Monday, October 26, 2009

Salsa Aerobics Salalah!

If you're going to San Francisco ... You're going to meet some gentle people there....
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Hectic HECTIC times. Thanks for all the positive comments on my OmanForum post last week. Very much appreciated. I haven't had time to write because of a 'Work Overdose' as my fellow blogger Bader likes to call it. I've been taking work home everyday now for the past two weeks. I'm also trying to write something for the new bloggers' campaign, but I need to concentrate when I'm writing, so I'll probably do it at home (with a nice cup of tea). .
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Anyway, I've been highly amused with a new gym I discovered in Salalah for women. Before I start explaining the reason behind my amusement, I'll explain a little about the women exercise situation in Dhofar. First of all, men are so damn lucky. They get to throw a pair of shorts and a t-shirt on and go jogging or swimming, and most of them play soccer on a daily basis in Salalah. Soccer is HUGE here. Some play badminton or tennis, and many just work-out in the gym. Easy.
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What about women, though? We spend all day in our black robes, and hardly ever get out on our own, let alone find time to exercise (unless it's within the four walls of our houses). I mean, seriously, how motivating is it to walk on a treadmill for an hour alone? Beyond Boring. It's the easiest recipe for depression. Many women walk along the airport road, but that's also depressing because they're fully clothed (many in face veils) and we live in a tropical town, so ..... yeah.... hot.Anyway, Salalah Al Hamdulillah has several hidden female gyms. In secret neighborhoods and dark alley-ways you may spot a building that has a tiny sign saying 'Health Club'.... on the door there's usually another tiny sign saying 'NO MEN ALLOWED'. Some have signs that say 'No Males Invited'.. I think that's cute. I'm not going to implement the 'What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas' rule, and I'm actually going to explain to you what happens behind those closed doors. VERY amusing.
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Alright, so after sunset many females head to their cars (or their husband/brother/driver's cars) and discreetly make their way to the secret destination. They're dressed from head to toe in black. The car drives into a dark alley-way and parks in front of a seedy looking building with a red-lit sign saying 'Health Club'. The females get out of the car. The first odd thing you notice is that they're carrying a backpack and a suspicious looking roll of something. A what? Yes, a yoga mat. The car drives a way, the women look left and right then slowly open the door and slide into the building. The door remains shut.
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Once you shut that door, you're in another world. Men would kill to see what goes on in there. Big empty well-lit rooms. Mirrored walls. Women chillin' in tights and tank tops. Nike sneakers. Yoga mats. Puma shorts. Sweatbands. Che Guevara t-shirts (you heard me right). Ponytails. Bandanas. Loud Loud Music..... Hot stuff.
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At 8 p.m the aerobics class instructor arrives; dressed in pink tights and a t-shirt with a long blonde ponytail and lime-green sneakers. Women/girls start warming up and playfully shoving each other around the aerobics rooms. All the lights come on. Everyone takes their place in front of the mirror. Music system is ready. Press the play button and get ready to hit the dance floor.
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Global Deejays re-mix 'San Francisco Dreaming' blasts out of the speakers (listen to it. I need you to imagine with me). The instructor usually starts with warm-up exercises then gradually starts the heavy aerobics. Lots of hopping and jumping. Step-work. Mat-work. It goes on for an hour or more. Pain. Torture. But they love it anyway. Often the instructor will ask the girls if they're in for some hip-hop and break-dancing. Everyone will shout 'YEAH!' and out comes the hip-hop CD. She usually starts with The Black Eyed Peas 'Boom Boom Pow' and everyone will show off their dance moves. My favorite is Chris Brown & T-Pain's 'Greatness'. When the girls are feeling a little wild, the belly-dancing CD comes out. One of my expat friends who went there took one look at the place and said 'This is SO Ghetto!'.

