Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My rant - What's a woman to do ???

So I'm sitting at home and slowly pulling my hair out...what on earth is a woman to do here in Muscat with no job, kids or pets to take care of? I know, to most it sounds like a life of luxury but:

* Sitting on your a$$ and watching daytime TV (I'm officially up-to-date on everything that Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kadashian are doing - as well as how complicated Denise Richards life is...NOT!)
* Visiting the gym (the Phillipino trainers there have no idea what they are doing and NO, I don't want to register and pay extra to use your slimming machine - what are you trying to tell me?)
* Go shopping (bc you spend more time in the carpark than the actual store) because I can't find a pair of shoes my size anywhere :-(
* Sleeping in everyday (resorts to my old friend 'insomnia' paying me unwelcomed visits)

...gets old REAL quick! And there is only so much cleaning and cooking you can do without becoming OCD or bake up a storm and risk eating my life away and looking like a house.

Ok, so here are definitely worse things I could be doing but seriously, I'm going insane and need an outlet, have even resorted to online study options or doing a course of some kind. Any suggestions people? Poor Duma and his Dad have been working such long hours and when they come home to ask me me about my day, we all just stop for a minute, smile and then giggle...as if it was any different to yesterday but thanks for asking! I just hope that I don't start talking to myself and going crazy, makes me think about Angelina Jolie in "Girl Interrupted".

I had a job interview about a week and a half ago, prior to Eid holidays and finally heard back from them last night. Although I have good working experience, I think the fact that I haven't worked in the Energy industry may set me back a little given the position is managerial...but they rang to say that they "have something in mind for me, will draft the details and send them over to me in next few days for me to consider"...so we shall see if its a suitable package and something that will engage or stimulate me. At least there is a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel...

I know I know, when I do find a job I will be whining about 'not' having enough ME time or complaining about having too much to do and how exhausted I am, but that doesn't help the way that I feel now...are we never happy??

I have a brain that used to be paid very well for all the 'hiring, firing & BS' that I did...but now I feel it slowly melting away...even as I type my blog and update my status on facebook, I am suddenly overwhelmed by my apparent dyslexia or inability to spell - is that because I am no longer intelligent?

You have to laugh about it or you just resort to tears...and I have become more emotional than usual. Thank God Duma is so understanding, patient and accommodating.

I have never been a big spender and shopping for the sheer sake of it to me isn't a thrilling activity, my outings need to have purpose or a goal in mind. Plus, when you aren't working or contributing to the household income, it doesn't feel nearly as good, well not to me. I have a conscience and have never had to rely on anyone in terms of money - even when I was old enough to get a part-time job I was delivering newspapers, refereeing basketball or working as a checkout chick...so this is a big change for me.

Plus, I like having my own story to tell each day, a sense of accomplishment and gossip to share from my J-O-B. My job has always been a big part of my identity...plus you spend more time at work than you do at home = social network and friends. I can say though that we have met a few cool people here so far, which has been great. One of them said that "blogging has saved me thousands in therapy" and I would definitely have to agree!!!

Anyway, this post was never meant to be as melancholy as it reads, more just me venting about the situation and feeling like I am in limbo. Hopefully I hear about this job soon or some of the other opportunities that I have in the pipeline...now I'm off to watch "Candy Girls" and learn how to pole dance, audition for a music video and make that money girl! lol.

** check out the 'slang*tion*ary' - Deuces people! **

Friday, September 18, 2009

Kanye West - what an a$$!

I aw these pics on the Oman Forum (thanks Dark Angel!) and literally laughed out loud - what an a$$!


Monday, September 14, 2009

Moment of epiphany...came from MTV Arabia?

Hey all,

I was watching MTV Arabia a few hours ago, as I do lately during the day to kill time until Duma gets home from work (when I'm not on facebook, watching E-Entertainment or doing some other mind numbing activity) and came across an episode of True Life...

Today it was all about people with medical conditions i.e. who were losing their hair.
Although 1 guy was an absolute tosser (a white homie-g Eminem wannabe), the story that really touched me was about a young girl (Rebecca) who had Alopecia. Prior to get knowing, she was a gorgeous brunette, graduating from HS and her only concerns were grades, boys and her friends...

It was so sad to see her go through this entire process - from misdiagnosis by physicians...waking up with clumps of hair on her pillow...having to keep it a secret and wear a wig just to feel 'normal' in public...regular cortizone injections in her scalp...growing her hair back (and then dealing with how people would publicly react)...to then losing her hair again.

It was heartbreaking and at a time when I am focusing on trivial things in my life - it was grounding. Hopefully the few decent shows on MTV raise awareness and kick people (like me) into gear by increasing understanding and empathy.

