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Worry not

By Nickunj Malik - Apr 26,2017 - Last updated at Apr 26,2017

After six years of living in Jordan, if I had to pick one thing that I absolutely adored about this country, it would not be Petra, the Dead Sea or even Wadi Rum, though I admired them all in equal measure. What I really loved instead regarding the Hashemite Kingdom was the manner in which the Jordanians solved all my problems each and every time, merely by exclaiming “don’t worry!”

There is a particular tone in which this phrase was expressed that cannot be mastered overnight. It came with the maturity, perseverance and experience that the inhabitants of this land acquired over a long period of time. To put it simply, what I mean is that they never uttered this term flippantly but delivered it with great authority, as if it was now the speaker’s duty to make sure that all the difficulties were resolved.

Incidentally, I was based for one decade in Africa earlier, and was well aware of the Swahili “Hakuna Matata”, which when roughly translated, meant “no worries”. That was also a wonderful expression, which signified a particular way of life. It made us conscious of how fleeting our existence was, and encouraged us to have no worries and just be happy.

But the primary difference in the two cultures was that there, one was supposed to avoid worry unilaterally on your own, but here, it seemed like it was the collective responsibility of all Jordanians to banish worry jointly. So anywhere I went, from the cellphone shop in upmarket Taj Mall to the cushion-store in downtown Amman, from the sugarcane juice seller in Irbid to the shoemaker in Salt, the interaction was always the same. 

The hurdle could be anything from say returning the cellphone, cushions not matching, sugarcane juice too watery, credit card not working, running short of cash and so on, the response was usually a unanimous “don’t worry” before a way was sought to sort it out. When I was a newcomer to this land the phraseology was repeated twice for my benefit, as an added reassurance. And once “don’t worry, don’t worry” was reiterated, I basically reached into the recesses of my subconscious and learned to develop trust. Soon I was delighted to discover that it actually worked and I relaxed while voicing my problems to a Jordanian who instantly came up with the familiar rejoinder.

And then, after another couple of years, I found myself at the receiving end of hearing their side and I realised that my usual response of “what will you do now” caused great confusion among them. If they could come up with a solution they would not have asked me for assistance, I figured. I was supposed to not only find the answer but also give mental assurance by imploring them to not worry. In other words, slowly but surely, I was turning into a Jordanian.

I must admit it still took me quite a while to perfect the right tone. My initial squeaks of “don’t worry” did not sound convincing even to my own ears.

“Hello habibti”, my Jordanian friend was on the phone the other day.

“The cake I baked for tonight’s party went flat,” she exclaimed in a dejected voice.

“What will you do now?” I asked automatically. 

There was a pin drop silence.

“Ahem! Don’t worry,” I said firmly.

“I will pass by the bakery,” I suggested.

“Are you sure?” she questioned.

 

“Don’t worry, don’t worry,” I assured authoritatively.

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Comments

Don't worry - So finally it worked Nickunj. As they say be a Roman when you are in Rome - you seem to epitomize that Nickunj. Great. But then Hakuna Matata too sounds equally convincing - for me Hakuna Matata is a better alternative ha ha ha.

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