The best thing about Jordan is that in some ways it never changes. I think it’s for that reason that it always feels like home. I came to this conclusion yesterday after paying visits to a number of government institutions to take care of some pressing paper work. The experience was typically Jordanian and one that has just become expected when dealing with public intuitions.

In addition to battling bureaucracy and incompetence, we (my sisters, mom and I) had to drive all over town (Hubby at the wheel) in pursuit of the designated public edifice, which keep relocating on the days you need them for reasons impossible to fathom. But it is actually when you are inside a government building that you realize Jordan’s rapid national development has skipped this vital public interface.

What I experienced yesterday was something I’ve been experiencing here for as long as I can remember: Very dirty, unattended buildings, men gathered about a small window who have absolutely no knowledge or respect for queues and of course “smoker friendly” environments, evidenced by cigarettes in both visitor and employee hands. And, of course, we are greeted by sleepy workers, their infamous Jordanian grumpiness and the message: “We don’t do these things here sister. Go to our other office across town!”

After three hours of driving across the city from one public building to the other we didn’t manage to take care of a single thing, returning home disappointed –- a typical Jordanian situation. Ah, it feels like home!

I do understand the need to keep things authentic in Jordan. But really, this authenticity would not be altered if smoking was banned from government buildings or if they hired one or two workers to clean things up once in a while! But then again, perhaps things would not feel so like “home” if these issues were resolved. Maybe, maybe not!