Monday, December 21, 2009

Brits vs Yanks

Yesterday my couriered package finally arrived from my Mum, containing the much awaited university certificates that my employer needs before I can start work. So, this I went to the British Embassy (there isn't an Aussie one here, so they do most of the stuff we need, rather than sending everything to Riyadh in Saudi) to have them attested so my visa can be processed.

I get there and go through the usual security rigomoral and given it was raining this morning and therefore really humid, upon arrival to the main gate I looked like a wet dog shaking myself off to dry. Humidity is my nemesis or kryptonite some would say, my curly hair frizzes and my face shines so brightly that I tend to reflect light for kms. Its a whole lot of fun I tell you.

Then off to the consular visa section, where they proceeded to tell me that they could only attest my Aussie degree and that I would have to take my US one to their consulate, down the road. And RO 16.5 later (AUD$45) tomorrow I should have 5 copies ready to pick up. Seriously, do they really need that long to check me out and stamp my bloody paper?

So I trek off to the US Consulate and passing the Indian Embassy it looked like something big was going down = >300 Indians on the grounds queuing and hanging around + Omani police patrolling...not sure if it was a National Day for India or if there were protests, but unfortunately in that area of town no photos are allowed. So if anyone knows what was going on, feel free to enlighten us all and leave a comment below. Cheers.

After reaching the US Consulate I went through the security rigomoral again and was sent through a big steel door and left to roam around the grounds on my own. But not before an American (we call them Yanks or Doodles, as in Yankee Doodle) woman got pissed off because she apparently had been waiting to get something notorised and yelled to the security guard "but hey, I'm an American and SHE gets to go in first?" to which I replied "Sorry but how do you know I'm not American? And I don't think it has anything to do with where I'm from, my query is probably different to yours". She shut up briefly as she was getting stared down by the guard, but then said " I can tell your not American because of your look, unless you are Hispanic"...ha. As if I haven't had that said to me before, but seriously you knew I wasn't American because of my look? Maybe it was because I don't walk like I have a carrot stuck up my a$$? I didn't say that but God I wanted to. I was just real tough and chuckled to myself instead, but loud enough for her to hear me. Real tough right?

So once I'm in I get escorted to the right area and the woman takes my certificate, leaves for 10 minutes and then comes back with 1 attested US College degree and 1 copy for my employer. And how much you ask? FREE! That's right, the Yanks did something for free, whereas the Brits try to squeeze as much time and money out of you as they can.

Now, you may wonder why I felt inclined to post about this, but the whole process irritated me. Australia is a part of the Commonwealth and therefore the Queen is our Monarch. You would think that The British Embassy would cut us a break and consider an 'us' mentality where they would help a fellow Commonwealther (I agree, thats not a word) out, in a time of need. But instead they told me to come back in 24hrs, and took my money in exchange for a whole lots of papers that I don't need. I only need 1...not 5. And whats with the charge? Where is the money going?

But it was instead the Doodles who came to my aid and regardless of whether I was an Aussie or a supposed-Hispanic (I guess I did walk in looking like I just crossed the Mexican border), they gave me what I needed with no fuss, no delay and more importantly FREE! Hooray for the Doodles :)

So far, between these people - arrogant Brit couple in our apartment block, the British woman I met @ Al Fair, and the Embassy...the Brits are severely losing the Brit vs Yank Battle.

Ok so the smart a$$ American lady was obnoxious but she can be forgiven since the US Consulate didn't charge me or make me wait for the sake of waiting.

Just another day in the sands of Oman...

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Check this out for a pre-post warm up. Unfortunately the video link on YouTube has been disabled but just click the link :)

We have been hanging out for a good night of karaoke ever since it was brought to out attention that Pavo Real does it on Mondays...but unfortunately our plan to go tomorrow night was severely hampered by the fact that us and most of our friends right now are broke as a joke OR have to work the next day and find it hard to get into full karaoke mode sans the ever popular and equally AWESOME margarita jugs on offer. But oh yes, we are going in the new year fo' sheezy!

Given its the silly season and Duma and I don't want to go overboard on gifts for each other (I think its the Aussie low-key approach to Xmas), the fact that its just the 2 of us + my not having started work yet = lack of funds, we decided to get small but functional and logical gifts for us/the apartment = gifts that keep on giving.

Where am I going with this post? We decided to purchase a bar fridge for the living room (Freddie - your wish was our command!), I got season 4 of Greys Anatomy, Duma is on the hunt for some new Police shades...AND *drum roll please* ...

LIPS - karaoke game for the xbox 360 + 2 mics to rock the house :) And yes, this karaoke star duo WILL take requests :)

We have been waiting for this for ages, but nowhere seemed to sell the mics alone. So we just decided to splurge and get the Lips pack, complete with the epic Number One Hits last night we were belting out songs to our hearts content, which I'm sure amused and annoyed the neighbours.

Get some of these classics people:

U Can't Touch This - MC Hammer
Karma Chameleon - Culture Club
Don't Worry, Be Happy - Bobby McPherin
More than Words - Extreme
Hey There Deliliah - Plain White T's
Everybody Wants to Rule The World - Tears for Fears
Around the Way Girl - LL Cool J
Bubbly - Colby Caillat

But where is Ice Ice Baby - Vanilla Ice, when you need it? Or Blame it on the Rain - Milli Vanilli, or Sweet Dreams - Eurythmics, or I Will Survive - Gladys Knight, or Black Velvet - Alannah Myles, or Proud Mary - Tina Turner?

Poll - Whats your favourite karaoke song? Check this chick out...rockin' to Miss Tina herself! Classic.

And here is a tribute to cool guys from the past...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Censored - Kissing or C U Next Tuesday?

