Lam-af-ham... "I don't understand!" Hopefully I can remember this phrase because I have realized that my very limited Arabic (yes, no, hello, goodbye, thank you, please) is not quite satisfactory!
I went into town yesterday with my dad and another doctor who knows Arabic to get some groceries. I wore a headscarf because this is not the capitol city and pretty much all the women cover, unless they are a tourist and then they will stick out like a sore thumb... and everyone stares at them! So, especially having slightly reddish hair, I stuck to the more "incognito" option! :) Sidenote: I am really thankful that I have dark eyes and eyebrows! With most of my hair covered, I look fair skinned and not Middle Eastern, but I don't look too unusual...this is nice because as some people know, I prefer in certain situations (cross-culturally in particular) to NOT stick out! :)
About the town: If you have ever traveled internationally you will have noticed that certain things we are sooo used to in the States have no practical bearing anywhere but in Europe (where they came from originally...) For example: Landscaping. Even a very "low-class" American has some sort of idea of how to make his house or apartment area look a little nicer. Here: who cares!?! It is the desert; only scrubby trees (like olive trees) grow naturally. Okay, there is some grass and etc., but all in all beautification of your lawn is decidedly odd unless you are very wealthy.
Another observation (and when I put up pictures you will see this): LITTER. Try to think on this: litter is non-existent here. What do I mean? There will be empty lots in town with 2 trash cans. People will lob their trash bags in the can's general direction, but in the end the whole lot has a good smattering of black bags (and it is really windy here, so they blow around a good bit). The maintenance guys come...and they simply drop a match into the trash bins, burn what's in there out, and let the whole process happen again (See, 'beautification of the town' is not very high on the priority list). So: trash? To be sure--lots and lots of it! But litter? Nah! (or la, in Arabic) The joke someone told me today was that the national bird of Jordan is (translated from Arabic) "The Black Bag" As I said, they blow everywhere. Save the planet?!!? LA!!!! Man-o-man, I love this place! :)
So, there was your Middle-Eastern culture lesson for the day. Glad I could be of service ;)