The Murder of Cinderella

They found her body in the dumpster, the shoe led them to her. Upon further investigation it turns out the prince had a drug problem. He was broke and he needed some money to buy a quick fix so he tried to steah her jewelery. When she tried to stop him, he stabbed several times and threw her body in the garbage disposal. He confessed to the crime but after pulling a few strings he got out of it by claiming that he killed her because he suspected she was having an affair with the shoe shiner. It was ruled an honor crime and he was sentenced to 10 years in jail.

 

* A fictional story inspired by the shoe beside the dumpster

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Hungry?

Step one: Go to Salah Addeen bakery in Abdali, where you can get some of their signature Ka’aks and fill them with cream cheese. Take a spoon with you. And oh, from wht I hear, it’s a no-girls zone so if you’re a girl you might want to let a guy do this.

Step 2: Go to Batata in Rainbow Street and get some of their one-of-a-kind french fries with the sausce of your choice. I recommend honey mustard and cocktail, which is ketchup and mayonnaise.

Step 3: stuff the cheese filled ka’ak with french fries, find a nice place where you can sit with friends and that’s it, bon appetit!

Delicious as those sandwiches are I can’t get how can anyone eat more than one of them. Not only because it’s over-satiating, it’s physically exhausting too! All thic biting and chewing of crunchy bread. But it’s good, try it, it’s worth it!

Exploring Jordan

 

With every passing day I discover more and more how much I have to catch up on internal tourism! I mean, I know Jordan has a lot to offer in terms of touristic destinations, captivating nature and out-of-this-world historical sites that can take you to another time and place, but today as I went through some brochures I picked up at Wild Jordan, I realized that I don’t even know half of it!

From wild life reserves to adventurous trails and great spots to kick back and relax both physically and mentally, I seriously don’t know where or when to start! Better still, there are different agencies that organize trips to all of these locations and it’s quite affordable. Check this out for example

We have a really beuatiful country that can offer you a haven from all the complexities of life.  A room to breathe if you will. It’s a pity that we can travel to the farthest spots in the world and not see what’s just around the corner. That’s next on my list, hopefully not to be procrastinated for long!

Kids Got Talent

Now this is a great idea! And a very nobel one too.

You know how kids have this common talent of being cute, and of course orphan kids are double so since people get all compassionate and worked up when it comes to them. But this time these children are inviting you to show that there is more to them and say it loud and clear: “Yes, we are talented!”

“Green Hands team is organizing a massive show for orphans talents with huge sponors and reputable hosts from the Jordanian society. we are honored to invite you to attend between 4-7 pm”

Please let us see you there! Not only these kids deserve your support, I heard they have some pretty cool stuff in store!

You can find time and place details on the event’s page on facebook

Not-so-ordinary Jordanians: Not Your Typical Geek

This series aims to shed light on the people who are the underlying driving force of change in the Jordanian society: The ordinary citizens with extraordinary ideas, stories or actions.

This week’s article is written by Mohamad Khawaja | @mkhawaja | http://www.spring2sky.com

Blind people in developing counties are usually brought up to believe that most tasks are beyond their control because of their visual disability. Mohammad Al Shar’ doesn’t believe so!

 

 

While some people may think that the primary function of ears is to hold your glasses, Mohammed Shar’s has been utilizing his ears in a different way while reading!

Many blind people have gone beyond the odds and found success. Mohammed Al-Shar’, who belongs to this less fortunate segment, has taken his confidence to a new level in challenging his disability by learning and mastering computer programming to help many of his peers adapt with life.  Indeed, he is currently working as freelancer web developer after gaining vast experience as a technical support and training executive for Nattiq Technologies, an international firm that specializes in assistive (also called adaptive) technologies.

One of the major assistive technologies developed at Nattiq is a screen reader, which is basically a software program that tells visually-disabled individuals what is being displayed on the screen at any given event.  This is accomplished by means of either speech or Braille.  The event may be a dialogue box, an edit window, a chat session or even an internet webpage in order to facilitate effective interaction with personal computers, mobile phones and other supported digital devices.