Yesterday was an interesting day = coffee morning @ Shatti Cinemas for a Ladies movie outing. I went to the last one alone and it was fun for me-myself-and I, the movie being The Ugly Truth...a true chick flick which was predictable but I enjoyed it nonetheless. So this time around I anticipated it would be much the same and gathered a gang (four is considered a gang) of fab ladies to partake in the shenanigans with me.

And shenanigans it was! We get there and pay for our tickets then proceed to the Dunkin' Donuts stand to grab our free donut and coffee. Now, 'J' (no, I'm not speaking in the 3rd person y'all!) don't do coffee so I suggest that she might be able to get a tea instead since it was written on the menu...but the Dunkin' Donuts girl said it was only coffee - like the heart stopping, artery clogging, feel like you haven't brushed your teeth in 3 days kinda strong filtered coffee. No problem, I will just go and ask the ticket lady if we can get 'J' a water or something. And it went pair-shaped from there.

Me: My friend doesn't drink coffee, do you have tea/juice/water she could have instead?
Ticket Lady: No, its a ladies coffee morning ma'am *head wobble*
Me: I appreciate that, but she doesn't drink it and although it is a coffee morning surely you offer something else to the masses that don't drink coffee?
Ticket Lady (getting more agitated as time goes by): No, we don't! The email invitation explicitly stated that it was a coffee morning, but we will take your request on board for the future coffee mornings *smile*
Me: Well coffee shops here don't just sell coffee...they sell juice/tea/water, but their title is a coffee shop.
Ticket Lady: Well, she can certainly buy a water if thats what she wants? *head wobble*

So I go and tell 'J' that she is welcome to purchase a water and she does so, only to have the concession stand guy tell her he isn't working...and then ticket lady says something in Hindi aka tells him to serve her...aye aye aye it was a mess I tell you...can someone please just get my friend something to drink already? And eventually concession stand guy comes through and 'J' is no longer parched, yet her wallet is a little lighter and we are all truly annoyed.

So, on to the movie. We are all in the mood for a good (or bad) chick flick and given Kate Hudson and Jason Biggs are in the cast, I anticipate it will be a typical Rom-Com with some sarcasm and stupid stupid laughs. Think American Pie meets Bride Wars right? Well, that it was BUT Dane Cook took the cake saying the 'cu#t'* word less than 1.5 minutes into the movie...which truly set the tone for the rest of the movie and endless shrieks of horror from the nanna's in the rows behind us. While we giggled with nervousness and surprise, many a sophisticated lady was taken a back by the constant swearing, vulgar language and singing of "pop that pussy" throughout the movie. Just what you expect from a wholesome coffee/movie morning no? SURPRISE!

* Note for the day - Today's modern western youth often replace this word with the acronym - C U Next Tuesday ;) And for the record, I hate that word too!

Now I'm not posting this to offend anyone (oops, shoulda done a disclaimer at the beginning!) but it begs the question - why in Oman, do they need to cut the kissing scenes out of movies (New Moon would have been better with a kiss or five - which the rest of the world were able to witness), when repetitive swearing/reference to genitalia/sexual actions are all kosher? It makes me wonder who the censor is for the Oman Movie Association or like organisation.

Definition (as taken from the ever faithful
cen·sor (sěn'sər)
A person authorized to examine books, films, or other material and to remove or suppress what is considered morally, politically, or otherwise objectionable.

Hmmm, a kiss is more objectionable than saying C U Next Tuesday? *shrugs shoulders with raised eyebrows*. It seems you can 'talk' about sex til the cows come home, just not do anything physical whatsoever.

Needless to say, the ladies in the washroom after the movie were NOT impressed and I think they may have had to recover by spending the afternoon talking about it amongst their bridge group or croquet club over Devonshire tea, scones and cucumber sandwiches. And whilst I wasn't the least bit offended, I did write an email to the Cinema with my feedback and asked why they chose that particular movie to show to a ladies group which was open to all nationalities and ages?

And after checking my email this morning, my response was "your delivery to the following recipient xxx failed". Things that make you go hmmm, because it was the same email address that I used 24hrs ago to rsvp to the event (to which I got a reply).

OHHHHH and I forgot to mention, as we were leaving the movies a couple of ladies wanted to have a smoke so we stopped and chatted. Ticket Lady gets into her pretty red car and starts to drive away, crunching over the kerb as she goes and as graciously as an elephant falling, scrapes her car and tires for a few seconds. She proceeds to drive a few metres and then stops in mid traffic to get out and survey the damage, stops to look back at us with sheer embarrassment and then drives off. Oops!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Simple acts of kindness make my day

A sympathetic soul (who apparently passes through our blogspot from time to time) has kindly directed Duma to a liquor store here in Muscat thats stocks our beloved MadFish wines from Margaret River WA - say it aint so?!?!?! In reading this post, they came to our rescue and I'm eternally grateful PG...

And from the same post, a new 'friend' (yes, thats what we call each other Gatvol - when we meet for coffee, pour out our hearts and talk about waxing and other inappropriate female things - we are friends ha!) graced me with a packet of Tim Tams via Dubai. And an angry 'friend' trekked all over Toronto for them as a wonderful surprise, only to see them sitting in her small town grocery store - bless! (Oops, I just outed myself as Duma was not involved in the destruction of said delectable, erotic bikkies - yes, they are ALL that *black girl finger snap*

If you don't believe me, check this out (Tim Tam straws or Tim Tam Slam) - all the cool kids are doing it!.

Ahhh its simple acts of kindness from strangers and friends in disguise that make my day x Gracias muchachos!


Sorry all, I know I have been slack in writing but I haven't really had anything exciting to say (not that it means this post has any substance either) but I felt it was time to get back on the horse and see if my creative juices started flowing. But I have nothing, nada, zilch. It could be writers block or the fact that I am now addicted to watching UFC fights on TV and I just haven't been able to move the 2m to our PC from the couch (unless its for a coffee date or to do my daily Jillian Michael's workout) :)

Ok, so its not that bad but I just haven't had anything new to report so thought I would spare you the babble. Until now.

