Monday, November 26, 2007

house keeping, corruption, hand jobs and true friendship.

  • In future posts, My husband will be referred to as Stone. Because it was getting really repetitive to type "my husband this" and "My Husband That" over and over again. I have yet to pick names for the kiddies.
  • Is anyone else following the news about the Saudi rape case where the victim of a gang rape was sentenced to 200 lashes because the rape occurred while she was out with an unrelated male, without a Guardian? Reason # 259,611,172 that I don't have a Saudi passport. I am speechless.
  • Also in the news, allegations of a certain Omani ex-telcom minister receiving a 1.9 million dollar sweetener after awarding a contract to Ericsson in the late nineties. This Guy blogged about it here. It's a good read.
  • This guy also blogged about the strange Omantel deal for the Pakistani telcom. Muscati blogged about it as well, over on the Oman community blog. It smells a bit fishy as well... Nawras executives must be high fiving each other this week.
  • The Oman Web Awards 2007 is coming up, Go on over and have a read about what Blue_Chi has written regarding the Oman Web Awards 2006 and the Oman Web Awards 2005.

Maybe all the prostitutes really have gone into hiding. We've been searching seedy bars since eid, and have only located a handfull of working girls, all of them strangely clad in Abayah. A report is forthcoming, I promise.

On a similar vein, Last night I was trying to convince Stone to go get a few massages and see if he could score a "happy ending". I was like "babe, I NEEEEEED you to research this for me...." and he said it made him feel a little uncomfortable that his wife was demanding that he go get hand jobs from strange women, even if it was in the name of research. I don't know who is luckier, him or me. Stone has elected not to assist in the research project.

I saw my friend Ahmed the other day. Ahmed and I worked together off and on for three years or so, and as a result, we've traveled most of the Middle East together, seen some really insane stuff on the road, had to share a seedy hotel room when a flight was cancelled, and I once tried to kill him with my bare hands. He is a really, really, really true friend.

I forgot how good it is to spend some time with someone who really knows me, and who understands my sense of humour, and who isn't interested in discussing diapers, baby toys, or politics. Ahmed, It was really good to see you.

What are the shared experiences that make a particular friendship strong? I don't know.

more later.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tagged.

These tagged things... until last night at about ten pm I was all like, "man, who would want to be tagged? It's like an internet chain letter only more labour intensive". But then, Daisy, the Saudi Stepford Wife tagged me and I was like "Oh my god! someone really loves me!I am so popular and brilliant!"

Here's the rules:
1. Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

SEVEN RANDOM FACTS ABOUT SUBURBAN
  • I'm a lot like my dad. A couple of weeks ago we went shopping for a stroller and high chair for the baby. We came home three hours late with two bongo drums instead. My dad is awesome.
  • Back in the real world, I used to be a chef at some really pretentious restaurants. Teeny tiny food served on huge plates. Foigras ice cream on a bed of endive foam with truffled chive salsa and a miripoix of bing cherries, figs and bitter chocolate. Food no one in their right mind would want to eat, served in nine to fifteen course set menus. I loved my co-workers though, they were all insane, drug addled, bad-asses. There was rarely a dull moment, though the cocaine induced rages that people would fly off on really got to me after a while.
  • I think I have a parking related Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I can't stand messy parking.
  • I bite my fingernails until they bleed. All the time. Sometimes they get infected, which makes it hard to type. It's the grossest thing ever, but I can't stop.
  • I was too embarrassed to buy my own underwear until I was 22. It just seemed too intimate a detail to share with a random checkout person. I spent a lot of years just going commando.
  • I think NASA geeks from the early Apollo missions are hot. It's something about the plastic framed glasses, and the degrees in astrophysics.
  • I took Japanese in High School. The only time I have ever used a word of it was ten years ago when a Homeless Veteran asked if he could use my Lip balm. When he was done, he thanked me in Japanese and I responded appropriately. Let me tell you, he was one really impressed Homeless Veteran. I should have taken Spanish.

I tag Amjad, Balqis, PYR, Blue-chi, Al-Mawali, Kay, and Meticulousness. None of you need to participate if you don't want to. We're all about choice around here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thank You, Nawras.

Today I went to the Nawras offices to see if the techno-whizzes there could figure out what, exactly, the is causing the ongoing plague on my internet connection. We were in and out in under an hour, and I think the problems are fixed for good.

As always, thier customer service guys were fabulous. We've had so many problems with the hardware and software on these things that I feel like I should be inviting the tech department to family weddings and weekend barbeques.

They think it's the modem, again. This is either our third or fourth modem, and definately our third sim card. We are so, so, so carefull with the modem and sim that I can't figure out why we are having to replace one or the otherevery four months. but then I figured it out. Obviously, the modem and the laptops throwing wild and crazy parties downstairs while we are sleeping. They invite all the other household appliances bust out the gin and the whiskey, and things get crazy.

