Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Shock About the Culture Shock

New immigrants to the US face what's known to many as the culture shock. This has been the case for so long. These days the shock is not too strong as it used to be, especially in our very small world where most immigrants know what America is like before even stepping in the US Embassy to obtain a visa.

The only true culture shock I faced when I first traveled to the US was how kind and humble Americans were especially when I expected hem to be very arrogant.... I wonder what gave me that first impression?? .... and polite. Very polite, much more than us Jordanians. That was shocking to me. Otherwise, I wasn't too shocked from anything else I saw or experienced.
It's a different story as I travel inside the US.

In California, and I saw a vehicle "Running on Vegetable Oil" .... vegetable oil! And then a gas station for "compressed natural gas" whatever that is. I was in South Dakota and went to their Walmart and was really shocked to see no Latinos or African Americans there . I was shocked when I traveled to Chicago and had people completely ignore me when I'd ask them about directions, as if I was transparent. I had to block someone's way to the train so she'd stop to tell me where the hell Wabash street was (and boy was she frightened to death when I did that)...and the toll roads, where you have to pay little cash to continue driving on what's supposed to be the good highway. How about Kentucky, where I couldn't really understand the English half the people were speaking while none of them could understand the English I was speaking.

Also the fact that Americans are not one thing was a bit shocking. In some places in the country all people dress alike, think alike, have the same habits day and night. Their houses, schools, children, farms, cars and the names written in their voting booths are all the same. However in other places you'll find a trans-sexual well-moustached person with gigantic breasts covered with tattoos from head to toe, a Rabi, an old prostitute and a middle-age conservative mother sitting next to each other in the train. They may even work in the same place.

The shock about the culture shock is that once you think you've been through the classical culture shock, you're faced with many other ones as travel inside this big country and learn more about it, which makes you often think of it as several smaller countries with so many smaller nations who miraculously not only managed to live together but have taken pride in this diversity and used it effectively to bring their country together instead of ripping it apart.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pictures I took: A little here and a little there

Here are some pictures that I stole from my facebook account,

This one I took in Monterey, California. In this little town with outstanding weather you can find old ugly small houses for 2 million dollars.

This is Chicago, by Lake Michigan, it's really something. Never got sick of coming here.

However if you think of renting a car in Chicago, always consider this:
Of course some "Chicagans" will jumpt to say this is unfair: you can easily find places to park your car for 20 bucks.
This is Tucson, which often surprises me as not being so ugly:

Finally, if you don't know what to get me from my birthday, go to what's labelled as "the biggest gift shop in the world" in Las Vegas and bring me this for 18 bucks. I really wanted this but thought to myself, "why pay for things you can get for free?"

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Results of the 9/11 survery

I am about to delete the results of the Poll that has been on my blog since 9/11 because voting was over, but I liked to post the results just for history.

The question was: Who was behind 9/11 ?
46 readers replied, at least 2/3rds were readers from Jordan.

14/46 (30%) said it was Al Qaeda alone
8/46 (17%) said it was the US plus al Qaeda
10 (21%) said it was the US government
Nine (19%) said it was Israel
and 5 (10%) did not know.

Briefly, only 30% believe it was an act solely done by Al Qaeda, and more than half believe Al Qaeda has NOTHING to do it with it.

While I explained before that there are many questions marks about the response of the US government to these attacks, it is very hard to believe that those 19 men on the planes had nothing to do with it.

That's what we are great in doing. Denial. We're good in not admitting a problem. 9/11 has become a boring topic even for many Americans, but the lessons we should have learned from it will never get old. The fact that these attacks resulted in a very unjust war against an Arab country is not an excuse to not think properly and get blinded by the fact that at least, for one day, for one hour, a very small bunch of us acted irrationally.

Ok, enough with 9/11, enough with the past, let's get back to the future.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Bi-Monthly Videos: 1967 and King Hussein

Here's a short and sad clip of late King Hussein right after the 1967 defeat.

