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 !!!