Sometimes when I come downstairs in the mornings the kettle is on top of the microwave. I had put it down to the housemaid's idea of counter space efficency but alas, I was busting my kitchen appliances mid-coitus. Kettle, you are a slut. And the Electric pencil sharpener I found in the driveway the other day? Probibally passed out crawling home from another all nighter at Suburban Appliance Bar.

Anyway. Thanks Nawras and thanks nice customer service guy for fixing my internet, again. I promise to keep the modem out of the liqour cabinet from now on.

Flood relief, or a sociseconomic honesty index?

I've been meaning to blog about the flood relief funds that the Oman Charitable Organisation distributed on behalf of the government after Cyclone Gonu.

We were pretty badly flooded here. We live in one of the worst-hit neighbourhoods in the capital, though we were lucky because most of the furniture was salvageable, and we had already moved the rugs upstairs by the time the waters hit us. the flood cost us about fifteen to twenty thousand rials in material losses, though much of what we lost we just haven't bothered to replace, because really, we owned waaaay too much shit.

I am calling it the most expensive summer cleaning ever. Anyway, I digress.

When the guys came by the house to account for our losses, we didn't expect to receive anything from the government. Why should we? We chose to be uninsured, My Husband is well employed, and it's not like the entire house got washed away. we still had a roof over our heads. I was completely honest about what we lost, and I didn't claim a single item that could be repaired. I have come to understand, from others I've spoken to, that I am perhaps the only person in the entire country who did not exaggerate her losses.

What I expect the government has done (unknowingly) is that they have collected a really interesting set of data on cultural and socioeconomic honesty. I would love to have a rake through the data and see what, if any information we could extract. Does anyone know if the data is available anywhere? We could compare Male to female, compare by race, neighbourhood, weather the house is owned or rented, and square meters of the dwelling. Seriously, any SQU students who want to write a paper on this with me?

I also suspect that a closer look at the data might reveal that there were certain communities that were underrepresented in the reporting. Does anyone know where we could get our hands on the data?

A few weeks ago, I finally wandered down to the Wali's office and picked up the first check, which is to cover the household losses. We got 500 rails! I am thrilled, honestly, I expected nothing.

Sometime this week I'll go pick up another check, which is to cover the cars. Since all our cars are Old-Shit-Cans, I figure I'll show up and they'll be like "Suburban... you get diddly squat. The cyclone did us all a favour by removing your stupid cars from the road, and improved the overall aesthetics of your front yard considerably. You should be paying us."

Tomorrow, a rant and rave about how motherhood totally does not suit me.

Monday, November 19, 2007

We can't go on like this

Dear Nawras,

Allow me to start this letter by thanking you for providing me with an alternative to Omantel internet. Every time I pay my bill at your offices, I get a little lightning bolt of pure joy rocketing through my body, knowing that my hard-earned Rials are no longer lining Omantel's pockets.

I would also like to thank you for having some really nice, smart people in your customer service department. I'd like to personally thank each and every one of your customer service and technical support people for being professional, empathetic, and calling me back when I leave a message. Because customer service that calls back is so fucking fantastic, I sometimes think I'm dreaming.

But as in any relationship where both parties spend too much time with each other, My love for you, and your customer service guys, is beginning to wane. We've had your internet service for a year and a half now. I've been into see you and the tech department more than fifteen times . We have had three different modems, and three different sim cards. I have spent close to sixty hours of my time this year trying to make the internet work consistently. And yet, it still doesn't work right, or at all, most of the time.

I am sort of at my wit's end, because I neeeeeed internet to work, and to live. My time is so, so, so precious and I just don't think I can spend any more of it waiting around in your offices or sitting on the phone being told to try reinstalling the software, even though I already did that seventeen times last week. Nawras, tomorrow afternoon is your last chance to get my Internet up and running. I Have made an appointment, and I am genuinely looking forward to having reliable internet by the end of the week. I'm genuinely looking forward to seeing you guys tomorrow.

If we can't fix this, I'm leaving you. No hard feelings, you'll still be my mobile telephone provider, and I will continue to praise your helpful customer service department. But Me, and shit-loads of my money, will be going to Inmarsat's BGAN service. Which has the added benefit of providing me with filter free surfing. Meaning that I, not Omantel, will decide what is appropriate for my family to access on the Internet.

Best Regards,

Suburban Muscat

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Fun With Tailgaters

Drivers Who tailgate (Drive, like six inches from my back bumper, at highway speeds) drive me bonkers, but also provide a lot of oppertunity for entertainment.

