Layla’s Mixed Sorts

December 5, 2008

Stand-up Comedy Show in Amman

Filed under: Humor — laylanajia @ 4:44 am

I’ve always believed that laughter and humor has a very critical role in my life, whether when I’m in a relationship, or between me and my siblings and friends, or even between me and my employer. Humor is always a good thing in any relationship; it helps loosen things up a bit. You wouldn’t want to spend your life with a partner who doesn’t make you laugh, who doesn’t know how to take jokes or a person that doesn’t really laugh and wears a frown all the time, now would you? Laughter and humor relieves tension, lift spirits, and brings people much closer together.

 Weird how I never noticed that the whole Arab world doesn’t have a single stand-up comedy show. My attention was brought up to this fact when I heard about the first Amman Stand-Up Comedy Festival scheduled to be held between 2 and 5 December, 2008, at Al Hussein Cultural Center in Jordan. I went to their show today that featured a line-up of four American- Arabs, a Jordanian, a Canadian, an American and an Australian. Russell Peters is actually here too and will be performing tomorrow.

Apparently, before the comedians decided to come to the Middle East and perform their comedian talents, they admitted that they actually hesitated to come because they ‘know’ that ‘Arabs do not know how to laugh’, which I believe is a polite way of saying “Arabs do not understand jokes, In English”.  They said that now they have come to realize that not only do Arabs laugh at jokes like on relationships, sex, politics, the government, race, religion, pop culture, or even identical jokes they have told to American audiences, but they even have no problem laughing at jokes about their own funny habits.

 Ofcourse, in order for them to attract the Jordanian audience and have them laugh at their jokes, they had to observe funny Jordanian culture habits.  It was hilarious to hear their jokes about Jordanian taxi drivers, their accents, or how during the ride they talk none-stop about their life stories, and ask 100 questions about yours. They joked about how Arab guys are like in dance clubs, and how they dance with their hips. More jokes were told about ‘Time’ with Arabs, and how everything is ‘after 10 minuets’. And ofcourse, a word all foreigners learn when they come to Jordan, they joked about ‘Wasta’.

 They also joked about the typical Political topics like Arab’s problems with terrorism, President Bush and President Elect Obama, Sarah Palin.  As well as social jokes like marriage vows and why men cheat.

 It was indeed a good show, their hard work was evident, great laugh, very organized, rich media coverage, and heavily sponsored by top organizations in Amman.  The comedy festival is a non-profit program developed by the Greater Amman Municipality; their goal was not only to entertain, but to break stereotypes and show that Arabs, ‘do laugh’.

 The first video below is a video of my favorite guy out of the four Arab American comedians, Ahmad Ahmad, joking about the Muslim and Arab culture. He was brilliant today, charming and witty. The other video is Aron Kader, also as brilliant.

Their show today is not on youtube yet, but I sure will post it once it gets there.  


November 17, 2008

Saying Thank You

Filed under: Life — laylanajia @ 12:29 am



Today something happened that just warmed my heart. I received a letter from someone saying Thank you.

Last June I was in New York for a school trip. On our last day there after we packed to drive to our next destination, Boston, we had only 45 minuets to stop at a restaurant to have a meal before our 8 hour road trip. My friend and I decided to order food and eat on the bench outside in front the restaurant and enjoy the views of New York. Later, an old lady passed by and looked like she was pondering whether to join us and rest on the bench where we were sitting. I felt her hesitence so I invited her to join us by all means. We chatted with her for a while and learned that she was travelling around the US with her family and grandsons. A bit later the lady takes off, and then my friend leaves to the bus after we heard the bus driver calling announcing that we will be taking off in few minutes. I decided to sit there for few minutes more and enjoy my thoughts and more of the view, then I got up and grabbed my bag from the bench, only to realize that there was a big fat black wallet under it. I took it and chuckled to myself thinking “Maryam”, my friend, “and her things always everywhere!!”

We got in the bus, few minuets later it took off, and few minuets more we entered the highway that will take us to Boston. I decide to wait for a while and not tell my friend that she forgot her wallet behind, in order to tease her and watch her freaking out when she finds out that she lost it. I wait for 30 minutes but I decide to tell her already. While approaching her, ‘’I’’ freak out when I see her grabbing her ‘big fat black’ wallet form her purse to put in the money she just pulled out from her pocket.

