Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Stuff White people like, Detroit Edition

Over at Detroit is the new Hamptons, I'm blogging about the apparent lack of integration at a local New Year's Eve, "Fun Run"

http://dertoitisthenewhamptons.blogspot.com/2012/01/non-representative-demographic-sampling.html


Hope you all are well? We are doing great over here. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I am an AWESOME handyman

Really. Today I installed a window mounted AC unit in a way that would make even the most incompetent handyman in Oman proud.

You can read about it here http://dertoitisthenewhamptons.blogspot.com/2011/07/how-to-install-window-mounted-ac-unit.html

In other news, we have been spending a lot of time watching these guys work. They put on an extra special show when we are there, and wave at the kid. We have not yet scored a ride on the equipment, but I can sense it's coming.

She is so tiny, and those things are so big.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Detroit Lemonade Stand

Yesterday, the kid organised a Lemonade Stand out front of our building in Downtown Detroit. It was Fantastic.

I honestly think one of the best ways to feel good about the world is to have a lemonade stand. I never saw a lemonade stand in Oman, maybe we should give it a try! What if all the kids in Muscat had a lemonade stand, once a year? Would it be good for the community, for the neighbourhood? If an of you guys do it, let me know how it goes?

You can read the whole write up on our Detroit Lemonade Stand Here, if you are interested.

http://dertoitisthenewhamptons.blogspot.com/2011/07/lemonade-stand.html


Saturday, June 25, 2011

dumpster diving, sport of kings.

You guys NEED to see what I scored out of the dumpsters in our apartment building this morning.

http://dertoitisthenewhamptons.blogspot.com/2011/06/dumpster-diving-is-new-shopping.html



The full report is over on my other Blog, http://detroitisthenewhamptons.blogspot.com We are having a blast here.



Saturday, June 11, 2011

Moving On!

Guys, I would like to introduce you to my New Blog, Detroit is the New Hamptons.

It's a blog about our summer home in Detroit, and our adventures getting there. You'll be able to see a lot more of Stone and Pebbles, as well as experience a virtual road trip with two idiots, a four year old, and one 1973 VW camper Bus.

We departed Houston today, waving goodbye to the cats, the house sitter, and a small collection of neighbors, who stood, bewildered, in their front yards as we steered our overloaded bus onto the main roa . First stop, Texarkana, Arkansas.

Please come over to the other blog and say hi, of ask questions, or give us advice on things we should see between here and there!

http://dertoitisthenewhamptons.blogspot.com/ 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dead little girls

My daughter just learned to swim, properly, three weeks ago. One day she was sort of drowning slowly, the next she was shooting across the pool at Mach II and hurling herself off the high diving board like a teeny tiny parachuteless skydiver. I am terrified by this. I hover by the pool, unable to take my eyes off her for even a second, certain that at any moment she will drift from my sight and sink to the bottom of the pool, graceful, peaceful, placid, brain-dead and glassy eyed. I hate the pool.

A little over a year ago, I watched a little girl named Dana die. She drowned in the pool at Marina Bandar Rawdah, right in front of me, and I was too stupid to recognize that she was drowning. For real. this little, lithe, eight year old girl, drowned, right there in the pool surrounded by me, other swimmers, and adults, who never realised she was in distress or drowning. Dana never woke up. Dana never turned nine. Dana will never graduate from high school, never learn to drive, never travel the world, never have a career, never fall in love, and never know the joy of becoming a mother, watching her children play in the park, or growing old. She is totally, truly, and forever dead.

So, if you read nothing else this week, or nothing else on this blog ever again, that's fine, but please follow this link to Mario Vittone's article on how to recognize the signs of drowning  http://mariovittone.com/2010/05/154/  I can assure you that drowning looks nothing like you or I would imagine. Please, it's very important, for your kids, and for the kids around you.

What happened after Dana died? Well, there was a lengthy, nasty lawsuit. But a better question to ask is what happened before Dana died? It's a long answer, which I'll go into at a later date,  but in summary;

  •  Parents knowingly placed Dana, who could not swim, in a pool, and walked away, assuming a non existent life guard would look after her. 
  • Dana played, and then drowned, for 15-20 minutes, in a pool full of people, none of whom recognized she was drowning
  • Dana was discovered at the bottom of the pool, Chaos ensued. and bystanders began CPR
  • It took 20-30- minutes for an ambulance to arrive.
  • Dana was transported to Khoula hospital, where she later died. 
There were a number of failures on that day, but the only ones which you and I have control over as bystanders, parents and citizens, is that we can watch our children, and we can learn to recognize the signs of drowning


 I'm blogging tis today, because according to a quick search of the Times of Oman, at least four kids have drowned just recently here in the sultanate, one of whom was in a supervised, but overcrowded school pool attending "Swimming Lessons". This really has to stop.


