Of the monotonous life, I din't give it a second thought when my friend came with the plan for an Egypt trip. But (un)fortunately, the visa procedures were arduous to get it completed in a day's time. We then changed the route to Jordan- The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Indian Nationals get an on-arrival visa at the airport, for a period of two weeks. The visa costs 20 Jordanian Dinars(hereafter denoted as JD)

Bags were packed with sweaters, monkey caps and gloves as we were informed of the extreme cold winter in Jordan. Dubai to Amman was 3.5 hours of flying.  Queen Alia International Airport is pretty much a gateway to the weathered city with the feeble vintage feel it gives. We were welcomed by a representative from Hotel with a board held high with our names printed on. Our stay was booked at Ramada.
'Emirates' offers the best service between Amman and Indian towns. Budget airlines like Air-Arabia gives value for money. Hotels are available at cheap rates through makemytrip.com . Beware, they charge for everything outside the tariff plan. Bachelors can avail cheaper options directly at Amman.

I got in my sweaters, but the climate outside was comforting with 17 degree at 11.00 am. The coniferous pines by the way took me through the Christmas tales; snow trees, reindeer and sledges. No doubt, its the place where a good part of Bible happened.

One should not take a cab, but walk to touch the heart of Amman. The yellow leaved trees that survived the fall, the street hawkers and the cool breeze gives on the finest experience. The hospitality of Jordan definitely surprised me. Every person we meet on the street greets with the words 'Welcome to Jordan'. You are Hindi, which means a person from Al-Hind or India.

Walk until the smell of coffee penetrates your nostrils. The coffee shops serves a different blend with added spices. Each cup contains only the aromatic decoction boiled separately in a steel mug. Seeing the amount of coffee powder that goes in, you would doubt on it bitterness. Once it touches your tastebuds, its nothing less than heaven.Black tea or locally called 'shai' isn't a different story. Those dried unknown leaves put along with the teabags would pass exuberant vibes through our nerves. Jordan turned me into tea and coffee addict.

The people of Amman, attired in winter coats and boots took me through a delusion called Soviet Russia. Deja vu. Wandering in those chimerical world, my mind was relishing some joy. (I have this bad habit of linking images with weirdest imagination)

The sun sets at 4.30 pm in winter. As it gets dark, pain sweeps in joints. It was nearly 4 degree outside. The temperature lowers incessantly in night. Time to put in your gloves and caps. Treat yourself with the hot shawarma of the town. I swear, they are delish and different from those you had till date.
Jordan has an active but expensive night life. The city stays awake on Thursday nights; its weekend there. Most nightclubs are equipped to loot your pockets. Damsels from Tunisia and Morocco would usher you in. In their glittery tops and shorts, they roam around cheering people. Some have their mobile phones tucked in their cream cleavage.  You would sadly realize that the drinks sipped in by the girls were of thrice the normal rates.

1 JD = 5.5 AED* = 73.5 INR* approx. (*subject to exchange rates). Jordan's currency is rounded to three decimal places. ie 1 JD = 1000 quirsh or piastres

Amman made my day and there I cancelled Jerash and Agalon from the plan. The next day starts with an awaited companion at the doorstep; Mr. Mafak Al Mesaieed. , the Jordanian native who was more of a friend than a driver or guide. The non-availability of rent a cars was a blessing in disguise.

Anyone who holds a GCC or International Driving License can get cars on rent, equipped with GPS facility at nominal rates. Jordan Drives on right.
That was a four hours long drive to Petra, through the deserted mountains and countryside. Mostly arid. But
your sharp eyes can spot sheep flocks on mountains. The green are Zeytoon(Olive) farms. On the way joined with us Mr. Nadal, Mafak's good old friend. They were together in the territorial army.

The entry rates for foreigners at tourist spots may be at the ratio 50:1 when compared to the natives and residents. We got exceptionally saved with the smart intervention of Mafak. He handed over labour cards of two Indians who worked on residential visa. 'Shahid, you small. You are Tami. Azhar, you big, you Ajith', He spoke in his wobbly English.

The commonly spoken language in Jordan is Arabic. A guide on Arabic may become handy.

