Here yesterday, gone today, when will it be back?

Why of course tomorrow!

Tomorrow – the universal answer here in Jordan to any question to which the recipient either doesn’t know the answer to or knows that you won’t like the real answer.

Just to clarify the meaning of Tomorrow. The concept here of Tomorrow is very different from the Western concept. To Westerners Tomorrow is the day after today as in you go to bed and when you wake up it’s Tomorrow. Well here there’s always Tomorrow! I have learnt after living here for nearly 4 years that when someone says to you “Tomorrow” that they do not literally mean the day that comes after today. They mean maybe the day after today, maybe next week, maybe next month, maybe sometime this year, but that it will happen eventually at some point in the future.

Just to give you some context of what this means for an expat living in Wadi Musa. If you find a product that you like in the supermarket, buy up big as it might have been there yesterday, it’s gone today and it will be back… guessed it Tomorrow!

Tradesmen very much work on the concept of Tomorrow. They were here yesterday, but not today and coming back to finish the job tomorrow. Or they are always going to make a start Tomorrow. “Tomorrow we will come and start building your wall”. Works began on the wall 18 months after we had moved into our new house. When will they be finished – well Tomorrow! The wall might be sort of finished, but the road they dug up in the process and made unusable is far from being completed. 9 months and counting.

Trying to organise a trip to do some shopping in Aqaba or Amman. “Atef when are we going to Aqaba or Amman?” Tomorrow, we will go tomorrow. It’s 4 1/2 weeks since I’ve been back from Australia and still no trip to Aqaba or Amman.

I’m omitting one more important word that they will always use when giving the response of “Tomorrow”. The correct reply is actually “Tomorrow, Inshaallah”.

Inshaallah translates from Arabic into English literally as God willing. Whilst this is the literal translation in reality when used in conjunction with “Tomorrow” it is code for I’m passing the buck here and even though I’ve said tomorrow I can’t not be held responsible or accountable for that which God doesn’t will.  

Now come on everyone sing with me……Tomorrow, Tomorrow, there’s always Tomorrow, it’s only a day (week, month, year) away – Inshaallah!

8 responses to “Here yesterday, gone today, when will it be back?

  1. O yes! I can def relate to your post. It’s just the same here in Saudi. Will prob take me a while to adjust the other way when I move back to UK in few days. I’m now very used to it-but always feel the total frustration it causes to the new arrivals. I don’t think it’ll ever change so as expats I suppose we just have to try not to get too stressed by it.

  2. Haha, how interesting is that?! I think it’d annoy me after a while though, getting the same answer to everything that people are unsure of. If it’s not REALLY tomorrow then it’s not tomorrow! Argh! Oh well. I guess only the natives would truly understand 😉 x

  3. As I have a tad of a ‘neat freak’ about me and have to have my days pretty much ‘mapped out’ this attittude of ‘manana’ would methinks drive me the proverbial bananas 🙂 ! We did business in Japan for some three decades: their version was that it was rude to say ‘no’ to us – well, ‘yes’ meat”yes’ as far as we were concerned! Thus we learned to pass on our requests, disappear into the countryside for a week and by then most things had become ‘yes’ 🙂 !

  4. Same in Turkey, though tomorrow, (yardin, inshallah!) can also be substituted with later, (sonra, inshallah!) Which is generally okay except in cases where it’s the answer to questions like, “um, the class has already started. When are the textbooks coming in?” and “when can I get paid?”

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