Despite my most concerted efforts to and disdain for, I can't stay out of the spotlight. Born an identical twin and having worked in the fields of journalism and public relations, lived in remote cities with no other people of colour, I have had to unfortunately constantly negotiate this 'problem' throughout the course of my life.
Of course, in this day and age we live in an instagram world- everyone loves attention. But I don't, even though I am not the kind of person to judge those who do.
So, when on my first outing to The Citadel in Amman, Jordan's capital city, I had had the very conspicuous privilege of my own personal photographer follow me around, not only taking photos of me, but more importantly, orchestrating poses to complement the backdrop of the city, I had secretly hoped and prayed that the other patrons did not see me as some superficial twit.
It was not my intention when I had arrived.
Not prepared with Jordanian currency to pay the entry fee, I had caused a minor stir, when the cashier and security were left scrambling looking for another option. The cafeteria would have to change my USD. And so, they initially let me in for that purpose.
By the time that I came back to the cashier to pay, a 'tour guide' was ready and waiting to sell me on a once in a lifetime opportunity to have a private tour of The Citadel where all of its tightly held secrets would be revealed.
Glancing up the hill, I could see other patrons- tourists wandering around aimlessly outfitted with professional cameras taking photos of random stuff. Random because they had no clue its meaning or significance, only that it looked ancient.
As a result, I decided that a private tour would not be a bad idea. Of course it came with a fee, which was practical and reasonable.
And then, the cold air hit me. Amman had had severe thunderstorms a few days prior to my arrival, and even though I was now on the tail end of this weather pattern, on what was probably the most elevated part of the city, the spring air felt more like late autumn.
I instantly lamented and asked about a souvenir shop that may sell hoodies etc.
Not wanting to lose a sale even before the service had begun, my tour guide extended the offer of giving me his own leather jacket.
How could I refuse?
The Art of the Deal
I can assure you that this sub-title will be seen many times in the blog posts to come when I recount my experiences in Jordan.
On our way, we started the trek up the hill.
As we started our trek, I noticed a tourist who had overheard my negotiation with the private tour guide and who too like many of the other tourists carried her own professional camera, had a smirk on her face- you know the kind when you are witnessing a con of sorts and have no problems sitting back and watching the train wreck happen. Yup, that kind.
Hence why, I thought the man standing near her, was with her.
Knowing what was to happen next, I think that she was just enjoying the seamless execution of snaring a young single female traveler into 'you are a star' trap.
The man standing next to her, stepped forward and approached me.
Strike A Pose
"Oh really?!" was my response to his proposition.
A CD of photos with a choice selection of five prints for an amazing price. He would follow me on my private tour and at specific points against the backdrop of Amman, take photos of me for posterity.
I was sold and grateful.
Many times I have struggled to document my travels throughout the Middle East because I had to make the conscious choice between filming and experiencing.
I think you can guess my preferred choice.
I Love The Tea
Still not sure how well this would all work out in the end, I was pleasantly surprised when the photographer stopped to show me some of the photos taken on the camera.
I was impressed and on a cold dismal day, the photos, had belied the dreadful ambiance.
Moving through the roll of photos, we both gasped at a photo that had... taken our breath away.
"That's just beautiful," we both said in unison.
Still pondering over the photo, the tour guide came to look at well. And we were all speechless.
Breaking the silence, the photographer remarked,
"That cup of tea is beautiful."
A riotous round of laughter emerged from the three of us, getting the attention of the other patrons who were wondering around the ruin that was once a mosque at the top of the Citadel.