Monday, May 29, 2006


1. The bus stops at some popular istiraha (rest area) one and a half hour from Amman, it is 10:30 a.m. but the temperature makes it feel 3 p.m. Suddenly, while I am drinking my coffee (qahwah turkiyeh, of course, with little of sugar), a small bus of the regular ones that serve the local transportation, to Karak and Taffileh, stops few meters behind ours. The young men jump out and start dancing a dabkeh (traditional dance for much of the arab world, with local variations), the decorations of their bus suit the occasion: the national flag fixed on the window and the portrait of the king. They stop, they start again, giving courage to each other. Probably there is music from the tape recorder of the bus, but from my distance and because of the noise of the Desert Highway, I cannot hear a thing. So the impression of these young slim men that they dance on the tune of the passing cars becomes stronger. It is the national day.
2. At night, after some swimming at the dark beach (the weather suddenly turned windy and grey), me and Ala'a go for a walk around the city. The authorities perform a fireworks show. Most of the fireworks are short-lived and simple, but from time to time they shoot the impressive multi-coloured ones, of the kind they use for extravagant weddings in Amman. The cars at the parking lots and the market give a short complaining alarm every time the explosion gives a deafening noise.
3. The huge flag of Aqabah, which i described several days ago, reveals its secret. I was wondering why it does not have the star, and I was assuming that the reason was that they wanted it to be stronger in dealing with the winds. I discovered that it is not the national flag precisely, but the flag of the Arabic Revolution, and it should not bear the star, therefore.
4. At night again, during a roman dinner session at Moevenpick, surrounded by the balconies of many suites and super-de-lux rooms, the belly dancer tries to impress a basically westrern audience. At the beginning she is dressed in red, then she comes out again in dark orange, making a couple with her silver stick. Later on, the group of the musicians (they look almost Yemenese, thin, dark and small, pretty, nation of the sea) plays the favorite "national" hit, about devotion to the eyes of the king, a nice tune indeed, a good combination of military anthem and enjoyable "tarab" music. Later on, one of them, in his robe, dances gracefully, first close to his peers and later on on the small stage that was set for the belly dancer. I think that the foreigners find this male dance more interesting, because it is not usually included in the orientalist fantasies. (to be demolished soon...)
5. Before leaving our hotel, me and Ala'a turn our faces to see this "Radisson SAS" brand logo, knowing that in one month's time, more or less, everything will start being removed. The hotel with the decent '70s-'80s look, will be removed, to give way to the invasion of the sea. So, during these last few days, there was that feeling of something coming to an end, and people trying to keep the appearances of eternity and normality, while Pompei had had its destiny known and written. A strange feeling: giving one's own best self out of longing, despite all reality.

6. 'Αλλες εντυπώσεις εκτυλίσσονται παράλληλα, σε άλλη γλώσσα, σε άλλο τόπο, δίπλα σε μια άλλη θάλασσα: Κοντα στο Θερμαϊκό, για παράδειγμα αφήνω την εντύπωση από την 3η Διεθνή Έκθεση Βιβλίου Θεσσαλονίκης, που από τον Ιούλιο θα ενταχθεί στο δίκτυο των 25 παγκοσμίως μεγαλύτερων. Σκέφτομαι συναντήσεις που θα συνέβαιναν αυτού. Από απόσταση μεγάλοι γερασμένοι πια λογοτέχνες, ονόματα που τραβούν τον κόσμο με το μαγνητισμό της διασημότητας. Βιβλιοπώλες, βιβλιοθηκονόμοι, βιβλιοπόντικες, ωραία υβρίδια με την αγαπημένη μου λέξη. Ιδέ, ακόμα, με εικόνες: Όπου και η απροσδόκητη πληροφορία, ότι αυξήθηκαν οι μεταφρασεις από την ιταλική, σε βάρος των αντίστοιχων από την ισπανική.


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