Blast from the past: Zahran Steet 1955 vs. today!

UPDATE 2: My friend Sinan has provided me with a picture showing the detail of the very same location (circled in red) in the context of all the recent development.

UPDATE: I received a recent picture of this same location today from a slightly different angle. Thanks again Scooby! I’m going to reorient the page for comparison. Amazing!

Zahran St. Circa 1955 Zahran Street today Zahran Circa 2003

Reader and friend Scooby provided me with this phenomenal
picture of Zahran Street in 1955 [And the new one after the update]. It goes without saying that that the development that has occurred throughout the years to this street and to the city of Amman generally is mind-boggling.

Can anyone provide me with a more recent picture more recent pictures of Zahran Street?

Snapshot: Santa convention

Santa Convention While driving around the National Mall in DC last weekend, we came across something that resembled some sort of a Santa Convention. What we saw was more than two dozen Santas gathered in front of the entrance to the Smithsonian National History Museum. The Santas were not doing anything special besides just hanging out.

My mother-in-law and I approached the congregation and asked one of the Santas about the reason for this mammoth gathering. His reply was simple: "It’s Christmas!" Good answer.

A few days later, I was reading John and Jenny’s blog when I realized that they too had come across a similar scene in Seattle. After following the link on their blog, I discovered that what we had stumbled upon in DC was a special group that goes by the name Santarchy and/or Santacon. This is how they describe themselves:

Every December for the last 13 years, Cacophonous Santas have been visiting cities around the world, engaging in a bit of Santarchy as part of the annual Santacon events. It all started back in 1994 when several dozen Cheap Suit Santas paid a visit to downtown San Francisco for a night of Kringle Kaos. Things have reached Critical Xmas and Santarchy is now a global phenomenon. You’d better watch out! Santa’s coming to town!

Merry Christmas everyone!

One of Santa's helpers Elvin mischief

In more Santa-related sightings, apparently globally there are a number of mass Santa convocations. Some suggest it is a sure sign of the apocalypse. These images document a gathering of Santas, called "Sinister Santas," in Moscow. This article suggests something more than Christmas merriment afoot: "Its purpose and appearance had been painstakingly created to appear benign. Few of the 70,000 or so who gathered were older than teenagers and their uniforms were so incongruous as to be unthreatening … according to Russia’s liberal democrats, scenes like this are less a display of benevolence than a show of force … As the youngsters swayed … a voice boomed out from the loudspeakers exhorting them to reinvent Russia’s lost glory. "Let the miracle happen," the voice cried out. "Let heart reach out to heart so our country can rise once more."

Thanksgiving in the Valley

Shenandoah Lake
We spent this Thanksgiving weekend in the picturesque Shenandoah Valley, where we gathered with family members for fellowship and divine food. It is goes without saying that gathering in the breath-taking valley adds a special vibe to this fall holiday.

Colors along the skylineNo matter how many times we visit the Valley, I can never get over how beautiful it is. There is something about the mountains there — the Blue Ridge and Massanutten — that simply take my breath away.

No wonder this stunning place is listed among the 1000 Places to See Before You Die, a book I picked up at Staples while the husband was trying (and succeeding) to land a good deal on Black Friday.

Now, I will let the pictures speak for themselves. These photos were taken by the husband on two different occasions and in two different locations in the valley: Lake Shenandoah, near Harrisonburg and the Skyline Drive. Happy Thanksgiving and happy holidays.

3rd anniversary snapshots

The Liberty Bell, hubby and I
In what is becoming a rapidly evolving tradition each anniversary, we left town last weekend to celebrate our third wedding anniversary. Our first anniversary was celebrated in Dubai, while the second was in New York. This year, our destination of choice was Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia is pretty neat, feeling somehow like a young town with a number of quaint streets laden with European-style pubs and off-beat shops. It also has tremendous significance in American history, as the city is home to Independence Hall, where the American constitution was signed, the Liberty Bell, the first US Post Office, and the home of Betsy Ross, who is said to have sewn the first US flag, among other things.

Touring on a bus that converted into a boat was an exciting way to see the city and the Delaware River. While on the tour, our guide showed us Will Smith’s house, right on the river. According to our guide, the residents of Philly know Smith is in town when they see flags mounted outside the house. Smith’s dad, who lives in the house year-round, puts out the flags whenever his son comes home. I guess this makes life for Smith’s stalkers much easier. Anyway, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Benjaminm Franklin Bridge

Will Smith's house

Constitution Hall

Williamsburg: A trip back to colonial times

I enjoy a a capital moment One of the most unique places I have visited in this country so far is Williamsburg, Virginia. What made this place special for me is it the vast amount of history associated with it. During our two-day visit there a few weeks back, I received a crash-course in American history.

Thanks to our quick museums tours, I got to know about the Revolutionary War, the victory in Yorktown, the Boston tea party, what taxation without representation is all about and the daily doings of the early immigrants who formed the first colonies.

A candlight dinner serenadeVisiting Jamestown, which is right down the road from Williamsburg, was pretty eye opening as well. I laid my eyes upon the original location of the first colony that gave birth to what is now the United States. It was exciting to see the early haunts of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas, two characters that for awhile I thought of as mere fiction.

Downtown Williamsburg was the most enchanting part of it all. It was a bit surreal for me to wander down cobblestone streets alongside people dressed in colonial clothes, speaking in colonial accents, while listening to colonial music and eating colonial food. It was a trip back in time in every sense of the word.

Dining in Williamsburg was out of this world, as we savored a colonial dinner in the dark using only candles for lighting — just like the good old days. Overall, it was a memorable trip. I will let the pictures — taken by the super talented husband — speak for themselves.

A tavern call goes out Colonial fortress A colonial reader