Friday, May 29, 2009

How To Ride An Amman Taxi

At the end of the day, although you may not be so willing to admit it, you will have to take a taxi somewhere, someday. The only thing certain is that you will ride in a taxi with a taxi driver. Now sometimes they are nice to you even if you have the word newbie on your forehead. But sometimes, and this is usually the case, you will get punished by God and sent Amman's average taxi driver. And if that happens, then God help us all. But, for when that time comes, much similar to the zombie apocalypse, you need to be ready. Here are some tips to take when your time comes.

First off, after you hail a taxi and he actually decides you are worth stopping for, never ever lean through the window, asking him if his majesty can take you to such a far place as your home. Instead, open the door and sit in the seat, and close the door. You may not even turn to talk to him for a while, as if he was not on your schedule for the moment. Wait for when he begins to move again, this is when you tell him your destination, and this is so he cannot say a very lame excuse as to why he cannot do his job for you because he needs to go and eat, or pray at his home, or feed his cat, or drink some coffee, or save the world from an alien invasion and become a superhero.

Next, the destination. When you tell him your destination, don't say it as if you are asking. You do not ask a taxi driver to do his job, he is supposed to do it. And that's mostly the reason why everyone feels the need to boycott Unique Taxis, because you are paying them to do what normal taxis should already do. Moving on, you may wish to annoy him a little when he asks you where your going. I usually tell them to keep moving forward and I will tell them where to go, this annoys the driver as he cannot take longer routes to increase your fare.

Now we all know the driver will tell if your stupid or not to fall for his taxi fare scams, by observing your actions and analysing them using his single celled brain up in his head - well, hopefully its up there. His scams can be anything, for taxi drivers have made it a great art, scamming in all sorts of ways. For example, they could accidentally switch off the fare meter half way through the journey then guess what it should read. Or they could make up vague excuses as to why your journey fare should be higher and why it was lowered by a fault in the system - fat chance. Or that it was raining today, and he shouldn't have gone to work but he did so he could serve the citizens of his country out of the goodness of his golden heart - "bi7amlak ijmeeleh".

There a few things you can do while you are riding with him that will annoy him considerably. If he appears to be in a bad mood, talk to him endlessly about the economic crisis, the country's unemployment, and the Iraqi war. If he's too talkative and more of a chatterbox than you'd like, answer him with nods or monosyllabic answers when he asks, then return to dazing out of the window. If he asks you to go left or right, look both ways very slowly then shrug and say it doesn't matter - "3ala ra7tak ya basha". What you're aiming for is not necessarily to get the guy in a bad mood, but to show him you're not his average rider and you can't be dealt with like any other. You aren't new to the miserable world of taxi drivers.

If you are good enough at acting, you may wish to play along as well. When the taxi brakes or turns, pull back in your seat and clutch your heart for dear life, muttering words like "ya lateef", or "bismallah" or "allah yustor". When he attempts a u-turn or entering a main road, make it as if your life will end here, closing your eyes and saying the "shahadeh" - or the holy trinity for Christians, holding on the seats rests and preparing for impact. After its over, make a large overexagurated sigh of relief then scowl at the taxi driver for having such wild driving manners, or put your face in your hands as if wishing this rollercoaster ride would just arrive at the station.

If your a bit more daring, you may go for the secret service look. Taxis may appear to be careless, wreckless scumbags but they are afraid of someone, other than their reflection in the mirror - police, and even more, secret service police. Before entering the taxi, take a long look at the license plate. When in the taxi, make shifty eye movements around the place, first at the driver then at his drivers license, then at the fare meter. Talk to him about what he thinks of his majesty, the royal family and the current political and economic state of the country. When he appears to dose off, suddenly chant loudly "ya3eesh jallalet ilmalik almu3atham", arabic for "long live his majesty the king", and if he does not reply immediately, stare at him in disbelief as if regarding him as a traitor for the kingdom.

And finally, when it comes to arriving to your destination and paying the fare. The taxi drivers eyes will have become dollar signs and your forehead will have the word money imprinted and blinking like a neon light. But not if you followed my simple steps. Never ask him how much the taxi fare is, for this to the taxi is like asking him how much he wants. Look and read the counter yourself, check for a recent label of those traffic lights and the current year - this means the counter is new and works properly. What appears on the counter is what you pay, don't ask him how much he wants as a tip, just give him the money. Smile innocently and slam the door in his unworthy face.

But lets say the counter is wrong - its over the normal price you usually pay everyday. What you do is look at him and scowl, not reach out for your wallet to hand him more. Inquire why the fare is suspiciously more even though you pay the same everyday. Don't fall for an excuse such as it starts at half a dinar now, or that he has no clue, or that his family of thirty orphans is starving on two loaves of bread a week, or that he now adds his own tax. Give him what's on the counter if you have enough, but tell him that it is wrong to play with the counter and you will note his license plate down for "later use".

