Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Salalah Marriot Again?

It's Wednesday! And we have a LONG weekend! And I am DYING to get out of work and start my weekend projects. I'm going to finish reading 2 books, bake, write, attempt to make Biryani, do a lot of housework, vegetate on the sofa with movies, and just chill. Maybe go shopping. Or .... maybe not go shopping. Yesterday was payday for most people, so you can imagine what the traffic will be like today all over Oman. Funny how it's so predictable.
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So back to the Marriot issue. New readers suddenly popped up to criticize/wonder why I said it hurts to know that young Omani men from the mountains and area around Mirbat will end up being offered jobs at these tourist resorts. They argued that tourism was part of the strategy for economic diversification, etc, etc. To quote some "It is also a lovely and interesting experience when a tourist meets a local instead of an expatriate while staying in a country. It adds to the fun of being on holiday. Having expatriate staff will only add to the resort alienating itself from the rich Omani culture".
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And then FINALLY one reader understood my point of view. She wrote "After 25 years of living on and off in the UAE I have seen the ugly things that tourism can do to a country. It brings in more alcohol, more prostitution, etc...Oman is a beautiful country filled with beautiful people. It is pristine in the sense that it hasn't been covered in the ugly filth that Dubai underground is famous for. Oman isn't flashy and hedonistic like Dubai. I am sure that there many Omanis who do not want what happened to Dubai to happen to any part of Oman.It would be nice instead for the Omani government to focus on Eco-Tourism or something else to keep Oman beautiful the way it is.So I can see why Dhofari Gucci wrote what she wrote about". THANK YOU Miss MishMish!
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So with all due respect to the Westerners who commented earlier, I am completely pro-tourism. I want the whole world to see how beautiful Oman is and to experience our culture. OUR culture. OUR culture. I want tourists to come and experience the real Oman. I want our young Omani men to show them our way of life. I want the tourists to experience camping under the stars, milking camels, mountain-climbing, traditional music, traditional food, ... I want them to visit the old archaeological sites, to study cave-writings and visit old tombs. I want them to admire our beautiful beaches. I want to meet them and invite them to my home to meet some real Omanis.
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But wake up everyone, are young Omanis working in the hotel business going to help with this kind of real tourism? They're forced to wear hideous bellhop uniforms and speak English all the time. They're exposed to drunken tourists and alcohol on a daily basis, and then many of them start drinking too. They are exposed to over-weight Germans in tiny bikinis lounging by the pool on a daily basis or perhaps topless Swedes who think it's OK. They have to survive the hotel dance clubs and loud music. How is that going to help them? A young man who spends all his life in the mountains in a small village raising animals and then gets offered a job in a hotel and is exposed to all this ... what do you think will happen to him? Scarred for life? That may be the case.
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So, yeah, I may have insulted the Germans and Swedes, but I'm just trying to explain why I feel ill when I see young Omanis working in the hotel business. The hotels are in NO WAY related to anything Omani. Besides the tiny gift shops that sell wooden camels made in Pakistan, 5-star hotels and resorts are a reflection of Western culture. If I were a businessman I'd build the perfect 5-star Omani hotel .. a true reflection of who we are. Tourists would love it. It would have all the comforts and facilities of a Western 5-star hotel, but yes I'd get rid of the alcohol. No matter how close I am to my Western friends, I will never ever understand why they drink. And I don't think they'll ever understand why I'm Muslim. And so we leave it at that. Synergize and celebrate the differences and remain friends.
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I hope I got the message through. There's no way I can stop this kind of development, but the least I can do is speak up and let you know what most Omanis feel.
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On a lighter note, evidently the locals in Mirbat think the Marriot is a curse because it was built over a very old graveyard. Some swear that before the hotel was even opened, they could hear racket and voices when there was no one there. My colleague from Mirbat told me that some of the older generation spoke to HE the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Yousuf Bin Alawi (who seems to be the mastermind of the project? Correct me if I'm wrong. I didn't have time to do research) begging him to stop construction because of the graves, ...
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Food for thought. Cheer up, it's the weekend after all.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Salalah Marriot Resort