For Mohammed a screen reader is his eyes to the digital world it readers all what it is displayed on the screen and helps him assure what letter he is typing NOW. A PC with a screen reader installed and connected to the internet is enough for him to surf the web and read numerous amount of digital content like WebPages, eBooks, blogs, articles, news feeds etc.., it also allows him to chat with his friends, exchanging emails, play his favorite music and even design websites.

“For me, a computer desktop is like a room!” He once said. “I can navigate it when ‘Mr. Screen Reader’ guides me with details and directions! And this is simply how I explore the digital interactive world. The cursor is one of in my hands; once I place it in any field or highlight on a button or link -by pressing tabs consecutively- I get my laptop speaking promptly updating me where I stand at that exact moment” he explained.

Al-Shar’ used to get help from pedestrians around when he crosses the crowded roads in Amman, Nevertheless, he is now able to understand the primary road grid of Amman and help you to decide on what place to meet at.  He was able to teach himself this when he used public transportation to move from one area to another while listening carefully to the bus controller.  As the controller called out each upcoming bus stop for riders, Mohammed was making careful notes in his mind.

People commonly prefer restaurants and cafes based on their menu and atmosphere, on the other hand, Al-Shar’ has a preference for those that play joyful eastern music and offer wireless internet!  When he arrives Mohammed usually chooses a table next to a power socket to be certain he can continue using his laptop even after its battery runs down.

We hang out together from time to time. I remember how dynamic on the telephone he was that day, especially with his prompt perfectly spelled text message replies that usually end with a proper punctuation marks and a tilted smiley face 🙂

Though he wears no watch, he still arrived on time, with the support of the screen reader that reads scheduled reminders on his mobile.  The friendly waiter led him directly to the peaceful corner of the restaurant that he enjoys the most, he greeted the waiter with a smugly smile before ordering a dish of “Maqlouba.” During the delicious meal Mohammed talked about one of his previous business trip to Oman and told me how the Omani trainees had become extremely interested in learning more about advanced techniques in screen reading tools. “They found my experience something to build on,” he said with a smile while holding the spoon firmly in his right hand.

For Mohammed, an outing is not perfect without surfing the web. He pulled out his laptop out of its carrying case, and switched it on. Through listening carefully to screen reader software uttering the characters he hit on the keyboard, he was able to position his hands on the initial typing position -where his forefingers pointing at “F” and “J” keys- just like what professional typers do.

Shortcut keys also help Mohammed access so many programs, actions and settings very quickly. Moving his fingertips quickly on the keyboard, he opened the web browser. There was always a robot-like voice going out of the speakers saying: “Address bar” … “double-u double-u double-u dot…..”. He Logged on google.com. “Web programming is my life’s joy” he said. “After reading so much tutorials and eBooks I’m now able to design professional websites myself, but I still need little support from sighted peers so that I could use proper colors for the websites I develop”.

In one of his blog posts, “My Perception of Colors,” Al-Shar’ writes:  “Being blind since birth, I never really had an idea about the meaning of colors other than the theoretical perception gained by my imagination and the common knowledge I got from school, although it wasn’t much.”  But with time and the sincere support and guidance Mohammed received from his friends, he began to “image” colors based not on where they exist (because he has never seen objects to link colors to) but rather on a color’s heat!  “Red is a seductive color,” he said.  “Cold colors are soothing and calm; they give you a feeling of tranquility when you look at them. Pink is a cheerful color, cold and sweet… It’s the color associated with girls. They generally like pink! This is the most appropriate way for me to define colors,” he explained.

After two hours of exciting talk, Al-Shar’ had to leave.  I help him picking up a taxi since his mobile started alerting for the next meeting scheduled right after!

Previous posts:

Not-so-ordinary Jordanians: La Captain Planet
Not-so-ordinary Jordanians: Change or Be Changed
Not-so-ordinary Jordanians: Towards a Smoke-Free Jordan

Shammalat

When I signed up the solidarity visit to Bergish forests, I couldn’t see how this visit could help the cause of Bergish. But now after I fill in love with it and with its people, I can safely say I know.