The funniest part is that some instructors like doing aerobics to Salsa music. It actually works quite well with aerobics. Lots of hip and shoulder-shaking. The best is Marc Anthony's 'Mi Gente'. Dhofari girls pick up a lot of salsa moves from TV (So You Think You Can Dance/ Dancing with the Stars). After a couple of hours of fun and activity, one by one the women head to the cloak room (literally), change back into their abayas, tie up their hair, apply all the head-pieces until the hijab is complete, tie on the face-veil (burqa), change out of their sneakers, roll up their yoga mats and sneak out. The car is waiting outside (curious driver trying to get a peek as the door opens), woman gets in, and drives off into the night.

Nothing happened, right? Nope.

Salalah's best-kept secret. Dhofari Chicks Rock.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Oman Forum

Some of you may recall that during September the cool founder of OmanForum.com started up a forum for 'Blogs By Omanis & Expats in Oman'. It meant that whenever bloggers published a post in their own blogs, the post would automatically be published in the forum as a new thread. Several bloggers added their blogs to this forum including myself, Reality in Oman, and others. The advantages were that the bloggers were getting more exposure and more readers. Disadvantages were that readers commented directly under the post in the forum (so at times the blogger had no idea when people were commenting).
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However, the worst downfall is that many OmanForum readers used their anonymity to criticize endlessly and to be quite rude at times. They didn't quite understand the concept of 'blogs' and didn't see the 'blogger' as a person; merely were pissed off because some of the posts were personal and not entertaining. One guy commented on my previous 'Mixed Post' by saying "Who cares what you do before you sleep? Your writing is empty". Umm... my dear sir, I am not writing to entertain YOU. This is MY blog, MY space, MY daily journal, and I can DAMN WELL write what I want, thank you very much! I think blogs and forums should be completely independent of one another and kept far away from each other because both have completely different audiences. I found the OmanForum audiences to be rude, rather empty, and not as intelligent and respectful as blog readers. I love my readers and I take time out everyday to check out their blogs and read what they have to say. It's a give and take relationship. We encourage one another to write, and our writing is most certainly not empty.
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This morning I sent an email to the founder of OmanForum asking him to remove my blog from the forum. He wrote back immediately, bless his heart, and informed me that he had removed the entire forum completely. It was obviously misunderstood and not the success he had hoped for.
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Anyway, OmanForum.com is a great place for discussions, even if some of the members are losers. But for serious, deep writing and contemplation, let's stick to blogs and limit your readers to the intelligent type. Cheers. Going to make myself some coffee ...
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PS (an Oman Forum reader would easily reply to this post by saying 'No one wants to know whether you're going to make yourself coffee!!'. .. Haha!!)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Another Mixed Post!

