Though I’ve only been in Amman for a couple of weeks, I am starting to feel like I know this city. I know my way around Jubeiha (the neighborhood near the university). I know the routes from my apartment to the hot spots in Amman closer to the city’s center. I have also gotten to know the various sounds that accompany life in this city.
To know Amman is to know its sounds. Like any big city, Amman has trademark sounds that take some getting used to. Luckily, after a short time, they have all faded into the background. I hardly notice some of them anymore. I invite you to join me on a tour through the sounds of Amman.
Call to Prayer (Adhan)
This is a classic sound in most Muslim-majority countries. In Amman, the Adhan can be heard from any mosque in the city. It’s heard 5 times a day to call the Muslims in the area to prayer. The Adhan is the recitation of the Takbir and the Shahada by the Mu’azzin at the mosque. One day, we were walking past a mosque during the Adhan and got to see all the people on their way to the Friday prayer. It was a cool experience.
The Propane Truck
This sound was not as obvious to me as the Adhan. At first, I thought it was an ice cream truck (sometimes, I still do). In Jordan, we use propane gas tanks to fuel the stoves and ovens. This truck sells the gas tanks around the neighborhoods. To signal its presence, it plays music similar to the music played by ice cream trucks in the United States.
Morning Assembly at Schools
The CET apartment building for girls is right next to a school. Every morning they have an assembly with the national anthem and other activities I can’t hear clearly from the loudspeaker. I definitely was not a fan of this one during the first week when it was hard enough to sleep because of the jetlag. Now that classes have started, it’s a nice reminder of how much time I have left before I need to leave in the morning.
Jordanians have car horns, and they know how to use them. Because the traffic laws are different in Jordan, the driving is always much more hectic than anywhere I’ve been in the United States. Horns are used at any time, for any purpose. The most common purpose I’ve heard, though, is when taxis pass pedestrians, they honk to let the pedestrians know the taxis are available for use.
I can’t write about the sounds of Amman without mentioning the target language. It’s truly amazing to constantly be surrounded by the language I am learning. Obviously, Jordanians speak Arabic, but we have all been speaking Arabic since the language pledge started. I like hearing my program mates speak Arabic because we encourage each other and help each other learn.
Song Covers in Cafes
This one is so random, but it brings me a lot of joy. All of the cafes I’ve visited so far play a mix of Arabic music and English song covers. I find it interesting to hear the different renditions of popular English songs, but it also provides a bit of comfort for me. These random song covers are a taste of home thousands of miles away, and it’s a nice reminder that the world is always smaller than it seems.