More from here soon, and the full story on what happened after the drowning. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

We're a little Envelope

Now that we live in America, I can avail myself of the fantastic service known as Google Voice. It's sort of like skype, except it's built into your mobile phone. No Computer or internet connection needed!

Here's the best part: It even comes with a handy dandy voice mail service! That's right! I'm using Voice mail! I can listen to the voice-mails from my phone, or read the interesting transcriptions which Google thoughtfully sends me via SMS. 

Following is the most recent gem of a transcription from this morning. 

Hey baby just calling to say hi. It's about 5 past ten and That's about that really exists. Outside electric cigarette and it'll be less you love you Hope everything's good We're a little envelope bye

I have no idea what Stone was trying to communicate here, but You know what? We ARE a little Envelope! 

In other news: 
  • We have closed on our new house, and the sea freight arrives tomorrow! 
  • To celebrate the occasion, pebbles has come down with the Flu. 
  • I have, in three months in Texas, managed to make ONE friend. It's a start, right? 
More soon. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Americana

First Up; Confidential to Western Expatriate Bloggers and Blog Commenters: You cannot possibly be helping the country if you are unable to see past Local / Expat divides. Complaining and criticism is good, outright racist degradation and shallow-ass insults? Bad. If you are truly so bitter and angry about Oman that you can only see it as "US vs THEM", or so deluded to think that you are irreplaceable, maybe it's time for you to move on somewhere else, for your happiness, sanity and for everybody else's sake.  I did, and I'm glad because I managed to leave with my sanity and passion for Oman (Mostly)  intact

We are surviving, here in America. Slowly but surely, I am making friends, getting to know the neighbors, and reacquainting myself with my home country. We have a local bar where some of the regulars know our names, we are friendly with a handful of neighbors, and every once in a while my phone rings and it's someone other the Stone or my Mom on the line. 

The most surprising thing to me about our new life here is how very foreign I feel in a country which I had always assumed was home. I was not aware of the extent to which I had assimilated into the Omani culture. I can't get used to people wearing shorts, or men jogging shirtless down my street. I am a physically affectionate person, but I'm struggling to be comfortable with virtual strangers hugging me. The freedom of speech is wonderful, but shocking, reading the opinion pieces in the newspaper, or listening to these really offensive morning DJ's makes me gasp aloud. Like I can't belive you can just say / write that sort of stuff for public consumption. The food is not spicy enough, the people talk really loudly, and I cant' seem to keep up with the somewhat frenetic pace of life. Americans are really really busy people. 

Most telling, however, is my adjusted attitude towards Voice-mail. Voice mail is where you call a person, and if they don't answer, you leave a verbal message on a machine that plays it back for them at a later time. As you may know, Voice-mail is practically unheard of in Oman. If you want to actually talk to somebody in a business or personal setting, you give them a missed call, or if it's really urgent, send a SMS. In almost a decade there, I think I left One voicemail for somebody. 

Arriving here in Houston, the "Missed Call Culture" is noticeably absent. everyone has voice mail, answering machines, they expect you to leave a message, and to be able to do the same for you.  People take it really personally if they cannot leave a message for you. Seriously, my landlord threatened to stop calling me if I didn't set up voicemail on my mobile phone, and I was all " Wha? But I see your  missed call, I'll just call you back? No?"

I have another post in the works about the many many many similarities between Texas the the GCC, but I'll have to save that for another day. Crazy driving, racism, tribalism, and unjustifiable levels of state/national pride, jump immediately to mind

 Hope you all are well?  Below, a few recent photos of what we have been up to lately.

We have to pay extra to get Omani Style Dew

We are making Ass-Loads of homemade Ravioli

There is a giant tank of Piranhas at the Zoo with a tunnel through it. 

I am being menaced by vicious Raccoons and Possums.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The United States Postal Service

People of Oman, prepare to be awed by an amazing US government service: Home Delivery Mail.