Guess what?! Another random post! I seriously have scatter-brain syndrome, and I'm not even on Twitter, so I don't know what this is all about (i.e. people who use Twitter are usually scatter-brains). Anyway, here are a bunch of thoughts that are swimming around in my brain today:
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(1) I was reading G-Chan's blog this morning and she said it takes her at least an hour of thinking every night before she can contemplate sleeping. Tell me about it! I'm usually in bed at 11 p.m every night, yet I only ever sleep at 1 a.m usually or even 1:30. What do I do in those two hours? I think, analyze, contemplate, brainstorm, etc. I'm an intense person so I can't just imagine pink clouds and go to bed. No, sir, not me. I'm a deep thinker, so it's hard. Anyway, I have about three notebooks beside my bed and a bunch of pens. I usually have amazing ideas in the middle of the night (one of them was to start a blog! look where it got me) that need to be jotted down immediately otherwise I won't sleep worrying that I'll forget them. Finally, to prove to you all that I'm totally wacko, I solve math problems in bed because it helps me sleep. No, I am not a student. No, my career has NOTHING to do with math. Yes, I solve math problems in bed. Try doing (34856 x 32888 /4 - 500) in bed on a piece of paper in semi-darkness.
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(2) You know sometimes you end up having friends in life who are so sweet and kind, it's almost abnormal?! People who always take time out to ask about others, and help them, and who don't seem to carry a bad thought in their head/hearts? People who are pure, generous, caring, loving creatures who seem to be giving their all to the world? Yeah, well, when I first started this blog, I came across one of those creatures. We followed each other's blogs then met for coffee. Our first meeting proved my theory that she is probably one of the sweetest people I've ever know. Yes, I'm talking about you Shahrazad . Who knows, maybe you're evil deep down inside, but I seriously doubt it. You're one of the sweetest people I know. What was that crazy SMS conversation we had last night? It involved soap ... men ... journeys ... MAC makeup?
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(3) I met a very interesting man last night. VERY interesting. Omani orphan raised by expats? He's now a middle-aged man so you can imagine how odd that must be ...
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(4) This entire week the whole of Salalah has been full of ROP security check points. Some say it's standard procedure. Others say there are Somali illegal immigrants causing trouble. Anyway, I was stopped 3 times in a period of 36 hours. That's odd. I see the policemen being rough with all the cars in front of me 'Gimme that license! Why isn't your car renewed! What's this?! Who's that!', etc. They give you the look that says 'I'm tired, I'm a policeman, and I'm going to take it out on you'. HOWEVER, if you're a girl ......... that's a completely different story. He's my encounter last night:
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I'm driving through town and I see a flashing sign "ROP Security Check - Please Stop"...
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Nadia pulls over .. rolls down window and looks for her driver's license and car ownership:
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Police: Good evening, my dear. How are you?
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Nadia: Oh, very well officer. And you? *flashing innocent sweet smile* Policeman melts.
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Police: As you see, it's rough and exhausting. No need to give me your license. Go ahead. Sorry if we caused any inconvenience. (trying to act cool)
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Nadia: Oh that's ok, Officer. Have a nice evening! *flashes another smile*
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It's great being a girl sometimes.
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(5) I was having a conversation with Ma7feef last night about childhood crimes. I'm sure we all did something bad in our childhood that we'd rather not remember. Anyway, I was thinking about it (obviously in bed past midnight) and the only thing that came up in my mind was my evil crimes in grade nine when I was 13. It was my last year at that particular middle school before I hit high school, and the principal of my school was EVIL. When I say 'Evil' I mean evil. She used to chase girls around with scissors in case she saw loose strands on hair, etc *khuslat*. She tortured everyone in our school, including the teachers and I was determined to get my revenge before I left the school. Anyway, I spent two weeks writing an 85-line poem about her in proper 'fus7a' Arabic . On my last day at school I had printed out almost 100 copies of the poem, I went to school really early and I posted a copy up on each classroom door, including a huge colourful copy on her door. The school went into fits of hysterical laughter and the principal ended up 'arresting' several girls whom she thought had written it. I got away fortunately because I look so innocent. Only two or three friends knew about my crime. Yet over 500 people read it and enjoyed it and probably have kept copies of it. It was fun. Do I regret it? Not really.
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(6) I'm really proud of Dhofari bloggers. I don't want to discriminate between different parts of Oman, but we can't deny the fact that 99% of bloggers live in Muscat. I've only come across 4 blogs by Dhofaris. Please if you know any, send them to me! If bloggers in Dhofar can unite, then we can actually do something to serve society down here in the South (the wild wild South). Look at Bloggers Against H1N1 in Muscat! They're actually 'moving' and doing something besides hiding behind their computer monitors writing. Kudos to Bader and Muawiyah and the other Muscat bloggers who are doing something for others. As for Dhofar, I'm giving a shout-out to Ma7feef and Pepsi Diet who were brave enough to start their own blogs. Please spread the word and encourage others to start writing. As for you bloggers in Muscat, you've inspired me, and I admire you.
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Enough writing for now! Have tons of work to do.. Have a great day everyone! (PS: the photo was taken at the lookout point right before Darbat valley).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Salalah Scenes