That’s when it hit me, the wallet must be for the old lady! I take out the wallet and open it to look for her ID. Inside the wallet there was a SCARY number of 100 US Dollar bills, 2 passports, and 5-6 credit cards with a different name on each.

Feeling just horrible and sick, I walk my way through the front of the bus to talk to the bus driver to tell him what I’ve done. He explains to me that its impossible to drive back because we’re already on the highway. I try calling the credit cards companies to tell them that if the lady calls to cancel them, then please inform her that we found her wallet.

We decide to call the cops and stop the bus to wait for them to arrive, which took an hour. A policeman finally arrives and takes all my information and actually teasingly tells me that I should have just taken the wallet because it will be impossible to find the lady, since she’s not American. I knew that was ridiculous and just impossible and insisted I talk to another police officer whom I could trust to give the wallet to and for him to deliver it.

We wait for another hour for another police officer to arrive, he seemed more trustworthy and serious about his job than the one before him. I give it to him hoping and praying he will fix what I’ve done.

Today, 5 months later, I receive a letter from the old lady saying thank you. She took my contact information from the police officer who took both my Canadian residence information as well as my home county Jordanian residence details. She turned out to be Dutch living in Belgium and was only in the US for a vacation. Before their trip she convinced her family and grandsons to keep all their money with her in order to make sure they’re all kept in one safe place, since ‘she never lost anything in her life’. She found out that she lost her wallet later that night when they reached their hotel; she fainted and was hospitalized for few days, which made it harder for the police to find her.

I felt so good to receive her note. Now I know she DID receive back her belongings, thankfully it just took the police 5 days to find her. Im sure those days were torture for her and her family, and especially her. She never believed she will ever find her wallet, especially that it happened in New York and because she wasn’t even a resident in America. 

Sometimes doing the right thing is what matters, it feels good inside and its fulfilling enough. But I still thought her gesture was beautiful, quoting her words, she wrote: “ I lived long long years and Ive seen so much evil in people, what you have done makes me see the world as beautiful as Ive seen it when I was young”.

She just made my day and made me happy. Life is about those small moments of happiness, the rest of our life is just pursuits to happiness.

Oh… did I mention she also attached a 200$ cheque as gratitude and offered me a paid invitation to Belgium any time? 😉

November 13, 2008

Sharon and My Mother-in-Law

Filed under: Politics — laylanajia @ 10:32 pm

During the last few weeks, there was this huge buzz and advertising about a play that will be performed everyday for a week starting from the 13th of November, today, at Al Balad(downtown) Theatre in Amman. A play called “Sharon and my Mother-in-Law” performed by Palestinian nationalist performers who immigrated to Lebanon with their family when they were little.  

 I just returned from the play. The play was a brilliant story about Suad, a 36 year old Palestinian female architecture professor at Birzeit University, it tells of her life in Ramallah. She grew up in Amman, Damadcus, Beirut and Cairo, before making the emotional journey back to Yafa, the land she only knew stories about told by her parents, but never actually got the chance to ever visit it because she didn’t have a ‘Jerusalem’ ID, even pets had to have IDs. She waited for years to get the ID promised by the israelis, but somehow they gave it easily to her dog and kept her waiting for much longer. Giving up, she decides to go to Yafa anyways, at the checkpoint in order to pass, she claims she’s the dog’s driver!! A dog with a ‘Jerusalem ID’, and that she wants to deliver it to a Jewish family. So they let her pass!

 That’s when the story begins; she’s stunned with happiness and is finally where she dreamt to be for years. The play shows a series of incidents and details of how their daily life is like under the occupation, not to mention the comedian hilaaarious mother-in-law who drove Suad crazy during the curfews. Bottom line, they played brilliant roles to emphasize that people who stayed in Palestine are there to stay, no matter how bad the occupation is, or the checkpoints, curfews, interrogators and collaborators, they would rather live in misery than let the Israelis succeed in driving them to leave the country and seek a better life..

 I was glad to see people from all over the world there to attend the play. People, and Im unfortunately one of them, do not quite understand the Palestinian cause and what’s really going on there, but a knowledgeable play like this, is a good story of the truth.

If you’re in Amman you have to go watch it. Its funny, creative, spoken in English and included many parts in funny interchangable accents, and the music and lyrics cannot be better. DVDs of the play will be out soon, or so Ive been told, but if you cannot watch it, you can read the hit book in which this play was based on. Same title, by Suad Amiry.