Greetings, fellow creatures. A friend of mine went out to Mirbat over the weekend to investigate the newly opened Marriot Resort on the beach. I'm not a big fan of big bucks ruining our natural beaches, but there's nothing we can do to stop it. The only two big hotels in Dhofar at the moment are the Hilton & the Crowne Plaza. Both are lovely and have taken up a generous chunk of our beach. Over the past two years I've heard rumors of a new tourism village opening up at Mirbat (80 Km East of Salalah). Mirbat is a beautiful old town and I believe was quite famous for horse-breeding back in the good old days.
Anyway, to according to my sources at the Ministry of Tourism, a whole tourist town is being built out near Mirbat. Hotels, shops, golf courses, tennis courts, beach, and even an airport. If it'll keep the thousands of Swedes and Germans & the alcohol out there away from town, then I guess it's a good thing. But what hurts is that all the young Omani men from the mountains around Mirbat and from the town itself will be offered jobs at these resorts. The hotel business is so not-Omani.

The pool at the Marriot looks like it's t0-die-for and perhaps they'll let me jump in with my abaya and pink shades. Their rates are pretty good considering it's a five-star hotel. Last time I checked their website they had some really great packages. 70 Rials a night at a five-star resort? That's cheaper than the Park Inn and Golden Tulip! Almost as cheap as the Ibis. So if you're thinking of spending a weekend in Salalah, check out the Marriot! If I'm being nice, I might even invite you to coffee in my tent. My camels don't bite.

Beware The Jabberwocky!

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"
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I'm not having a good day.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bloggers in the Times of Oman

Dear Readers,
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Hope you're all enjoying your weekend. I certainly am. You can read Part One and Part Two of the Times of Oman piece written by Sandhya Menon if you like. I enjoyed the article. Yes, that's my pompom/kammasha/second head in the picture. Closest you'll ever get to seeing my face!
.Thanks for all the comments (I'm still having a commenting problem so I can't always respond - damn technology). Thank you to all the losers too for your hate mail. Your insults flatter me. Do continue! And thank you Dragon for dedicating a part of your most recent post to these haters.
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Meanwhile, I'm sulking because a flock of about 100 herons seem to have missed their turning to the Salalah bird sanctuary at the beach and instead landed on one of the major roundabouts. Once they realized the grassy flowery roundabout was actually not too bad, they decided to hang out there a little longer. And DAMMIT I did not have my camera with me. I swore at the steering wheel then decided to enjoy the moment anyway and drove in circles around the roundabout.
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I was at Lulu Centre yesterday looking for coffee filters when I noticed in the crap drinks section (i.e. Tang), a new flavor was being advertised .... Tang Lemon & Black Pepper. Yes, you heard me. For years and years Oman has been addicted to Tan Mango, Tang Orange, Tang Pineapple, Tang Lemon, etc .... but with PEPPER? Someone investigate please. I'm tempted to go buy some.
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That's all for now folks!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Times of Oman Interview Questions