This is EXACTLY what home delivery mail service looks like. Really.

Today I received my phone bill, and car insurance card, and I sent my landlord a rent check, using the United States Postal Service. I did not need to trek down to a PO box, or drive out to Hamriya and spend an hour plus 17 rials at DHL, and no one needed a copy of my Iqamma, or my phone number to complete this miraculous transaction.

I Know!!!! You are all like WHAT!?!?! Blasphmey!!! IMPOSSIBLE!!!  but wait for it, that's not even the best part.  here is the best part: The mail was delivered and picked up by a really nice man who comes to my house every single day, just to collect my mail, and drop off any mail that anyone has sent me. Seriously. And he knows my name, and the kid's name, and he waves whenever he drives past the house!

You all must be awed at this stage, and wondering how on earth Stone can afford such extravagance, or if perhaps Stone has been appointed a minister, or what sort of insufferable Bureaucracy I had to navigate to  arrange for such a wonderful service?  But, and this is amazing too, everyone in america gets home delivery mail service. It's included in the price of the stamps, or something. Or maybe it's taxpayer funded? Whatever, I digress. It is an awesome service.

OK, this is really the best part: To arrange to get the mail addressed to me delivered, all I had to do was walk up to the mailman, and ask. I told him my name, and Stone's, and he said he would make sure that any mail addressed to us would get left at the house. Our landlord's mail will still be forwarded to their other house.

Awesome, No?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Blues



This is a Loooong post. 

I Have spent the last 2.5 weeks flying solo with a toddler in a town where I know NOBODY, while Stone has been busting his ass running a course for his company in Canada. 

Tonight I received the following text message from Stone:

Hmmm... Crab For Dinner. Yum Yum!! 
Tom and I shared 3 LB. of King and 1 LB of Snow Crab. 
OMG, Wish you were here. XXX

I had spent the day in rental car return hell, picking up the truck I bought (2003 F150, with 127K miles on the clock), dodging giant insects,  and hanging out with an annoying, complaining toddler. We ate leftover Chinese for dinner. 

Let me start this with a few photos of positive stuff. Most were taken in my home town. We went up there for five days last week, and spent the entire time riding horses, chatting with my best friend, and hanging out with the family. 

This is Suzie, a 27 year old Arab mare. And the kid, and Me.

I rode these same horses at this same grocery store growing up





This is Davie's Chuckwagon. Best Breakfast in the world

This is steak and eggs with hash browns, and your choice of toast or 3 pancakes

this is the kid and a chicken
This is one of the many bugs in Houston. Looks like a scorpion, but it's not. 
The Buffalo Rose Saloon in Golden, Co. They are famous for welcoming Al Jazeera to cover the US Elections live from the bar. They are also famous for being an awesome music venue and local hangout for the last million years or so.
Inside they have a toy crane. This one is different, beacuse you catch a live lobster, and then the kitchen cooks it for you.  $2.00 a try. AWESOME. 
The euphoria has worn off, and boys and girls, your correspondent has the Blues. This move has been THE SUCK. Honestly. Stone's company has gone out of their way to make things as difficult as humanly possible every single step of the way. My outlook is hindered further by the fact that THREE DAYS after we arrived in Houston, Stone departed for a SIX WEEK business trip to Canada.

Seriously, Shell if you are listening, and "MISH" our totally fucking useless "Shell transfer advisor" in the Philippines You guys have been totally inflexible cunts. I feel like you, Shell, Hate us, and want us to be miserable, despite the fact that we have, effectively, bent over backwards to accommodate your endless, pointless, and totally fucking stupid rules and regulations. 

