Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Fountain

The Syrians are well known for their love of beautiful courtyards, with lush green plants & musical fountains. It's a stereotypically cliche scene in every Syrian melodrama series on TV to observe the men folk gathered around the fountain sipping their tea debating over village politics whilst the women watch on; gossiping and giggling in the kitchen.
The attempt to recreate some semblance of normality in their lives by reverting to their inherited customs is a true mark of the resilience of the Syrian refugees in Za'atari. The Syrian man who built this fountain was aiming to add some beauty back into the lives of his family. As far as they are concerned this is to make their lives a little happier and in no way represents their intention to stay in Jordan.
In fact, when news broke out at the end of September that Obama was going to bomb Syria all such projects were immediately put on hold. I guess they are back in progress now.
There was such palpable joy in this small 'room' that it brought tears to my eyes. Stepping in from the dust & heat outside into this enclosure was surreal. At night when the children are asleep, the adults reclaim this space and listen to the songs of Um Kulthoom & Abdel Wahab as they smoke their argeelas and reminisce about a country that is only a stone's throw away.

Cooking with Pride

This Syrian refugee is cooking in the makeshift 'kitchen' created in between the caravan & covered by a tent. She was chatting to me whilst adding the rice to her chicken broth to make Kabsa...a spicy rice dish. The smell was fabulous and with great pride she filled a spoon with the stock and insisted that I try it. It tasted as good as it smelt. When you are a refugee there are very few things that you have control over and even fewer that you can take pride in. Cooking for your family is just one way to maintain some semblance of normality and reinforce family bonds.
This Syrian woman is one of the more fortunate in Zaatari since her brother-in-law is a real handyman and laid down a cement floor for her kitchen. #zaatari #refugee_life #refugee_camp #refugees #syria #syrian #jo #middleeast #humanitarian #photojournalism

Monday, October 28, 2013

Home is where the Heart is

The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home. ~ Confucius
When it comes to developing character strength, inner security and unique personal and interpersonal talents and skills in a child, no institution can or ever will compare with, or effectively substitute for, the home's potential for positive influence. ~ Stephen Covey

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Father's Burden

“Son, there are times a man has to do things he doesn't like to, in order to protect his family.” ~ Ralph Moody
A Syrian man looks on as his children play in the setting sun. The sprawling camp of tents and caravans can be seen behind them with young boys playing football in the background. #zaatari #refugee_life #refugee_camp #syrian #syria #jordan #jo

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Homeward Bound

This is a daily scene at the Za'atari Refugee Camp in Jordan. Every weekday afternoon, on this occasion it was an hour before before sunset, the trucks & buses arrive and are quickly filled to the brim.
Young boys climb up on the cargo truck first so that their relatives below can hand them their luggage. The boys remain on board to make sure everyone's luggage stays safe during the short trip home and also to facilitate its unloading upon arrival.
The transportation, arranged and paid for by the Jordanian government; takes the refugees across the border where they may be met by a member of the Free Syrian Army or left to their own devices to make there way home.
In late September, around 300 people a day were leaving the camp to return to Syria. The convoy arrived in a blaze of desert dust amongst a stir of excitement from the waiting crowd. Suddenly there was a hive of activity and shouting as everyone rushed over to load their luggage under the watchful yet distant eye of the security forces.
Ironically those who were informally organising the process (and keeping the journalists and photographers at bay) were the self-appointed street leaders of Zaatari Camp. An aggravated man quickly approached us when we dared to stray from the zone to which we'd been allotted. "You can only shoot from here. Do not come any closer" he commanded sternly. The protective stance towards those heading back home was palpable yet frustrating given that we had waited for 90 minutes in the 35C degree heat of the desert sun for the arrival of the truck convoys.
Once the cargo truck (actually a huge refrigerated truck for food produce) was loaded the crowd quickly dissipated towards the passenger bus awaiting them nearby. Within minutes the convoy drove off towards the border leaving us covered in a cloud of dust as we wondered what would become of these (and future) returnees.

