Living in Muscat has presented with its fair share of happy moments and challenges. We like the fact that the weather is hot, we can venture out of town on the weekends and see amazing beaches and wadis, and the people are great...for the most part.
Now I'm not talking about Omanis here...I'm going to reference some interesting behaviour by expatriates, most of which have astounded and humoured Duma and I.
Case 1: I'm in the Qurum Al Fair during Ramadan, as my father-in-law is sick and needs some medicine before his international flight the following day. Its madness in the store and unfortunately, due to the retail store timings the attached pharmacy is closed. I can't find what I need, so I grab a few other things before I go on my merry way.
Enter Mrs British Expat...present in her sun dress (strapless and above the knees), wet hair and looks like she has just enjoyed a sunny day at the pool. She walks straight to the fruit section and picks a few grapes, tastes them and then doesn't hesitate to eat a few more.
I'm alarmed - ITS RAMADAN!!! You have the audacity to eat in public during the day and in front of all the Muslim staff and customers (and those others who are fasting)...and I might add that you are stealing in an Arab country!
She catches me looking at her, makes a face and then proceeds to ask "what are you looking at?" *insert snooty tone/accent* I replied "I'm just amused that you are eating in public during Ramadan". I shook my head, smiled and walked off. End of story? No.
She shrugs her shoulders and is back off to shop...but not before she starts following me through the aisles and making faces at me! This goes on for a good few minutes and then she stands opposite me at the next checkout line, while I chuckle to myself...are you serious lady? You have no idea who I am and I'm not timid, please don't make me embarrass you in public, lol.
Case 2: We have had a few issues with the parking lot at our apartment. It's pretty clear that there is assigned parking, F2 = flat #2 people! So after a week of people parking in our space, I start leaving notes on the culprit car - a red jeep wrangler. Simple notes (not abrasive) educating them that we live here now and would like our space back. Case closed? No.
The red jeep of the SA expat just sat there for a couple days and it royally pissed us off - you removed the note and now know that we live here...but you choose to park there anyway on a daily basis...why? Are they messing with us or just don't care? Another note alleviated the problem, but why should it have come to that? Next resort was Duma (in all his 6'8 masculine glory) paying a visit to this guys doorstep :-)
(sidenote - Duma made up a couple of 'don't park in our space' notes and kept them in the car, just in case lol! It was seriously getting that annoying that we had well thought out tactics and I was discussing it with friends. Duma even suggested that we put an orange cone in our space to 'send a message', whilst a friend suggested we put a cinder block in our spot as a sign - lol).
Enter British expat couple. We come home one night after a few drinks @ Pavo Real and its after midnight and another car (silver yaris this time) is politely parked in our spot. Bugger! There is only one place that we can possibly park in, though it belongs to another flat and we don't want to do the exact same thing to other tenants, but we have to as there is no other choice/place to park. We just figured we would move it early in the morning and no harm would be done.
WRONG! We wake up the following morning a little hungover and Duma wanted McDonald's for breakfast (which apparently doesn't exist in Muscat?) and upon walking out to the car park, we notice a white camry parked behind us, blocking us in and...wait for it...our windshield wipers are both up!!! Are you serious? Are these people trying to 'teach us a lesson' by putting our windshield wipers up? Wow...that was tough and so mature :-)
So after laughing about it, we got mad. We marched up to the apartment (obviously we knew who did it because we were in their spot) and knocked on the door. The lady scarily stood behind the door complaining "well we are just sick of it" and whilst we agreed, we explained what had happened and that we were victims of the same act. So her husband comes down to move the car.
Is he apologetic? No. Is he embarrassed? No. He just comes down and makes small talk and we explain our story of Mr. Red Jeep. "That's funny" he says "that guy is my neighbour and has his own spot"...excellent, so now we know who's door to bang on IF he does it again :-)
Then he moves his white camry. Case closed? No.
Yesterday we pull into the car park (about 1 1/2 weeks after the incident) and there is an SUV parked in their spot again...the white camry is parked behind it...windshield wipers up and all!
But here is the kicker - the SUV actually managed to manoevre out from the spot and the camry just sat there looking stupid and now blocking everyone else in on that end of the lot. And here comes the British guy with his tail between his legs, forced to move his car whilst looking like an a$$. Priceless! Well it made us laugh anyway :-)
I just got home from collecting the tickets that Duma won to Khasab (on Oman's National Ferry service) via a competition on the Hi-FM radio website. Cheers Hi-FM :-)
The day he won them we were emailing back and forth and I was telling him how lucky my brother is since he is forever winning competitions and finding money (well the latter as a kid anyways) - jealous much? Then Duma gets a call the same afternoon from the radio station to say that he has won 2 tickets to Khasab...what a spin out! Here is what we will be riding in:
We can't wait...what a great way to chillax and take some photos of the coast (its a 6 hr cruise up to Musandam) and spend a weekend away, while checking out the most northern point of Oman. Looks like we will probably do some snorkeling or see the dolphins, trek around and check out the fort, oh and my personal favourite - a dhow cruise! Will write an update and post pics when we get back from the trip...
Last night we decided to go to Shatti to watch a movie, as this is one of our favourite past times. And, although we went about 3 times while we were here visiting in May, we thought we knew what we were in for...but were once again surprised and enlightened.
Things we liked:
~ tickets are 3 OMR = AUS$9
~ large diet pepsi + large bag of maltesers + medium mixed popcorn (caramel & plain...yum!) was 1.8 OMR = less than AUS$6
Things we disliked:
~ every ad shown prior to the movie is about cars = gets really boring. And I'm not kidding, it was every single advert before the movie began...
