The Bride of Amman – upcoming UK tour!


UK trip schedule is ready.. we are having events in London, Oxford, Bristol, Cheltenham and Brighton to launch “The Bride of Amman” Join me and Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp

The Bride of Amman: Sexual freedoms and body rights in the Middle East

Join Fadi Zaghmout as he discusses civil rights and gender politics in the Arab world and reads from his new novel, out now in English translation.

With Brian Whitaker, Guardian journalist and author of Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East (London and Brighton)

The Suffolk Anthology bookshop, Cheltenham – 7pm, Mon 9 November

The Middle East Centre, St. Anthony’s College, Oxford – 5pm, Tuesday 10 November

The Arts House Café, Bristol – 7pm, Wed 11 November

Gay’s the Word bookshop, London, with Brian Whitaker – 7pm, Thurs 12 November

Waterstones, Brighton, with Brian Whitaker – 7.30pm, Fri 13 November

Thank you to all our hosts, and thank you everyone for helping to spread the word!

TheBrideofAmmanTemplatebrochure

My last day in Brighton


Brighton's beach

Brighton’s beach

It is my last day  in Brighton. When I first arrived, a year ago, I was kind of excited about doing my MA. Few days after my arrival, I was homesick and crying in my room. I don’t know why, but I was very stressed out back then. There were several things that I had to take care of but couldn’t figure out immediately. I had to complete my registration, open a bank account, figure out my classes schedule, figure out transportations to the city, buy a new laptop, get a phone card, and configure the internet connection on my phone and ipad. Everything felt so damn difficult, and not knowing anyone, I felt very lonely.

I thought that things would get better once I start attending my classes, but it actually got worse. I was there, sitting in a class of psychoanalysis with around another 14 students. They all looked young, European, and smart! They all had a bachelor degree in English Literature whereas mine was computer science (from Jordan’s university long long time ago). I never studied Literature, and had no idea what ‘critical thinking’ means. I was excited about the creative, wanted to read and write fiction and improve my writing skills. I didn’t really understand the nature of the course before joining, and I take full blame of that. It is split between the creative and the critical. Now I see the importance of it. But at that time, when I started reading different critical essays, I used to understand little, and in class, I used to stay silent, trying to understand the course of discussion and the different accents of the students. The fact that they could read different dimensions of a text which I could barely understand its meaning used to scare me out. Even the silent ones, whom I initially thought were less smart (like me), felt to be brilliant once they spoke up!

Two to three weeks down the line, I remember sitting there thinking to myself. I left my family, my friends and all the people who I love. I left my comfortable life, the sense of achievement I had back then after the success of Aroos Amman, and my well paying job. I left all of that to become a student again, at the age of 34 walking down the campus around 18-22 students and some postgraduates in their early twenties! I thought that I left everything for nothing as I became convinced that I am not getting much of the course and that there is no way that I could make it and pass. The thought of withdrawing from the course and the scholarship crossed my mind.

I was wrong. I learnt a lot. I had to endure several months till the end of the first term to gain back some confidence in my ability to make it. I enjoyed reading psychoanalysis and utopian/dystopian novels. I enjoyed the discussions that took place in classes even though I remained shy from participating in them. I thought that I had done a good job for the term papers and was happy to pass. On the personal side, I started to develop some friendships and became less lonely. I figured out everything I needed to live here and felt less stressed. Still, for few months, I used to open up my eyes at night hoping to see myself back in my room in Amman.

My visits to Jordan helped a lot. I went back for few days in late October to participate in Seven’s play. I went back for a month on Christmas holidays and another month for the Easter holidays. Those were refreshing times where you realise that things are still the same back home and that I haven’t lost anything. Though now it feels the year has passed very fast, the first couple of weeks felt like years for me.

I am usually a happy person and I don’t indulge myself in stressful thoughts. That’s why I couldn’t understand the way I felt at the beginning of my arrival here. I fought for this scholarship for many years. I dreamt about doing my MA in the UK. I was bored after many years of working and needed a break. I loved reading and writing and was looking forward to a year full of it. It was everything that I wanted. But it also turned into ‘be careful what you wish for’, and all I wished for was going back home.

Fast forward, I am going back home tomorrow, and I am happy about it. Things have gotten much better here for me. I developed some good friendships that would last for life. I met some amazing people whom I’d always love and remember. I learned many things; I could feel an improvement in the way I think, talk and write. I am not sure if I could say that Brighton became to feel like a second home, I do love this place now and I know that I am going to miss it. But what I am pretty sure about, and can say it in a full mouth: there is nothing like home 🙂

I am happy for getting done with my MA and returning back home. I am gonna miss so many people here, but excited to see lots of other waiting for me.