Might as well follow the Dragon's example and publish my answers to Sandhya Menon's questions (intelligent reporter from the Times of Oman) before the paper is out. I was asked by Sandhya (also a blogger) a couple of weeks ago if I would be willing to participate in a piece she was writing on bloggers. I agreed, for the sake of all newspaper readers who crave something interesting every once in a while.
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She also asked for recommendations and I immediately sent her the links to some of my favorite blogs. Muscat Confidential was at the top of the list and it amused me terribly to hear that he was banned by the Times of Oman and thus could not be part of the article. Shame. However, fear not, for someone must have gotten in a good word somehow and he was invited to answer a set of questions. I will say no more. Part One on bloggers is in today's newspaper and part two will be out tomorrow. Stay tuned.
PS (please note that I chose mild/polite/friendly answers for the newspaper)
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Will you ever blow your cover?
No. Blowing my cover will limit the topics I can write about. Anonymity gives me the freedom of writing honestly without worrying about being labeled.
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Are you afraid you might be found out?
Not really. I'm not committing I crime, you know? Being anonymous is just more convenient.
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If you are, what do you think the consequence would be? I chose not to answer.
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How was it for you to have moved back after living in environments that afford women much more freedom that Oman?
I do not feel that I lack freedom in Oman. I am proud of being Omani and I would never choose to live anywhere else. However, I do live in a conservative town and unlike Western countries, social networking is huge. Everyone knows everyone. It bothered me at first that I seemed to have no privacy, but I just needed time to adapt. It was hard moving from a country that values individuality back into a society where collectivistic thinking rules and people are afraid of anyone 'different'.
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Apart from realization of writing skills and a wonderful level of comfort with English, what was the reason you started to blog?
I started blogging because I want to write a book on society in Dhofar sometime in the future. A friend of mine (an author) told me that in order to work towards this goal, I had to write one good page a day. Writing for yourself can get depressing after a while, so I thought 'why not find an audience?'. Blogging was the perfect solution. I needed to write about real issues and I needed feedback in order to stay motivated. My readers are my inspiration. It has been an amazing journey.
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Do you think you can bring about a change in society, however slow and tedious, with your writing and the awareness that your blog spreads?
Definitely. When I first started blogging, I thought I'd be writing for myself, but within a month or two when Dhofari Gucci became more popular, things changed. I'd meet someone for coffee and they'd immediately ask 'Have you heard about Dhofari Gucci?'. It was insane. I came to realize that whenever anyone Googles anything about Dhofar or Salalah in English, inevitably a link to my blog shows up on the first search page. That's how most people find it. I feel a strong sense of responsibility, especially after I discovered that my articles are being used as teaching material in colleges and I even discovered that someone quoted me in their Ph.D! This is why I try to do a little research before expressing my own personal opinion.
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Has your blog ever been noticed by anyone who has objections to what you write in there?
Yes indeed. I get hate mail on a regular basis. I can't please everyone, especially since I'm writing about sensitive social issues. If you're asking about objections from higher authorities, I pick my topics carefully. My intention has never been to offend anyone. (I know that I've annoyed some officials from the Ministry of Information in Dhofar on several occasions. A lot of people don't appreciate my spreading Dhofar's dirty laundry - as they put it- on the internet)
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If yes, how have you responded/reacted?
I had to start moderating comments a few months back when Dhofari Gucci started gaining publicity.
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How far do you plan to take your blog in that that it reveals a side of Dhofar/Oman and its people that is not very well known?
Last year after doing a little online research, I realized there are absolutely no blogs about Dhofar written by Omanis in English. In fact, it's quite hard to find any information about life in Dhofar online unless through expat websites. There are many aspects about our culture that expats do not understand. So many people come here as tourists but don't have any idea about our history and society. They're shown the green mountains, beaches, camels, coconuts, etc, but where can they find 'real' information about the people? Dhofar is such an amazing place. I feel it's my responsibility to live up to the role of Dhofar's ambassador to the English speaking world. I try to stay real without sounding like a tourism website.
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Do you have any ambitions for the blog?
Yes! There's so much I want to write about and there are so many issues that need to be tackled. I'm hoping Dhofari Gucci will become the most reliable online source of information on Dhofar. In order to reach that goal, I need to find more time to do research write. At the moment, obligations and duties in my 'real' life have taken all my spare time and I find I don't have an hour or two a day to write.
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Does it bother you that you have to be anonymous to tell it like it is?
Not much. Sometimes it gets frustrating when I have to change details around before publishing posts in order to conceal my identity. However, the advantages of being anonymous completely outweigh the disadvantages.
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Does anyone know of your identity? Family, close friends?
No. However, I have met other female bloggers in person for coffee and a chat. We're now great friends. Bloggers cover up for one another because we're all on the same boat. I have met some very enlightened young women. We all have a lot in common and after following each other's blogs for a while, it only makes sense to meet in person. I'm constantly fascinated by the number of young Omani writers out there who are capable to expressing themselves so easily in English.
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How does having this unlimited space affect your personality? For eg: Are you more interested in the goings-on of things so that you can have material for your blog? Are you more socially aware because you realize you can't put up something that you don't understand?
Yes I definitely feel that I'm more tuned in to my surroundings. I'm always looking for topics to write about. When I'm with my friends, I'm constantly asking for their opinion on anything from polygamy, witchcraft, divorce rates, local traditions, to local food and music! I carry a notebook around with me wherever I go. I definitely feel more passionate about Dhofar and I find that I'm more interested in reading about the history of this region. I find that I am able to zone out and look at Dhofar from an outsider's perspective as well as from a local girl's point of view.
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Do you write in Arabic as well?
I'm fluent in both Arabic and English, and I do write in Arabic. However, I'm more comfortable writing about Dhofar in English because I'm dealing with a completely different audience. The English-speaking online community in Oman is very different than the Arabic one, and there's plenty of information available in Arabic, so why not explore new territory?