Petra has nothing new to offer. The elegance lies in its majestic past evident on the red rocks. A toast to the Brilliant Architecture that catch the eyeballs. The history of Petra ranges to BC. Lets not excavate into it.

Than the proficient structures, Petra reflects a new face of Jordanian life, the rustic, modest and graceful one. The teen-aged breadwinners; those valiant young souls would greet you with a free flowing English to market the props they sell or to ride on their donkeys. Mafak introduced me the girl who sold the beads, an orphan. It was hell of respect for her when she yelled 'get lost' at the guy who tried to tease her. She was just 9 or 10 in age.  I got the blue beads, for the little sister in my dreams.

One need to spare half a day for Petra as the minimum time required to walk through is 3 and half hours. It ranges till a four day long plan for those interested in trekking and adventures.

It was dark when we left Petra for Agaba. Mafak took us there to facilitate the shopping we had hinted him. I wanted to grab something from Jordan's traditional crafts. But Agaba had no wonders for us. That was the specimen of an urban prototype. All we had there was the branded products on sale, which was important to the Jordan natives most of whom live in places of  an Arcadian fascia. And after all there is nothing as ethereal as memories. But still I couldn't resist buying the coffee powder. The coffee beans were selected from different heaps in a certain ratio with a handful of  cardamom, nicely blended and powdered in the grinder. Smelling it could keep us awake the whole night.

Later the night felt pretty much appealing when Mafak pointed those lights down the valley - that was Israel there.

The route was reversed in the morning, towards Dead Sea.. Through the barren lands, I was struggling to keep my eyelids open with camera in hand awaiting some surprises in every turn. In all the three hours there wasn't a single treat for eyes. But the one in store was much more bigger. Nadal has offered the day's breakfast at his home. The Majlis(the living room with cushions set on floor) took us through warm hospitality. That was more than what we could pay in cash. Healthy green and scrumptious treat.

The journey continues to Karak. We passed through the dusty village markets. Mafak warned me about the conservative Jordanians at that side of the state, but I was pretty confident on my 70-300 tele zoom lens. Still I missed a 100 frames as he refused to stop there. We were running short of time.

I yelled to stop the car when yellow struck my eyes; sunflower farm !! Nay, it had more. Tomatoes and velvet plants.  

The road goes down till the lowest bed of the earth - Dead Sea.
The giant blue curtains of earth, cuddling,
they made love, the sky n the sea. Shy was the sun voyeur-ed with his wild naughty eyes.

The light blue on shores aren't lagoons, but crystal salt. The air is humid and salty that makes it strenuous to separate the sea and sky.

The light blue on shores aren't lagoons, but crystal salt. The air is humid and salty that makes it strenuous to separate the sea and sky.

Dead Sea is 423 m below sea level and is the lowest part of earth. The water is 9 times saline than any ocean water. The salinity is due to presence of different minerals and ions which is said to cure many skin diseases. Before getting down to the water, remember

  • There is no such swimming in dead sea. You  can easily float over the water of its higher density. Be calm as it would take a few seconds to gain balance.
  • Don't let the water on your face. Also take care not to take heavy strokes to drive yourselves on. Even a single drop of water on you eyes hurts like hell. If it happens, gain your stability to reach shore and wash your eyes with pure water. Or call for help.
  • The salt crystals down the sea bottom is rough and can cut your foot severely if you don't take enough care.
  • You would come to know all the minor cuts and scratches on your skin once you take a dip. Its better if you don't shave the two days before taking a dunk in dead sea as you would really learn the meaning of putting salt in one's wound
  • Use an old swimming suit as the water may fade the colours
  • However, these norms don't limit the fun on floating over the sea. You can get a book or newspaper and read it lying on water. You can also have a mud bath which is supposed to immune you from dermatological issues.

After nearly 3 hours of floating and mud bathing, we waved bye with the life stirred out from the dead waters. The sun blushed. It was nearing the dusk. The most enticing view of sunset ever. Oh yea !! I still find it hard to believe.

We had to rush then to catch up with our flights in time. Amman wasn't far. Though our flight dint permit extra luggage, we filled our bags with the sweet delicacies of Amman.

Empty pockets and heartfelt joy, adieu the Kingdom of Joy, Jordan, we would be back to you another snowing season.

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