I haven't gone awol because that would involve actually going somewhere, which we have not. We wanted to use our free ferry tickets to Khasab over Eid, but alas Duma had to work 3 of the 5 public holidays and since our funds weren't flowing the way we would like, the hotel booked up before we could sort it out - all because my new employer doesn't understand my love of money and has been taking their sweet a$$ time coordinating the processing of my visa et al.

The latest saga is that the day before my confirmed first day of work, I get a call from the office stating the Ministry needs my original uni degrees (couldn't they have advised me of that way back when, to avoid the delay?) = ringing my Mum and Duma's mum to find them and then courier my documents from Australia to Oman. Seriously, the staff are lovely but there is a lot to be said for workplace efficiency and given that a BIG part of my job will be evaluating the HR policies and processes, I already have a fair few ideas and new initiatives to implement given personal experience. Its fair to say that being nice doesn't pay the bills, only a job or sugar daddy does...and as I retired my single card long ago, sadly my only option is a J-O-B.

I have to keep reminding myself that we really are blessed and things could be worse...amongst all the delays and drama, Oman is a beautiful place and being different isn't wierd, its just different. So I breathe deeply, guzzle my umpteenth coffee, remember that things take time and patience, even though the latter was never one of my best traits.

Our Eid plans to go out of town flopped (but we did squeeze in a sunset ferry cruise as above, dolphin watching and snorkeling), buying our a new car has been delayed and my sanity is hinging on when I start work - not to mention that I'm getting sick of explaining (and then laughing hysterically) with my friends why I haven't started work yet...because of course the first thing they ask is "How is your new job?" considering I accepted it over 3 weeks ago. Its to the point now that its actually funny.

Timeline as follows:

15/9 - 1st IV with company (get steamrolled by the external consultant as he seemed more focused on stroking his ego and demonstrating his IV skills to Management by highlighting what I can't do, as opposed to what I can and discussing my competencies and experience). Told I will hear back after Eid but not holding my breath.

27/9 - Eid well and truly over and still no word so I sent an email. The next day I receive a response stating that I will find out tomorrow insha'allah* as the board needs to decide on a few things.

* 'If Allah wills it' aka used loosely and often to put off anything that one cannot be bothered doing / is out of their hands / may or may not happen / hopeful but not likely.) AND when it comes to getting furniture delivered or internet installed, it usually means...wait a while...a LONG while.

4/10 - Received email stating I am suitable for 2nd IV TBC insha'allah.

12/10 - 2nd IV goes really well, apparently there is a newly created position for me but requires GM sign off.

9/11 - Nearly a month, countless emails later (from my end) and after 2 other job offers, I receive the offer letter by email. Apparently it has been sitting on the GM's desk and waiting for his initials since 12/10.

22/11 - Medical tests completed, advised they will be processed by 5/12 due to Eid.

5/12 - Receive a call from the company stating that everything is good to go, but they need my original university certificates, which of course are in Australia and need to be couriered = more delays!

So...after 3 months of running around and chasing my tail, here's hoping that I will be sitting in my new office, in my new work clothes, reading my new work emails and writing new blog posts from my new work 2010 - INSHA'ALLAH folks !!!


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Movember vs. Indian moustaches

** Disclaimer ** This post comes with a few socially inappropriate comments (not mine I assure you) so please read on at your own expense or don't say I didn't warn you :)

Once again it is that time of year, where many of our Western male compadres have grown/attempted a moustache to raise money and awareness for Prostate Cancer & Male Depression charities all over the world. It is a great cause and really, the only time that many of them can get away with the porn-star/Magnum PI look at work.

Duma has never participated in Movember, but each year we sponsor a bunch of our mates and make sure that we recognise the good that comes out of so many guys having crappy, wispy, scratchy of my girlfriends wrote on facebook that "my bf's face looks like a botched bikini wax - thanks Movember!". Friggin' hilarious, and I'm sure there are women all over the world who feel the same!

So the concept of Movember came up at Duma's work, where there is pretty much a mixed bag of nationalities - Omani, Indian, Filipino, a few Saffers, a couple of Italians and an Aussie. So you can imagine that leads to many interesting conversations over lunch and Duma revealed the idea behind Movember BUT moreso to lead into asking about why SO many Indian men have these fabulously MASSIVE moustaches!?!?

Can you imagine the smell? Gross!

His colleague explained that having a big 'mo' is a sign of masculinity, and that for the older generations if you didn't have a mo you were considered gay. Now, the younger generation are apparently less inclined to follow this trend and are breaking away from the 'big mo' phenomenon. Interesting no? But bear with me for a minute as I explain Duma's dilemma/reaction...

We see Indian men walking around town, holding hands and arms around each other in a seemingly 'intimate' way, giggling and enjoying each others company. So the question he poses is "So no mo means you are a homosexual, but hugging and holding hands with other guys doesn't?". Go figure.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

OO7 and the dress...

The Crystal Ball is only 2 weeks away and thank God I was fortunate enough to find a good seamstress with a friend. I gave her a picture of the dress and was then advised about the amount and type of fabric I needed for the dress, so ventured to a HUGE fabric store to get what I needed or at least...what I thought I needed.

The thing is here, if the person you are talking to isn't western, you are going to get confused (as I'm sure is the case if it was vice versa). Ami - The Chinese Australian lady told me to "go to the fabric store at Al Khamis on the left, not the right" (ok, so she got it backwards...which way was she facing when she was giving me these directions?) and ask for the 150 good quality silk @ RO 6.5, not the RO 3 crap if I wanted a good dress.