Hey Everyone,
Sorry for my random posts. I'm still a scatter-brain. I was out shopping last night (abayas! Woohoo! I got two) .. and as I was at the traffic lights in the centre of town with my friend we noticed this building ... Concentrate on the photo and tell me what looks odd... See the towo guys sitting up in that window watching the world? Yes, only in Salalah will you drive through the centre of town and see two guys chilling in their shorts. My friend and I parked the car across the street and being the perfect Paparazzi type, we got out our cameras and started taking photos.
The beginning of the week has been hectic for me, work-wise, so I haven't had time for blogging because my evenings are filled up with committments and activities. My life goes through phases of complete boredom and complete chaos. I prefer the chaos obviously.
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Still have fresh flowers in my office. I'm working on a post for the new bloggers' campaign (will be contacting female bloggers about this soon). Keep your eyes peeled. Omani Bloggers Against........
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Cheers.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mixed Post

Today I'm a scatter-brain. I want to write but I can't seem to focus on one topic. Bear with me; I'll be writing about a bunch of completely irrelevant things today..
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(1) This morning I have fresh flowers in my office. I even took a photo (see below). Sometimes a girl needs flowers, even if she buys them for herself. I'm extremely busy at work this week, so having flowers around (in addition to my plants) is refreshing. They help to remind me that there's more to life than computer screens and paperwork.
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(2) I'm thinking about death today. When someone dies suddenly (in an accident), the shock can be unbearable sometimes. A person can be driving down the highway listening to his favourite song and within a minute he can be lying on the pavement, a lifeless puppet. A strong reminder of how small we are and how fragile life is. Please please please be careful when you drive. Wear your seatbelt even if you think you're the best driver in the world. Don't use your phone when you're driving. Don't speed. Life is precious. Even if you think your life isn't precious, other people do. You are a human. You are needed in this world. Please take care of yourself.
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(3) When I was getting into my car after work yesterday, I stopped for a moment to listen to the afternoon call to prayer 'Adhan'. From my car I could hear four mosques. Four! I just stood there for a moment or two thinking about it. We, who live in Muslim countries, sometimes don't stop to listen to the Adhan because we're so used to it. A friend of mine who moved to Salalah from the USA told me one day 'You have NO idea how deliriously happy I am to be listening to the call to prayer five times a day from my own living room. You guys are so lucky'. And yes, we are lucky. Today, take a moment out to listen to the call to prayer when it comes.
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(4) I read one of Aristotle's quotes today that made me stop and think: (in my cousin's facebook profile if you really must know) ... ""It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." .... Every single human should take some time out in their life to read about Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. The world's greatest philosophers. Albus Dumbledore follows.
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(5) Why isn't the new newspaper 'Muscat Daily' available in Salalah? Has anyone read it in Muscat? ReviewS?
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(6) Covered parking lots are a blessing. Thank you dear employer.
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(7) I'm delighted with the Dhofaris who've been starting up their own blogs (whether in English or Arabic). I've been following a new English blog from Dhofar called 'Pepsi Diet' .. http://ihatemountaindew.blogspot.com/ Check it out. I like the way he compared Shisha restaurants in Salalah to pubs in Britain.
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(8) Do you believe in pure friendships with members of the opposite sex?
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Cheers,
Scatter-Brain Nadia

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Facebook

I'm planning a post on Facebook in the near future; however, my friend Shahrazad wrote an excellent post on the problem of Facebook among Omani teens. Check out her post here. http://thoughtreservoir.wordpress.com/2009/10/10/two-generations-on-facebook/

