No Benches Allowed: Only in Amman, Jordan

Posted: December 4, 2011 in beTwixt & beTween
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Whenever I have a meeting with a friend or an acquaintance at Rainbow Street I park my car at the lot adjacent to the new Rainbow Street Theatre. Question: When did the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) sell this brilliant parking space to a private contractor?

I don’t mind paying 1 JD but why should I do so when it was originally free!

Anyway that is another issue for another blog post. The reason why I park there even though my rendezvous would be at a place like Turtle Green, Cafe Des Artists or Books@cafe is because I like to walk through Rainbow Street.

I simply enjoy stretching my aging muscles!

For the past few weeks, even after the Occupy Rainbow Street took place, and which I did not attend because I was busy chasing after rent and food money, I noticed that there are no more benches in Rainbow street.

A bench is a long seat, made out of metal and wood, for several persons and can be found in parks or public spaces.

What are  parks or public spaces? Things that we don’t have in Jordanian neighborhoods, and if we do they are usually surrounded by so much red tape that you’ll need a pair of garden hedge scissors to go through them before you reach a fresh patch of green!

Today’s blog post is all about questions!

Where are the young men who held unto their guitars like passionate lovers while jealous ladies watched them as they sang the night away at Rainbow Street? Where did the married couples who hang around Rainbow Street with their children and baby carts go? Where did the boys and girls who shyly sat next to each other on benches at Rainbow Street vanish?

So where did everyone go? They are gone with the wooden benches that were removed by you know who: GAM.

I thought of the above poster a while ago but it wasn’t until I read Raghda Butros’s piece on BeAmman “Bring Back the Benches” that I decided that I should make it for the blog post that I you are now reading.

The phrase in the poster translates to “Only in Jordan.”

Why were the benches that gave the visitors of Rainbow Street an excuse to enjoy Rainbow Street disappear, and why is our GAM so blatant and obstinate in upholding haphazard decisions that affect our lives one way or the other without even asking for our permission?
But the most important question that comes to mind is: Why is Jordan against having public places like any other country around the world?
  1. […] I’m also quoting Mike V.Derderian who is an artist and a radio presenter, he wrote: […]

  2. u ask mAny un/in/irr valid questions 😛

    suck it up and sit ,, wherevEr! heheeeee

    • mikevderderian says:

      I can suck it up and sit but what about the female frequenters of Rainbow Street. Should elderly women, middle aged women, women of all ages, pregnant women in addition to children suck it up Haitham?

  3. tayyeb laish b tdizz! ana I`m on yr side 😦

    *sniff sniff*

  4. mikevderderian says:

    In that case welcome to the Dark Side … We have cookies ;-})

    Here here take a handkerchief … Jedis or soon to be Seths don’t cry!

  5. Dodz says:

    cuz of all the sexual harassment dude the mentality in jordan is fucked up have u seen rainbow street in new years actually am with removing the benches cuz if ur walking with ur gf /mom.sister be m3na tanie ( a female) and with the benches the nawar will be sitting cuz its free and throw some porn movie remarks… so in short good job GAM. and until our mentality starts to accept couples walking and respect other ppl choice of wardrobe then i will join ur cause LOL

    • mikevderderian says:

      Hello Fathi …

      I had a similar discussion with a friend of mine. In every society you have cat callers. Whenever public life and normal public activities are about to emerge and blossom someone comes up and kills it. Societies undergo change and change doesn’t come in a year or two. It takes a lot of years. Dialogue is a way of turning the tables on any remarks made against a person, his sister and his mother and even girlfriend. I studied in Syria for six years, not mention spent a lot of endless summers there since I was a child, and cat calling or talteesh takes a civilized form. It didn’t happen by day in Syria and Lebanon.

      I agree the Jordanian way is a bit heavier and less romantic at times but it is there and you cannot get rid of it – not entirely you can’t. I’ve seen Jordanian cat callers in action, in public transportation and in the streets. Needles to say they suck big time. My wife and I got cat called while walking in the Fifth Circle on numerous times. They even honked at us. What did I do? Nothing and I most certainly didn’t stop strolling with my wife on lovely Ammani nights.

      Removing the benches is not the solution. Avant garde awareness campaigns, posters and other mediums about cat calling and how to behave in public is lacking. Schools certainly don’t teach people on how to behave in public anymore. What happened to all those television campaigns that we grew up with about being human and decent.

      By the way I am totally anti-terms like nawar. Why increase the class divide in Amman by using terms like nawar and 7afartal, which is the root of the problem. Class distinction is a big issue in Jordan, like any other place, that should be dealt with logically and not only in Rainbow Street but also in every other place in our country.

      Why not allow teens from entering malls? Maybe we should remove the malls too. Maybe they are really there to just hangout and explore what it has to offer them which is why it is called a mall.

      A few years back when I and my male friends weren’t allowed to enter pubs it left a bad taste in our mouths. A year ago we went out to celebrate a friend’s birthday – it was a male bonding night. “I walked up to the bouncer and told him, “Do I look like I want trouble.I am married. I have five males with me. I just want to celebrate my friend and I want in.” We got in. Dialogue takes you a long way. Not always though especially with the couples’ only stupid rule, and that to my shock, applies to Souk Jara at times.

      Couples should be allowed the freedom to walk and it is happening … Try couple walking back in the late 80s or 90s. That was one hell of a Jordanian era ;-})

      Moral of the story. Don’t judge people by their appearances or difference in disposition. We are constantly scarring our teens and what happened in Rainbow was a form of punishment to a lot of people who enjoyed going out to express themselves artistically and musically.

      Why shouldn’t we fall in love with strangers at public places? We can’t because GAM and others don’t want that to happen.

      Thank you for passing by my blog Fathi and hopefully when I am able to come up with a way to change the mentality in Jordan I will be able to win you by my side :-})

  6. Amer Sweidan says:

    BTW the parking lot is owned by Mutran school not GAM.

    • mikevderderian says:

      Amer thank you for the clarification. My issue with that particular parking lot is the fact that it was a free parking lot and after a few months they started charging 1 JD which is a meager sum for a no limited time parking lot. However, I also recall that when the Free Parking Sign was hanging at its entrance there was not mention of Al Mutran School so one would automatically assume it is by GAM as parking lots, and the lack of them in Amman, is their responsibility.

      Maybe when they started charging money Al Mutran School should have issued a statement or had a sign placed on the entrance. Guess this is an angle for me to investigate with another piece.

      Thank you for passing by my blog Amer :-})

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