So I went to the left store, asked for the best silk and it was RO 3 but looked nice. They had the Sapphire blue I wanted and all was good. Except they didn't have the 4m I required (or the right coloured/textured lining) so I needed to choose another colour. Now, I was trying to stay away from black, but was avoiding Pink (for fear of looking like the Oman version of the UK's Jordan) and Red (for fear of wanting to break out the Spanish Flamenco dance @ the ball and shouting 'ole') so I chose a teal/emerald green colour...beautiful...but they had just under 4m and I didn't want to take the chance.

So off I went across the way to the forbidden left-hand side fabric store and low and behold...they were the right place, but lacking in the sapphire blue and emerald green also :( They had the RO 6.5 Japanese Crepe Silk and while it was nice I wasn't sold that it was WAY better quality, but when you are paying RO 39 for a dress you want to make it last. So I bought 4m in purpley-blue material and 3m (@ 900bz/m) of purpley lining, so all was good and I was done. I couldn't bear anymore fabric or cricket conversations ("Gilly!") with the guys from the store :) Nearly 2 hrs in total was enough already...

A quick walk across the parking lot back to Ami and she was happy with my fabric, happy that her advice panned out, and we had a deal for my dress to be ready for the ball. Here is what I'm hoping for, but in Purpley-blue:

A few days later, Duma was mortified that we had to go to a tailor to get his measurements and buy fabric for his tux. Yes, this ball is black tie and means that he has to buy one or he will be the freak of Muscat, so he sulked a little but came along anyways and I was proud that he did.

Our friend have us directions and I'm wikimapia challenged so I grabbed the coordinates, which in a desert location don't often work (roads spring up FAR too often and you hear the phrase "recalculating" all too often by your GPS) but we eventually managed to find it. They measure him up and unfortunately only had enough fabric in the most expensive cloth (RO 8.5m) so we had to suck it up, much to his disgust! And then came the shirt, bow tie, cummerband and all so it cost more than we bargained for but we didn't have it in us to negotiate...we were exhausted by this stage. Then, we realised we didn't have enough cash to pay for the fabric AND the store was technically closed as it was just after 1pm so we had to dawdle for 3 hrs until they opened again since we couldn't be assed going home and coming back.

When Duma gets "the face", you know he has no more sulking because he lost a basketball game/challenge/didn't get what he wanted/has spent too much money, so we just left for greener pastures until they opened again.

So we ran some errands and then 30 mins before we had to be back at the tailor, I had a ridiculous urge to wee...AGAIN! I swear, I try and be good and drink 3-4L a day but it just makes me wee more, so we try to stop @ Zakker Mall = no go, closed! So we try and look for other places and I'm literally busting, swaying in the car and singing to get my mind off it, but every song on Hi 95.9FM is about waterfalls, rain or something of the we stop at the old faithful McDonald's and surprisingly the toilets are clean and free, and Duma gave my first dibs on the mens toilet since the women's one was taken - BLESS!

And then we get back to the tailors and it costs us more money than we originally thought but we didn't care, we just wanted it done (but still cheaper than getting one tailor made back home, but thats not the point he says). But seriously, for this look I don't mind giving up my first months paycheck... damn!

Muscat - Dawn Call to Prayer

We have been trying to sleep with our windows open instead of using the aircon every night (the ceiling fan creaks similarly to that evil movie Psycho) and the other morning I was woken up by what wasn't my alarm (a soothing John Legend - Ordinary People) but the dawn Call to Prayer. Duma sleeps through anything and although he is the one working and getting up early, I was the one annoyed and given the morning cue to wee...Duma still snoring away and oblivious to the goings on.

Here is an example from Muttrah, Oman though its a different time of day.
I have an evening recording from my Sony camera, buts it on my laptop and needs to be transferred.

So it was about 5.45am and entirely too early to make a coffee (I'm on the instant Nescafe Gold now w/ creamer since we are too broke to buy a Nespresso machine and I'm apparently somewhat lactose intolerant these days, so no Duma....I'm not a Yankee Doodle just because I use creamer!) and too early to get on Facebook. *sigh* This not working thing is starting to get on my damn nerves lol!

You see, since I know I'm due to start a new job after Eid and have to start getting up @ 6am instead of 8.30am, I have been telling Duma "you need to hold me accountable to get up when you do" knowing damn well that I won't and will get mad at him for even suggesting it when the time comes. So bless his cotton socks, he gets up in the morning and limps past my side of the bed (he has a sore knee at the mo'), I make my usual smart ass comment with one eye open (similar to a pirate, yes) about him walking around in his undies as he passes me, I think about getting up, he makes a smart ass comment back about "go back to bed, your exhausted!" *insert sarcasm* and then I do exactly that :)

I'm one of those people who gets more grumpy when I go back to sleep for a short amount of time, rather than getting a decent hour or so. And knowing this, you would think that I would stay away or do something productive like make Duma some lunch? No, I chose to sleep (because I could, of course!) and that starts my day off totally wrong, but I do it day in and day out religiously because its habit lately. Period.

Call to Prayer happens 5x daily and we live in decent proximity to a few beautiful mosques and its actually pretty relaxing once you get used to it. I get to the stage where at 12.2* something o'clock pm I try to time/guestimate when the call to prayer will occur (without having to look it up online) and feel a sense of relief when it happens...who am I turning into? :)

It's moments like this that hit you like a 2x4 and you realise where you are in this world. We are no longer in Australia where there is no real 'Aussie' culture other than drinking beer and enjoying a Sunday sesh, calling 'mates' by shortened names (Bazza, Gazza or Dazza) and eating Vegemite on toast. We are in Oman where people wear dishdashas, wear Abayas, drink Vimto and eat creme caramel by the pound @ Ramadan...and Indian males hold hands walking down the street. It is different and we stick out like sore thumbs, but we love it.

Now if only I had enough wasta* to reschedule the dawn call to prayer later in the morning, that would be happy days.

* Wasta post still to come, as is the insha'allah one!

Monday, November 23, 2009

You ducking like a bobble-head!