Monday, February 15, 2010

News Alert: Bloggers in the Media

Looks like Community Queer was unblocked in the past 5 hours. Hmmm......?
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Take a peak at the Times of Oman newspaper tomorrow Tuesday the 16th. I predict an article on blogs. Interviews with a rather entertaining Dragon, sarcastic Dhofari Gucci, funny Rania, intense Reality in Oman, serious Omanoymous and wacky Other Oman...? It'll be interesting to see how it turns out. Keep your eyes peeled and have a great day!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's in Dhofar

No no ... to all your conservatives out there .. chill. I'm proud to say I haven't seen one red heart in Salalah this week, and no mention of Valentine's so we're safe from Western commercialism for the time being. We may not be so lucky next year.
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However, I took a trip down memory lane to the highschool I attended in Salalah. Saada Highschool to be exact (there are only 3 girls' highschools in Salalah anyway). Back in my days when we almost never interacted with any male who wasn't a family members, our social life revolved around the girls at schools. Imagine over a thousand girls between the ages of 15-18 in one building from 7:30 to 2:30 every single day. All those emotions, feelings, hormones, ... sheesh. Anyway, back in the days there was a bridge connecting grade 10 to grade 12 and that bridge was secretly and commonly known as 'The Bridge of Love' or جسر المحبة. I remember Valentine's Day was extremely important for any grade 10 girl who had a crush on a grade 12 senior. Or girls who had a crush on girls from other classes. On Valentine's day they would put red ribbons in their hair, suck red lollipops, and walk hand in hand through the schools grounds to declare .... declare what? Love? I thought it was hilarious. They weren't lesbians of course, but they were getting close. The worst part was having a crush on a teacher and leaving her a rose and a letter on her desk and secretly watching her office to see how she would react to the gift. Ahh... girls. Anyway, Al Hamdulillah we all grew up, went to college, and discovered a whole new world out there ... men.
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Speaking of the gays, please accept my condolences on the demise of the new blog 'Community Queer'. I don't think they were Omani, but they were definintely promoting gay love in Oman and they can't say we didn't warn them! Blocked by Omantel yesterday.
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Freedom of speech is a great thing, but do we really want complete freedom of speech when we know what the consequences are? I could get my blog banned in a day if I wanted just by writing one post on a highly controversial topic, but I pick my topics carefully and I try not to offend anyone because I love Dhofari Gucci... and I don't want to see it banned. So to all you rebels out there (minus the Dragon @ Muscat Confidential because he has angels watching over him), be careful what you write. It's all nice and dandy in the beginning when you realize 'hey, this is my space online and I can write whatever I want', but seriously, just be careful. Try not to offend. Try to remain objective. Respect our conservative Omani culture and Islam and don't get depressed because things are changing everyday, and soon as more people begin to understand true journalism & media, we will have more freedom of speech... but until then, remain respectful.
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Onto more cheerful subjects my favorite YouTube artist, Kina Grannis, is releasing her first album this month (yes YouTube can be a miracle sometimes) and her first single was released last week. It's called Valentine and it's been stuck in my head all week. Very simple and sweet melody. I've decided to annoy you guys with the tune because someone's gotta suffer with me!
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Have a Great Day!
video

