Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why I think this is the best picture of 2010

This isn't just a picture of a crazy man taking off his shirt. This is not just a picture of someone who did something huge. This picture is so amazing because it shows a blend of thousands of emotions while they were evolving in nano-seconds in front of our eyes.

Unless you have been living on a different planet, or in the United States, you will know that this Andres Iniesta celebrating the winning goal for Spain in the World Cup final.

Even though this moment might as well be the happiest moment any footballer can experience, none of the expressions on Iniesta's face is actually cheerful. It's a mixture of incredible excitement and a "what-the-fuck-has-just-happened" moment. If adrenalin had a face, this is how it would look like. This is fierceness, intensity and power, all in one face.

And in the background, Dutch players, shattered, destroyed, and tired, very tired, knowing that once again that they will be keeping the title of the best team to never win the world cup. Always visible, but only in the background.

Not only that.

Andres Iniesta, above, joined the Under-16 Spanish team in 2001. As he grew up, he won the European Championship for the Under-19 Spanish team in 2003. He then went on to captain the Under-21 team. Along this road, he was playing alongside his teammate Dani Jarque.

Iniesta played for Barcelona. Dani Jarque played for Espanol. Those 2 teams were not only rivals, they were enemies. There is literally blood between the 2 teams. Fans of each team absolutely hated each other, and games between the 2 teams are not always pleasant to watch.

Dani Jarque was playing a friendly game in 2009 when he collapsed and died suddenly of a heart attack.

One year later, as in the picture above, Iniesta scored the winning goal for Spain in the World Cup. As nearly one billion people were watching, he lifted his shirt showing the words, "Dani Jarque, always with us" (Dani Jaqrue, siempre con nosotros"

Since then, the Espanol fans stopped booing Iniesta during any Barcelona-Espanol derby. Sure they still boo everybody else in Barcelona, but when it comes to Iniesta they can't forget the man who didn't only bring the world cup to Spain, but also brought class and grace to the game during the best moment of his life.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Feliz Navidad

If Jesus was to be born today, his parents won't be allowed to get to a hospital and Virgin Mary would have to go into labor at an Israeli checkpoint
Merry Christmas !!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cheap, Very Cheap, EasyJet Cheap, from Amman

In the last decade, there has been a very rapid emergence of low-cost airlines in Europe. These airlines offer much better prices but the service provided on the plane is suboptimal. No meals, no allocated seating (you'll still sit, but on first-come first-serve basis) and they charge for services such as checking in luggage. It was even rumored that one airline , Ryanair, was going to charge passengers for using restrooms. It turned out that the CEO of Ryanair made that claim to bring more publicity to his airline. At any rate, the price for tickets on these airlines is dirty cheap, therefore they have been growing very rapidly , causing nightmares to more well-established airlines such as British Airways.

One of these airlines, EasyJet, is coming to Amman. They are going to start an Amman-London route three times weekly starting the end of March.

I went to their website to get an idea on their ticket prices, and it's all good news. The price for a round-trip on economy would be 164 Euros , excluding luggage. If you want to include one piece of luggage, you add 22 Euros (total 186 Euros, nearly 175 JDs) total. I searched all the other airlines serving Amman around that time, and the cheapest among them was a BMI flight for 760 dollars (nearly 540 JDs or 580 Euros). I did my search online. The EasyJet ticket was 20-50 Euros more expensive if you would travel on other dates.

The drawback is that they will fly to Gatwick airport, which is a little farther from London than Heathrow.

I encourage everyone to fly with these guys. If you are looking for a good first class treatment skip to the more expensive Royal Jordanian or British Airways. If you are like me, someone who believes that flying always sucks no matter what you're fling and you just want to get to your destination safely, then hop on to an EasyJet flight. If many people fly with them , we can get to have more flights to more destinations in Europe for much less expensive prices.

Welcome to Amman cheap airlines. No matter how bad their customer service will be, I guess Jordanians have all been accustomed to what's worse.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dead Waters

Whenever there is drought in Jordan, people pray for rain. Praying for rain in Jordan is like praying for God to cure your cancer after it had already spread to your brain. It was never the solution, nor will it be the solution in the future. I'm not talking about praying, I'm talking about the rain. Praying, even though scientifically will not improve the chance of raining, is a good opportunity for people to meet together for a good cause, so I'm all for it. But more rain doesn't sound like the solution to the water shortage we have been suffering from since the foundation of our country.

Khalil Nasrallah was a young Lebanese boy living in Lebanon when the civil war erupted in Lebanon. His father had to move to Egypt with the family to save his business. Khalil then went to Canada to study, got a degree and went back to Egypt in the early 1990s. He realized that Egypt did not have good-quality domestic olive oil, and decided to start a business producing olive oil. In order to start the business, he had to go the middle of the desert, in the sand, spend a fortune to dwell wells in order to find water for his olive trees. All that came at a big risk of failing, but he was smart and successful and somewhat lucky. He co-founded Wadi Foods, which is now a massive company in Egypt that produces healthy food at an affordable cost. To this day he is still using the water from the wells he dwelt nearly 20 years ago.

The Jordanian government, for a long time, has not been always serious about the water crisis our country had always faced. A lot of bureaucracy and stubbornness delayed Al Wahda project with Syria for years, eventually the project seemed to even create more problems with our Arab neighbor. (Check this NPR story from 2007). You can drive by Jordan River nowadays and not recognize it because it has dried up for the most part. The Eastern Ghour water channel was a disaster. The majority of Jordanians do not get water for most days of the week, and it's sometimes unpredictable on which days they'll be getting it. We had a scandal of contaminated water that cost prime minister Abdul Salam Al-Majali his position. (Check this Hajjaj cartoon), and we always blame the weather, Syria, Israel, money and the common man for the never-ending crisis.

Only recently did we hear some good news. The US committed 275 million dollars to help Jordan improve its water supply, and you know well, that when 275 million dollars are donated for a good cause, all the money allocated will be spent on the intended project. It's expected that the Disi project will be completed in 2012, and it will supply Amman with more than a 100 million cubic meters of water every year. Sure it is contaminated by radioactive Uranium , but that doesn't matter, because as a good Jordanian citizen you're supposed to believe what the government tells you instead of those Westerner scientists in Yale and other Jewish universities.

I am still inspired by the story of Khalil Nasrallah, because he is a individual, just one person, with an age close to mine, who dug water out of nowhere, just to produce olive oil. That's all what he wanted, water for his olive trees. I believe if Mr. Nasrallah was able to do so, our Jordanian government can do much better than that. Digging for water is better than digging for oil, at least if you look for the future.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010