Nothing but Watermelons by Farah Chowdhury

If you study the Arabic language, you are familiar with the understanding that Modern Standard Arabic varies greatly from the actual spoken Arabic languages. This can be frustrating as there are very limited resources out there for learning the many Arabic dialects. Additionally, there are many sayings used in daily life throughout the Arab world that are virtually impossible to learn through a textbook. In Jordan I learned many of these, however, my favorite being connotations surrounding watermelons. I learned that watermelons in this region are seen as “empty” foods
frequently not eaten by people nor animals. In other words, useless. Exploring one of Ammans most vibrant parts of town, Jebel Weibdeh, I was confronted with a poem painted across a little alleyway that explained the perceptions of watermelons perfectly. The rough translation of the poem being:

The summer ended
No love
It was watermelons

I later found out the story behind this poem. A young girl found herself living in Jordan for a time and beginning a relationship with a boy with whom she spent the summer with. As the days counted down, things fizzled out and she headed back home after leaving her mark on Jordan with this mural. This love that she thought she found turned out not to be what she thought it was. These murals are not uncommon as many foreigners and open minded Jordanians frequent Jebel Weibdeh. Here you can find many local art galleries, quaint coffee shops, and liberal spaces for dialogue. One of my favorite things about this part of Amman is that it runs alongside one of the more conservation parts of the city, Jebel Amman. Weibdeh shows the new energy and ideas being brought into the Arab World and goes against a lot of American misconceptions of the Middle East.

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