Food Court

The other day, a friend and I went to City Mall’s food court for a quick bite and it was there that I noticed that we in this society have given a modern twist to the Hindus caste system right here in Western Amman .
Sitting not far from me was a group of teenage girls who dress like me; wear more make up than me, and who look more womanly than me. They were sitting at a table sipping what I assume to be one of these low fat, low calorie , colorless and tasteless drinks specifically created to make the drinker look cool. While drinking through their plastic cups with huge logos ,they were whispering to each other, probably about the teenage boys at the next table. Trying to be discreet, they even glanced up at the boys occasionally while also texting on their mobiles and giggling to each other. Meanwhile, the teenage boys were making abrupt loud comments in street talk, probably in an attempt to get the girls’ attention, but unlike the girls, they were sporting a dirty look, while sitting amongst the piles of garbage they had created from their devoured fast food meals.
Meanwhile, the rest of the area was swarming with kids. Some ran after each other between the crowded tables, while their mothers and fathers, the middle aged working couples, pretended not to know them. As the kids ran free, the parents probably sat at the table to speak about day to day concerns like the bills, the rent, the unpaid tuition, and the loan . They shared value meals or buckets of fried chicken, or a pizza as they discussed the finances and if not the finances the kids grades. They probably didn’t want to be interrupted but on occasion their conversations were cut by a kid asking for more money for ice cream, or coins to put into a video game.
The echoes and screams got louder as the time went by, and at the center of the action was a kid who had bumped his head on the edge of a table only to let out a series of screams , cries, and a pleas for his mommy. Hearing the child’s screams surely enough , his mother , a veiled woman in tight jeans and tall boots, ran to him and picked him up off the floor.
As if the bump on the child’s head wasn’t enough she then ridiculed him for not being careful, and after telling him to stop crying she dragged him to the ladies room to wash his face.
Within this racket, the janitors were pushing their cleaning carts into whatever empty space they could find. They were pushing their way past empty strollers, and around unattended children, as well as young adults standing in circles , engaged in conversation. These hard working young men, were trying to go about their jobs , namely disposing of the food remains on tables that people had obliviously left behind. Others mopped the floor, only to have their hard work going to waste by yet another child spilling coke on the space they have just cleaned or an adult walking all over the wet floor in muddy feet.
At quieter corners of the food court, businessmen in suits were trying to pass the time of their lunch breaks with a fast food meal. They were chewing fast while talking, probably about the terrible boss and the silly colleagues.
And then occasionally, within all this chaos you would see the pathways part, only to allow for Women with bleached hair , animal print jackets, and high heals to cluck by. These women would never even stop to look at the people in the food court, as they are usually in a hurry to reach the side cafe for a sheesha. You would never even dream of spotting any of these women in the food court, where the “common” people stay. Instead, they would usually go off to fancier places like the cafe, accompanied by their shopping bags, Smartphone’s, and girlfriends. There they would hear loud music, eat burgers and fries in a glass plate, as the common people behind the glass doors eat in plastic wraps. They would only sit with people of their own kind i.e. people who smoke sheesha sip coffee and wear nice clothes.
If you look closely at this interesting breed of female cafe goers, you will even realize that they have the same hair color as they had probably had their hair done by the same colorist. They even have the same nose crafted by the same plastic surgeon, and even the same ageless expressionless face that could only be the product of Botox. These are the glamorous women who claim to eat whatever they want while stating that their perfect figure isn’t the product of relentless dieting, just like their flawless skin isn’t the result of a facial.
Their kids don’t run wiled between tables. Instead, they tap at their iPods or play in the designated play area. Their husbands don’t sit with them over a meal to discuss the bills, since the bills are really not their concern, or their husbands concern either, since the bills are already taken care of and paid for in advance. They claim that the food court is too noisy, even if the noise is only the product of kids like their own. Their teenagers wouldn’t be sitting at a table in the food court eyeing the opposite sex. Instead, they would be at a club they have an exclusive membership to or at a lower level in the mall on a shopping spree. Their kids don’t ask for more money for ice cream, instead they ask for more money for an original video game, and shoes. It is interesting how in a small space you would find people from different worlds coming together. These are the people who can afford to reach the mall, as others struggle to reach the end of the week.
And last but not least, within this same space you would also find people like me. Sitting eating burgers and fries with a friend while wondering how it is that so many people can come together in one space yet judge each other for being different.
This is a Amman, a city bound by a modern caste system.


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