This is part of Hareega's bi-monthly clips with less than 500k views on youtube that I believe are definitely worth-watching

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Mother of All Poems

To honor my readers I decided to share this beautiful poem reflective of my pure talent with them. Before you forward it to all of your friends and family do not forget to mention the reference. All Rights reserved to me.

Hareega (aka Al Akhtal Al-Kabeer)

It's always the same old story,
dying without glory
And it's the end now my friends
of my beautiful life
good-bye my wife
I hated you with all my heart
you tore me apart
If there's one Satan up there
he's got a partner downstairs
Evil comes in pairs
At the Gates of Heaven I will be asked
Why I picked the spoiled brat
to be my wife, forgive me Lord
for I've chosen a biaatch
to mother my kids, but let it be
for all what I see
are angels smiling down at me
My life I adored
My wife I abhorred
Now I'm laying on my bed
with agony and dread
for my destiny I'm waiting
my thoughts are hibernating
inside my warm memory of broken dreams
shining through the vacuum with broken beams
Oooops... wait a second or two
I smelled something, like a rotten onion or a dirty shoe
I just farted my friends, a fart or two
and I feel better, wo-hooo
my colon was stimulated
I'm elated
for all the time I debated
if I was departing this empty world
I was just constipated
and now I'm born again
I'm born again

(Little Note: the above poem is not based on a true story. I don't have a wife or kids, and I'm not constipated. But I wanted to share this with you to inspire the coming generations and provide a material for literature students in universities around the globe)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Jordanian Connection

I got a call late last night.

It was a friend

"Man, how do you spell kharshooqa?"
"Kharshooqa, how do you spell that?"
"I don't know, what's a kharshooqa?"
"Not sure, but it was the song you were playing in your car"
"I see.....I think it was Shakhooqa"
"Ok I'll try this on yotube"
10 seconds later
"I still can't find the song"
"Try Shurkhooqa"
"Still can't find it"
"Type it in Arabic"
"Can't find it, who's the singer?"
"Not sure, I remember she had a Jordanian last name"
"Is she Jordanian?"
"No she didn't sound like it, but she had a Jordanian name"
"Ok where do I go from here?", he asked anxiously
"Try any Jordanian last name and put the word song after it"
"Try Tarawneh"
"Ok Try Shamayleh"
"Zo3bi, they have Zo3bi in Lebanon"
"Eh, ba3dain ma3ak"
"Just try Masri"
"Nothing. Nothing. Nada. Sbhu asawi?"
"Try Masarweh"
"Nothing, can you just listen to the song and tell me?"
"I'm at the hospital, can't do it"
"So what should I do?"
"Let me think"
"OK search lebanese song, or sexy lebanese, or lebanese singer, or arabic song or arabic sexy something like that"
"Can't find anything, meshan alla, meshan alla, I need to find this song. I have to"
"Horani, Horani, Horani, I remembered, Dominique Horani"

"Try it"
"Yes that's it. You're the man"
"Ok now, do you realize it's midnight?"
"I know, I'm sorry, but I couldn't sleep without getting it out of my head"
"I totally understand"

Here's the song Khashooka by Dominique Hourani, by the way she has a master's degree in business administration.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

This is Why You Should Stop Complaining About Royal Jordanian

I used to think that Royal Jordanian and Royal Wings were the only two Jordan-based airlines.
Apparently there are 5 other airlines based in Queen Alia Airport.
Let's talk about them:

1- Air Rum: They have 5 planes that travel to different countries in Africa and the Middle East.
They are blacklisted and banned from flying over the European Union because they operate below the essential safety levels.
Their website, however, mentions that they fly to Italy. I'm really hoping that the people updating their website aren't the same as those doing maintenance on their jets.

To tell how crazy this airline is, a pilot in 2005 faked an emergency landing in a Peruvian city just to allow the Gambian passengers on that flight to watch a football game Gambia was playing in Peru that night. Click here for details.

