Friday, September 21, 2007

Amman, an ancient city still growing up

People have been living in what is today Amman, Jordan for many thousands of years, with archaeological evidence pointing to the existence of Neolithic civilisation in 6500 BC. In one respect, Amman is a very old city indeed. In other respects, it is a rapidly growing pugnacious youngster. It lacks the Grand Bazaar found in other Middle Eastern metropolises. It lacks the parks and historic monuments. Despite the fancy five-star hotels and advertisements for global cell phone companies, it still retains a somewhat village feel.

For instance, yesterday I visited the Post Office to mail a package overseas. The man in the Post Office was kind and helpful, informing me that it closed at 3:30 p.m. I returned at 3:20 p.m., thinking I had plenty of time to spare. Alas! While the door to Post Office was indeed open till 3:30 p.m., there were no services available from 3 p.m., because as he explained he had to count the day's takings. Curiously, the Post Office contained no postal supplies like envelopes and boxes. He informed me that I needed to buy them somewhere else. The next day I found a stationery shop which did sell such supplies. However the shop had only one padded envelope, and it was very large. I was unsure whether the Post Office would accept it. So the shopkeeper told me to go to the post office and check, and if it was okay, I could then return and pay him for the envelope. Given that we had never seen each other before, I thought that was really very kind and trusting of him.

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