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It was a very well-organized visit actually, kudos to all the people who saved no effort to make it happen. There were several activites bith for adults and children and we went to Bergish cave, which was magical indeed! the hike to the cave in itself was a mini adventure, waking downhill on such a bumpy terrain with trees all around you and majestic view of Ajloun forests in the distance. If you ask me I would do it again anyday! When we reached the cave, I have to admit,  I was a bit hesitant to go in. You know, they said it’s so dark and big inside but then I blocked any claustrophobic ideas and thought: “I’m coming to Bergish, I might as well explore the cave!” and  it was a decision not to be regretted. We had flash lights and everyone was walking together along with the guide who was very informative and looked very passionate. In fact he encouraged us to go in in the first place, telling us how the cave opens p the deeper you go and how cool and moist it is inside. In fact it was a chance to cool off in such hot weather.

It was great to meet the local people there and hear what they have to say. They were standing around selling some of their products and talking to people about how they felt about cutting down the trees in Bergish to build a military academy, some of them were even holding or wearing picket signs. One woman told us that those who are willing to sell their lands are those who do not live in Bergish but rather live away in the city. She said they, the residents of Bergish, would never sell their land because their land is their honor. She also said she wished the king would tell her what he told the women in South Jordan: this is your land, no one will take you out of it.

It was a day to remember and I now believe in the cause of Bergish more than ever. It’s heartbreaking to see all these trees being removed. As I once said, in a country where trees cover less than 1% of the overall area, 300 trees are too many to cut down. One tree is too many to cut down. Let’s hope the authorities will hear the appeals of the people in Bergish and find another place to build the academy.

That was the serious important part. Now to some trivia:

– I stepped in poop on the way to the cave

– I asked a man about his horse’s name and he answered me: what would her name be? it’s just a horse. That was like telling a child Santa Clause isn’t real

– I realized today it’s been years since I’ve done internal tourism. Actually this was the first time I’ve been to the North in 5  years! Must catch up on that

Newthink Theater: The good, the Fun and the Different

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After hearing quite a bit about Newthink Theater, I was pretty excited about attending it for the first time, and boy did it live to my expectations! Even those who attended the first Newthing Theater event said there was much improvement. Anyway, I’m not trying to compare it to anything, I was quite impressed with the event and I found it quite different from the events attended before. It’s new, and it’s different, it’s informative, it’s inspirational and it’s absolutely fun!

First, I have to point out that it was a 3-hour event and I love this kind of events. You know, as opposed to event s that take up a whole day, those could be tiresome and sometimes you can’t attend because of work or other commitments. That said, I have to say the three hours went by quite fast in terms of avoiding boring the crap out of the audience because it was fun as I said, but it also felt like a  long time because of all the things we got to learn about and all the people that we got introduced to.

The first speaker was Hazza’a Thnaibat, the traffic policeman who can replace any traffic light anytime, anywhere. Actually whne you see how swiftly he moves from side to side waving cars to stop or move it could be hard to guess his age! A 60 year-old man who loves his job and takes it very seriously and works “from his heart”. Guess we need more of those! And if that speeding ticket you once took prevents you from seeing all traffic policemen as nothing but pure evil,  well then get this: he only give one ticket throughout his career, so far. Now you must be wishing we had more people like him, no?

Then Director General of the Ahliyyah School for Girls and the Bishop’s School for Boys Haifaa Najjar spoke. She talked about animals and the things we could learn from them, but of course not the usual things like camels and patience, it was quite different. Some people felt like they were at school, which is true, can’t blame them! Yet, I think that was the point because she was supposed to be talking about education so maybe she was giving an example of how children should be taught. Personally I like dher speech because I love/obsessed with animals and because a while ago I was writing something that relates to the theme of her speech so I could relate.

After that Hazem Malhas gave a compelling speech about identity with quite an interesting approach. He started talking about his love for food and its relation to his identity and sense of belonging to Jordan. He talked about the historical sites and ancient ruins in Jordan, stressing their importance that outweighs the importance of other profit-generating resources like oil. “If we focus more on our ruin sites we can attract millions of tourists” he said.

