Amman, Jordan is the waystation for journalists travelling to Iraq  (unless you are going in with the military through Kuwait). So few airlines fly to Baghdad, that Royal Jordanian can charge $1200 for an Amman-Baghdad round trip, a flight of about 90 minutes.

The Intercontinental Hotel is no longer the favored watering spot for journalists, but I have stayed here for years because I love watching the Jordanian families, and politicians, who congregate in its lobbies. And then there are the weddings.

In a Middle East that can  be all too gloomy, it is a treat to watch an exhuberant Arab wedding. I saw one on Friday night. The bride, resplendent in a sleeveless, lowbacked, sparkly white gown with train minced down the stairs with her groom, preceded by relatives with videocams, to the sound of Arab drums, clapping hands, and a bagpipe. Some of her bridesmaids had lowcut gowns, others - in the same color scheme - wore full-shouldered, long sleeved gowns with headscarves. A reminder that those who are more and less religiously observant can live together perfectly well in this region, if only the fanatics would leave them alone.