…which is amazing for those of you who know how this week was for me. Today I kept thinking of Suheir Hammad’s poem “First Writing Since.” When she says, “i have never felt less american and more new yorker – particularly / brooklyn, than these past days” I think about how I feel after being among Jordanians today, feeling completely in solidarity. Feeling responsible for the suffering that has taken place here because if it were not for the U.S. sponsored occupations on both sides of Jordan’s borders there would have been no bombs yesterday.
I suppose I never should have come home this afternoon after the march because going back out a couple of hours later it seems as if the desire to be out and commiserate with fellow Jordanians never actually stopped. I went out to eat with my friend Jack at a local downtown restaurant and then to a cafe to smoke some shisha. We went to Jordanian establishments where tourists or internationals rarely frequent both to show solidarity and because at this point it’s much safer and it’s what the U.S. embassy recommends (see, I do listen to some of their regulations 😉 ). There was a TV going in the cafe and we saw a live message from King Abdullah to the people of Jordan. As we were finishing up our tea, Jack mentioned that there would be candlelight vigils at the hotels. Although it was around 10:30 PM at this point we decided to go and see if anyone was still around.
I was amazed when we arrived (and so sorry I left my camera at home!). But, an amazing Jordanian photographer has a set of photos that are far better you’ll see in any news media outlet and you can view them online. Also, the Sky TV on-line video report is one of the best I’ve seen so far and you can see pieces of the march today as well as the candlelight vigil online (if the above link doesn’t work go to the other Sky TV link about King Abdullah above and you can click on the video link there to see the report.) We parked his car by 3rd Circle, near where the first bomb occurred at the Grand Hyatt hotel. We walked up to the hotel, now they allowed us to get far closer to the entrance. In front of the hotel there were hundreds of candles everywhere placed on a stone ledge planter. Among the candles were also flowers everywhere and a small poster with photographs and names of the hotel employees who died. It was such a beautiful sight and way to express the sorrow and grief of Jordanians. Now that I could get closer I could see the broken glass and the damage inside the lobby where the bomb went off. We spent some time there among a group of thirty or so people and then walked down the street to the Radisson hotel. These hotels are very close to each other and on the same street. The Washington Post actually has a good map to get a sense of where all these hotels are located in proximity to one another.
At this point we ran into two colleagues of Jack’s in front of the Radisson. They are both Jordanian Catholic priests who arrived at the Hyatt a few hours earlier and they managed to hold a spontaneous joint Christian-Muslim prayer session at each hotel. About 1,000 people attended this march, they said. They also got the Radisson staff to allow them inside the hotel to view the ballroom where the wedding reception was held yesterday. They said that there was blood over the carpet and pieces of flesh scattered about the place. As we walked up, closer to the Radisson, we stumbled upon a wedding party leaving the hotel. It seems that a couple from Salt, a town about 15 minutes outside of Amman, decided to bring their entire wedding party in all of their wedding clothes and decorated cars to each of the hotel sites to show their solidarity with the people who suffered yesterday. They wanted to make a stand that there would still be weddings in Amman hotels. The honking of the horns as they left, and the jam-packed streets of people still out—kids and entire families—driving through the streets which seemed to me to be almost the type of energy I’d see if Jordan just won the World Cup. Or a wedding. Quite a few members of Jack’s family members showed up at the Radisson to also light candles and pay their respects to the deceased. One of his cousins was very distraught because she lost a dear friend last night who was at the wedding. She wanted to go inside, but after the wedding party left the shut the hotel again.
As we walked around the parking lot we saw many international news correspondent trucks and lights with various reporters creating their newsfeed for their home countries. The ABC News folks were in the front. The reporter was Hari Balakrishnan who was reading a script from his Palm Pilot that seemed very constructed, and quite removed from reality. First we saw him speak for the general ABC national news and then he did these small feeds that were made to look like he was speaking to news anchors in Portland, OR, Salt Lake City, UT, and Cleveland OH. He used bizarre phrases like “bringing the story close to home” (though he never made any of those concocted local connections) or “mourning turns to anger” (I saw very little what I’d characterize as anger in all of my eight solid hours in the streets of Amman today). He said nothing about the marches today or the wedding tour of the hotels—none of the things that I think are the most moving about this day.
Our last stop was at the Days Inn hotel where we were allowed inside the lobby. They had just installed a metal detector at the front door, though much of the glass, like the other hotels, was missing or shattered into a million pieces. We were also allowed to get close to this hotel where, like the Radisson and the Hyatt, there was another candlelight vigil. But we looked around out front where the car bomb exploded you could see little specks of concrete from the sidewalk and the street that were chipped away from the shrapnel of the bomb. The spots in the ground seemed more like bullet holes and the black on the side of the wall that was charred had already been washed away.
Now it’s 2 AM and I am still awake, trying to sort through news that I didn’t have time to read today. For those of you who have written to me complaining about the media reporting in the U.S., I encourage you to check the links in this post and my previous one. Also, Democracy Now!, as always, has an excellent report.