Sunday, August 06, 2006

No better place to be!

Andrew and I went downtown on a specific mission yesterday: to find a clock with Arabic-Indic numbers (those portrayed to the right). Since this is an Arabic-speaking country, and since there is such a clock in the Relief Society room we thought that it would be fairly easy to find our much-wanted clock. We left for downtown shortly after 1 o'clock via bus...a very cost-effective transportation method. Traffic was remarkably non-existent and the bus was not even full. Needless to say, we arrived downtown in record time and promptly started our clock-finding mission.

As we explored the "stores" in the area, the ever-vigilant "store" owners would ask what we were looking for. Andrew would say, "We are looking for a clock that has Arabic numbers." The "store" owner would say, "We don't have them." Andrew would say, "Do you know where I can find one?" The "store" owners would then give one of three responses:
1) "No, but can I interest you in _______?"
2) "It's impossible." -or- "That's a very difficult task."
3) "Well, I have this friend of a friend. His store is just on the next street on the left or right side--I can't quite remember which, but he sells clocks--you'll see his store. And it's possible that he might have one."

After listening to answer #3 a few times we realized that there really isn't a friend of a friend. The "shop" owner just didn't want to tell us no. Since #3 was the most common answer we started saying, "Yeah, okay, thanks...we'll check that out." And then would just keep walking down the street completely ignoring the "shop" owner's advice.

***Please note: "Shop" is in quotation marks because "shop" is a very relative word here. A shop can be a collection of books spread out on the sidewalk. It can be a nook under a staircase. It can be a little hole in the wall. It can be a stand. Or it could be an actual store.***

We finally decided to give up our mission a few hours later and went to hydrate ourselves with some fresh juice. For 50 piasters you can get a cup of the most delicious freshly squeezed juices. The favorite here tends to be "cocktail" which is a mixture of pretty much all the fruit they have. It is really something. The funny thing is that there really is no competition here. You will walk down a street and everyone is selling exactly the same thing. They just sit around and socialize, but if you buy from one person, chances are that you will be yelled at by a few more for not coming to their shop. That's what happened here. We bought juice from the store on the left. The shop keeper on the right yelled at us as we walked by, "You should buy here! It is much better!" If he really wanted us to drink there he should have tried to get our business before we had our juice. Although he acted rather mad, I'm sure that he's still best friends with the other shop keeper.

After drinking our juice and picking up a few last minute souvenirs, Andrew and I realized that we had a 20 JD bill and two 10 piece coins. This is quite a tragedy if you are dependent on a taxi or bus to get home since no one ever seems to have the correct amount of change, if they have any change at all. We were stranded in downtown Amman. Not to be worried, we walked around to see if there was anything else we wanted to get. We knew that we wanted a kursi, or a Qur'an holder so decided to go look for one. Although we had seen plenty while we had been looking for the clock, certainly had a time finding one while we were looking for one. In the end, we didn't ever find one, but we did see some interesting things.

We ended up buying two little key chains. Andrew bartered them down to 2 for 1.50, to which our store keeper agreed. Then Andrew said, "Oh, there's a slight problem...I only have a 20." This was a long shot, but much to our surprise the store keeper said, "Oh, that's not a problem." And he gave us our change without having to go borrow from the store down the street. It was pretty amazing since we had one shop keeper who couldn't even break a five without borrowing some change! Downtown is definitely a cool place to be. There are so many interesting things to see!

1 comment:

Bridget said...

We have one of those! We bought it in Damascus for five bucks. They sell them everywhere in the Souq al-Hamadiyya. Not that that helps you or anything...Sorry.