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Creativity

Most of you have no idea how hard it is to write. At times, I'm in the mood for blogging everyday. Ideas pour onto me like drops of rain and I soak them up and turn them into words. When I spend time with family and friends discussing real issues, I immediately I pull out my notebook and write. If I'm in a cafe, I start writing on napkins. At times I'm so full of ideas that I find myself unable to sleep. I toss and turn, wake up at 3 a.m and start writing.
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Then again, sometimes I have 2 or 3 hours of freedom and I decide to sit down and write. My mind suddenly becomes a blank page of nothingness. If you're a blogger, you'll understand what I'm talking about. If you're a reader, try to understand. Writing isn't that easy. I don't just write for Dhofari Gucci. I write for myself. I have so many notebooks and papers full of ideas. Some are suitable for this blog. Others are not.
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Those of you who know me personally will understand what my life has been like over the past couple of months. A mix of chaos, stress, work, people, travel, appointments, plans, ... and very little time to sleep and eat, let alone write. However, fear not for I intend to bring myself back into the habit of blogging about issues in a Dhofar on a more regular basis. Thank you for staying tuned.
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This morning I watched a talk on nurturing creativity given by one of my favorite authors. It was sent to me by a friend, and even though I had very little time, I decide 'to hell with it' and I sat down and listened. She is a very gifted speaker and her talk inspired me.
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I've been thinking about creativity lately. I often spend a few afternoons a month tutoring an 8 year-old girl. Let's name her Sara. She is very sweet, but very shy. She hardly speaks but her passion is art. She spends hours a day drawing and painting and I've been noticing as she develops her talents. For her birthday last month, I bought her a real kid-size wooden easle and a whole new set of paints, brushes and paper. She accepted the gift gratefully and a few days later her mother called me and said Sara was crying because she couldn't paint using her easle. I drove over to their house on my way home from work and asked the child why she couldn't paint. She looks down at the floor and whispered 'What if nobody likes my drawings?'. At that point my heart crumbled into a thousand pieces. This poor child was so afraid of people not liking her art that she couldn't bring herself to using her new professional easle and paints. She was terrified. Terrified of being creative.
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I managed to cheer her up and we painted together for a while (on the easle). I told her it didn't matter what people thought. As long as she was happy with her own painting, nothing else mattered. I told her that all the famous artists in this world didn't care for the opinions of others. Evidently her teacher had asked them to paint something nice and all the kids had painted flowers, houses, cars, etc. Sara painted squares and triangles, dark colours, very neat... and very much like analytic cubism (I saw her work) and her teacher looked at the paper and told her 'Sara, That is not art. Draw something real'. I was so furious. What kind of a teacher is that? Who says we have to draw something real in order to be artists? I asked Sara's mother if we can use her computer, and I typed in 'Pablo Picasso' into Google images. I watched as her eyes widened. She was blown away by his paintings. I told her he is one of the most famous artists in the world and that millions and millions of people love his work. Are his paintings realistic? No. Was he not one of the most creative people who lived on this planet? Yes. Since then Sara has been painting everyday. I told her to tell her teacher 'I'm painting like Picasso' whenever her teacher criticizes her.
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For heaven's sake, if you know someone who seems to have a hidden talent, help them nurture it and pull them out of their misery. So many of us are terrified of being creative. Terrified of putting our all into a piece of art, a photograph, a poem, a story, a play, ...
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I myself am terrified of being creative. The fear of being rejected is probably going to kill me one day but I'm trying to get over it. And I will help others get over it. So many people I know want to be creative but are afraid of what others will think. IT IS SO HARD to be creative in a collectivistic society like Salalah. A society where everyone is practically the same. We wear the same clothes, eat the same food, wear the same bloody makeup to weddings, follow the same trends, wear the same pom-poms on our heads, etc, etc.
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There are so many talented artists who are not being encouraged. Families in Salalah aren't used to encouraging their children's hobbies. In fact, how many people do you know in Salalah have a REAL hobby? How many artists do you know? Photographers? Poets? Writers? Musicians? Actors? They exist but there aren't many of them.
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We need to bring on a paradigm shift in our society. Change. We need to encourage our teachers to nurture children's talents.
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And you dear readers, what is your secret passion? What are you afraid of nurturing? Do you secretly want to be a writer? A guitar player? An artist? A fashion designer? A photographer? What's stopping you? Family? Laziness? Fear? Embarassement? Society? Confidence?
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I look forward to receiving your comments. I want to know what your hobby is, what you LOVE doing, and what you want to do in the future. Even if it's cooking or sewing. I'm proud to say that I'm very creative in the kitchen. According to my mother, I'm the only person she knows who can throw spices into a dish with my eyes shut and without even thinking about the dish not turning out right. Have a great day!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ramblings

