On a Mission of Hope and Peace- Pope Francis in Jordan and Beyond

by Mridula on May 26, 2014

in Canon D550,Cell phone photography,Jordan,Lumia 1020,Photography

Pope Francis visit to Jordan and beyond has already been hauled as historic. I was part of the Indian media team that was invited by the Jordan Tourism Board to cover the event.

When the ‘popemobile’ entered the Amman Stadium, the crowds erupted in a deafening cheer. The charismatic Pope Francis waved to the crowds. At some places the mobile stopped and the pope shook hands with some blessed souls. The music from the choir and the spontaneous cheer in the stadium blended harmoniously.

Pope Francis, Amman Stadium, Jordan

Pope Francis at Amman Stadium, Jordan #Canon550D

Pope Francis has been on a three day visit of bringing hope and peace to the Middle East. He visited Jordan, Palestine Authority and Israel. Apart from conducting holy mass and performing other religious ceremonies at important religious sites across these three nations, he invited both the Israel and Palestine leaders to visit Vatican. At this moment it seems both the sides have accepted the invitation. While addressing the gathering in the Amman Stadium he urged for an end to the civil war in Syria. The Pope hailed the efforts of Jordan for offering shelter to Syrian refugees.

Amman Stadium, Jordan

Volunteers at the Mass, Amman Stadium, Jordan #Lumia1020

Jordan has been an oasis of calm in an otherwise troubled region. Its neighbors Iraq, Syria, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt all has gone through turbulent times. Jordan has taken refugees in large numbers both from Palestine and now Syria. With a 92% Muslim population and Islam as state religion, its constitution still provides freedom to practice other religions. My guide to the events Salahuddin Abu Naffa mentioned that Jordan has tried to be the Switzerland of Middle East in the recent times.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis Conducting Mass, Amman Stadium, Jordan #Canon550D

Away from the pope’s mass, at the Dead Sea, after having my fill of floating, ‘reading a newspaper’ and exhausting my skin with mud packs, I noticed an Arabic woman in her headgear swimming strongly beyond the safe barrier erected by the hotel. When she came back I asked her how was the sea out there? She replied that it was clam but she could swim well. The customary ‘where are you from’ followed and I asked her the same as well. But her reply was not what I expected. She said, “I am a doctor from Palestine. I now live in Jordan. I cannot go back to Palestine; there is no hope of it. All my neighbors are Arab, we speak the same language. Was there no other land in the world for Israel?” I am of course a novice at understanding the nuances of Middle East politics which baffles even the pundits. But I was completely taken aback by her anger, it was almost a physical thing, I thought I could almost touch it.

With so much anger buried deep inside common wo/men (on both sides I am sure) I wonder how long the road to peace is going to be? But peace there must be, as Pope Francis emphasized throughout his historic visit to the Middle East for the alternative is cruel to all.

On the personal front, when the ‘popemobile’ started whizzing past me, I knew I had only this one chance to take a picture of the Pope at such a close range. I was perched precariously on a chair to gain height, so were many other photographers. In the past, I have captured a tigress that was even closer but my hands were ever steady. They shook so badly on this occasion that I when I saw some ‘in focus’ pictures of the pope in my camera, I raised my free hand and yelled with glee.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Abeesh Thomas June 19, 2014 at 11:32 am

wow, what a privilege to receive invitation for this occasion

Reply

sindhoooo May 28, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Nice captures! Felt sad for the Palestine lady…

Regards,
Sindhu
Tantu
The Arts & Me

Reply

Mridula May 29, 2014 at 10:30 am

Middle East political scenario feels so complicated Sindhu.

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Maniparna Sengupta Majumder May 27, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Oh..you’re having a gala time out there…thanks for taking us to Jordan through your photographs and narration… :-)

Let there be peace everywhere…Amen..

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Mridula May 29, 2014 at 10:32 am

Thank you Maniparna, I indeed enjoyed my stay at Jordan.

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Krishna May 27, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Thanks for this wonderful and informative post Mridula.
Your Jordan visit, the political situation over there and meeting with Pope are all something new that we are eagerly waiting to hear from you.

Reply

Mridula May 29, 2014 at 10:40 am

Thank you Krishna. The posts will keep coming.

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Bikram May 27, 2014 at 4:38 pm

AMEN.. i do hope peace comes

Bikram

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Mridula May 29, 2014 at 10:43 am

That is what we all hope for Bikram.

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rupam { xhobdo } May 27, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Great post and photos , Thanks for sharing.

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Mridula May 29, 2014 at 10:44 am

Thank you Rupam.

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Empty Rucksack May 27, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Did you get travel around in Jordan?

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Mridula May 29, 2014 at 10:46 am

I did get to travel around a bit in Jordan as well.

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Anki S May 26, 2014 at 11:17 pm

Jesus Mridula,you are the one super lucky lady! You wouldn’t believe but me and Nisha Jha were discussing about you,that how cool your teaching job is,I was so impressed that I might join in as a Junior teacher if there is a vacancy under you :)

Lol jokes apart.A very impressive post.Jordan no doubt is a great place,surrounded by turbulent neighbours.I somehow dun understand the cause of wars..but yeah its sad.

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Mridula May 29, 2014 at 10:58 am

Ankita thank you for your generous comments and enjoy your trips!

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Preethi Venugopal May 26, 2014 at 9:27 pm

So lucky you were to be there on the historic occasion. I had read a book about middle east politics…totally grossed me out. Hope there is peace out there in the near horizon.

Reply

Mridula May 29, 2014 at 11:14 am

I too hope for peace Preethi.

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