Thabet Nabulsi then gave a great speech about his initiative “Miqdam”. Truth be told, I still can’t describe the feelings that stirred inside me when I saw the videos of 12 year-old boys training anddoing community work together at the 1-day camp, and then there was a video where the families of those boys spoke about the difference this experience created in the lives of those boys. Nabulsi sais that with only 200 JD’s they can adopt 15 school students for the camp. This is the kind of initiatives we should support with all we have because they work with the next generation who are out hope for change and for a better future. Miqdam aims to instill values of commitment, success, sharing, and synergy not only by preaching them to children but by actual work, and play. Learning by doing, this is what Miqdam is all about. Just imagine what that could do if it was implemented on a whole generation.

Mostafa Salameh was hands down my favorite speaker. Imagine someone telling a story that starts from a restaurant in Amman, where he was a waiter, and ends on top of Mount Everest. It was fascinating to hear all about those things he experienced on the road to the +29,000 feet high mountaintop, some of those details were actually horrifying, all documented with pictures. You can’t miss that one I’m telling you, keep an eye out for it on YouTube! And of course it was super funny because it was a conversation where Maher Qaddoura, who asks the most awkward questions, asks the questions and Mostafa with his spontaneity and light-hearted spirit elaborated on the answers. I also was amazed at how many times he said the word “Shismo” by the way (which is the Arabic term for Whatchamacallit)

There was a musical performance by Aziz Maraqa and Nadine Shahwan, and of course Aziz Maraqa’s band played music intervals throughout the event. I liked the mini conversations that took place between Maher Qaddoura and Aziz Maraqa, it makes the whole thing feel interactive and friendly, not just a group of people organizing and event and forced to work together.

Then came the Roman Soldiers. Suddenly they started pouring into the theater with their armors, spears and swords. It was great I must say although I was a bit taken aback at first because I hate weapons, no matter how old they are and I remember having a gruesome nightmare once about Roman soldiers. Anyway, those weren’t real Roman Soldiers of course they are men from Jerash who work for a company that offer this kind of shows. According to them, everything is very historically accurate from their uniforms to the commands they shout in Latin. Not all of these men work full-time for that company, actually one of the part-timers works as a “Mu’athen”, the man who calls for prayers at the Mosque. He said he works for this company too because work is wok, there’s nothing to be ashamed of, or as we say: Mish 3aib.

Then Amr Al-Tokhy gave us a brief us a brief idea about how movies are made, and now news are fabricated. I think people who are into filmmaking would relate to that most since he talked about technicalities relating to cinema production and film editing.

The Last speech was by Maha Kalaji, a very brave woman, with so much faith and willpower,  who is also a cancer survivor who is stell fighting cancer. It was as positive and inspirational as it was heart-wrenching. This woman has been fighting cancer for 18 years yet she didn’t spend one day in bed even with all the chemo she was subjected to. Makes you feel ashamed of yourself when you call in sick because of a cold. Maha Kalaji has a book in stores now titled رحلة مواجهة  . That’s another speech you don’t want to miss.

Last but not least Muhammad Qawasmi gave a football juggling performance which was quite entertaining. I like that guy, he looks so down-to-earth, and he’s planning to tour the country to inspire little children who are, naturally, smitten by football. It was also impressive to see the work done byyoung people to put this event together, like Farouq (22) the guy who made all the videos of the night and Randa (24), the soul mother of the event as Maher Qaddoura describes her.

I hope we’ll have more and more of these events in the future. A platform where new, innovative and inspirational ideas find a voice, this is how change begins, this is how reform begins. In my opinion, Newthink Theater couldn’t have a more suitable name, and it lived up to it.

Yes or No: The Guide to Better Decisions

Yesterday I was a part of quite an  interesting  bookdiscussion. The book was “Yes or No: the guide to better decisions” by Spence Johnson. Perhaps what made it most interesting is that everyone agreed they liked the book yet there was a big room for debate on the ideas. Yet before we go into those details it must be noted that there was almost a consensus on that the style wasn’t the best there is. In fact that’s a euphemism for boring and preachy. Manal for example said she felt as if she  was  watching an Arabic cartoon and I couldn’t agree more as I thought the book could be the business version of Bernie. Some even suggested it could’ve been summed up in one excellent 2-page article.

Be that as it may, the content obviously scored with the group. Ala’a, who had read the book the first time  9 months ago before re-reading it recently, said the book is truly valuable and that it helped him take the decision of choosing a system for his company few months ago. Tamer said the book couls be helpful in making choices in practical life and could help decrease the number of guilt trips one might have to take after making a wrong decision, for they know they did what they could and followed a tested process.

