As-salamu alaykum (السلام عليكم)
It’s all a little quiet here, warm and sunny and bumbling along very nicely thank you. As there is not too much excitement in our world today, we thought we would give you a further insight into the delights of living and working here. Today’s weather:
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Honestly, does it get any better than this?
As previously mentioned, there are so many good things to say about Oman. There are so few disappointing features we might as well get them out of the way first.
Driving is a challenging experience and the only option is be on the defensive – ALWAYS! What causes a society that is so mild mannered, polite and courteous, respectful and tolerant to become lunatics once behind the wheel is incomprehensible. 4,177 road accidents in Oman for the first six months of this year with 539 deaths and goodness knows how many injured.
Don’t worry, we however drive very safely. It’s the others you have to keep an eye out for!
A high disposable income, cheap petrol, cars with 5 and 6 litre engines as well as a lack of basic driving skills are the proverbial recipe for disaster. Queue jumping, driving down the wrong side of the road to avoid the queue, driving along the footpath to avoid the queue, stopping whenever and wherever you feel like to load/unload passengers and cargo, TALKING ON THE MOBILE PHONE whilst driving, driving with no hands, reading whilst driving, kids running amok in the car, inappropriate accelerating/braking, EVERY bad habit is on display here, day in and day out. STOP IT NOW!
I shall make myself available to the government should they wish to benefit from my vast knowledge and experience of safer driving.
RUBBISH!! There’s far too much of it. It’s consumerism at its ugliest. The plastic mountain is growing, polystyrene everywhere with an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude, all make for messy surroundings. Who is to blame here? The indigenous population or the large ex-pat community? Whoever it is, TAKE YOUR TRASH HOME AND BIN IT!
Of course, the producers are also at fault for this type of packaging but if no one wants to speak up, then who is gonna stop ’em?
To be honest, that’s it really. The latter of the two even appears as a definite ‘like’ in the following rant and rave…
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL…
Where does one start? FISH:
This is the stuff that dreams are made of; to catch, to look at, to cook, to eat and even to sing to whilst playing the ukulele in the bath. (Man’s gotta have a hobby!) There are so many weird and wonderful delights to be had; fresh fish on the counter, fish straight out of the sea, fish pre-packaged by weight and jumbo bags of the frozen beauties. Dried fish piled high on market stalls being dive-bombed by a million teeny-weeny flies. The smell…nature’s finest!
Football – Not keen myself but if you want to go see the national team play another country in the World Cup qualifiers it will only cost you £3. Bargain, even though it might be Oman vs. Japan it’s still a little bit of sporting history in the making and all for the price of a pint.
Who likes flat-pack furniture? Not you? Why not? The trouble is usually the assembly part of the equation but Oman has a solution for this. Once purchased, some nice men from the Indian sub-continent come along in a van, unload and put it in the room where you want it to go (that’s novel for a start), unpack it, take away the packaging AND put it all together for you. Amazing! Now why didn’t we think of that?
Pharmaceuticals – None of this trapesing along to the quack for a prescription. You want it, you go buy it at the chemist. Prescription drugs over the counter. Dose yourself sky-high with antibiotics and who cares about mutating bacteria. “I’m alright Jack”, says me with a sniffly nose and a bag full of Penicillin under me sweaty armpit.
Plastic bags – As previously mentioned, one downside to this is the huge plastic mountain building somewhere, probably in the desert. These are incredibly strong carrier bags that you could safely carry a car engine in. The gauge of plastic must be an inch thick and there is NO prospect of it ever tearing, the handle ever snapping or the contents falling out of the bottom. It is tough and it is very, very strong. Unfortunately, it will probably take a millennia to degrade and even then there’ll be tiny little bits floating on the wind. Someone, somewhere really needs to see the bigger picture and learn from our mistakes.
Spices and Niceies – So much of it, by variation and by quantity. No little glass phials of herbs and spices. They come by the giant bag full, sack full, or mega jar full. It’s acceptable to use one or two BULBS (not to be confused with the tiny cloves) of fresh garlic in almost all of your cooking. Do we stink? You bet your life we do!
CONGRATULATIONS! – The response to learning of a new car purchase. If someone sees you in a new car or hears that you have purchased one, then congrats are in order. It is also customary to buy food for others in celebration of this major purchase and even offer gifts to the bloke who sold it to you in the showroom. We, of course, did none of this but then we didn’t know the rules back then. A new car comes with all sorts of import labels, stickers, paper mats, plastic covers, etc usually on or about the vehicle and it’s customary to leave these on as long as possible so as to advertise the fact that you have a new car. In fact, it is the done thing to ‘frame’ the import label and show it in the front windscreen below the rear-view mirror. Is that blocking part of your forward view? Have I mentioned road accidents?
Most of us have seen, usually on TV or on our holidays to the USA, nice chaps packing your supermarket purchases for the customer. Well, they do that here. A lovely little chap, usually from the Indian sub-continent, packs all your stuff for you whilst you stand there watching him. You observe him throwing can upon can followed by can upon eggs and then stuffing the gaps with your bread to finish off with. Is it polite to interrupt a man at his work? We watch and despair but it does save us the task of packing the stuff and that can’t be a bad thing. On a downside, they use far too many thick plastic bags and that’s downright wasteful – not to mention the environmental impact.
We have taken on the services of a chap (Indian) to clean the car and a little lady (Filipino) to clean the villa. It’s all about spreading the wealth. Clearly we would not require our car cleaned with a gritty, dirt soaked old rag and the same goes for our villa floors. At 10p an hour and £2 an hour respectively, we know we are doing our bit for the global economy and helping to keep a a family or two going in a country less fortunate than our own. We truly are philanthropists.
Time to move on – places to go, things to do.
Insha’ Allah إن شاء الل