Dear All,
Kindly note that as per the attached file, you are kindly requested to submit it therefore to the acting personnel in charge ... etc. ... etc ...
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I HATE crappy email language used in the private sector sometimes.
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(1) Muscat Confidential, Other Oman, and Reality in Oman have interesting posts up today. In reply to Reality's posts, Dhofaris would just ignore you. They're too proud. What? You? A girl? Coming to tell us to leave? Kiss my A** Sista! Dhofaris are polite but they can't handle any kind of bossy woman. They are proud men. As for Dhofari girls, they'd ignore you until the leader of their group (yes they walk around in groups) gives them the signal. Collectivistic thinking. All for one and one for all.
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(2) For the last time, I'm not interested in joining Twitter. I get emails on a regular basis from readers and other bloggers telling me I should join Twitter because I'm missing out on so much. Well, I may be missing out but I'm proud to say that I have 'a life'. I'm not a 24/7 blogger. I don't spend all day on the PC. I have a regular routine, real hobbies, real friends (you know, ones that you see face to face on a regular basis?), I work out with Rania (check out her latest post on Filipino fashion - i.e. housemaids.. HAHA!), I read, I eat, I drink, I sleep, and I'm proud of my real life. So stop trying to brainwash me into thinking I should summarize my life into 160 characters or whatever.
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(3) Dear Other Oman and Muscat Confidential, I loved the video of Hitler Mocking Nawras. Hilarious and very clever. It's available on Muscat Confidential's blog if you want to see it.
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(4) The head of our IT department tried to flirt with me today so I politely got him out of my office and I'm still stuck with my commenting problem.
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(5) According to Muscat Daily, a top Egyptian cleric has issued a fatwa (Islamic ruling) forbidding the use of Facebook, saying Muslims using this site are considered 'sinners'. Why? Because statistics have shown that divorce rates have risen since Facebook became popular and has sharply increase marital infedility because young people are attracted to members of the opposite sex and can interact with them freely online. (no kidding). According to him 'It destroys ze family because it encourages spouses to ha ve relations with other people'.
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Hilarious. Why not ban Lebanese TV channels and pornography first?
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(6) Rain stopped in Salalah. According to the newspaper, rain in Oman caused two deaths yesterday and 20 people have been reported missing (how?). Evidently one person died after being struck by lightening while playing soccer. May he rest in peace, and to all you youngsters out there ... when you see lightening and hear thunder GO INSIDE. Any person with any common sense would know that, right? (wrong?).
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(7) Who has been keeping track of the number of times (per week) Fatma Al Nabhani appears on the back page of newspapers in the sports section, ha? I think we need more athletes. I love the way they photoshop sleeves and longer skirts onto her.
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(8) This morning the Qaboos Oman art exhibition opened its doors to the public in Salalah. Check it out at the Fine Arts Society next to KFC (yes, we only have one KFC in Salalah).
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That's all for now folks. Have a great evening!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I'm A-Walkin in the Rain ...

Hey everyone! Thanks for the technical support yesterday. I still don't have my problem solved so forgive me for not commenting on your blogs or replying to comments on mine. The IT dudes in my office will come to figure my problem out tomorrow. Meanwhile, it rained all night non-stop and Salalah is one big delicious puddle today (yes, delicious. I love rain). I managed to snap some photos on my way to work. I was managing the steering wheel with my knees if you really had to know. Salalah tends to flood when it rains because our drainage system is useless. But .. fun for the kids.
I hear it's raining in Muscat too ... nothing in the newspaper today though.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Calling All Geeks!