Manal pointed out that the formula the book offers for decision making doesn’t necessarily guarantee a successful decision, which prompted Ismail to remark that the idea of the book is to help you make “better” decisions, not necessarily the best ones, which is perhaps why Ala’a thought it would’ve been better if the writer had called them  “effective decisions”, because the idea of constantly perusing  better decisions is exhausting.

The discussion revolved around the 6 main point is the book, which are 6 vital questions, according to the author, for making better decisions. The first 3 relate to the rational part of making decisions and the other to the emotional part. And the questions are:

 

1-      Do I really need this or do I merely want it? (identifying the need)

2-      Am I aware of my options? (exploring the options)

3-      Did I think it through? (then what)

4-      Am I honest with myself? (Integrity)

5-      Do I feel good about this? (Intuition)

6-      Do I really think I deserve this? (Self-worth)

 

Each point posed a lot of questions and much to ponder on. First things first, when it comes to “the need and the want”, the group found it kind of limiting, because they thought in order to be ambitious and achieve more you need to seek what you want, not just what you need, yet some thought it all depends on the definition of the “need” itself. One man’s luxury is another man’s need, I suppose.

 

Then the discussion moved on to the issue of options and choices. Ibrahim thought it was good to explore all the options out there before making a decision, giving an example related to a recent purchase he made when he read the reviews of 60-70 digital readers before he bought his Kindle. (So now you know who to go to when planning to buy one). Ala’a begged to differ, partially, as he thought this could be applied when making big decisions but when it comes to buying little gadgets then, well, who has the time for reading reviews? Yet Manal thought it could be worthwhile as it could save you the money you could spend on things that would break easily.

 

The last part of the mental process is thinking the decision through by visualizing possible different scenarios through the question: Then what? Majd didn’t like the idea of asking “then what” questions because for her it’s tiresome and mind exhausting, but Deena thought it’s actually a good thing because “What if” is a “bad decision buster”. Ibrahim seemed to agree with Deena as this reminded him of something he read in an article about the only scenario being the worst scenario.

 

The second part which relates to matters of the heart, or the psyche, took less time some felt it’s inseparable from the first part. There was the question of integrity, what it means and how it could be achieved,, Intuition and how reliable it is, self-worth and how much it relates to each type of decision.

 

The group seemed to like the fact that the writer presented the steps in a neat gradual process which made it look easier to implement. They also discussed how applicable the process is in real life.

 

At the end of the session there was a brief discussion about how to choose the next book, the discussion method, how to admit new members to the group and the club name. There was also the idea of designating 15 minutes in each session to speak about how the members used the book discussed in previous sessions in their life and how they benefited from it.

 

All in all, it was a fruitful and fun discussion. Everyone got to take away something from it by exploring other points of views and how people see things differently.

 

Not-so-ordinary Jordanians: Towards a Smoke-Free Jordan

This series aims to shed light on the people who are the underlying driving force of change in the Jordanian society: The ordinary citizens with extraordinary ideas, stories or actions.

When it comes to human rights, breathing clean air is as basic as it gets. And for Zeina Shahzadah Majali, it’s a cause worth fighting for.

Given her dedication and enthusiasm as an anti-smoking activist, it’s almost impossible to believe that Zeina was once, in a time far gone, a smoker herself. The transformation wasn’t a result of a one defining wake-up call as one might expect, but rather a series of events starting from her pregnancy, her daughter turning out severely allergic to cigarette smoke and the final stroke being her mother getting seriously ill when exposed to second-hand smoking. At that point Zeina knew it wasn’t enough to just quit smoking, she had to take a stance.

With that notion in mind, Women Against Indoor Smoking in Jordan was born: a Facebook group empowering people, especially mothers, to fight for their children’s right to breathe a clean air, as well as empowering non-smokers in general to speak up, as well as rallying people to demand the implementation of our health law number 47 that prohibits public indoor smoking and the selling of tobacco products to people under 18. The group brings together an amazing group of volunteers who have been working so hard and donating their time and energy to make it happen.