Here is our Entire Move in bullet point form: 
  • Stone accepts a transfer to Houston, they need him immediately.
  • We are told we (the Family)  cannot move immediately, because we are not allowed to move until Stone has a US work Visa. 
  • Shell's Internal systems lead to endless delays in getting the lawyers working on his US Work Visa
  • Stone uses his existing US visa to work 5 weeks in Houston, and will return to Oman for 3 days to do the final US Visa paperwork and check us out of the country.
  • Meanwhile I pack the house, sell the cars, close down business, re-home our OCD suffering Maid, throw a yard sale, and loose my mind. 
  • We ask if we can postpone our repatriation leave until December, offering to cover any differences in cost. Our request is declined, unless we want to forfeit the tickets and the leave time entirely. 
  • Stone returns to Oman for 3 days, and receives his US work Visa from the US embassy.
  • We immediately send a copy of the visa to the Shell Transfer desk to facilitate the booking of the tickets that will take us from Stone's home country to the US. 
  • We spend a week in Australia before heading to Stone's Home country, and nothing happens. Reminder emails are sent.
  • Our Omani bank accounts and credit cards are abruptly frozen.
  • We attempt to depart from Australia, but cannot, as the kid and I are not Citizens of Stone's country, and as such are not allowed to board the plane without an outbound ticket. Shell has not yet booked our outbound tickets. 
  • Stone spends an hour and a half purchasing myself and the kid a return ticket to Australia. 
  • we arrive in Stone's Home country, and spend 3 weeks freezing our asses off with my mother in law, who hates me. 
  • Many reminder emails are sent, and stone places a shouty call to "MISH" our transfer advisor. we are 4 days from when we need to leave his country, and still, nothing has happened on the tickets. 
  • We would gladly log onto Expedia, and book the tickets ourselves, claiming reimbursement later, but we are not allowed to. 
  • Finally, we receive an email telling us to email Shell @ Travel agency . com and sort it ourselves. HOW FUCKING HARD WAS THAT???? Mish? You could have told us that three weeks ago!
  • Stone spends 4 hours securing refunds for our tickets back to Australia. 
  • We fly to america, on a shit flight schedule, (19 hours of flights and 10 hours of layovers with a sleep-deprived, jet-lagged toddler)  due to the fact that the tickets were booked so late. 
  • We spend 3 days in Houston, doing laundry, finding food, and marveling at the urban wildlife. 
  • Stone leaves for a 6 week trip to Canada. 
  • I need to buy a car, get the kid in school, sort out the lease on the temporary place we are renting, and do about a billion other things,
  • Because we arrived a week after the school year started, I can't get the kid into pre-school. 
  • Because I am not from Taxas, I don't know ANYONE, except my landlord (who is wonderful) 
  • Shell denies us a $4,000 allowance toward's our first month's expenses, because our accomodation is not "temporary" enough.
  • I spend a week and a half tilting at windmills.
  • The kid gets Really, really really sick. I have no idea about health insurance, doctors, or where the nearest emergency room is. I am totally, and completely alone. 
  • I freak out and call my mom in a wave of tears and snot. 
Ultimately, I took the kid to a Doc in a Box, and then 4 days later left to spend a week with m y brother and friends in my home town in the rocky mountains. We got back to Houston last night, and things seem better, if not still painfully lonely. 

Just a little over three weeks to Go, then Stone comes home.  

Friday, September 3, 2010

Houston, 24 hours in

Were finally here, via a 3 week stopover somewhere really cold. Things are really good so far.

Thanks to everybody who made the last months in Oman so special, and who repeatedly went out of your way to help out, keep me drunk, host and attend yard sales (and give a good home to my favorite shirt! you know who you are...) , pack, baby sit, and listen to my endless complaining. We should all be so lucky as to have friends like you.

We've been in Houston about 23 hours now, and I thought I would jot down some early impressions / experiences before I forget them in a Fog of Jet lag Induced Stupidity.

People:  Everybody, Republican, Democrat, Rich, Poor, Old, Young, is really nice here. 

The Accommodation: We are staying in the cutest little 2 bedroom bungalow in West University. Our totally awesome landlord kitted out the kid's room like a princess wonderland complete with stuffed animals, toys and a little magnetic calendar with kid-centric activities. She also left a gorgeous bouquet of flowers on the kitchen table, arranged a horse for me to exercise / borrow anytime, and stocked the fridge with beer. I LOVE our Landlord.

Insects:  So far there are a lot of freaky-ass Jumping spiders, Spiders that fall out of trees and down the front of your shirt, super loud Cicadas and Extremely Aggressive Fire Ants. I got to know the fire ants this afternoon at the local playground, and I can report that they are clearly angry about something. Ouch. Which leads me to...... 



The "Frogs":  I shall relay verbatim to you the conversation I just had with Stone on our back patio.

Stone: Hey! I think those things in the leaves over there are frogs!!!
Me:  Seriously??? Frogs????? They have frogs here? ????
Stone:  Yeah, listen to all the noise they are making jumping around in the leaves.