November 11, 2008

Dogs- Man’s Best Friend

Filed under: Dogs — laylanajia @ 3:39 am


My family owned a dog for the past 6-7 years, not necessarily the same one. My younger sister, Deena, was the one particularly fond of them. At that time I only ‘accepted’ the idea of a dog, I would approach them every now and then, appreciating how they looked like, maybe walk our dog once in 2 months, but I never really understood the human-dog relationship up till last year. I realized that dogs are truly amazing creatures!

 I lived in Waterloo- Canada for the past year, and due to the fact that almost every house owned a dog, I ended up befriending every single neighbor dog I had. They were a great consolation after a whole waking day at school or after being sad. There was one particular dog, Isabella, a huge beautiful black Labrador. Her owner was an old lady who believed she was too old to walk Isabella anymore. I was more than glad to volunteer and walk her dog, and that’s when the relationship began. 10 months of joyful companionship. I could sense the friendship and loyalty that I received from her grow each day. During the summer I would unleash her and try to race her, trusting that she will not flee away, and during the winter and brutal snow storm weathers we would truly dig each other in the snow. I even bought her a coat and dog boots to make sure she wasn’t cold, the image always made me laugh! Believe it or not, when I left Canada to return home, saying goodbye to Isabella was the most, if not the only, painful departure.

 Now that Im back, I developed a new relationship with Champ, a white brownish Golden Retriever male owned by my sister. Dogs can make you extremely more active and healthy: I cant let one day pass without going for a run with him, I find it the best part of my day and love how he can tell ‘when’ im planning to walk him, he is so alert and watching every step I make, either having my coffee in the morning or putting my shoes on, he just suddenly sits still with an ‘ok im a good boy now please take me for a walk’ attitude, and it just cracks me up every single time.  Not only is he an incredible friend, but he also provides me with much needed assistance: One of the worse Jordanian/Arabic cultures is that people tend to stare a lot, and men approach almost every girl on the road and try one of their horrible lines. So when I ask Champ to attack or to bark, he assists me listens to me and scares the hell out of them!

 Now can dogs look happy and sad? The answer is yes definitely. As time goes by you learn to communicate with your dog and understand their body language and mood. Some of their ways of communicating is tail-wagging, the dog’s tail is usually erect and going up and down with pleasure, their mouth is always open wide with their tongue hanging out and a wide doggy-grin. They just look like they are in utter happiness because they’re getting attention from their owners and sharing their time together. When they’re angry, they avoid eye contact and don’t listen to you when ever you order them to do something. When ‘you’re’ sad and tearful, trust me, they’re sad and tearful too, and suddenly gently start trying to lick you all over, they even sometimes start to howl.  

Below is a picture of our Champ, unfortunately, surprisingly, I don’t have a clear picture of Isabella.


November 8, 2008

Science of Music

Filed under: Music — laylanajia @ 2:20 am



Music. Do we all realize the power it has? There’s no doubt that each one of us relates to it in our own way, but personally, I find that listening to my favorite music and driving go hand in hand. Indeed it can be dangerous, since fast tempo music and loud music can simulate your brain to drive faster. Few months back Mumbai has actually banned listening to music while driving: they are taking it very seriously and believe it’s the cause of most of the accidents, I think their own growing population is the cause too.

 So, music and driving, also music and running, the freedom of the open road, continually tempting you that no matter how fast you’re driving or running, music will hold you to it. You’d be surprised, music can make you feel like you’re not quite so helpless any more, I tend to relate lots of music to my life, some music reminds me when I was little, others remind me of my friends and people that I miss and liked at that time. Some other music makes me happy if im blue and if I need to get some work done, like listening sometimes to Bob Marley and dance music for instance helps me get right back to business, making me feel that things will be ok. And when I need to focus on a creative task, I listen to music without lyrics and find it most effective, upbeat music gives me strength and makes me go on and on for hours, it changes my state of mind causing changes in my mood and productivity.On the other hand, sometimes I dislike a particular song because it reminds me of something that made me sad at the time.

 Why is every TV show, commercial, and movie have music? Or stores and restaurants? This morning I went shopping to check out a new mall where there was a particular store that hardly had anything I liked, but my senses liked it for sure, I loved the smell and the music and I just couldn’t stop wandering around and around the store, and although I couldn’t find anything to my liking, the long time I spent there because of the music, somehow had a decisive influence on what I eventually did end up buying.

 Music is simply an intellectual pleasure! Below is a good song by Richard Ashcroft, Music is power! Enjoy.



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