Dear All

It has been over year since the last time I wrote anything on this blog. After the many requests I got in my email to open up my blog, and after a special request made by my all time favorite, Dhofari Gucci, I am inclined to open my blog and keep it as an archive.

I am back in Oman, living an exciting and a very busy life. I am planning on blogging again, but for the mean time I will leave this as an archive.

Thank you!

Sometimes when I put up new posts I wonder about what would happen to my posts/blog in 5 years (or less) from now. I would like to have a soft or a hard copy with me once I decide to open a new blog or just close the one I have. Also, we have seen many of our fellow bloggers leave the blogsphere and others that close or delete their blogs. Well, I think it would be nice to be able to have a hard copy of the blog.

Well, one of the Universities in the States decided to make this project where you can compile your blog into a soft copy or a printable book. Currently, I believe it only works for WordPress.

Here is the website: http://anthologize.org/

Today I will post this short note about the (OHBDA) website and events. As some may know, quite a large number of Omani’s suffer from one or more hereditary blood disorders, mainly: Sickle Cell Disease, Thalasimia, and G6PD. Personally, there are many (almost all) of my immediate cousins have G6PD. Poor kids have to control what they eat, but they are all okay.

I know many people who suffer from sickle cells and others who are carries. It is definitely not a fun disease to have. It controls many aspects of your life including who you marry. One of my friends was engaged to someone and they had a wonderful relationship, only to find out that they were both carriers of sickle cell. It was heartbreaking to see them split up because of it.

So, I would like to show my support to the Oman Hereditary Blood Disorder Association (OHBDA). Um azzan talked about them here, and they have a blog and a facebook page. Further, they are holding an event on the 19th and 20th of June, which is the world”s first Sickle cell day. It will be held in Muscat City Center, so please stop by and support the organization.

One of the bloggers asked me to write a review on the La Brasserie restaurant in Muttrah. Though I feel like I am stepping on bluechi’s space, but I guess that is fine. I bet the first and the last thing he has been thinking about lately is his iPad! and roaming around DC.. The restaurant was mentioned on the Week some time ago here.

Looks nice from the outside

Anyway, I went to the restaurant with a friend who is not that familiar with Muttrah area. However, while walking towards the restaurant she did happen to notice a bad smell. For those who have been to Muttrah would think that the restaurant is placed in the one of those houses closer to the corniche. It is a very beautiful scene down there, but we were surprised that out of all the places they could have gone to, they chose to put the restaurant right behind the fish market! Yes, right next to the bad stench.  Not just that! It is also right behind the Muttrah port. I have no clue who did their feasibility study (assuming there was one), and decided that that was the perfect place for a French restaurant.

The view of the for the ground floor was the storage side of the port, and the same for the first floor except you can manage to get a peak view of the corniche. I haven’t gone to the second floor, but I doubt it would be spectacular. Now, the Westerners that go to Muttrah go there for a more traditional experience: sitting on the side walk shops and drinking “cheaper” fruit juices or something. As we were walking down to the restaurant, there were at least ten Westerners sitting at the local restaurant next door. Also, the middle class Omani people go to Muttrah to buy fabric, incense, local goods. They rarely go to Muttrah to “hang out”. We have alQurum and alShatti for that.

Anyway, my friend and I went there at around 6pm to find out that they do not serve dinner till 7pm. So, that was a bummer!However, they were open for tea/drinks and pastries. The setting of the restaurant was very modern and elegant. The ground floor felt more like a regular restaurant and the first floor was more of a lounge area for breakfast, tea, and just hanging out. It had a nice feel and we felt very comfortable. However, I would have preferred to be there during their service hours. Though we were the only two costumers,  the waiters didn’t pay much attention to us. Once we got our orders, we were pretty much ignored till we went down and asked to pay for the bill.

So, I ordered some French tea and a Salmon tarte. It was good and the portions were large enough to fill me up. My friend ordered goat cheese with spinach tarte and it seemed like she enjoyed it a lot. The prices were average, but you would pay less at Pizza Express.

I would like to note that once the restaurant owner left the place, the two people that were working there started to play some not so French music (hip-hop). I’m not sure I enjoyed listening to Rihanna’s “Rude boy”  while eating my salmon. People sometimes need to listen to the lyrics!