Me:  OMG, that is so awesome. Quick, Catch some of them! I'll go get  a thingie to put them in!!

I go into the kitchen and meticulously prepare a terrarium to house our new frog collection

Me: OK! I'm all set! How many have you caught? 
Stone:  None yet.... 
Me:  Come on!!! I want some frogs!!!!! The kid will think they are awesome! 
Stone:  Um... Actually, I think they are not frogs... they appear to be giant roaches. 

 At this point, a roach as big as a loaf of bread with legs scurries across the deck

Stone:  You look like I just told you your grandmother died....
Me:  That is the fastest I have ever gone from totally stoked to totally bummed.... Ever. Go get the bug spray, please? 

 In addition, we did some serious banking stuff today, which was, for the record, a total pleasure. Major, Major Banking shit and we were in and out in under an hour. I'm going to upload a video of the drive through banking, because, People Of Oman, It will blow your mind. 

We also went to the most awesome grocery store in the whole world today. It deserves a post all its own, and maybe a video. It was Vegetable Heaven and Skanky Cheese Heaven and free sample heaven, and all the staff are super helpful and super friendly and the kid gets a free balloon and coloring book on arrival. Seriously. 

I made my first new friend today at the playground. Her name is Cindy (How American!!!) she's got a kid the same age as mine, she appears totally sane and normal, she is funny, and she voted for Barack Obama and watches the Daily Show. So there is indeed hope of finding a few like minded people to hang out with, even in Texas! 


My Name is Bob, I am a Texas Frog. 


Frog Update: There are indeed frogs here!!! We just caught one, and we are going to name him Bob. HOLY SHIT!!! FROGS!!! We'll keep him until tomorrow, so the kid can check him out, and then let him go in the back yard, where he will hopefully eat lots of extremely large roaches. 

More from here soon!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

And, That's It.

Today was our last day in Oman. It's been a hell of a ride.

My Freinds on twitter and in real life all deserve a huge thank you for putting up with my Non-Stop Bitching over the last month. You would Honestly think I am the only person on earth who ever moved country. THe move has been complicated somewhat by Stone being gone for the last 40 days. You heard me right, Stone was in Houston, working, while I was here doing the move, selling the cars, and Re-Homing the maid (It was Absolute Hell, thanks for asking). Anyway, all the cars are sold, the house is packed, the phones disconnected, and we are living it large at the Chedi, until midnight, when we go to Seeb Airport for the last time.

I've been here for most of my adult life, and Stone has been here off and on since the early 90's, we met here, fell in love here, I became a mother here. I have been absolutely awed and humbled by the generosity and kindness shown to me by so many wonderful people here, both online and off. I am honored to have an extended Omani family, who love me even though I am a total freak by their standards, and treat me like one of their own.

I have amassed a collection of experiences so wild and wide ranging, that I myself can hardly believe some of them. I have driven race and rally cars, Spent the night in a police station, cooked for royalty,and testified in an Omani court. I have shared fleabag hotel rooms near the Saudi border with 10 sweaty Arab mechanics, and partied like a rock star in palaces belonging to guys you see in the papers all the time.

I have watched 2 people die, one of them a child, both due to carelessness. I worked on a Yacht full of crazy people. I have walked in on a well known Arab Motorsport Journalist in a hot tub with 2  Moroccan hookers, and been astonished mostly by the tremendous amount of body hair the guy had. A former boss once tried sell me into an arranged marriage with some Saudi dude, and I will never be completely certain if he was joking or not.

 I've learned to pray, grown closer to god, and drifted away again. These days I try not to let organised religion get in the way of my relationship with god. I'll do my best, and I'm happy to be judged on how I live, breathe, and think, and not how pious I pretend to be.

One thing that has not happened, is acquiring a perfect understanding of how this place works. Just when I think I am getting close to really truly and fully understanding everything, something else throws me for a loop, and I'm left with one foot on either side of the world, not really understanding here, and too far gone from there to fully understand home.

I have been far too busy to really process what it means to be leaving, and when people ask me what I'm feeling about leaving this place, I make up something about how sad it is to go, but how much I"m looking forward to a change. But in reality, I feel absolutely nothing. It's been so busy, and I've been under so much pressure that It just hasn't sunk in yet that we are going, and unlikely to return. I expect I will be something of a basket case once we arrive in Stone's home country for some R&R later this week, and I can have a good cry and just let it rip.