Dear Readers,
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I need your help. I'm not much of a techie, and I need to solve this dilemma. Several days ago I suddenly realized I was unable to comment on other blogs. Whenever I click 'publish comment' I see a small 'Error on Page' at the bottom of the browser page. What can I do to get rid of the error and bring things back to normal?
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PS (It's raining in Salalah today :-)

PS 2 (Bloody hell, I can't even comment on my own blog. Suburban, I use Internet Explorer. It's my work computer so I can't change it! HELP!)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Local News

(1) Sugar Crisis continues in Salalah. Evidently weather in India was so bad this year that it affected sugar production. All our sugar comes from India. According to Muscat Daily, the global sugar crisis is going to continue for the next few months until Brazil produces some. Time to change our eating habits!
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(2) Anyone heard rumors about Salalah University? No, not Dhofar University. Apparently all the construction going on behind the Salalah College of Applied Sciences is the new building they're adding on to the college. Soon the name will change to Salalah University, and it will be Oman's 2nd public university. Not too sure how I feel about that. Salalah now has Dhofar University, Salalah College of Technology and Salalah College of Applied Sciences. That's it..
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(3) Salalah World, our first huge shopping centre is going up really fast. Last week there wasn't a second floor. This week there is. They must be working 24/7.
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(4) I'm going to have to write a post soon about Facebook, and how it's changing society in Dhofar. How is it so taboo (socially) for young men and women to talk to each other at college but the minute they get home, they're all on Facebook adding each other as friends and opening up about their personal lives? I get an average of about 10 friend requests a week from men only. All Dhofari. All sending a message 'Hi, I'd like to get to know you'. What the hell? They all live in Salalah, I know who they are, I know their families, ... aren't they afraid I'm going to umm ... report them?.
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(5) Phone Stalkers: why the heck do men still play the phone game? That used to be fashionable like ... 10 years ago? By phone games I mean a strange person calling you 4 or 5 times and then sending a message saying 'Who are you? Did you call me?'. You then get confused and start thinking 'Maybe I did call them?. You then text them asking 'What's your name? I can't remember if I called you', and they'll call. You answer, realize you don't know the person, and meanwhile they discover you're a girl, so they apologize for disturbing you and end the call. Is it over? Of course not! Five or ten minutes later you get a text message saying 'You have a nice voice!' or 'Can I get to know you' or 'My name is Ali'. I always ignore such messages, but this one guy has been bugging me for four days now. Every morning I get a message from him saying 'Good Morning Sunshine!'. How do I deal with it? Ignore until he gets bored? What a loser.
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(6) Tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m is the third of the Ministry of Tourism's cultural concerts for 2010. I like the fact that they started a winter series to keep people entertained during January - March. The first concert was Spanish flamenco dancing. I didn't attend but fellow blogger Pepsi Diet wrote about it here. The 2nd one was a Moroccan singer and Elly Ashqar's band performing famous Fairuz songs. I was in Muscat but Rania went and wrote about it. I heard it was excellent. I'll try to attend tomorrow's concert. It's folklore singing and dancing from Kyrgyzstan. The singer is well-known. Read more about it at the Ministry of Tourism's website. I saw the ads up around town. So ... 8:00 p.m, Al Murooj Theatre ... Salalah.
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(7) Fellow blogger Reality in Oman published a new post on race issues in Oman 'Are Black Omanis Dumb?'. Take a look at the post and let me know what you think. It's thought-provoking. I personally believe that black people (ex-slaves) in Muscat are treated differently (in a negative way) than Salalah. In Salalah the numbers are large and they're integrated into society normally. I don't even notice skin color and I don't see an issue really except maybe among teenage boys which is normal. In Muscat, it's different. They're a minority and aren't treated as well as they're treated here. Just my opinion. Many of my friends come from families of former slaves. They're completely normal intelligent educated girls! Simple as that. They hold high positions in companies and government offices and I honestly don't even notice skin color when we're together. It's not a big issue. For me, that is. Do you still think differences between black and white are an issue in Salalah? Yes, differences will always be there, but is it an actual 'issue'?
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(8) Last but not least, if Dhofar doesn't solve the traffic issue very soon, I'm moving to Alaska. Traffic cannot move (not one inch) at rush hour without police officers at every single roundabout! EVERYDAY. What's going to happen to those poor ROP officers during May and June when it's oven-temeprature outside? What's the solution? Build bridges? Build new roads? It's chaos every morning.
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That's it for now folks. I need more coffee. The photo was taken yesterday morning.