[UPDATE] Claude, the owner of La Brasserie was so kind to comment on the post. I copied her response here so that it will be more visible to others:

Dear Reality,

I am Claude, the owner of La Brasserie the french restaurant in Muttrah and I would like to thank you for your review. In France we say “tout sauf l’indifference” which means everything except indifference.
I took your comments on a positive note and we will do our best to do better.
However let me explain you the location choice: the corniche in our foreigner eyes is a fantastic place, authentic, full of life and colorful. Everybody visiting Oman goes to the corniche. So I decided to set the restaurant there because people need different options: the small coffee shops on the corniche can satisfy some customers what about the other people?
You always need someone to start changing things, I have discovered a big project is planned for this area so I am not the only one beliving in another future for the corniche.
Regarding the recommendation for a restaurant in Qurum why not?
Thank you again for the nice comments and the feedback hope to see you soon in La Brasserie.

Attend if you can! I am sure it will be nice 🙂 ..

sh. Hamza Yusuf

Mutrah and Updates

Alright, last night I went to the Maz Jobrani show. Though they tell you that the seating arrangement is first come first serve, it is not so much the case. The first three or four rows were “reserved”. Anyway, they will have another show on Sunday so if you weren’t able to attend yesterday, then  you have another chance. All comedians were very funny. Though the first two comedians mostly gave British-Irish-American jokes. Funny, but I was hoping maybe some Omani-related jokes. Also, if you were having second thoughts about Jobrani giving his older jokes (the ones you see on youtube) then no worries. I think in total he only gave one or two old jokes, but the rest were new and funny… especially when he was making fun of Dubai :p

Alright, the topic of today is Mutrah…(Image on my banner) I woke up early this morning (usually never happens). I got there, and all the parking spots were blocked by the police!! My friend and I, being Omani and careless, parked anyway. Later on, my friend’s dad called her up and said “The police called and they want you to move your car out of the parking lot”..Oops! When we arrived, a cop was wandering around and there was a ticket on the car window! So, my friend being cute and innocent looking (yes, it helps sometimes) went to him and talked for a bit. She came back, and no parking ticket! yay! Apparently HM is going through Mutrah Cornish sometime today!

Mutrah, Oman

Anyway, the real reason I am writing about Mutrah today is to give advice to all of you “suckers” who are unfamiliar with the concept of BARGAINING!

Here are some tips about buying stuff in Mutrah…

– Never ever buy a “silk” scarf for more than 5 rials each! Yes, they are even worth less than that! The Indian told me he sells it to you guys for 20 rials each!!!!!!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU GUYS! I bought 5 scarfs for that price today! and that was me being nice and not wanting to bargain more!!!!

These are not silk. Do NOT pay for than 2-3 O.R. on them!

– If you are going to buy that awful smelling incense (brown, but looks a little bit like frankincense) for more than 1 rial a jar then I don’t know what to say! The Indian guy didn’t even want us to smell it cause he said it was disgusting, but apparently you guys like it! Buy it but don’t pay the 3.5 rial price tag!!!

– Oh, just because some stuff (mostly stuff that visitors buy) have price tags does NOT mean they are fixed prices! You can bargain EVERYTHING and ANYTHING in Mutrah… so grow a backbone and get some bargaining talent! Geez!

– Please remember that those painting facsimiles are NOT the real thing! It is NOT okay for you to pay 5-10 rials for each! Remember, it is only an image printed on a damn paper! I bought one for 1 rial once! and I thought that was TOO MUCH for it!

Art copies that are not worth much, and other stuff that are not Omani

– If you want to buy an original OMANI silver jewelry, remember.. Oman ONLY does plain silver, or silver with coral. All those really nice and colorful gem stones are Yemeni! not Omani! So, don’t be fooled! They are beautiful, and you should still buy them if you want!

Not Omani.. Not Omani.. and Not expensive either!

– Most of the shops that are right in front of Mutrah don’t have original Omani stuff! Those Cool looking elephants, camels, wood pots, colorful lamps, and beautiful fabric or cushions with similar images are NOT Omani! They are actually Indian! So please! If you want to buy them, then Don’t pay TOO much on them!!!

Alright! I know I’m a bit harsh on you all this afternoon! But that’s cause I love you guys! :-p ..

Resigned From Work

Alright, I am VERY delighted to let everyone know that I RESIGNED!!!!!

Well, truth be told, I only stuck here this long because I know I will be leaving in a couple of months, so no point of getting a new job. The plan was for me to stay for only three months maximum till I get a new job, well.. as many of you know I will be traveling to the US soon.

