Bedouin-Style Oud in Petra

When Abdullah approached me as I walked toward the cliffs near Petra in Jordan, I just wanted to be alone. I was tired of smalltalk, tired of being hit on, and tired of the energy required to exert myself. But I didn't want to close myself off to anyone or anything. I reminded myself that just because yesterday had been a shit day shouldn't mean that I retreat into myself and ignore the world. So I chatted with Abdullah and when he invited me for a drink, I joined him. He then joined me as I walked through the rocky terrain though it soon became clear that he was more interested in sitting and drinking gin and telling stupid jokes just to see me smile.

I soon tired of his company and his alcohol-loosened behavior towards me, but he spotted some friends of his--five Bedouin men drinking and singing in a cave--and we joined in. I couldn't resist the siren call of the music.

A master oud player, Isa, explained to me that Bedouin-style oud is very similar to the Arabic-style and he demonstrated some basic techniques. Soon he was playing a popular old song and everyone was singing and clapping along.

Isa made up one or two verses about me, and we all smiled and laughed and danced, but through it all I couldn't quite stomach the sheer amount of liquor being consumed. ("Tea is Bedouin whiskey," is a common saying in Petra. I'm inclined to say that in Petra at least, whiskey is the Bedouin whiskey.)

As I left, Abdullah bade me a sloppy and prolonged goodbye, speckled with pleas to see me again and anger at my refusal. And though I yet again felt exhausted by the interaction, the joyous music and singing buoyed me through and the strain's of Isa's oud lingered with me.


  1. Ohhh, this makes me wish I had made a better recording of the group of men having their daily 5pm folk jam in the cafe in Bursa a few days ago. But actually it's hard to post videos in wordpress anyway...

    Still fighting them off I see! :)

  2. Hi Sarah
    It's nice to read from you.
    I wanted to comment on your last blog post, blogger.com has not left me ...
    Look forward to every post of you and your life.
    Take care and I hope we'll see!
    Christian from Amman

  3. GIRL! you are a tough cookie hanging out with inebriated men in a cave! Seriously, I am developing a PPKrush on you! Soon I will be hitting on you just like Abdullah! Just kidding. I really know that feeling, as a lady, of just wanting to be out in the world and to have your sense of personal space respected. It really does get so exhausting sometimes.