|One man's irreverent and insightful chronicle of his journey into the Arab World.
The deejay put on a James Brown remix, and the club went nuts again. Everyone started singing in English, and people climbed up on all the club's tables and chairs to shake their hipsÃ-On my way home at 4:00 a.m. (the club was still hopping when I left), I couldn't help thinking about all these wealthy Jordanians and Palestinians, dressed in American and European labels, dancing and singing to American music with such sheer joy. . . . As far as I know, there isn't a word in Arabic for "longing for America," but that is what this night, this scene, and this club seemed to be about.--from Live from Jordan
On the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, 27-year old Pittsburgh native and grad student Benjamin Orbach traveled to Amman, Jordan, in search of answers. Young, confident, and optimistic, Orbach anointed himself America's secret diplomatic weapon. He was finishing a degree in Middle Eastern studies, had a working knowledge of Arabic, and possessed the determination to "negotiate a peace treaty."
He also had no place to live, little money, and no friends to speak of in Jordan. As Ben Orbach spent his first few days in the Middle East in search of a hot shower, the address of his new flat, and a decent haircut, he began to discover something much more important. In the cafes and salons, and on the buses and streets of Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Turkey, he found conflicted, curious, and multilayered people who had more to teach him than he ever imagined. From bustling bazaars to an underground brothel, Live from Jordan is the incredible story, told via his eloquent, compassionate, and irreverent letters home, of Orbach's 13-month journey through the Middle East.
Through Orbach's eyes, we begin to see a world where nothing is quite what it seems, a world that is more intricate than what is portrayed in 30-second sounds bites on American television. We meet people like Sundos, a Jordan University freshman who digs surfing the Internet, and Fadi, his sensitive, passionate Palestinian flatmate, who belts out the lyrics of Mariah Carey songs and decries the policies of George Bush. From the privileged young clubbers of Amman to the beleaguered workers who cram themselves into buses every day in search of a meager salary, we begin to see the Middle East as it really is.
As he travels from the throbbing streets of Cairo to the friendly living rooms of ordinary people in Jordan, Ben Orbach offers an honest, balanced portrait of a region in turmoil. Engaging, witty, and evocative, Live from Jordan is a myth-breaking book that transports us to a world that is more multifaceted, more beautiful, and more seductive than many of us have ever imagined.