I almost felt bad when I handed in my resignation letter… almost, till today that is. I came to work, and one of my co-workers, being nice, got me some tea. This co-worker is one of my favorites cause he doesn’t treat me like a “girl”, but rather just another co-worker that he sometimes chit-chats with (Okay, you got me, he brings me the company’s gossip). Anyway, he came an hour ago and said: “Are you free?”, “Yes, you need anything?”.. “I have this project for a class, can you do it for me? You have till the end of the month”.. “No!”.. “Ohh, common, this is easy for you!”.. “It’s IT and I am no IT person!”..”Well, at least look at it”.. “Fine”

So, I looked at it, and the teacher has OUTLINED SPECIFICALLY all the components that he needs in this project.  I said, “I’ll explain to you what the teacher wants, but to be honest, I don’t know how to do this stuff”.. “Ohhh, common! yes you can. If I was told that you made an airplane I wouldn’t be surprised! You graduated from the US!!” I ignored the stupid comment and started explaining the concept, and he goes “See, you understand what is required! Do it for me!”.. “NO, and you can try kissing my ass AS MUCH AS YOU WANT.. I WILL NOT DO YOUR PROJECT FOR YOU!!!!”

He tried saying this to me too!

This annoys me SO much! I mean, I really respect my co-workers that work hard and want to have a better future for themselves. However, many don’t care much about the learning process as much as they care about getting the paper that says.. I HAVE A DEGREE, I WANT MORE SALARY! But when it comes to them doing the actual work.. they know NOTHING! apparently my co-worker is studying IT. He has a year left and he doesn’t even know how to hook his laptop up to our wireless network!

Another co-worker came up to me today and said:  “Hey, I have this paper here that I wrote and I want you to rephrase some of the words. You don’t need to do the introduction and the summary, just the rest of it!” … “HUH!” as I looked at him confused! “You want me to rephrase your paper for you?”.. “No, just the words because I copied the content from the book”.. uhuh! “Hmm, NO!”.. “Why not?” he looked at me shocked as if he doesn’t understand! as if there was a mutual understanding that I should do it, or that it is listed in my job description! I said, “Go to your word document, right-click and go to synonyms and choose another word”..


Really, I am SO glad to resign, and can’t wait till my time comes up! A few weeks left!

Also, what is up with my clients calling me by snapping their fingers at me and saying “Oy..Come!” .. no please, no excuse me.. no nothing.. Of course I DID NOT MOVE!

I don’t know.. Maybe I was their slave in my previous life and they just can’t get over it!

Bathing in the Falaj

A Falaj, in Oman, is an irrigation system used for agriculture and domestic use. Many of you would see these at some districts in Oman, such as Sama’il, Al Rustaq, Jabal Al Akhdar, Bahla, etc.

Bathtime in Wadi Fanja, Oman (c) Christian Fenwick

When I used to be a kid, my mother would take us to the Falaj to bathe. Now, in the 1980’s, people still didn’t have full bathrooms in their clay houses. So, we used to go to the Falaj, and it was fun. The women’s Falaj is usually enclosed within clay walls. Only women are allowed to go inside. You can usually tell where the women’s Falaj is located verses the men’s. The men’s Falaj is usually next to a Mosque. The women’s is usually further away and is totally enclosed between clay or cement walls.

We used to be very shy girls, not used to bathing in public. Even though we managed to clean ourselves properly, we would bathe with our pants and shirts on.  However, other women wouldn’t. Some would take their scarves and tie it on the nails sticking out of the walls making a small partition where they can wash “properly”. Other women were less shy. Though I preferred not to talk to them or look them in the eye when they asked me “How are you doing?”, it was considered normal for women to be nude in the Falaj. They still somehow managed to keep their privacy intact.

There was of course the other part of the Falaj. The “matrab” is where women go to get rid of their bodily waste. This place is an open space. I remember always being uncomfortable walking around that open space trying to find a “clean” spot. If you wonder about all that waste, well, local men come in to gather it either once or twice a week and use it as a fertilizer. Yea, those days nothing was just waste. Anyway, as I think of it now I think it is interesting how female-to-female nudity in Oman was culturally acceptable (not as much anymore).