2- Teebah Airlines: A charter airlines owned by Iraqis, operating from Amman since 2004. Bought old planes from Delta Airlines. Another airline banned from flying over European Union soil because of sub-standard safety level. Its fleet consists of five jets.

3- Air Universal: This one is not banned anywhere, but somehow it ran out of air crafts!
Warning: the music on their website is ugly.

4- Jordan Aviation : this one seems to be better organized. It has service to different gulf countries, and it's not blacklisted !

5- Raya Jet: a private jet charter, looks fancy from inside.

6- Royal Wings: has one airbus that flies as far as Belgrade.

7- And of course, our lovely Royal Jordanian.

What's really bothering me is that the two blacklisted airlines are Sierra Leonan airlines. For some reason, the folks in Sierra Leone were welcomed to have their airlines based in Queen Alia airport in Amman, under Arab names like Teebah and Rum. That explains why they have flights to African countries where very few Jordanians are interested in flying to, like Niger and Benin.
(Addendum: Adoosh mentioned an 6th airlines, Royal Falcon which has unscheduled flights depending on demand. Currently they only fly to Baku, Azerbaijan)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Another Failed Attempt

Despite having a few people begging me not to write poetry, but some current events can really trigger you to hallucinate. :)
The day is twenty four hours
long, do I belong
to this world of rhymes but no song?
Many people, many lives
little value but so many strive
to survive
in this harsh atmosphere
and today they will blow the sphere
in Switzerland or France
can we advance?
when, inside, we're so empty
of sorrow we've got plenty
Are you sad, are you mad
Please Please.... elaborate
on why are you angry the world will evaporate
it was never born to be
it was never born for me
to see a happy day
but today it's going away
and today, I will be born
I will be born...

The 9/11s

I wish it never happened. It could and should have been prevented.

You may ask, how come I'm still remembering this event even though most Americans (82% on today's CNN poll) are not doing anything significant to mark it?

I don't believe in conspiracy theories. I do believe that it was those 19 low-life men that flew those planes into the towers and into the Pentagon, and doubt that the US government had an active role in bombing the towers or shooting the planes. I am buying all of this.

I'm just not buying anything from 9/12 afterwards.

I can't buy how the CIA could not have prevented this attack, or why wasn't anyone fired from the administration for not preventing them. Why wasn't anyone from the government held responsible in a country where it's "rumored" that every adult is responsible for his or her own mistakes?

How come all the warnings before the attacks were ignored, and different key figures in the government gave contradictory testimonies without being forced to say the truth?

How does the US expect the world to take it as an example for democracy when the very democracy brought criminals like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice into office, and the same democracy failed miserably to make them pay for the lies that wasted the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and shattered the whole country of Iraq.

There are several reasons for me to wish 9/11 never happened. It's the 3000 victims, and those who were murdered in retaliation. None of them should have died, and those responsible for their deaths were not held accountable and will never be held accountable in a country that claims to be the leader of the democratic world. They just proved that all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets, and that the first victim when war comes is truth.

Here are some sad clips and radio messages from that day, some include recordings from the hijackers and a flying attendant on the plane, and from a victim on the tower:

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Sort of Illegal!

In 2004, a company named Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) was operating in Jordan when it accepted 12 Nepalese men to work as kitchen staffs in Jordan. Once the men arrived to Jordan their passports were seized and they were forced to travel to work in Iraq. On their way there, they were kidnapped and killed and the videos of their murders were posted on the internet.

This is according to a lawsuit filed by the victims' relatives against KBR and their Jordanian subcontractors Daoud and Partner.

You can check the story in details on AFP and CNN and Reuters's websites.

I won't be surprised if it turned to be true.
Why not, when the victims involved were from Nepal, the citizens of which we consider sub-human just like those of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India.
Or when you know that they were poor, not hoping to return to their country without some savings to support them and their families, pushing them into accepting risks that did cost them their lives.

How does our government allow such companies to operate in Jordan? Does the hunger for profit blind us into tricking (actually forcing) poor naive men into doing jobs they didn't want to do.