Another guy found the process of early balding pretty challenging and it showed some of the awkward social situations that he often deals with, poor guy!
Just goes to show us girls that not only are we insecure about our looks, so are men and we should be conscious of this.

Here is a link to a video of the last guy.

Not only did it make me realise how blessed I am, it also made me revisit the fact that people may look different but everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and compassion.

Renting in Muscat, dodgy landlords & the agents...

So we have been here for almost 2 weeks now and still no luck in locking down an apartment, though we have seen a few that we really like. It's so annoying here, the expectation is that you will pay 12 months upfront rent (tell me, other than overpaid Exec expats, who has a spare AUS$18K just lying around?).

We saw a few really crappy ones that were in poor condition but a great location, and a few good ones.

The one that took the cake was great, was a 2bdrm Madinat Sultan Qaboos (the location we wanted because its close to a gym, Al Fair grocery store and various other stores) although when we asked about the AC being in good working order (because its hot as a mofo over here!!!) they said "oh, we don't supply those for you. The ones in here now are just for looks, you need to buy your own"...WTF? Needless to say we turned that one down, lol.

Thursday (the weekend here) we had an appointment with two different agents, one Western Woman and an Omani guy. She showed us two apartments and they were both really nice, but we were sold on the small but quality apartment and we were happy to take it, pending it was ready to go before the Eid Holidays kick in AND we could pay 6 months upfront only.

Now Syed from Re-zone Properties...he told us where to meet him and after waiting for 25 minutes and him not answering either of his two mobile phones, we left. Noone answered the office phone because it's Ramadan and the weekend, so we had zero chance of getting through. We knew he was dodging us and that made us even madder, though Duma is the calm one in the relationship and was doing his best to put my Maori fire out lol!

Anyway, Duma tried calling later that afternoon and managed to get through, Syed claiming that he was very sick and couldn't make it...no sorry or anything! The conversation went like this:

Duma "We have been trying to call you ALL day, why didn't you show up this morning?"
Syed "I was very sick"
Duma "So, you couldn't call us to let us know or reschedule?"
Syed "No, I was very sick and it was a misunderstanding"
Duma "Well we are available now, can we meet you?"
Syed "Oh no sir, the apartment is gone now and not available".
Duma "You are kidding me? It was available this morning, you have been too sick to show it to anyone, but its gone?"
Syed "Yes sir I am very sick" - WTF???

So needless to say we settled on the small 2bdrm apartment but we couldn't sign the papers, as Duma's PRO @ work was still seriously lagging on sorting out his Residence Card (again, DON'T move to a Muslim country during Ramadan as nothing will get done!). So we said we intended to do it ASAP.

But wait there is more....in my fury and truly in my style, I sent an email to all of the addresses of Syed's potential bosses from the website, highlighting what had happened. Come Saturday morning, I got a call from one of them saying that we could now see the apartment (so apparently it
wasn't taken???) on Sunday and that we would have first opportunity to rent it, because of our miscommunication.

We thought that although we were unhappy with their service, we would see it anyway as a point of reference to the other place we were going to take. So off we went and we almost wish we didn't because it was...
fantastic!!! The guy was an idiot, barely spoke English and you could tell he clearly wasn't happy to meet us after hours (don't know why though as it was only 4.30pm and he is Indian and not even fasting!!!) but it was a great location in Qurum, close to Qurum City Centre, CCC, Al Fair and Nandos (we are LOVING the Peri peri chicken & rice, so cheap!). It was 50 OMR cheaper per month than the other place (about AUS$150), clean, the right size and easy enough to get furniture in and out of...BUT
(and there is always a but) they wanted 12 months rent up front, since the rent was so cheap.

Going home to think about it we decided we would take it, pending Duma got his Residence Card the following morning (which thankfully he has now), so I rang Re-Zone properties and told them we want to sign the papers today and we will organise a bank checque. The convesation went as follows:

