Saturday, April 4, 2009

And darkness fell upon us

So earth finally got its hour in the spotlight, or so to speak – even in Amman. Between 20.30 and 21.30 on March 28th the city became if not black, a shade or two darker, at least in some areas. The Royal Society for Conservation of Nature (everything that strives to be something here has “Royal” in it) owns and operates a conference room, ecological handy-craft shop and a café in a hyper-modern building that clings on the slope of Jabal Amman, where the terrace overlooking Jabal Qal’a with its Roman ruins and Umayyad leftovers. It is a place that wouldn’t look out of place in Soho, New York, or any other Western place where people don’t mind (and can afford) spending 3 dollars (excluding service charge) for an ecological cup of coffee served in an equally ecological cup.
Lots of Humvees parked outside. And this is the place the orchestrated the “celebration” of Earth Hour here in Jordan. We all know the Middle East is the promised land of the black plastic bags. They roam free and can cover an impressive fifty kilometers per day, if they fly well. But of course: Every barren tree has a few wind-ripped bags enmeshed in its twigs. The carcasses. It’s almost poetic. It’s for sure sad and definitely not pretty. Come to think of it, I guess we could call it materialistic poetry, where reality is cut up in pieces and only haphazardly put together again. The black plastic bags as the scars.
Anyway. Earth hour passed quickly, like hours in the dark tend to do. The whole thing consisted of some lecture, the screening of Al Gore’s film and the climax: a candle-lit procession emanating from the Wild Jordan, the place mentioned above. The around hundred-people flock managed to stay intact til Rainbow Street, then kind of dissolved into small candle-lit islands who at their own pace headed back to the café.
The minister of something (probably Energy) got his few seconds in the limelight as he was interviewed by TV inside the café. He was wearing the t-shirt especially produced for this occasion: a smiley-face with closed eyes and text in Arabic that probably said something catchy (I wonder, though, how much energy was used to produce those hundreds of t-shirts used by practically every participant). The street lights on Rainbow Street were turned off. The next day, for whatever reason, I noticed they were turned on in the middle of the day.
Go figure.

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