And when you know that KBR is a subsidiary of the Dick Cheney-owned Halliburton, that makes it a little less surprising.

What's interesting, is that Daoud and Partners announced the cease of operations in Iraq in 2004 after two Jordanians workers in Iraq were kidnapped. It did so only after relatives of one driver threatened to chop off the head of the firm director!!

To the poor Nepalese I'm saying: start forming your own tribe in Jordan, that may be the only way you can protect your workers in Jordan.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Captain Abu Raed - My Two Pesos

This post is about one-year old, but it's always good to talk about the things you're proud of, and I'm proud of this movie. After half a century a Jordanian wrote and directed a Jordanian movie, with a Jordanian cast, and he shot it in Jordan, with a story focusing on Jordanian issues and problem(s). He represented Jordan and he brought Jordan's name to film festival we were never part of.

The film got several reviews from well-known critics and they were all positive. Make no mistake, these critics never hesitated to harshly criticize Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese if they didn't like one of their particular movies. The movie was part of dozens of international festivals this year, and is Jordan's submission to the Oscars (which brings the question: Has Jordan ever submitted a movie to be nominated for an Oscar?)
Imagine a Jordanian baseball or ice-hockey team touring around the world and scoring one victory, that's exactly the story with this movie. Amin Matalqa has started something really good that I hope will inspire a few Jordanians into writing, acting or directing movies of similar or even better quality. I will not review the movie because I'm not a movie critic and will not pretend to, and secondly because my opinion will not be objective. I am so biased, and I'm telling you: watch this movie. It's very very good.

In Summary:
WINNER - 2008
Winner - Sundance Film Festival, World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic
Winner - Seattle International Film Festival, Best Director
Winner - Traverse City Film Festival, Best of the Fest Jury Award
Winner - Traverse City Film Festival, Audience Award
Winner - Maui Film Festival - Best Narrative Feature, World Cinema
Winner - Durban International Film Festival - Best First Feature
Winner - Newport Beach Film Festival - Best Actor
Winner - Newport Beach Film Festival - Best Actress
Winner - Dubai International Film Festival - Best Actor
And about ten more participation in festivals soon.

Friday, September 05, 2008

I love Brazil's President

Oh the joy, Oh the glory......
The president of Brazil, the very preisdent of Brazil, said today that Lionel Messi is the best player on earth.


Man, that's like Hitler saying Jews are the best people on earth, or Bush saying reading books is the best thing one can do, or Michael Jackson saying children should be protected from sexual harrassment.

It's just unbelievable.

UPDATE: It looks like the comments of the Brazilian president, may God bless him and his entire family for centuries to come, were not met with admiration from his people, especially the low-life goalkeeper who asked his president to move to Argentina. Truth hurts Cesar.

The BiMonthly Video: Plane Landing on Water, Breath-Taking!

A tourist on a beach in the Caribbean was taping when he observed a commercial plane approaching the beach at a very high speed, check this short clip to see what happened next. It's not pretty.

This is part of Hareega's bi-monthly clips with less than 500k views on youtube that I think are definitely worth-watching.


Thursday, September 04, 2008


At the New York Hotel with a friend, there's a roller coaster

Friend, "Yalla let's go ride the roller coaster"
Hareega, "No I'm fine thanks"
Friend, "Yalla let's go"

So we went up the stairs. I started hearing the screams of people on the roller coaster.
Friend told the operator, "We need 2 tickets"
I told him, "No just one ticket, I'm fine man, I'll stay down here"
Friend pulled me to the side, "Malak? Let's go"
"No I don't want to"
"Why? Don't tell me you're scared?"
"Of course not, there are little kids riding it. I'm not scared, but people can throw up when they ride these. I don't want to throw up"
"But have you eaten anything today"
"No but I can still throw up. I also don't fit into these small carts"
"No you do, here's a guy who just was on the roller coaster and his ass size is twice yours, I'm sure they can squeeze your ass into one of them"
"I just don't feel like riding them. It's for little kids. I'd rather stay here. Go have fun"
"No I'm getting you a ticket. I'll pay for it. It's fun"
"No don't"
"No I'll get one"
"No don't get one. I'm not going up there"
"No you will"
"Ok listen. I always shit in my pants when I ride these things, then start crying like a baby and get nightmares for a week"

Morale: Sometimes you got to make embarrassing confessions to avoid publicly humiliating yourself.