He who opens a school door, closes a prison. ~ Victor Hugo

Syrian refugee children have been integrated into the local schools in Mafraq, Jordan with many of the schools in that governorate now working two shifts per day. Several of the classes are filled beyond capacity and some schools do require additional staff & rudimentary resources inc. classroom furniture since the children may be forced to share a desk. This is the Ashrafiya Secondary School for Girls based in Mafraq. On the wall behind them a teacher proudly wrote: Countries are built on three essential foundations: Teachers to Educate, Soldiers to Protect, And Farmers to Feed it.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Nostalgic Fool Sandwich

In a throwback to my school days I tried to recreate the Fava bean sandwiches we would have delivered during breaktime.

I think its the parsley that was the differentiating factor.  In any case it tasted like home :)

Mix Fava beans, lemon juice, sprinkle of cumin, salt, olive oil, chili

Add pickles, parsley, tomato and onion. Serve with green olives and assorted pickles.

Create your sandwich in hot pitta bread accompany it with a steaming glass of mint tea

Best breakfast ever ;)

Monday, October 14, 2013

The day of Arafat Sunset

Gorgeous #sunset to mark the stand on #Arafat ....siyaman maqboolan folks :) #iftar #fasting #jordan #jo

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dawoud Basha with a Spin

Dawoud Basha...my take on the classic #turkish dish made with minced lamb meatballs, caramelised onions, garlic and cherry tomatoes...and a hint of green hot chili ofcourse.

Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts & serve with rice.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Syrian Children at Za'atari Refugee Camp

Syrian children at the Zaatari Refugee Camp. Despite the difficult conditions they happily request to be photographed. When I engaged them and asked them to count to ten they did so in perfectly fluent English.
Should you happen to ignore a request for a photo from young boys then expect some retaliation & be prepared to have the occasional stones thrown at you. This is a tough environment for kids to grow up in. Dealing with the diaspora and the violence they have witnessed has been traumatic for many. As winter approaches its hard to imagine how these young children will be able to cope with the added hurdle of the bitter cold of the desert. FACT: About 13 Syrian children per day are born in the Za'atari Refugee Camp in Jordan. 21% are < 5 years old and 55% are <18. Source ~ UNHCR ~~~~ Courage is like love; it must have hope for nourishment. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~~~~

Yummy eggless chocolate cake

Who says you can't make yummy eggless #chocolate #cake ;p  #recipe #cooking #baking

Creamy Coconut Chili Shrimp Pasta

Feeling inventive...so made chilli shrimp pasta arrabiata with coconut milk for added creaminess ;p #recipe #comfort #food #jo

Marinate the shrimp in soy sauce, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, sweet chili and garlic sauce for a few hours

Fry chopped garlic and onion in olive oil till golden. Add fresh chopped tomato. 

Add the shrimp reserving the marinade and stirfry for a few minutes

Add coconut milk, tomato pesto and the marinade and simmer for five minutes

Boil the pasta till it is aldente and finish it off in the sauce. Serve immediately with hot chili sauce. 


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Moody Sunset

Today's glorious sunset in Amman, Jordan.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

It's a Butterfly Life

The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly. Richard Bach

The Oak Tree

Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame. ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton For #hqsplandscape ~ An old #oak #tree in Wadi Al-Shata'a (Winter Valley) :)
#oak #tree #woods #landscape #coutryside #wadi #al -shita'a #amman #jo #treetuesday #treephotography #desertphotography

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The two people in every picture

This is the ultimate photography truism be it literally or metaphorically ;)
There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer. Ansel Adams

The Old Cobbler

This old cobbler has been fixing shoes in the same spot in downtown #amman for the past 50 years.
He says he is there every single day except Friday because even he is entitled to a day off.
#streetphotography #streetpics #street #life #work #living #photography #photojournalism #jordan #jo