Nejla: Al Salt, Jordan, October 25, 2008

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It’s the last day of principal photography on Transformers 2. We’re in Al-Salt, a hilly area about half an hour outside of Amman. Formerly the capital of Jordan, Al-Salt has streets lined with shops of all kinds, from which rise winding roads reaching into hills dense with apartments weathered by time, with character and teeming with life. As I walk up the sidewalk from our basecamp, groups of beautiful children, some barefoot, tag along, shouting greetings and questions in a language I cannot understand. But they understand my camera and I make some photos, letting a few of them use my camera to make photos as well. Later, up the hill, we’re filming in a small courtyard surrounded by old apartments. A young child next to her father peers out their window at the filming. I raise my camera for a photo with the father’s assent, but the child shies away into the shadows. A young woman onlooker, who seems not of the neighborhood yet very at home in the courtyard, speaks in Arabic to the young girl, convincing her to stay by her Dad for the picture. I thank the young woman who, speaking fluent English tells me she loves photography. “Are you an artist?” I ask. “No, but I do love art and music” she replies. We talk a bit aid she tells me there is so much so see in Jordan and that I should stay around to photograph it. It dawns on me that she is stunning. “May I make a photo with you?” I ask. “OK, but I just had my wisdom teeth out and my face feels puffy.” I can’t tell, and click two frames. “If you have an email, I’ll send this to you.” She writes her email in my book with a smiley face note “Come back!” That night, on instinct, I do a Google search on her name and find out that Nejla is a Princess of Jordan, a member of the Royal Family. I have since stayed in touch with this lovely, very down-to-earth young lady and we are discussing a photographic collaboration involving her family and the people of Jordan. I am enchanted of having met a princess, grateful for a new friend, and more convinced than ever of the power of “hello.”

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