That was a phrase from the dance movie "Honey" (Jessica Alba) and it made me laugh today because when I was watching the movie it reminded me of something I have witnessed often here, wait for it..."The Famous Indian Head Wobble". Note to self: wobble can and often is replaced with wiggle, niggle, bobble or wizzle (only if you are Snoop Dogg of course).

What is this, you ask? Its talked about a lot in Gregory David Roberts book Shantaram as a form of expression or a peaceful gesture, which often got him out of some tight spots as a foreigner in Bombay. But read here for more fascinating info! Surprised by the number of web pages about this interesting action AND the fact that there are different head wobbles for varying regions in India? Seriously its the coolest thing but who would have known? And it is something that both men and women do.

Put simply, I love it...its contagious*, and they love it when you do it back. The problem is that unfortunately I can't do it and its frustrating the hell out of me! Well maybe I can do it (believe me, I have practiced in the privacy of my own home AND in front of the mirror...actually I'm doing it right now and you are probably trying it too!) but not the way I want to and I thought I had rhythm like a Black girl stuck in a Polynesian girl's body but alas, my neck is too stiff and I can't wobble with the best of them (but dance, thats another ball game).

*If you ever get caught up amongst a group of Indians just stop for a minute to observe the head wobbling going on, its fascinating! One wobbles to say "yes, I agree/understand" and then the other starts to wobble as a sign of "thank-you/very good" and next thing you know there is wobbling back and forth and the only still head in the store/place/restaurant is mine and Duma's :)

But if you are an westerner and you manage to pull off the head wobble = HAPPY DAYS! You will experience the biggest grin from your Indian compadre EVER and its sure to make you giggle a little, no matter how old or mature you are :)

It's like a western conversation which goes back and forth - only we refer to this as being "like a tennis match" where we move our head from side. But these wobbles are totally different, they are a delicate blend of sideways and up-down action that uses all of the neck muscles possible, truly a sight to see :)

In this part of the world there are Indian bobble-heads on every corner and in every store and I LOVE it...their wobbles and bobbles and niggles and wiggles (and wizzles) make the world more colourful and cheery, so long as they aren't the person who is trying to cut you off the road or push in the service counter line @ Carrefour!

Enjoy this, its a funny video by a Canadian guy and is meant to be a tongue in cheek about his experiences teaching in India, so please don't get offended! Feel free to stop watching at 3.22 as thats where he starts talking about other things.

Like I said, I LOVE the head wobble and wanted to share :)

Melancholy moments

I was reading this post the other day by Silver Jewel Oman and felt a closeness to someone I have never met, purely because her thoughts resonated with mine. And then yesterday, chatting with a lady about holes in communication and 'voids' that she feels having given up everything back home to move to Muscat and support her I felt inclined to share.

When you leave your home country you are caught up in the whirlwind of excitement and anxiety about conquering new horizons and the journey ahead. Its great, a mix of euphoria and being scared shitless, but home is always home and you can always move back if things don't work out right? It's not the case for all, but it is fortunately the case for us.

What you fail to see through those rosy coloured glasses is that whilst your life is totally changing and doing a 360 (whether it be for a year or 10) - your friends and family are still living 'business as usual' and generally speaking their lives are only changed by a small percentage given the fact that you have gone away and that means no more seemingly insignificant chats over coffee, morning walks, play dates with your niece/nephew, shopping trips or family dinner nights.

And yes, that may seem logical and straight forward to many of you out there in the bloggersphere (and yes, before you say anything, it was our choice to move and we don't regret it a single bit) but everything is magnified 100x when you are going through this stage (holla if you hear me K-Nash, lol!) and on some days you become super-sensitive once the euphoria disappears and feels like someone ripped off that proverbial bandaid without warning - the realisation that life goes on without you and the lack of your physical presence does not stop time. Full stop. (or period, for our Americano amigos).

Don't worry, be happy.

As is the story within Eckhart Tolle's fab book "A New Earth" it's moments like this that we need to remember the phrase "This Too Will Pass". (read up here if you want more info and to feel a little enlightened and uplifted). No, this isn't a Danoz Direct infomercial and I'm not getting commissions for selling the book, I just like the simple concept and think it applies to this situation :)

Back to the my post - I assume this feeling affects women mostly as Duma handles the void well and has the amazing good fortune of being blessed with a crew of long standing HS/Misc mates and an amazing mother (Hi Anne!) who is email/internet savvy :) He and his friends may go for many months and then sure enough are back to drinking beers, sharing jokes and stories like they didn't skip a beat. I truly love that about them. But what is it with men and women being so different - women being so emotional and men being so matter of fact? :)

And then there is the process of making new 'friends', which of course never replace the old, tried & true ones...but are critical to a happy and sustainable life in your new world. Sure, initially they may feel fabricated or superficial, but then what about our Facebook friends? How well do you really know them and how honest and 'real' are those interactions? Long story short is that they start out with a genuine need or intention of meeting like-minded, interesting and fun (albeit different circle people) to function and feel connected to this new life.

And one of them so wisely told me that when you move to Muscat, you make friends with people you wouldn't normally be friends with back home, not because they aren't nice people...but purely because your circles wouldn't intersect or your bubble of networks (work, friends and family) wouldn't fly in the same path. Touche! (I love that word but don't really know when to use it or whether I ever use it correctly lol!). Ok, so I added the bubble analogy but its the same idea only different fluffy explanation :)

So far I acknowledge the point and am trying to embrace mornings with random cool ladies (the ratio of cool to uncool is about 3-1 in my humble opinion and experience to date), surfing the local internet forum and chatting with people about events/activities/gossip, as well as being the only western woman in my new office = only one not wearing an abaya AND using TP in the bathroom so that has to lead to new friendships, stories and moments right? Its all alien to me but its great and has totally opened up my world.