The blog will continue, for the short term at any rate. There are a number of stories worth telling, the local media remains extraordinarily amusing, and Oman, I think will forever fascinate me.

I leave you guys with three images I snapped today that sort of illustrate how weird, happy, luxurious, sad, bizarre and all around mystifying Oman is. I hope you all have as many wonderful, mystifying, frightening, happy, sad, and baffling experiences as I have had here.





Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Endorsement: Writer Relocations

First Up, a reminder about my AWESOME INDOOR YARD SALE on Friday Morning, from 9-12, at my house in Qurm.

Please come and buy some stuff at a great bargain, or bring some of your own stuff to sell if you want. If you have been reading the blog for a while, and just want to drop by and say hello, feel free to do that. Likewise, if you already know me in real life, come and say hi. The more the merrier, and I'd love to meet as many of you as I can.

I will post directions to the house on the blog Thursday night  / Friday morning, so check back then.

On to the Endorsement: I MUST let you all know how totally impressed I am with Writer Relocations. Really, they are setting a new standard for moving companies here in Oman.

They have packed, perfectly, about a zillion tons of crap and loaded it into a 40 foot container, in under 2 days.  5 years ago, when we moved from Qurm to Ghubra, another relocation company moved us. It took 7 DAYS, and I nearly killed the uncommunicative and surly guys who were doing the packing.

Write's account managers are great, infinitely flexible, and do amazing stuff like calling to tell you they are running late, BEFORE they are actually late.  The packers all wear uniforms, have been professionally trained in how to pack and label, and smell pretty good for sweaty guys.

My Crew of 6 Cheerful guys from Kerala have been the absolute epitome of good cheer and humor, singing and laughing the whole time they were packing. Writer was kind enough to offer to pack my house maid's things up, gratis, which has been no easy task given her increasing OCD tenancies and her increasing distress at the prospect of being sent home.

Later, an essay on how annoying it is when people show up while your house is being packed and ask to see all your stuff because they might want to buy it, and then proceed to trample on and ignore your objections that you are too busy, and could they please come back on Friday. That is Soooooo Annoying.

In case you are interested, here are a few photos from the Move.





Saturday, July 31, 2010

Shoes



This is an extremely vapid and boring post, but I'm busy, so cut a girl some slack, All right?
Are these shoes awesome, or are they awesome? You can buy them here http://www.etsy.com/listing/51953365/blue-bells 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thank you Faisal

Children here in Oman are often adorned with gold, both for it's beauty and Evil Eye avoidance properties. We were literally showered with gold when the Princess was born, and I can't wait until she is old enough to really appreciate it.


Faisal, our daughter's God Father is forever spoiling her with little trinkets. Faisal  popped by the other night with a lovely farewell for now gift for the baby, and I want to show it to you guys because it's so pretty.



She Loves It. I Love the idea that kids deserve beautiful things too, and should be adorned and decorated like the truly precious things they are. Thank You Faisal!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Kid is so Helpful

What is this? The new printer has stopped working.

FTF? I just bought the thing. This is So Unfair.

What is that colorful stuff inside the printer?

Oh, Marbles and fluffy puff balls, of course.

Hey Kid, did you put these things inside the printer? "yes mommy! also toothpicks!" 


And look at my ridiculous Man-Hands. Have you ever seen such ugly hands? 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

On Facebook

As you may or may not be aware, the ROP have abruptly decided to start enforcing the old law about Expats not being allowed to own pickup trucks. Indeed, yesterday I was told that I cannot even RENEW the registration on either of mine. Seriously, I am no longer allowed to own my own Stuff, because of my race.  I have an idea, lat's take all the farms that are managed or owned by Expats and nationalize those too! It worked great in Zimbabwe!

I'm not even going to go into what a totally bat-shit-crazy law it is yet, because it needs a post entirely to itself. However, as you might imagine, this is pretty much the last thing I needed to deal with in the frantic final weeks of my time in the country.

At least I have friends that make me laugh. Pasted below is an excerpt from a conversation I had on facebook with a friend who never fails to make me smile. You know who you are, and thanks so much mate.

The Dutch Geologist: Incredible.... Paul the octopus was right! Spain-the Netherlands it is!

Subruban: Dutch, you must tell me, what the hell is this Paul the Octopus thing everyone is talking about? Seriously, I feel like I have woken up in an episode of the twilight zone.