I was in the shuttle heading to the airport.

The driver was asking everyone where they were from.

"So you in the blue shirt back there, where are you from sir?"
" Jordan"
"I don't know where that is?"
My father was sitting next to me, he told the driver, "Do you know King Hussein?"
The driver, "Yeah, of course I know King Hussein... I know him"
then paused a little bit, gave it a little thought and kept going, "It was really harsh to execute him that way"

February 2008
Super Bowl
I was driving to Vegas with a friend.

We knew the super bowl was taking place in Phoenix.
We also knew that day was the super bowl.

On our way to Vegas, we passed by Phoenix. Beautiful Stadium. Plenty of traffic.

"Why is there so much traffic on a Sunday?"
"Not sure, must be a big game or something"

Arrived in Vegas,
People stacked in bars watching a football game.

I asked, "That must be the super bowl right?"
Friend, "Yes. And it's in Phoenix this year, in that nice stadium they have in Glendale"
I said, "O I know it. Been there before, saw the US playing Mexico. Nice stadium"

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

News .... News.... News.... Before Iftar

** The Japanese are looking for a new prime minister. Whoever gets selected will become their 11th in the last 15 years. The Jordanians, due to their long experience in this field, gave advice to the Japanese but that wasn't helpful. It's just that there aren't too many retired directors of failing airlines or plenty of directors of profit only-based awful private universities in Tokyo.

** Hurricane Gustav is hitting New Orleans these days. Every country likes to name its natural disasters with special names. In the US they call them Gustav and Katrina. In Ukraine it's called Chernobyl and in Iraq it's called democracy.

** John McCain has appointed Sarah Palin as his running and right away the media started exposing dark pages from her past. Her husband was arrested for drunk driving 22 years ago. She used to be a member of a party that called for Alaska's independence from the United States. She abused her power as Governor to fire people from their jobs. There are too many scandals surrounding her that George Bush wished he had picked her to be his vice president.

** A recent outbreak of Salmonella affecting thousands of people in the US is over. The source of Salmonella has not been identified.
However, CIA agents are trying to see if that could be related to news about Bin Ladin's attempt to buy hummus beans from restaurants in Jerash.

** UAE business men purchased the British football club Manchester City yesterday. They were planning to purchase a club in the capital, but they couldn't find direction when they googled Lindin.

** Italy has agreed to pay Mo'ammar Al-Qaddafi five billion dollars as a compensation for its occupation of Libya during the last century.
As a result of that, the leaders of the remaining 21 Arab countries sent official requests to the Italians asking them to invade their countries.

** A British couple will go on trial next week for allegedly having sex on a beach in Dubai. The man is expected to be found guilty for violating the Dubai laws, which forbid men from having sex with anyone other than a Russian hooker.

** Jordan has signed a nuclear treaty with China, which will allow Jordan to have its own nuclear plant by the year 2015.
It even gets better. By the year 2050, it is expected that each Jordanian citizen will be able to afford buying his own gas cylinder.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Happy Ramadan and ...

Hope everyone will try being nice throughout the whole year
will stop cheating throughout the whole year
will stop staring at women throughout the whole year
will stop cussing and swearing all year through (I'm excluding myself from this one)
will be nice to his neighbors and people at work all the time
will think of the poor all the time

I'm wishing for all months to be a Ramadan, except for the not-eating part, it wasn't easy eating at the morgue at 2 in the afternoon.

And on this occasion, I promise to avoid posting steamy photos of hot French TV hosts, drunken babies or men with sexy ABs (after requests from a lot of women and some men) during the whole month.

And wake me up when September ends.
Happy Ramadan.