So there are some great moments to be had here for sure, really great ones...but I wanted to focus this post on the melancholy moments because that is what has been poignant lately throughout my conversations with people and my own feelings. And I have deduced that it often comes from being anal and a control freak in our previous lives...which leads to imbalance here purely because there are elements out of our control in our new environment - in our case:

* Not being able to talk to friends and family other than every other week, purely because it costs >AUD$1 per minute to call
* Not being able to sms our Mums or most friends because Vodaphone AUS is the only mobile phone provider to not be able to send AND receive from our network
* Our internet connection keeps dropping in and out so Skype calls (which are highly illegal here I might add!) are severely lagged and frustrating
* My gorgeous, loving mother doesn't know how to use the internet *sigh*

It all boils down to the fact that you miss out on 'moments', details and stuff that seems trivial to your circle back home, but help you function and feel 'connected' to both worlds.

It's a 2-way street and I totally get that. I can't expect people to communicate with me when 'I' feel like it or just because I'm sitting at home and have the spare time or energy...but I think its all a case of priority and making time for those you love and care about. I would like to think that things will all settle down soon and given I start my new job after Eid Al-Adha holidays next week (woohoo!) I will have a renewed appreciation for being busy, having a routine and structure in my life...not to mention my own money :)

So for all the expat women who are in my boat - chin up and hang in there. This Too Shall Pass.

For my beloved family & friends back home - I love you, miss you and hope we can talk soon xo

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tales from Giants

Another funny shopping trip last night to Ruwi high street (looking for sunglasses, shirts and cologne) made me realise just how foreign and BIG Duma and I look in comparison to the Indian community. (another post soon re: male affection within the Indian community).

Over here we are giants, and I don't just mean tall. We are surrounded by lovely but tiny people of the Filipino, Omani, Indian, and varying expat community and sometimes its depressing. Not so much for everyday life because we like being tall...but it hits home on uneventful shopping expeditions (about 99% of the time) and results in my feeling very unfeminine (in my case of course).

I have a large foot which some have come to describe as "Ronald McDonald foot" idea why? Being a size 10/11 shoe or 42 Euro is hard in Oman, where literally the ONLY place I can find shoes in my size is Marks & Spencer @ Markaz Al Baja mall, only a measly 30 mins drive away from where I live. And don't get me wrong, I like turning up the tunes in the car and driving in general... but in Muscat, driving is unorganised chaos (not like Bali where its organised-mad-chaos and people are smiley and courteous) is utter madness and a deathtrap on the best of days. Plus, the choice is pooh :(

Duma on the other hand is a 14/49 Euro and we both have the same problem, there is only 1 store that fits each of us and go figure, they aren't the same store and the quality is NOT good! The Sales Assistants - bless their cotton socks - look at us like we are crazy when we ask "Do you have a 42 or 49 in your sizes?" because the answer is always "No, the biggest anyone has here madam is 41/46".

So I'm making damn sure that when we go home in March, I am bringing a shit load of shoes and clothes back :)

Oh and the clothes, don't even get my started! We have a shop that we always go to to buy...wait for it....genuine fakes! Oh the irony but I laugh whenever they say that, we grab shirts to send home to family and they love them because seriously, who knows and who cares for a tee shirt? Anyway, they sell ladies Lacoste polos and I have a couple myself, so was looking to grab some for my friend back home. Now I'm a sz. 12 normally so what does that equate to in Indian or Filipino sizes??? SIZE XXL people - WTF?!?!! Are you trying to make me feel inadequate? Oh and when we first arrived in Muscat I bought a business suit from Sacoor Brothers @ MCC and again, being a sz. 12 in Muscat, what does that equate to? SIZE 18 people - shriek, the horror!

Seriously, no wonder many of the expat wives visit beauty salons and spas everyday here, because when it comes to clothes and making yourself feel don't unless you bought them from home!

Now, I'm off to start the Jillian Michael's 30-day shred that my friend got for me (and has worked wonders for her) and see if I can shrink to at least an XL Lacoste polo :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Aussie Rules Friday & Socceroos vs. Oman Saturday!

First home game for the Muscat Magpies season, this Friday @ 3pm.

Dubai Heat are the 2008/9 premiers (beating the Magpies in the GF ) so it should be a good re-match!

Also looking forward to Saturdays Socceroos vs Oman, which is sure to be interesting given there is a lot riding on this game for Oman and this place loves a good game of 'football' :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

It's the Little Things in Life

They say that things happen in 3's and I guess that over the past 2 days I can attest to that. Well actually that doesn't really make sense does it, because things just happen and we make the saying fit when we feel like it? (Cue 'incessant ramblings' description from our blog profile!) Oh well, anyway the concept applies given three small but profound things happened to me and I'm very thankful they did :)

Yesterday was frustrating as I was following up on an outstanding job offer that has been literally doing my head in for the past 4 weeks - I just don't understand why people say they will do something and they don't come through, it is one of my pet peeves! To me, its better to under-promise and over-deliver therefore exceeding expectations, but maybe thats just me.

Long story short, I have 2 other offers but this 1 pays considerably more and is an internal HR role as opposed to being a Consultant and having to 'sell' my services. And hey - I'm fully aware that my sense of urgency is totally different to theirs, I'm not here to flatter myself. But yesterday I felt like a stalker in order to just get a straight answer (I got something of the sorts, hopefully the contract will appear today), because I have to let the other 2 businesses know where I'm at (by COB today) before jumping on board with them or burning a bridge.

Anyway, I was in a 'mood' of sorts and Duma's advice came right on time, it totally changed my perspective. It's pretty matter-of-fact but then again, thats just how he is and I love him for mucking around, just a kick in the pants and get on with it (which is what I needed and he knew it).

"No point wasting energy worrying about the things that you can’t change. If you can’t change them, you must accept the way things are & use your energy concentrating on the things you can change".

