If you thought Salma's Chocolates were so 'last Eid', you are mistaken. Let's just say I was rather bitter that Muscat Mutterings and Blu Chi received boxes of these heavenly chocolates, so a generous soul sent me two boxes with a very generous messenger. Thank you sender and messenger!
I waited for my choco-holic siblings to return from a trip abroad before I opened the boxes because I think it's un-ethical to eat fancy chocolates alone. The flavors are all Omani-inspired (except the cheesecake!). I really enjoyed the Halwa chocolate, coconut, ginger, and Omani coffee. To be honest, they taste just as good as the extremely over-priced Patchi brand.
As far as I know, Salma's Choclates are available at the Sultan Centre in Muscat. TLS gave directions to her boutique in a comment under this poist. Great gift idea for Eid!
So, have you tried Salma's chocolates? What did you think?
PS (my brother would like to be referred to as Ray Gabana)
Foreign Policy has published a rather interesting and somewhat balanced (in my opinion) piece called Insulting the Sultan in Oman. I highly recommend reading it before it is quietly removed off the Omani version of the world wide web. I'm not entirely sure whether the busy creatures monitoring the internet in Oman will appreciate reading the F-bomb and the Sultan in the same sentence.
Excuse my French, but sometimes the things that happen in Dhofar make me want to stand on the edge of a cliff (preferrably in Dhalkut) and shout 'WHAT THE F*** PEOPLE???".
In case you hadn't heard, there were clashes between two tribes in the mountains above Taqah on Wednesday. A friend of mine was there accidently and was reporting to me from the scene. I honestly don't know what to say or what to think. Groups of men from Al Mahri tribe and Al Awaid tribe were arguing for ages over land, grass, and where animals could graze. These arguments ended up in a planned brawl. They descended upon each other from the hills with their weapons (If you have kids, remember the four tribes scene from the movie Brave? Same thing)
Eight people at least were injured and the police/army had to get involved. We're talking hundreds of people here. It's INSANE. (it may have been hundreds of observers as well according to one of the comments below)
Other tribes got involved to try and stop the fight, and some tribes had the audacity to encourage one side to kill. YES KILL.
In the end tribal Sheikhs managed to negotiate peacefully and it all ended.
And you know what? No one got arrested as far as I know. The ROP knew about it in advance. Are they terrified of the tribes down south? Are we that dangerous? Are they afraid of a rebellion? I honestly don't understand. Everyone in town is talking about it. It just feels so medieval.
I have a photo of the police and army on the scene as groups of men attack each other but for some reason it doesn't want to upload. I'll try again in a little while. In the meantime, the Times of Oman actually published a little piece on the fight. I'm surprised they got away with it. Usually the government tries its best to pretend tribalism doesn't exist in Oman.
PS (It was purely tribal. Not a fight between two random groups of people according to a comment below)
Ah.... Women's Day. Three men actually congratulated me today on the achievements of women in Oman. Another two reminded me gently that the role of women lies in the home. I'm having a difficult week filled with sleepless nights, so I wasn't in the mood for arguing. I should have, but I couldn't.
To honour Omani Women's Day, I'd like to remind all of you that despite my rants about women's rights and discrimination, the situation in Oman for women has improved SO MUCH in recent years.
Another reminder... my fight for women these past three and a half years through this blog hasn't been against the government (there are very few laws discriminating against women in Oman). My fight is against how society perceives women. The culture here doesn't support female empowerment, especially in the south (Dhofar) where I live. My goal is to empower women (in my real life) to start believing they CAN be who they want to be.
If you're an Omani woman (or any woman!) and you're reading this, make this your Mantra:
1. I CAN be who I want to be.
2. I can drive if I want to.
3. I can work if I want to.
4. I can choose the career that I WANT (be it an astronaut or a baker)
5. I can own a business.
6. I can travel without a chaperone because I HAVE THE RIGHT to see the world (right, D385?)
7. I can love who I want and marry who I want.
8. I can live a meaningful life.
9. I can step out of my front door and walk around my neighborhood if I want to.
10. I can sing and laugh and run and enjoy life.
11. I have the right to move and be healthy and practice sports.
12. I have an awesome leader (His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said) who BELIEVES in me and all the other women in this country.
