Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Circus Comes to Town

The circus came to our city in Jordan for the first time! Not exactly what we Americans think of as a circus, but at least it was something for our city, which has the atmosphere of a huge, overgrown village. It was a Russian circus. When people asked me about the animals, I told them there was one animal featured, a dog that was dressed as an elephant! Never have my friends and I laughed so much together as when I told them about the dog that performed as an elephant!

It happened this way: in my English class, we had a lesson which featured pictures of people doing stunts in a circus ring, so since I had heard that a circus had come to town, I suggested that we go together. Only three guys showed up to go with me. They had found out that the circus began at 6:00, but when we arrived at the big tent, no other cars were there. We were told that the first night the time had been changed to 7:00, so the three guys and I went to the doughnut shop for coffee.

It was their first time to be at a circus, except for one, who had completed his medical degree in Russia. He was not that impressed since he has seen much greater performances in Russia. We bought the first class tickets, so got to sit right down next the ring. Of course, the circus didn't begin at 7:00. After all, this is Jordan. So we sat talking and watching a woman sell noisy toys to children. My students said now they understood why it was half price for children. They would end up paying as much because of the toys they bought.

The smells and sounds were overpowering, and we began discussing what it reminded us of. I told them with all the sounds it reminded me of a barnyard! They laughed at the idea of our sitting in a barnyard. That got us into a discussion of the meaning of barnyard and barn! I had just done a story of Jesus birth in the chronological Bible storying that I do with other friends, so I had learned a new word for stable. When I told them this word for stable, they all laughed, because it was a very colloquial word. From that, I had the chance to relate the whole story of Jesus' birth!

The performance included a 65-year-old woman who was able to spin many hoola hoops around various parts of her body. She awed the audience with her slender, agile body because of her age and youthful-looking appearance. There were people on the flying trapeze, a man who stacked chairs at various angles and did acrobatic tricks on them, a man who threw knives all around a brave woman, as she stood against a block of wood, a man who swallowed swords and ate fire, as well as the dog dressed as an elephant.

The guys told me that children today have so much more than they had as they were growing up. They had never seen a performance like this when they were children.

Afterwards we wanted to have our pictures with the performers, but the head of security stopped us and would not allow it. As we were about to leave, I had an idea. I thought it would be delightful if we could meet the performers and maybe take them out to eat, since my student could communicate with them in Russian.

We tried to re-enter, and called out to the head of security who had talked with us. He said, "Sorry, but we could not do so." But he suggested that we come another day and he would allow us to meet them. So, that's a possibility for the future. The circus will remain here throughout Ramadan and then for a time afterwards.

Posted by PF

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