forget to carry your student ID in America

Friday, November 17th, 2006

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… especially if you look like your name may be Mostafa…?

Three days ago, at around 11:30pm on Tuesday night a UCLA student by the name of Mostafa Tabatabainejad failed to produce his student ID at a random check done by Community Service Officers in the CLICC Lab in Powell Library. Furthermore he allegedly did not leave in a timely manner.
Nevertheless he was said to already have been approaching the exit when the UCPD officers whom the CSO’s had called arrived. One of them grabbed the student’s arm.

Now, it may be unwise to yell “Get off me” in that kind of situation but getting tasered for that and tasered at least another three times for not getting up off the floor and going with the UCPD officers seems to be a rather… drastic… response to the young man’s behaviour.

Go see the movie documenting most of the incident on Safiyyah’s blog and make sure to follow the link imbedded in her post, as the Daily Bruin gives a much more detailed account of everything that happened than the rather bad quality movie does.

Small blame on the camera man or woman though, quite apart from a lot of people milling around, I guess the person did not wish the officers to realize that somebody was filming the incident.

According to UCPD Assistant Chief of Police Jeff Young the “drive stun” setting used by the officers involved “would not likely demobilize a person or cause residual pain after the shock was administered”. Contrary to that statement a study published in the Lancet Medical Journal in 2001 states that a charge of three to five seconds can indeed immobilize a person for five to 15 minutes, which - the Daily Bruin concludes - would mean that Tabatabainejad could have been physically unable to stand when the officers demanded that he do so. (Furthermore this type of stun has been known to kill people.)

But even if the stun did not immobilize Tabatabainejad, I can’t help but wonder if he might not simply have been too terrified to get up and go with these officers. After all, if they were not shy in using the taser repeatedly in front of the other students - not to mention threaten to taser another person as well when he demanded to see an officer’s badge number - what were they likely to do to him out of sight of witnesses? Hell, I know I’d have been scared of those officers.

I for one would be very interested in the officers’ reasons for their behaviour.

Was it “just” the overall fear of Islamist terrorism that led to a gross overreaction, was it common racism, or was it the tendency of some officers of the law to think they’re allowed to do whatever they please? Or maybe a bit of all three? The latter must at least have been part of reason or else there wouldn’t have been any threats against the student who was exercising his right as an American citizen by asking to see badge numbers.