Today I secured an interview for next week with an official at the Ministry of Agriculture for my article on the meat industry in Jordan. It involved a complicated process of calling the Ministry yesterday, not being able to understand the automated message in Arabic and so randomly sort of punching numbers, miraculously getting someone on the line and then saying “I need someone who speaks English” in Arabic, finally being directed to someone who then promised to call me back that afternoon. They didn’t, and my boss was pessimistic that they ever actually would. But amazingly today the same woman called me back and we scheduled an interview for next week!
It doesn’t seem like a big deal but it really is for me, securing an interview with a government official and even using a little bit of Arabic to do so. Reporting in the Middle East has always been this huge dream for me, to the point where before coming here I was almost convinced it might not actually be achievable. Right now is a very discouraging time in journalism, and even though I’ve been to Iran a lot the Middle East always seems so far away, and add on top of that the evil voice inside my head that tells me I’m never going to learn Arabic fluently, and well, you can see why I had started to doubt whether I could actually do it. But even just the small step of setting up that interview — and I have other ones coming up tomorrow and Sunday, for different articles — is immensely affirmative and encouraging.
The weather these past few days has been terrible. Yesterday was the worst–I got completely soaked, and the wind almost knocked me over a couple times while I tried to catch a cab. I got into the cab completely shaking and wet, and the taxi driver just laughed at me. He was a friendly guy though and we talked the whole cab ride to my house. At one point he even sang an American song for me. Here’s what it looked like outside my window this morning; you can’t even see the house across the street:
It’s a good thing though; there’s been a drought in Jordan this year so any rain is welcome.
I think I’m going to switch out of “America and the Arabs.” My professor is really frustrating: pessimistic about the future of the Middle East, over-generalizing and over-simplifying, and offers very little evidence for his views other than sheer cynicism and bitterness. Pending approval from my advisers at Yale, I’m going to switch into “Islam in the Modern Context,” which I’ve heard good things about.
When I arrived home tonight there were bowls and bowls of fruit everywhere (previously there was no fruit in the house) so I’m going to go eat some grapefruit!