2nd to that, my Mum called me this morning and it was such a nice surprise! There is nothing like a call from your Mum when you live in another country...a familiar voice, chatting about nothing, just catching up and smiling through the phone. And she is sending me a care package next week with recent pictures of my beloved niece & nephew who I'm missing so much = happy days!

After that, I was trawling through the internet and came across a cool note that reminded of how good life is...when you stop focusing on the things that just don't matter in the big scheme of things.

I hope this post comes right on time for you too, just like these words did for me xo

Saturday, November 7, 2009

007 Eat your heart out!

We have just over 1 month until the Diamonds Are Forever Crystal Ball @ the Amphitheatre of the Shangri La Al Jissah Hotel - Time to get our butts into gear and get a dress and tux made (much to Duma's disgust, he hates fuss and extravagence!)

Hopefully it isn't a stuffy/posh event...I guess they may all start out that way (considering its a fundraiser night) but with copious amount of alcohol and the table we are sitting at (young rugby club crew) we are surely in for a messy and forgettable night!

Pics and stories hopefully to come...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bum Gun ???

Ok, so this has been on my mind since we made our first visit to Muscat in May - the infamous toilet hose and its place in Omani society. Curiosity (and survival^) finally got the better of me and I actually googled Arabic toilets/toilet hose/Oman toilets = endless images and info :-)

The toilet system here is a little different to the Western world, much like many of the ones in Asian countries. This can definitely be confusing at first *tilt head to the side, eyebrows squeezed* kinda confusing and quickly escalate to panic!

Walking into your first Arabic toilet (this one actually has a seat, whereas once out of the city many are holes in the floor with foot pads) is an experience to say the least...and I'm sure vice versa for our Omani compadres when visiting our shores.

The floors are wet (often the seat too...begs the Q - wee or water? hmmm), there is sometimes a strategically placed squeegee, and often no TP. I must admit this scared me at first - no TP and only a "Bum Gun" (not my term, read the article)? How? (picks it up, inspects and looks around). Where? (looks down at body). Shriek! The horror...

And when I say scared, I don't mean that I thought it was dangerous, I just mean scared because I didn't know how to use it if forced to AND avoid soiling my entire outfit, shoes and looking like a wet dog once I exited the bathroom!

I had a good idea of 'what' it was for but no idea of the process in doing so. Oh the joys of being a woman, no explanation required I'm sure. I actually carry a pack of tissues with me everywhere in case I am stuck in a sorry situation since I wee every 5 seconds to Duma's amusement and wonder :(

Interestingly enough, this isn't the first article/blog that I have read where many Westerners actually prefer the Bum Gun method, but this Aussie couple aren't game enough just yet to give it a go...

^ re: survival - I have had 2 job interviews at one relatively large organisation and upon my 2nd visit, I asked where the bathroom was. Upon entering, shock horror there were 2 toilets, each equipped with a bum gun and NO TP!!! Needless to say I went to Lulu immediately after and stocked up on handy pack tissues and thus the googling for more info...actually, I wonder if there is a youtube video???

Things we love :)

As stated in the last post, we have grown extremely fond of a few things here and wanted to share them with our friends. Sure, this place can be crazy, mixed up and backwards in many ways...but once you get past the bad driving and the time it takes for things to get is an amazing place that has changed our lives forever:

We love going Wadi Bashing and trekking, this gorgeous place is wadi shab

MAC is everywhere, happy days! In Perth we only had one store :(

This neon spectacle is 'Lulu Hypermarket'. We love late night and 7 day trading!
How will we ever move back to the shackles of Perth?

Channa Masala, mmm. I have always had a thing for chickpeas :)
Indian food here is SO good!

Best coffee and service in Muscat, hands down!

Camping on the beach = fun and serenity! This is As Seifa beach...

Turkish House = cheap & yummy turkish food (duh!)

5G water = AUS$3

Sucks that people talk on their mobiles in the movies, but its seriously cheap!!!
Popcorn, 2 tix, large drink, bag of maltesers = AUS$20

Muscat Rugby Club - great people, chilled out atmosphere and cheap drinks...whats not to love?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Things we miss !!!

Moving to the desert has been a delicate balance between temporarily letting go of a few things we love...and embracing our life here. We are pretty open-minded and have fallen in love with some things here also (next post) but for the sole purpose of this one, here is a snapshot of our life back home and a few things we miss:

An Aussie super food!

Many days I have contemplated a 5hr drive to Dubai just for these delicious 'bikkies'

One of our favourite Margaret River wineries!

If only our internet connection let Duma play online w/ his mates :(

Playing's pre-season back home and we are missing out.
So I'm playing netball and Duma is playing aussie rules :)

Bonds underwear and tank tops *sigh*
It's the simple things you know?

Our lovely local Asian eatery...delicious, cheap, lightening fast meals :)

We miss this tomato sauce, ketchup is NOT the same thing!

Good 'ol chicken crimpys = the whole box annihilated in one sitting

Mail that gets delivered to your HOME!!!

Long time No speak...

Sorry for the lack of blog action lately guys! It's not that there hasn't been anything going on, just that we have had issues with the internet, as well as me temporarily losing my mojo* (I was in a funk actually) which led to me having no interest in reporting the goings on - got to tell it like it is right?

* If you don't know what mojo is, go here to find out :-)

There still isn't anything poignant that I have to share but I do have my mojo back! I feel like Austin Powers (minus the bad teeth) but I have that spring back in my step ... sometimes I just want to bust out dance moves 'Austin Powers style' for no good reason - is that wierd? lol. The things that go on in my head sometimes, I tell you...

I think we all have those days where we have zero motivation = just can't be a$$ed and don't care. Only mine felt like a week long hangover minus the copious amounts of alcohol - I just didn't want to do anything and why not, when I didn't have to?

