The Kilim (carpet) seller in Madaba


Walking down an alley in Madaba, a signboard depicting symmetrical patterns caught my attention. Tempted to pick up an authentic kilim, I went in and found myself in a workshop replete with weaving looms. Ziad Maiah, the owner, welcomed me inside the store, pointing towards shelves stacked with kilims of all colours and sizes. I pulled out a beige piece dotted with brown and grey geometric shapes. ‘That one is for 25 Dinars.’ ‘Will you sell it for 20?’ He accepted my naive attempt at haggling with a grin. ‘You have come to Jordan. I must make sure that you leave my country happy!’

“Would you like a cup of hot mint tea?” asked Ziad Maiah.  After a long day, the offer was hard to turn down. I none-too-gracefully made myself comfortable between the hand woven kilims; some stretched out and pinned up on the walls, with others, perhaps subjected to the day’s haggling, heaped together in a pile on the floor.

And so, I found myself discussing Hindi cinema with an old man in a kilim store, waiting on his offer of tea. ‘I am the third generation in my family who is taking the carpet weaving legacy forward,’ he said in a thick Arabic accent as his wife emerged from a door at the rear of the store, carrying two cups of the much awaited hot mint tea. Sipping on his tea, he pulled out his phone to show a YouTube movie clip. Ziad repeated one line after another, now perfected after many a show.

‘It has a famous song – Bol Radha Bol, sangam hoga ki nahin (Tell Radha, will we ever come together?).’ I tried to affirm my knowledge of Hindi cinema, hoping to strike a chord.

‘Yes, yes!’, he smiled back at me. ‘Hoga, hoga, hoga! (We will, we will)’