This week marks the anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (“catastrophe”), concurrent with the establishment of Israel in 1948. It’s a pretty serious time of observance for people here, and there are a ton of events going on associated with it. A few days ago a friend and I went to a traditional Palestinian folklore concert. There’s sort of an uneasy balance between the Jordanians and Palestinians here–some level of mutual resentment but also acceptance of the current situation on both sides, I think. Anyway so the featured visual artist at the concert was this Brazilian political cartoonist Carlos Latuff, who does a lot of work centered on the situation in Palestine. He very awkwardly gave a speech before the concert, and said “I’m assuming most of the people here are Palestinian, right?” Jordan’s all about creating some sort of Jordanian national identity out of the mix of ethnic Jordanians and Palestinians. You see “Jordan First” stickers and signs everywhere, and it’s just taboo to point out people’s ethnicity like that. I actually found Latuff and his speech (about his visit to the West Bank and how desperate the people there are) sort of insipid which is surprising given his artwork is pretty powerful.
Last night my friend and I went to a traditional Palestinian debka show featuring a group called Hanouneh. I wish I had taken my camera but I didn’t want to lug my big bag around. There was a live band playing all of these old folkloric Palestinian songs while the members of Hanouneh danced and acted out a show about Palestinian farmers. There were a couple thousand people there I’d say (maybe? I’m really bad at estimating crowd sizes) and everyone was really feeling the songs. There would be cheering after lines about how Jerusalem would always belong to the Palestinians and how the Palestinians are going back there in the end with their fathers and sons, and it was really moving to see people getting so passionate and moved by music and dance.
Today I’m headed off to Petra with some family friends who are visiting Jordan, and I’ll be back sometime tomorrow night.
Also, I decided on an apartment for the summer! I’ll be in a beautiful two-bedroom on the third floor of a building in Jebel Amman, a really nice, walkable, cute area of Amman which is also where Jo Magazine’s offices are. I’ll post pictures as soon as I move in. The apartment is brand new and really tastefully furnished (a rare find in Amman–the other apartment I considered featured a velvet zebra-print couch). I cannot tell you how excited I am to go grocery shopping and cook and have total independence and freedom. I did this last summer in Florida and it was glorious, and this time I have a roommate, so even better!