Arabic calligraphy? No problem! It’s just Arabic with a fancy pen, right? Not really. Ever since I started learning Arabic, I loved writing letters and words with my felt-tip calligraphy pen that I bought off of Amazon. Walking into calligraphy class last Sunday afternoon, I didn’t expect it to be very different from what I had done before. After all, it was the same Arabic script, just with a different writing utensil. As it turned out, the type of calligraphy we were learning was very different. We didn’t use a pen at all; rather, we used a small jar of black ink, and a reed cut at an angle. As the calligrapher who was teaching us walked us through the script, it seemed as if the alphabet was in another language! By sliding chalk across the blackboard, we were taught to form the letters, and visualize the angles and curves. We spent much of our time shakily trying to copy the alphabet, and laughing over our failures. It reminded me of the time nearly a year ago, when I was first learning the Arabic alphabet. I struggled to identify and then copy the shapes of the letters, all of which seemed rather foreign to me. As the lesson drew to an end, the calligrapher came to each of us and wrote our first and last names in the beautiful script, and we sat there spellbound, marveling over the words like young children.
Not all of our after-school excursions are classes. Yesterday, we donned aprons, gloves, and hairnet, and headed to Hamada, a very famous restaurant in Amman, to learn the art of Jordanian cooking. We were taken to the kitchen of the restaurant, where experienced chefs walked us through the process of making khobz, or Jordanian bread, hummus, and falafel. It was so satisfying to thrust the slabs of dough deep into the open flame of the oven, to watch chickpeas being pounded into a paste, and to see balls of crushed garbanzo beans, herbs, and spices dance in a pool of sizzling oil. After visiting Hamada, I have gained increased enthusiasm and respect for the Jordanian cuisine. Not only is the food so flavorful and pleasing to the palate, I now truly admire the skill of those who make it.
As I write this post, I realize that it is 11:30 in the night. I hoped to have this post up and running last night, but we have been so busy, that it is incredibly hard to keep up with such plans. Between attending class, after-school activities, doing homework, and going on nocturnal adventures with my host family, I have barely had time to sit down and reflect, or to even sleep! Inshallah (God willing) I will be able to take out some time in the next few days to do some more writing.