As for men, on the other hand, you can never catch two nude males at the same place. It was and will never be accepted. The men’s Falaj has a couple of small partitions to segregate the men from being nude together. I remember my uncle getting a beating from my grandfather for being impatient (he wanted to perform the Wudu before prayer, and there were no empty spots) and invading another man’s privacy. It is considered offensive. If they are in a public Falaj (similar to the kids in the picture above) then they are usually wearing shorts.

Today, men still sometimes bathe at the Falaj. However, for women it is almost a lost tradition. The Falaj that I used to go to is still used for washing dishes and clothes, but you never see it crowded with women bathing. The walls of the “Matrab” had fallen down as people these days enjoy the privacy of going to the toilet at their own houses. Female tourists from other (more conservative) towns in Oman are no longer shocked with the view of nude women chitchatting together.

Glimpses of Work

Every day as I walk up the stairs towards the kitchen, I glimpse at our receptionist (we absolutely hate each other) and look at her screen. If she is not watching a youtube clip or an Arabic show, then she is definitely reading at some forum. You can see all the latest styles of abayas as you come down or go up the stairs. It shocks me sometimes that she is not fired yet, but I guess she owes that to the Ministry of Manpower. There are times when the phone rings, and she just waves her hand at it with disgust as if saying “shut the F… UP”.

She does that too along with slurring racist comments to our "bad" clients

One thing happened today, which is the first since I started working here, is that I got a present from a client. I definitely don’t feel comfortable holding that small green bag that has an Arabic fragrance oil and a necklace with the engraving “Allah is great”. Of course I said “No” but he just dropped it on my desk and left. I’ve never seen this client before, but the gift makes me wonder if he also has another gift set that is meant for a male. Ohh well, I guess this little green bag will be put away in a drawer somewhere. Maybe under the quality control reports?

My boss just arrived at work and has a stack of papers with him. He is going to lock himself into a small room and read for a while (he is taking online courses). One of the papers is an astrology overview of his son’s welfare. Apparently, his fourteen year old son has bad grades and my boss is worried. So he went online and paid this guy some money to prepare an overview of how the son’s life will end up. “The major problem is that he doesn’t listen to his mom and has bad grades”, he said to me while flipping through the papers. Well, that is not such a huge surprise since he is a teenager and has seizures every once in a while where his memory gets wiped out. Apparently the summary says he will start doing better once he reaches the age of twenty. I’m not really a believer (the disclaimer states that personal choice plays a big part on whether this overview will be true or not), but I really hope his son gets better. Oh, you need the birth date and exact time for this forecasting to be at least 85% true.  

 And just a quick note: for those who are thinking about getting the iPad, how about you look at the other option (HP Slate) and compare specs.

I thought I was just going to ignore all the comments I have been getting from some readers (a cause from someone posting my blog on their facebook) that either know the DJ at Park Inn or are just offended from a previous post I wrote called “Are Black Omanis Dumb?“. Well, today I received an e-mail from the DJ herself requesting that I remove her name from the post (I had to, she said plz). I realize that this has become a larger issue than just me venting on my blog about the Hotel’s loud music. Therefore, I decided to write this update so that my haters can have an update on the issue since I deleted all their comments and they are left with no response.

They were similar messages to this with a lot of name calling of course!

I will just post my reply to the DJ:

I would most delightedly remove your name from the post. However, I would like to explain to you that my post was not directed to you personally, as when I wrote the post, I did not know you even existed. So, you should not take it personal. Also, Park Inn is located on a higher ground and is a high building. The problem with that is that the sound travels sometimes further than what you expect because there are no other higher buildings in front of it that would block the sound. Also, many people work on Thrusdays and sometimes the sound becomes too annoying and harder to handle.

About my post on “Are black Omanis dumb?” I would like you to read that post one more without that anger that you have on you right now. Once you do that, you will realize (as did the commentators) that I was discussing an issue in Oman where regular Omanis always use the phrase that black Omanis are dumb, and what I did was to explain their role (the post was specific to ex-slaves) in our society and that saying black Omanis are dumb is in itself a dumb statement. Also, I was inspired to write that post after reading an article about IQ’s of blacks vs. whites, which discuss a similar issue. Therefore, I do not understand that storm of anger that is directed towards that particular post. If anything, I think I have the right to discuss issues such as racism and equality in Oman, as I think they are important and not because I am racist.

Oh, and I really didn’t mind the extra hits I’ve been getting 😉

Have fun!

Now, if you guys want your comments to be approved, use a better language and everyone will hear your point of view!