I think my mood was born from the fact that I'm still not working yet & constantly waiting on contractors and service providers to show up or do what they should, when they should. (There is a total lack of urgency here in Oman to get things done, as well as all the hoops you have to jump through just to complete a simple process). But still, its a beautiful country - you can't win for losing!

Now, what has happened since I last posted?

* Duma was in Dubai for a week's work, so I was left to entertain myself. This meant avoiding the urge to clothes shop (I did buy MAC makeup though, an addiction of mine - oops!), but LOTS of cleaning and baking which I enjoyed...all but scrubbing the floors and walls! (If you ever want a recipe go here and here, these 2 sites are a gold mine for ideas and they are all rated by other users. I have been using them for years!

* I finally got my resident card, after being here for almost 2 months! I pretty much had to stalk Duma's PRO though to get him to do the paperwork and meet me, but we got there in the end.
The funny thing was, they told me to meet him at the place and to "look out for the short Omani, with a long beard, who barely speaks English" - great! So after waiting for 30 mins in the smelliest place on earth (do Indians not wear deodorant at all?) Mustafa and I found each other and off we went. This is where being a woman was truly an advantage, as the women's waiting area and lines are much more quiet and speedy :-)

* I went back to the dress shop here in Muscat, since they bought in a wedding dress from London that I really loved...tried it on and it was a great fit - simple & elegant. Yay, happy days and my gorgeous Mum offered to pay for it so now I just have to go back with a friend and take some photos to send home to Mum/MIL/BM's to get some opinions :-)

Dress shopping by myself was actually ok, but when you have 2 Filipino Sales Assistants telling you what you want to hear, it isn't particularly objective...only a massive ego boost but I welcomed it nonetheless :-)

* I was offered a job - great news right? Yeah it is great and I really like the sound of the company, the team (I will be the only female), and the work they do. BUT (there is always a but right?) they work Sat - Wed + 1/2 day on Thursdays (our equivalent of a Saturday), which is less than ideal. Also, the pay is about 2/3 of the other job I am waiting to hear back about so I'm just in limbo at the moment.

How long is too long before giving them my decision? I'm thinking a week is ok, but don't want to burn my bridges by taking any longer. So I'm trying to speed up the other offer and finally (after 3 weeks of waiting, since my 2nd IV) I sent a 'stern but tactful email' highlighting the situation and my other offer. Within a day the HRM emailed back an apology and said "your contract is sitting on the GM's desk, waiting for his initial". So it sounds positive, but you just never know here - it could sit on the GM's desk for weeks before anyone actually tells him its there or puts a post it note on it lol! God knows how long it has been there already - you have to laugh about it right? :-)

* We now have an ADSL connection, only I had to go back to the Omantel office a few times as per their process of "come in and apply for your phone...then wait for the technician. Then come back in and apply for internet...then wait for the technician. Then come back in and get your username/password before you can use" - we are now 5 weeks later! Tell me that you don't see the duplication and the inefficiency in that process?

Funnily enough, they stuffed up the plan that we wanted because the CSO was flirting with me. He was talking to me about his cousin living/studying in Sydney, which led to some banter about the recent Socceroos win over Oman. Then he said "he says the women in Australia are very beautiful, this is true I see" and I didn't know what to say but smiled and said thank you.
Then I looked at the receipt and noticed that he had put us on the wrong plan, proof that men just can't multi-task by flirting and processing a transaction at the same time!

So what happened? Of course I had to go back to the office yet again (the next day) as they couldn't correct it on the same day as the mistake. It would be entirely too logical to just make a note in the system and call me the following day, to let me know it was done *insert sarcasm*

* Duma came back from Dubai late on the Wednesday night, then flew out to Bahrain Thursday morning to play footy (he is playing for the Muscat Magpies in the MEAFL). Unfortunately they lost by 2 goals, but they managed to drown their sorrows and enjoy a boozy night out. Then their flight back to Muscat on Friday afternoon got cancelled, so all the hungover Aussies/Irishmen/Canadians decided to hang out at a local pub for the 6.5 hour wait = a long and tiring flight after a big night out & hair of the dog!

So during my down time (a total understatement) I caught up with some friends who I have been neglecting for a long time. They did not disappoint me either - eye candy and entertaining!

I am spoiled because Duma came home from Dubai bearing gifts - duty free alcohol & Greys Anatomy season 1 (I couldn't find it anywhere in Muscat, the shame) and I watched all 9 episodes in 1 day! I *heart* this show...the sexual tension....the chemistry...the sarcasm and the sexual tension (oops, did I say that twice? ;-)

We went to Home Centre last night (armed with our 70 RO voucher) and bought Season 2 = happy girl! I'm looking forward to parking myself on the couch later this afternoon with coffee in hand, to relive the shennanigans of Seattle Grace Hospital's finest.

* Looks like we have sold our beloved Getz Sxi back home in Perth, so all is good in the world and our credit cards. My brother has been instrumental in this, thanks Muss!!!

* My friends Ant & Gaz (its an Aussie thing to shorten names - Barry = Baz, Gary = Gaz etc) may visit us this month...we aren't sure yet as Gaz is currently in Dubai working so insha'allah they will swing by Muscat at some stage, which will be exciting for us...our first visitors! So Duma & I need to prepare a fun weekend itinerary just in case, jam packed with Omani adventures.

Ok so enough babbling, I'm just recapping the past 1 1/2 weeks and you are probably worse off for reading but I am back on the blog train and am glad to have my mojo back!!! x

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The infamous 'football' match of Oman & Australia

*chants* Aussie Aussie Aussie...Oi Oi Oi!

Word around town is that we won 1-0 today and Tim Cahill is officially THE man!

That is all...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Random & interesting bahaviour of a few expats

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 :-)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Winner winner chicken dinner :-)

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...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Are we at the movies or in a cafe?

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 :-)

All Hail As Seifa Beach!

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 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!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

~ I believe in Karma ~

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 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 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 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...