~ the sound is LOUD! Like "is there a boeing 747 in this room?" kinda loud. ~ the courtesy screens show "turn off your GSM" yet this goes unnoticed and everyone is texting/calling/answering calls to their hearts content - no discretion whatsoever!!!
Ever heard of putting your phone on silent? (We even heard the MSN sound over and over again...that alerts you when you have a new IM - WTF?)
~ the guy sitting next to me was burping away, whilst talking to the guy next to him, while sending an sms, then proceeded to make and accept phone calls.
The only thing that made this a different experience to sitting outside at Al Deyar cafe was that Al Deyar has shisha...and we sure could have used a smoke to chill out after this crazy experience :-)
Last Friday we ventured off to As Seifa beach with a few new friends (some Aussies, Irish folk, Saffers, a Brit and a couple of Omani expat brats - self proclaimed!), an esky full of cold drinks, plenty of food for a BBQ lunch, our swimming gear, a frisbee and soccer ball...it was probably the BEST time we have had here so far, well at least this time around anyway.
The drive was beautiful, such amazing scenery and we never get tired of driving through little villages and seeing how the people live - all with smiles on their faces but bloody rubbish everywhere! The Tiida did well getting up the steep hills and over the soft sand, thank God Duma knows how to handle beach driving as I would have gotten us stuck for sure!
We didn't take any pictures as it was H-O-T and we couldn't be bothered making the trek back to the car to get Duma's good camera and I left mine at home. But we will hopefully make it back out there soon, so pics will follow!
The water was that greeny-blue that makes you think of Mauritius or the Seychelles, so clear you can see for metres in front of you and the temperature was great, like sitting in a lukewarm bath! We parked just to the right of a private cove and stayed there until the sunset.
We definitely plan on heading back to camping, sleeping bag under the open skies and stars - sounds like heaven to me...
My girlfriends will understand this - it was SO nice to be able to get out of town and wear something I own and normally wear, not having to worry about who I might be offending/attracting or how much skin I am showing! Bearing in mind, I only wore a tankini and a pair of boardies given that I wasn't sure before we left home, but I could have worn a bikini and I would have been fine :-)
And sun..oh how I love thee! When you live in such heat and humidity and sit in air-conditioning all day everyday (hyundai - ok corny joke lol. not sure if its international though?), it is paradise to go somewhere and sit in the sun with a cold cider and enjoy the breeze...reminds me of all the great beaches we have back home in WA *sniff sniff*
So here's to new friends, new beginnings...and a new favourite beach!
Warning - driving in Oman IS hazardous to everyones health!
On Thursday afternoon we were driving from CCC and heading to QCC via the road near the Nissan dealership, it was a hot day out, all was good and we had a full day of weekend activities planned...I was texting Lisa back at the time, sitting in the backseat while Duma was leisurely driving and talking to his Dad. The next moment I looked up we saw a small white car clip a motorcyclist...the motocyclist wobbled around trying to regain their balance and was then clipped again by the same car and flung to the ground!
And what did the driver do? They pulled over and were overcome with guilt, worried about the guy right??? WRONG! They braked for a second...then proceeded to speed off through the light and continue towards the main Qurum roundabout - BASTARD!!! They knew they had hit someone and didn't care enough to even stop of find out if they were ok.
As we were directly behind the crash, we immediately stopped in the middle of the highway to help the guy (who by this time was convulsing and in complete shock) - but we were torn because we wanted to chase down the guy who did it, so that there would be some justice in the world...The traffic was at a stand still, the petrol cap had come off the bike and there was petrol everywhere...so Duma turned his bike off while FIL and I tended to the man...trying to make sure he was conscious and frantically yelling out for the bystanders and 'rubber neckers'
to call the ROP and Ambulance.
FYI - there were the three of us actively trying to help the guy, a group of about 12 Indians who had apparently jumped out of a couple cars on the service road...all 'watching', and there were about 6-7 Omanis who were standing on the road divider and barking out orders.
Damian was smart enough to jump in the car to move it further up the road because of all the petrol, and to make way for the Paramedics.
Next thing we know, an older Omani guy walks up to us and tells us to move the crash victim -
Me & FIL: We can't move him, he may have a neck or spinal injury
Man: Well we can't leave him here, look at the cars piling up and he will die out here in the sun
Me: What are you talking about? It is a person and we aren't going to move him just bc of traffic! Man: Take off his helmet
Me: No! We need to wait for the ambulance, has anyone called the ROP? FIL: Is anyone here a Dr?
Man: (speaking Arabic to bystanders) We are moving him...the Police will take forever
So what do they do? They picked him up (looking like a Rag Doll) and moved him into the backseat of a nearby car, as the three of us cringed at possible injuries he endured as a result of being moved...and within a minute the ROP were there and directing/clearing traffic.
We tried to give a witness statement to the first ROP officer, who said he didn't speak English. The second ROP officer was too busy checking papers of the guy who was going to drive the injured man to hospital (before the ambos arrived), so we interrupted him to give a statement...to find out that he also spoke limited English.
So what could we do? They said we could go ahead and leave, but FIL was smart enough to hand them a business card to have someone call us later about the incident, hoping they would bother. To their credit, the ROP office did call about an hour later, though considering we only knew it to be a small white vehicle (which could be anyone) with a yellow plate (which means a locally registered car I think?) our report was useless and will probably amount to nothing.
I was so angry...how can someone be so self-absorbed and have such little regard for another human being, an injured one at that? How can you sleep at night, knowing that you put someone in hospital, who could have been your son/father/uncle on any other day???
I believe in karma and truly hope that the driver gets what is coming to them...