The Dutch Geologist: In the Oberhausen Sea Life Aquarium in Germany, they have an octopus -Paul- who is predicting the outcome of the games Germany is playing. So far, he has been right all through the tournament, and he rightly predicted Spain would beat Germany, too. The way they do it is that they give him the choice of two containers with a tasty mussle inside, marked with the national flags of the countries playing. The one he opens first is the country that is going to win. 


And the episode of the twilight zone you are in is the one where the principle character cannot leave a small exotic country because she should not own two certain cars but she does, and then she cannot sell the one and export the other, until some weird ally shows up (probably a man wearing a dress) who speaks in a strange language to the stern government agents until they mysteriously do what they ought to do or whatever, and then there is a law that national heritage cannot be exported and a thirty year old japanese car is national heritage so the lead character needs to produce a rare, stamped, papyrus scroll to show to the gate keepers leading to many adventures in the grotty insides of some large buildings populated by people shoving paper from left to right on their desk all day, and then when all's well that end's well there is a "to be continued..." sign on the other side of the large water because there she needs to mysteriously reverse-act all hurdles taken on 'episode one' because the car is stuck in a worm hole time conundrum of sorts or something to do with exhaust fumes or the BP oil spill or something. Luckily, she will be offered nacho cheese chips in this episode.
The end



Suburban: Dutch, I LOVE you. You Made My Day.


And I found out what this Paul the Octopus business was all about. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

International Relocation for the Highly Disorganized, Pt1

Because I care about you all so much, find below the first in my series on International Relocation for the Highly Disorganized. Today we will cover the To-Do list, a most critical part of your pre-departure planning.
  • Be sure to make an orderly list for the things you need to accomplish.  
  • Post it somewhere where you will see it many times a day, like next to the Liquor Cabinet. 
  • A graphic representation of the pre-departure flowchart and/or your current mental state drawn by your youngest child is optional, but highly recommended. 
  • Always use your best handwriting. 

You are welcome.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Kids are weird

We are on the roof of the Al Falaj Hotel, looking out over the city with the kid. After a moment of silence, the kid looks up at us and says:

"when I was a little girl, a long time ago, there were not many cars here. Things were different before."  She gestures to the Sheraton, where the old landing strip was 40 years ago "over there the planes were landing and coming from the sky. I was Salima, when I was a little girl." 


Stone and I were speechless. Do your kids ever say anything really freaky?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Where does suburban shop? Home Style

Household Style

I hate furniture and decoration shopping here. There is nothing unique anywhere, and it's like most of the furniture shops are still selling back stock of  stuff that went out of style in the early 80's.

Perhaps your husband adores the sort of Ugly sofas features extensively in Egyptian Soap operas? those are available in Abundance here. My husband, Stone, has a major Boner for things made out of dark wood from Marina, and so does every other white dude in Oman. All our houses look the same, inside and out.

Short of driving to Dubai to Shop at Ikea, or ordering something massive over the internet, what's a style conscious girl to do? The answer is to make it yourself. Or hire someone to make it for you.

Before we go any further, can I share a secret with you that will Guarantee your success in having stuff made? Here it is:
Take the amount of time you think it will take to create something, and double it.  

Clear? OK. First off, browse design sites on the internet, find some outrageous stuff you want, and go to Wadi Kabir. Try this for starters http://www.opulentitems.com/ You can have ANYTHING you can imagine made to order in Wadi Kabir. There are some fantastic woodworking, upholstery and metal crafting shops in Wadi Kabir.

Got an Ugly Sofa? Go buy some Luxe upholstery fabrics and have it restyled and recovered. Want a newer, cooler headboard for your bed? Go find some super high gloss oil based paints in outrageous colors, and have a luscious new headboard designed from scrap wood. Troll the automotive scrap yards and get a bed made of corrugated Iron and glossy, powdercoated,  Classic car fenders. If you can dream it, it's likely the dudes in WK / Ghala can create it.

Ladies, you do not need to be afraid to go into Wadi Kabir or darkest Ghala. Contrary to whatever bullshit rumours you have heard, no one there will rape, rob or harass you.

Barring a trip into the depths of Wadi Kabir, following, is a list of the best places for home style in Muscat.

