“Out of all of you, I may be among the earliest residents of Amman, and have recollections of it when it was but a village at a time when it would have been an exaggeration to refer to it as a city…. At that time each one of us knew everyone else, their phone numbers, and every car in town.”
Late King Hussein bin Talal, during a visit to Greater Amman Municipality shortly before his passing.
A recent post by Mohammad Omar reminded me of how much I really love Amman. My childhood memories are all nestled within the charming corners of Amman, its streets, its stairs, the small shops with shopkeepers holding tight to their grid-lined debt notepads, and the wee hours of the morning when the hara kids would all gather to wait for the school bus to pick us up in loads.
Amman has changed and with it so has its spirit. To say that I wish it remained the same would be unrealistic at best, and selfish at worst. All I can say is that no matter how it changes, Amman remains the darling of many of us who grew up knowing it as a village. We might feel protective over it and in the process resist much needed change. No matter what happens, Amman to me is like a kid, I might have a burning desire to discipline it out of concern, but at the end of the day I can never turn my back on it. It is deeply and so dearly engraved in me.
Few years ago, I asked a dear friend of mine, Nora Boustany (Columnist at the Washington Post) to write something about her working years in Amman. What she wrote sums up why many passers by consider Amman addictive, and why it is beloved by anyone who gets a taste of its charm. Nora wrote:
“The clear, sun-bathed days waiting for me always made coming back to Amman a special homecoming. But even the pale blue moonlight over its pink stone houses has its own magic for me. The city with its open spaces and hills, whispering fortunetellers and sprawling palace became my second home. After the turmoil of Beirut in wartime, the uncertainties of Washington as a chosen exile and my travels across the obscure medinas and bazaars of the Middle East, Amman is where I felt most comfortable. It is where my spirit was able to roam freely and wander to feed itself. Its modernity, romance and truth will always draw me back.”