Me "Can I talk to someone about the Qurum 2bdrm apartment that we saw yesterday?"
Guy "Who you vant talk to?"
Me "The man who showed us the apartment yesterday told me to call Rizak? Is he there?"
Guy "Who are you, vat is your good name?"
Me "Delirious in the Desert...is Rizak there?"
Guy "Yes"
Me "Well, can I talk to him as its important?"
Guy "Yes"
Me "Now?"
Guy "Yes, vat you want?"
Me "I want to speak with Rizak, is he free?"
Guy "Yes"
Me "Can I speak with him?"
Guy "I am him"
Me (slightly confused as to why he waited that long to say it was him "You are Rizak?"
Guy "Yes, vat is it?"
Me "Ok...well we want the apartment and can do the paperwork & pay today"
Rizak "Ok maam, ve vant full 12 months, 1 cheque not 2 or 4 or 5 "
Me "Yeah I know and like I said, we can do that today"
Rizak "But we cannot do now maam"
Me "Why not? We were told that given the 'miscommunication' with Syed, that we would have priority on this apartment"
Rizak "Yes but vat you vant me to do?"
Me "I want you to let us sign the papers and pay and move in ASAP!"
Rizak "So sorry I cannot do"
Me "Why not? Why did we go see it then?"
Rizak "Ve don't own it maam, belongs to the landlord"
Me "Yes...and that's why he gets you to lease the property for him no?"
Rizak "Yes"
Me "So why can't we have it now?"
Rizak "I think landlord talked to someone after you visit?"
Me "What??? Are you sure?"
Rizak "No"
Me "Then what are you saying? Can we have it or not?"
Rizak "I do not know. Vat you want me to do?"
Me (I should have told him to kiss my a$$) "I want to talk to your manager"
Rizak "I cannot do, 9am and noone is here"
Me "Well I want to speak to someone so give me their GSM and I will call them"
Rizak "I will call you by 10 o'clock"
Me "So you will call me back with an answer within 1 hr"
Rizak "Yes, vat is your good name?"

LOL!!! You have GOT to be kidding me right?

FYI - It is 10.23am and still no call back, so I'm going to call the office and give them a serve!
But...we still want that apartment lol!

Loving the price of petrol!

I still can't get over it...Duma made a pit stop to fill up the tank of our Nissan Tiida yesterday and it was less than 4 OMR (=AUS$12) for almost 40L !!!

Sorry to you guys back home :-(

On a bright note: at least you get cheaper (and better) fresh fruit & veg!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Caffeine Fiends...and in LOVE with Nespresso machines!

Ramadan is officially making mornings beyond hard for Duma and I!!! We have the best coffee shop (thanks to the staff of Carribou Coffee @ Bareeq Al Shatti) downstairs from our current location and we can't even drink it in the mornings due to Ramadan...boo!!! It just stares at me, calling me every morning when I wander downstairs for a random walk (since I'm not working right now, anything I can do to amuse myself and get away from MTV Arabia is a good thing!).

So, the cafes/coffee shops/eateries around town are closed until dusk everyday...which means we are getting our coffee fix around 8 or 9pm every night - which is exactly why I couldn't sleep until 3am this morning!!! So in the desperate search for a good coffee first thing in the AM during Ramadan, this girl did some investigation...

Duma and I had a Nespresso Essenza machine back gome in Oz and it was delightful to say the least...smooth and creamy coffees to our hearts content, quick and delicious at the touch of a button. But alas, we decided not to bring the 'other' love of our life to Oman, given the weight restrictions for luggage from Perth - Ireland - Oman.

In doing so, I think we lost a piece of ourselves, because it was a part of our foolproof daily routine, even in Ireland as we encouraged R&D to get one too...ahhhh the art of persuasion!
Segway - why don't businesses here provide a GOOD coffee machine at work instead of instant coffee??? Not everyone is a fan of tea or Turkish coffee w/ cardamon!

Back on topic - after looking in all the stores here and realising that noone sells the machines, I reviewed the Nespresso website and rang the 1 contact they have for the Sultanate of Oman...I was beyond disappointed when their GSM provider stated "this user is out of the area" - then the 1 contact for UAE was 'unable to reach on this number'.


So, in typical fashion (I love to give feedback) I emailed Nespresso Australia and told them that we were faithful consumers and dying over here without coffee. Thank God (or Allah), but they got back to me with contact details for a business here in Oman and low and behold, they sell what we need!!! :-)
They aren't cheap, but they are SEXY machines and will look great in our new apartment...so we are happy little Vegemites at the moment and should have our new machine but the Eid holidays.

I reckon I could work for Nespresso here and make "one million dollars" true Mini-me style, as I love the products THAT much!!! lol.

** On another note, I just want to give kudos to Rahoul and the staff @ Carribou Coffee in the Bareeq Al Shatti complex. They are nothing short of amazing...remembering our names four 4 whole months after we last visited Muscat and always greet us with a steaming cup of amazing coffee, some of the most genuine and heartfelt smiles you have ever seen, calling us 'Maam' or 'Sir' and such a wonderful work ethic!

You guys truly make our day, EVERY time we visit, and it is definitely a memorable experience.
So much so, that when we were last in London we bypassed Costa Coffee & Starbucks due to the reputation of Carribou in Qurum :-)

I may have only gone to Starbucks just to buy Lisa a packet of her beloved Morning Blend coffee...that is all!!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Alcohol & Ramadan in Oman...