And that's all. Of course, as a quick side disclaimer, I with no doubt know there are many good taxi drivers that are polite and kind. I have rode with many of them, and I did not make this post for them, the minority of taxi drivers. Instead, I meant the majority of taxi drivers that you, unfortunately, have a much higher rate of finding that will cheat, lie and annoy you making all the taxi ride unbearable. Anyway, if you have any suggestions to this post you can add them in the comments. Thanks for reading, and good luck next time you face a taxi driver!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Britains Got Talent

Here are some of my favorite picks from Youtube from the semi final auditions. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Boy, do I wish I was in Britain at this time.


Susan Boyle

Faces of Disco

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Worsening The Islamic Image

What is it with newly converted Muslims living in the West and usually originating from Pakistan and Afghanistan, that suddenly believe they can change the world for the better with more bloodshed on innocent civilians?

All they do is either get caught and end up looking like fools or die and kill more people in the name of Islam, which has nothing to do with what they do. The problem is, Islam is always the blame for not only them but also the ignorant and biased media.

Ever since September 11th, terrorism has been linked with Islam. Its like they are really just different words for the same meaning. At least this is what the media makes everyone believe, brainwashing millions of viewers with carefully selected phrases that have catastrophic results.

The thing is, why do uneducated Muslims really believe they can turn the world for the better by blowing up a few buildings or smuggling illegal weapons into countries? When compared together, peaceful preaching really has much better results than violence.

Many people have been tricked into believing that the only way out is to fight. This is wrong, and what this does is make the image of Islam worse and lessen the chance of any change in the world. Even more prejudice towards Muslims.

With all this said, here is the extract from an article that came out this morning, about an attempt by uneducated people to cause more terror in the American society and effectively everywhere else in the world. Commenting on this situation is highly appreciated.

Four men have been arrested over alleged plots to attack targets in New York, US prosecutors say.

They planned to blow up a synagogue and use Stinger missiles to bring down military planes at an airport north of the city, a statement said.

The men were arrested after agreeing to buy missiles and explosives in an undercover operation.

New York has been on alert for a new terror assault since the 9/11 attack claimed by al-Qaeda militants.

Officials summarised the main charge against the four men as a conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction within the United States.

They are to appear in court on Thursday in White Plains, and face from 25 years to life imprisonment if found guilty.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Jordan TV

Jordan's first radio broadcasts were received from other countries in the Middle East. Transjordan (as it was then called), did not adopt a radio service of its own until 1948. Radio Jordan first broadcast in 1956. Today it broadcasts a 24 hour Arabic service, as well as an English language service for 21 hours per day and a French language service for 13 hours per day.

That would be the definition of Jordan TV on Wikipedia. However, the Jordanian TV, in my honest opinion, is a television that was once loved, probably at the time when satellites were still stuck in the West and had not reached us, and is no longer watched as it used to be. As most people will know, at that time most people watched it and it was probably a channel worth watching at that time.

But maybe they somehow got stuck in that period. Do you know how many people still watch Jordan TV daily, maybe even weekly? Most people watch the Jordanian channel because they have no other option, ie. not having a satellite dish. But nowadays most people have a satellite dish and will stay away from Jordan channel.

Why is this? Why would the major channel, and sometimes regarded as the only channel for Jordan on many online television websites, be watched by so little of the country's population. There are many reasons, they begin with lack of content, lack of quality, lack of funding, and lack of motivation.

I'd like to toss a few points and suggestion that I believe could turn the tables on how people view Jordan TV as it is. A major disclaimer to anyone who is highly patriotic that he does not believe our country should change for the better, please don't take these suggestions the wrong way.

  • Ask the country. It'd be rather stupid to ask the viewers since they are so little, so ask the country's citizens. What would they want to see on their national television. These suggestions should be taken into consideration.
  • Informative, Arabic news. We don't need neither English nor French news briefs. Make news reports that talk about Jordanian events that people would like to see. And not all the news needs to be political.
  • Get a proper graphical design. My god, Jordan TV's graphical design is so bad its like it was made overnight. Can't the channel invest in a big company to design at least a new layout for them?
  • Enough with the soap operas. Who still needs to watch some stupid dramas on Jordan TV? Even those who love that sort of thing will turn to MBC4 to watch something dubbed from Turkish. More documentaries, less pointless dramas.
  • Carry on were ATV failed. If it had actually been allowed to air, ATV would be a wonderful channel to watch. It had new, interesting ideas that were both creative and informative. Although, ATV was supposedly to start its test channel in January 2009.
  • Get a proper source of income. Anyone looking at Jordan TV's current state would know it was either badly motivated or lacked funding. Big companies should look into investing in Jordan TV for boths sake.
And the list goes on. What suggestions do you have to make Jordan TV better?