13. I can be a Minister, a Lawyer, a teacher, a housewife, a chef ... I can be who I want to be.
14. I can own my own home and control my own funds because I earned them.
15. No one can stop me from achieving my dreams.
16. No one can stop me from achieving my goals.
17. I am beautiful, I am smart, I am talented, and I BELIEVE in myself.
Yes, you do. You are beautiful. Every single one of you.
Happy Women's day from Gucci, who is curled up in bed with her pink grill shades and a mug of Salalah tea raised in your honour.
Living in Salalah has its advantages, but again it also has a wacky side. When smartphones landed in this town and people started using BBM and WhatsApp, such applications ended up becoming a virtual town hall. Wedding announcements, special offers, funeral announcements, and breaking local news. I'd receive the same damn message from 20 different people everyday. It can be highly amusing sometimes but also very annoying when it's an OBVIOUS rumor. For some reason, many people here believe anything and everything they receive on their phone (I mean, seriously, why would you question a story about Obama being Jewish or a local's housemaid being a witch? WhatsApp is the world's most accurate news agency!! (NOT).
Just this week:
WhatsApp @7 p.m: "Breaking News! Dar Al Arab restaurant in Salalalh serves dog meat in their shawarmas! Fifty dog heads were found in the house of the Bangladeshi chef"
WhatsAPp @ 7:45 p.m "Breaking news! Burj Dubai Restaurant in Salalah serves dog meat in their hamburgers! 100 dog heads found in the house of the Nepalese chef!"
See what I mean?
Yesterday, an unfortunate incident in Al Qouf (central Salalah) involved a little girl falling to her death from the balcony of her home on busy Al Salam street. I saw photos of the incident from different sources, and everyone's talking about it at work, so I assume it's true. Then again, no one can agree whether she was a 6-year-old Egyptian, a 5-year-old Jordanian, or a 9-year-old Moroccan. In all cases, send a little prayer to her family and keep an eye on your kids.
Last week someone murdered someone in Salalah. No one can agree whether the murderer was foreign or Omani, or whether the victim was foreign or Omani. They can't agree whether it was a stabbing or a shooting, honor or revenge. All we know is that someone was murdered.
And finally this morning, another sad case. Apparently, a bunch of drug addicts tossed the body of their friend just outside Sultan Qaboos Hospital in Salalah. Apparently he died of a drug overdose. I know someone who knows his family, so I know this one isn't a rumor either. Our drug problem isn't being brought out into the open. Campaigning takes place in Muscat. I know there are plans to establish a rehab centre in Oman, but people in the regions need to know the reality of the situation. We want statistics, numbers, cases. Drugs are available in Salalah and combating them silently (hint: ROP) isn't going to work. Locals need to bring it out into the open. Fear of shame won't get us anywhere. Not now. We have real problems that need to be tackled. The first step to solving any problem is to talk about it.
I don't know what the purpose of this post is. Bits and pieces of news that I received on WhatsApp. Being a blogger, often I'm grateful for the local grapevine of news, and sometimes it annoys me to death because people believe everything. Oh, and in case you're wondering why I'm quiet these days, it's because I'm ill. Yup, the Salalah post-monsoon virus has reached the Gucci home (and not via WhatsApp either).
Dhofar is the Southern province in the Sultanate of Oman. Salalah is the capital city of Dhofar (in fact, the only main city). Our little corner of the world is unique in many ways. If you look at the labels at the bottom right of this page and check out some of my older posts, you'll know why. As a Dhofari, I have insider's input. If you read my posts (old and new), you'll begin to appreciate (if not already) the richness of our amazing little world. Salalah is very special, and very different. Tribes, nature, mystery, magic, jinn, you name it. If you're wondering why I'm fluent in English, it's because I spent several years studying abroad. However, I am a Salalah girl through and through. I do not blog as often as I used to because my life is insane, but don't give up on me. I do write. I've been writing for EIGHT years! I have a lot of positive (and rather amusing) things to write about. Many of my posts revolve around women. I do not aim to only criticize the society in Salalah or the way of life. I am proud of who we are and how we live. I only intend to tell it as it is.