When asked about smoking in Jordan, Zeina describes it as an epidemic, and  even that is an understatement as you can’t go anywhere without spotting puffs of smoke crawling up through the air in closed public spaces, in cars and even at homes when visiting friends or relatives; which is the reason in her opinion why smoking is such a wide-spread phenomenon: Parents smoking at home, setting the worst example they can set for their children and making them accept and involuntarily get addicted to smoking. Moreover, another reason she says is that law makers and government officials break the law to smoke giving the impression to kids that smoking is really worth breaking the law over. Of course one must not fail to mention the other epidemic that is Hubbly-bubbly, or Argeeleh as it’s famously known in Jordan, which is a fixture in many coffee shops where it’s served to everyone who’s anyone even those under the legal age of 18.

The group isn’t just an online initiative; it also carries out events and activities to raise awareness about smoking in Jordan and rally public support for this cause that affects everyone of us, either directly or indirectly. One of those events was the World No Tobacco Day celebration that took place on the 3rd of June. The event included several activities where children could paint their own anti-smoking pictures along with slogans, as well as meeting the players of the national football team who showed their support for the cause, as well as a parade of Harley Davidson motorbikes, the owners of which were all non-smokers, of course. The event was a success and it was refreshing to see all these young people standing up together against smoking, and little children running around donning “No to smoking” T-shirts and collecting signatures for the petition demanding the enforcement of law #47. Instilling this kind of values and awareness in our children and setting the right kind of example for them is what we really need to influence change in our society in the long run, and that’s exactly what Zeina Shahzada Majali is doing with her fellow anti-smoking activists.

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pictures from the event

Zeina believes that decreasing the number of smokers in Jordan could reflect very positively on our health system that wastes hundreds of millions annually on smoking related diseases. Moreover, youth could focus their energy and money on being productive members of the community instead of wasting their health and money at argeeleh places. Also, the number of children suffering from second hand smoking related allergies could decrease and we could also cut down on the horrific cancer figures.

According to Zeina, everyone can play a role in this, even smokers themselves, because even if they don’t want to quit smoking, at least they can work hard to make sure their children do not pick up this deadly habit. “We didn’t know any better when we picked up smoking but now we do” Zeina says. She also points out the alarming fact that smoking has killed more people in humanity history than any epidemic or war. Therefore she invites people to work towards a smoke free Jordan and the first step would be: the implementation of our health law number 47 that prohibits indoor smoking at public places.

You can follow Zeina and her initiative on Twitter @Nashmiyya and @SmokeFreeJo or join the facebook group
You can also read her recent article on 7iber here

Previous posts:

Not-so-ordinary Jordanians: La Captain Planet
Not-so-ordinary Jordanians: Change or Be Changed

جبل اللويبدة.. مش جبل الويبدة

مرة حكيت عن ظاهرة بتزعجني وهي لما حدا يكتب عن جبل اللويبدة “ويبدة” خاصة بالإنجليزي

Weibdeh

من منطلق إنه ال تعريف ما بيجي بعديها لام تانية، وقتها حكيت إنه اسمها اللويبدة يعني ال-لويبدة بس ما كان عندي دليل ملموس لأني سمعت المعلومة في برنامج على التلفزيون وذهب مع الريح من وين أطوله؟

المهم، لقد عدت اليوم وفي جعبتي دليل ملموس دامغ في وجه كل من تسول له نفسه قول كلمة “ويبدة” البشعة التي لا صلة لها باللغة العربية… كيف طلعت معهم هاي؟ المهم، الدليل من كتاب “عمّان، ذاكرة الزمن الجميل”، جبته من سوق جارة بدينارين… دينارين!! فممكن الواحد يجيب طحشة كتب ويوزعها

وإليكم  ما جاء في الكتاب تحت باب تسمية أحياء عمّان:0

جبل اللويبدة

سمي بهذا الاسم بسبب وجود عشبة اللويبدة التي كانت تنمو بكثرة في ذلك الجبل وربما تعود التسمية إلى أن رعاة الأغنام كانوا يمشون في الصباح الباكر بمواشيهم في مدينة عمّان وفي الوادي متلبدين بعباءاتهم من برد الصباح

خليني أسمع حدا بحكي ويبدة بعد اليوم

وم