Al Medina Art Gallery
Al Madina is located on the sliproad between the Omanoil and the New Mosque (or the ghost house) on the  MQ side of the Sultan Qaboos Street. Al Medina has a limited selection of locally themed art, but the real beauty of the place lies in their talent at framing. They are OUTSTANDING, and can frame anything beautifully. Do not be an asshole and ignore their advice, they are professionals, you are not.

-Adlink Trading, and Photo Magic
Vinyl Stickers are where it's at. Got an Ugly Mirror, Plain Walls, or a car that needs Jazzing up?  Create your Own vinyl stickers. You can use fancy fonts, quotes from your favorite book, poetry, or 2-3 color images snatched from Google. Photo Magic has a Laser cutter for vinyl, and a variety of interesting fonts to play with. I had Adlink do some custom stickers and a custom wheel cover for a Pirate themed Car I was building. It looked awesome. I took one of the extra stickers and stuck it to an ugly mirror, and Viola, Subversive and Sexy. I might hang it over our bed  in the new house. Surrender the Booty Indeed.....

Doing stickers right takes some practice, so get 3 times as many as you will need to start. You can also order larger, readymade scenes off of www.etsy.com go there and search for Vinyl Stickers. There is some really awesome stuff available.






-Neon Factory In Wadi Kabir-2482-1221
Actually called Al Nahar trading, this little company is located about 800 meters before the Wadi Kabir R/A on the right hand side coming from Ruwi. You'll see the sign out front advertising Neon Signs. These guys can make anything. Get creative, maybe you would like a funky neon chandelier for your dining room? A neon design to illuminate your back porch? Sajith, the guy who looks after the front end of the business is a delightful guy to deal with, and really did an astonishingly good job on the design and execution. All the other guys are kind, talented dudes who really get into the chance to do something creative for a change. Remember that you are not a huge customer, and show these guys some patience while they are working on your little order. You will be rewarded with an outstanding conversation piece for your home or business.


-Caravans Flowers-2456-6795
Located in their new Al Asfoor Plaza location, Caravans is better than ever. Run by a fascinating, and rather salty Canadian lady and her long suffering staff, Caravans is the best florist in Muscat. They did the flowers for my wedding, and they should do the flowers for yours. They have the freshest flowers anywhere, and they really understand how to care for them so that they stay fresh, often for weeks after you bring them home. Don't miss the outstanding Orchids and custom made arrangements they do.  The prices are on par with everywhere else, and they also have an outstanding selection of unique trinkets, cards, gifts and sculpture available. It's a No Bullshit place, with the freshest flowers around. Never again will you have to deal with the unfriendly staff and third-rate flowers from La Bella Rose. 


-Scrapping 
You should make a point of stopping by places where old-ish houses and buildings are being torn down. Take your kids, and a basket of fresh fruit or cookies for the Laborers. Have a poke around, and see what can be salvaged from the jackhammers. I've scored some fantastic old tiles, giant slabs of Italian marble, Custom carved granite stair accents, stained glass windows, Hand made geometric made wooden ceiling inlays, and custom fabricated round window grilles. It's all there for the taking, and would otherwise end up in a landfill, or melted down and recycled. The laborers have always been amazingly helpful, and only to delighted to point out pretty things that I should take. I make sure to bring them treats, and tip them a rial or two if they have to rip something out specially for me.

-Ceros steel
I have Blogged about the wonderland that is Ceros Steel before. Ceros is located on the left hand side of the road road to the Egyptian, Phillipino (sp?), and ABA school in Al Khuwair, just before the rugby club. You can't miss it. They can make anything out of Metal. Aluminum, galvanized steel, powdercoating, and cast bronze are all within their ability. from custom shelving solutions to bespoke wax-cast sculptures, the nice guys at ceros can create it.

-Pro Shots Photography 2456-6663 www.proshots.org
Why don't you get your ugly-ass family and make them look gorgeous? Proshots can make that happen for you. Run by talented husband and wife team Rami and Huda, Proshots is a fantastic photography and videography company. Currently based in Al Qurm, near the recently demolished round mosque, they do high quality studio and offsite photography. Proshots has entirely female editing and photography staff, which is reassuring for women, especially at wedding and family sessions. They are professional to a fault, and they will make you look good no matter how ugly you really are. Trust me on this. They do wonderful framing and oversize canvasses, and well as botique and specialty albums. They are also really nice, and make you feel completely at ease from the first minute.
This is Joy, one of the lovely and talented photographers for Proshots.