Thursday, August 12, 2010

Something in the water...

Ramadan Kareem everyone!

I have a happy but heavy heart this much going on in my extended family & friends' lives at the moment and its bitter sweet to be in such a good personal head space, but so far away from a lot of them when they are experiencing such defining moments.

From pregnancies to christenings, break-ups without make ups, stresses of building & moving into a new house, surgeries, new jobs and missing out on my niece & nephews special times - it can be hard, but also makes you seek perspective and appreciate all over again how blessed we are.

I wanted to share a quote that I saw on a friend's FB status earlier today.

"I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be...for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances"

And so we send blessings across the seas to those people who need it most, as well as those that don't know they need it yet.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Limp handshakes

I don't know why I haven't written about this sooner! I had a meeting this morning and was pleasantly greeted by a Consultant possessing a firm & friendly handshake, which totally took me by surprise and made me happy! It wasn't "me caveman" kida strong, just FIRM and I liked it...probably a little TOO much given I felt compelled to blog about it.

It might sound trivial and strange, but this isn't something we experience much here (it preturbs Duma more so than I) given most men simply don't shake hands with women, even if we extend our hands. Its cultural and understandable. But Duma feels awkward when going to client meetings and other men shake his fingers or extend a soft hand - he reckons it feels like they are caressing or tickling his palms lol!

So...what of the soft-handedness??? It was one of the things Duma and I first observed having moved to Oman and starting work, because it is common practice. Whilst I expect this from the women, in our part of the world a man with a limp handshake is often linked to a weak character or perhaps someone lacking confidence (I'm not even going to go where some people will go, in reference to sexual orientation).

Now, this isn't to accuse men who exhibit any of the above behaviours as being weak or unconfident, but it does FEEL a little disturbing...or is it just us?

I will say that one thing I really like about people here is that Omani women greet by shaking hands & Indians (male & female) head wobble. I still get tickled with the head wobbling and bobbing :)

So some women kiss cheeks (I'm comfortable with this level of PDA) if they haven't seen each other in a while...BUT the nicest thing I have observed is that when they ask how you are, they REALLY want to know how you (and your family / village / pets etc) are!!! It isn't like back home where you pass someone and they ask "Hi, how are you?" while continuing on their way and not even stopping for the answer. People here actually care about your response, hang on your every word and ask more than once regarding how you are. And while a conversation or simple greeting can feel like it takes 10 minutes - it's refreshing, its genuine and its sincere.

And that's my 2c for today.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

For the traveller in you...

Duma & I came across the COUCH SURFING concept when we were preparing to backpack around Europe. Now, it sounds good in theory(especially if you are young & broke) and thank God there are A LOT of helpful, friendly & hospitable people out there. There are also a lot of crazies, but we won't talk about them right now!

If you have ever stayed in a hostel you will know that sometimes you just want to rest your weary head somewhere other than a bunkbed that is the size of a baby's cot...or shower in a space where you can raise your arms and do the chicken wing dance (you are doing it right now, aren't you?) as you clean those much needed areas ...OR do a #1 or #2's where your knees aren't hitting the wall in front of you and the walls aren't so thin....y'all know what I'm talking about!!!

SO - over the weekend and in my delirium I came across the couch surfing community in Oman. I still don't know how I got there, but I remember thinking "No way - I didn't realise there were so many travellers who spin the globe and randomly select Oman as a destination for backpacking". But I guess with the UAE, India and Sri Lanka, Africa and Egypt so close...why wouldn't you?

I was also spun out by how many people here welcome strangers into their home and show them around. Kudos to you!

Here are some stats if you are interested.

So the question(s) remain:
* Have you / would you couch surf?
* Would you let a surfer crash on your couch?
* Would you be interested in playing a local guide?