Hmmm where to start? This post is mostly for friends and family back home in Australia, the US and New Zealand who aren't aware of certain social habits here in Oman. For those of you that either live here or are of Muslim origin, please forgive any inaccuracies...


The use of alcohol is not illegal in Oman, but it is deemed socially unacceptable by most people in this region and goes against the Muslim faith. That being said, it is available and served to both Omanis & Westerners (other than during the month of Ramadan) in licensed restaurants and bars, usually the latter exist in the International Hotels around town. In saying this, alcohol is far from cheap!

You are only able to purchase alcohol if you:
* Do so via Duty Free at the Muscat International terminal (each person is allowed 2 bottles)
* Have a permit - where the amount of alcohol that you can buy is determined by your rate of salary
** (Locals cannot obtain permits, thus the need to go to bars or restaurants that serve it).


The month of Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar (which changes every year, given they don't follow the 365 day calendar), when all Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. This means no eating, drinking, smoking (basically putting anything in your mouth), or generally speaking - acts of indulgence...hint hint ;-)

It is ultimately a month of personal reflection (similar to a Westerner setting new goals or New Years resolutions), as well as teaching self-discipline, control, modesty, patience, giving thanks and achieving deeper spirituality or enlightenment. I believe this is similar to the Jewish Yom Kippur?

People who are exempt are: elderly, ill, children, pregnant women.

In saying this, some Muslims go CRAZY when eating/cooking in the evenings! The obsession with food is obvious and the lines at the stores are outrageous...you would think they would more staff on checkouts, but maybe that is just me or common sense?
When we have been grocery shopping at either of the Al Fair, LuLu or Carrefour stores, we have seen people buying really 'interesting' combinations of items, as well as trolleys FULL of:

Vimto (a berry cordial) -generally by the case...there is a tower a few metres high dedicated to this product!
Creme caramelle - people were buying it in bulk, e.g. > 20 boxes of it
Cooking Oil - by the gallons
Strawberry Milk - as if you can't get this at any time of the year!
Sacks of rice
Crates of eggs...not a dozen...crates!!!

Note: see fellow blogger "Dhofargucci's" account of the leaning tower of creme caramel pic at http://dhofarigucci.blogspot.com/2009/08/dhofari-ramadan-menu-do-you-really-need.html

Read her stories, they are hilarious and pretty informative at the same time :-)

Given the sun doesn't set not until 6.30/7pm, Muslims tend to eat in the morning before dawn (called sohohor), work shorter hours since they are fasting (perhaps 9-2), go home and sleep for a few hours until prayer time, eat a first meal (called Iftaar) with family/friends, prayer time again then eat a second meal etc etc and this could go on for hours!

Another blogger "Muscati" stated that Royal's (maker of jello/creme caramel etc) sales during Ramadan account for ~90% of their total brand sales = fascinating!!!

It begs the question - do sales of antacids, laxatives or heartburn meds increase during Ramadan too?


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Relocation during Ramadan

So Duma and I are finally back in Muscat, after having travelled Europe & the UK for the past few months and getting back to see the families in Australia - but what a relief to be able to set up shop and not live out of a suitcase for a while!

We are excited to get back in to a routine and add some structure to our lives. I can honestly say that I'm excited to start work again, though as a Western Woman in Human Resources, I don't like my chances for the short-term :-(
But any help in that area or similar ones (Recruitment/HR/Training/Admin) would be much appreciated...I'm not looking to be an HR Exec, just to make some money, stimulate myself a little in an intellectual sense and be exposed to a new working environment.

The recent challenge for us has been getting a car and accomodation sorted out as we have arrived in the crux of Ramadan. Duma started work today and luckily enough we have family to stay with until we get on our feet. So I'm sitting in the apartment frantically trying to get through my "To-Do-List" - emailing car leasing companies, real estate agents and looking for jobs at the same time. What a royal pain in the a$$ - so much waiting and I'm WAY too impatient to spend weeks on end as a pampered woman sans children to take care of!

Ok ok...and so I'm reading some of my favourite blogs too - loving 'Angry in Oman', 'Muscat Jet Driver' and 'Culture Shocked' :D

Question - are there any women's groups out there for 20 & 30-somethings? I am interested in getting to know a few of the girls around town, maybe joining a book club or fitness group (AIM - where did you get the 30 Day Shred DVD? I want to get it!) but am not having a huge amount of luck. As most people know when moving to new and interesting places, it's not what you know it's 'who' you know...and I'm excited to make new friends, get involved in interesting dialogue and just test the 'social waters' in general.

So here's to our new life in Muscat and cheers to those who read, reply or we cross paths with.