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Single Ladies Rock

Listening to Lady Gaga first thing in the morning before coffee is disturbing behavior, I know. Should I see a therapist?
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I've been so busy these past couple of weeks and of course the reason is obvious. Omanis sleep during Ramadan (and by sleep, I mean at work) so work accumulates and accumulates, and finally when Eid is over they suddenly realize they're one month behind schedule, and the poor innocent creatures like myself who worked their heads off during Ramadan end up suffering too because they have to 'help' their poor miserable fellow workers keep up.
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Anyway, do you know what it feels like when small pieces of a puzzle seem to be coming together over period of several days? I'll try to explain more; umm.. do you know what it feels like when you suddenly think of a topic and 'Sub7an Allah' over the next few days that same topic keeps on coming up again and again in many different ways through different people, places, etc, and you suddenly come to realize that God is trying to say something to you? You have to be tuned in to your inner self to comprehend that all these pieces are coming together at this particular time in your life for a reason. Everything is meant to be. God planned it that way.
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For example, if you've been thinking about completing your higher studies and you're worried whether it's the right thing to do but you're nervous about telling your family and you don't know whether to study abroad or at home, etc. Well, imagine that the following things happen during one week:
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(1) Your boss suddenly says to you 'You've got potential .. you should do your Masters' someday'
(2) Your company suddenly announced they're granting study leave with pay to outstanding employees.
(3) You get an extra bonus at work (down payment for your first year of studies?)
(4) Your best friend announces they're going to study in the UK in six months.
(5) You get a random email in your inbox from Leeds University with special offers on MAs for students from the GCC.
(6) Your favorite professor lives in Leeds.
(7) Your father announces one day at lunch that he wouldn't mind his daughters studying abroad.
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You see what I mean? This all happens in one week. Signs. Omens. Similar situations have happened to me several times.
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It has happened again this week. A week ago I was going through a mini-depression fit where several incidents occured to young women around me that were upsetting. Of course men were the reason. It upset me that any man would still think he could treat his wife as a slave even if she is working and supporting the family. I almost gave up on the thought of young Omani women being independent modern individuals. Suddenly this week several signs showed up in my life to get me back on track. It's as if God opened up my eyes to the amazing young women around me who are making a life for themselves. It was as if I was seeing them for the firs time. Then slowly more things showed up in my life; aritcles, emails, new blogs by amazing young Omani women, new people, new colleagues, interesting conversations over coffee, a song, lines in a book, etc. All these pieces came together to remind me that 'WOW, there are so many freakin' cool young ladies out there'.
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Oman is changing. It is AMAZING how much things are changing. I don't know what you guys hink about Salalah, but I'm telling you, there are many many many young ladies here who are smart, educated, fluent in English, ambitious, confident, drive cars, and have excellent careers. Not only are they successful in their jobs and studies, but they are also generous and compassionate women who really want to help others find their way too. They also want to be good wives and good mothers. Often, I meet a group of these women and we have 'Empowerment Sessions' or 'Girls Power Hour' to discuss issues we are facing and to give support to one another. Living in Salalah isn't easy for single women who want to do something with their lives. A lot of things are still taboo for young women. I mean, until two years ago the thought of girls driving was still taboo. Now take a look aroudn this town. Every fifth or sixth car is a girl. They're starting up businesses, volunteer groups, committees, and are helping others. They're so excited about this new-found freedom that they're really working hard to be successful, unlike young men here (sad to say). Thus, I've come to the conclusion that by the year 2015 this town will be run by women. Period. Young men don't seem to be doing anything with their lives (or at least the young men around me). It's sad but true.
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If you're a young woman reading this, go ahead and find your shooting star. You're beautiful. You're successful. You're powerful. And it's YOUR life, not anyone else's. If you're a man, go home and encourage the women in your life to find their dreams. Help them. Support them. Show them you'll stand by them. In the end, I think Oman will find a good balance between traditional and modern, and this can only happen with the support of the amazing women in this country. Kudos to you ladies out there. And kudos to all the men who encourage the women in their lives.
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The photo above symbolizes freedom. If I were a bird I'd spend all day flying. Have a great weekend!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Found it!

After endless searching on Google, I decided to type in every possible website that came to mind

http://www.y.om/
http://www.yoman.com/
http://www.yoman.net/
http://www.y-oman.com/

etc, etc...

And guess what? I FOUND IT!!

http://www.y-oman.com/

Check it out (i.e the more intelligent version that came out this year) can be downloaded off the website in PDF form. Someone told me there are some good articles written by Omanis in the magazine. I'm searching for those specific articles. I can't believe they've discussed Kanye West's stupid VMA moment in the new issue!! Like Oman needs to know?

Help!

Does anyone know if 'Y Magazine' have a website or where I can find some of their articles online?