  • The Candy Assault weapon: Peanut M&M's make the most terrifying sound when a handfull of them bounce off a windsheild. If M&M's unavailable, chocolate covered raisins are an OK substitute. I used this all the time when I had a motorcycle.
  • Say Cheese: Have a passenger climb into the back and take a bunch of photos of them (or pretend to) It makes them really paranoid. This is especially effective if you or they have a obviously "wasta" car.
  • The Brake check: (Don't do this if there are kids in the cars, pedestrians nearby, or if there is any other traffic in the vicinity... Obviously) slow down... slower... let them get reeeeeeal close. Now! Slam on the brakes. Give yourself five points for a swerve, ten points if thier tyres squeal, and if they actually hit you, Spray paint a little stencil shape of a car on your quarter panel to symbolize a confirmed "hit"
  • The Stalker: Slow down until they pass, And wave, with a BIIIIG smile. Then follow them at a distance to where they are going. When they arrive, jump out of the car and pledge your undying love for them. Act really weird and desperate. Hug them if they'll let you close enough. Mention something about how friendly the world outside the institution is. etc... (Note: I haven't tried this one in Oman yet, but it got great reactions in Europe)
  • If you happen to be on a road with speed bumps, and happen to bebeing followed by a saloon car or a sports car, speed up a little, tell your passengers to hang on, and rocket yourself over the speed bump without braking. Not seeing the speed bump coming, they usually run right into it. The results are usually hysterical, and expensive for the guy following. We do this a lot on the road in MQ by starbucks / british council.
  • If your car haas a back windsheild squirty thing, take it apart, and readjust it to squirt out and onto the car following. A friend sugggested filling the lines with paint thinner, or ink, but I think it would eat the rubber and plastic fittings. We reccomend water for safety and versitility.

Next week, mostly harmless parking lot pranks to play on inconsiderate parkers / dear friends.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Overheard in Muscat. Now with 100% more tourists

Tourism Enriches...

Tourist A: you know what?

Tourist B: What?

Tourist A: I didn't realise there are so many Muslims in Oman.

Rest of tour group: stunned silence.



At the Border between the UAE and Oman,

Me: Hi! want to see my passport or ID?

Border Guy: pointing at the shiny convertible Gears? Or automatic?

Me: Automatic. V6.
Border Guy: You selling?

Me: No. It's my husband's, he'd kill me.
Border Guy: crestfallen... Ok. Have nice time Dubai!

Me: So do you want to see my ID?

Border Guy: No problems, You go now.

Me: Okaaaay...

Border Guy: Waving happily.

*Ladies, take note: you can effectively go from muscat to dubai and back without having any ID checked if you are driving a shiny sports car. at the other three posts I insisted that they at least Look at some ID, but I really think I could have just driven on and waved. *

Tourism Enriches II-

Wherin Suburban adolescent reports from a recent school trip to (supposedly) provide aid to an impoverished country.

Me: So was it interesting?

Her: Yeah! the night clubs were amazing.

Me: And the orphanage?

Her: Yeah, really amazing. I felt so sorry for the kids and for the homeless people.

Me: How did the other Students like the trip? Most of them haven't traveled as much as you.

Her: Yeah! Like we were on this one cruise, and there were these platters of Prawns, and the other students had never had to peel thier own shrimp before so they didn't know how to do it. So I showed them!

Me: Hmmm...

At the Pepsi R/A (it would help to have lived in the states to understand this one)
Guy#1: Look at those guys! In the ties and blue trousers. pointing

Guy#2: Mmm?

Guy# 1: I didn't know they had Mormons here. Weird.

Guy #2: Dude, Those are LuLu Employees...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The perfect relationship.

Suburban Adolescent prompted me to share this experience, after I told her this story in the car last night. This story is 100% true, and took place years ago when I was just beginning to curtail my former bad-girl ways. I was engaged, at the time, to some Scottish guy way too old for me, and he’d brought me along to New York for a business trip. He would work all day and chat with his insanely boring friends, and I would wander the streets falling in love with a city that’s like no other. Evenings, we would go out for dinner with his friends, and I would drink until I was half blind trying to pretend that I would be happy in our future together.

Late afternoon in Manhattan. The snow had been falling heavily for the last hour. Those huge flakes of sticky wet snow that blanket the sidewalks of the city and allow you to trace the steps of those who walked before you on a particular slice of pavement. The sky was a gray monotone, and when I looked up the skyscrapers seemed to disappear into the clouds and swirling snow. I was walking, headed for a coffee shop, watching the snow fall and lost in my own scattered thoughts. There was this businessman leaning up against the polished granite side of a building, there was a brief moment of eye contact and then I was walking past him.

He said, “you’re beautiful” in a heavy New York accent.

It wasn’t a line, or the opening of a conversation, or the beginnings of some cheesy spiel, it was just a matter of fact statement said in the same tone of voice as if he’d said “It’s Snowing!” I looked back over my shoulder, smiled, and said “thanks” and kept on walking.

I walked down the block, right on 2nd ave, and was just beneath the awning of a big hotel when I heard steps pounding up behind me. He grabbed my wrist, and spun me to face him and wrapped his other arm around behind me, crossing the small of my back and letting his hand rest on my waist, pulling me close to him like we were ballroom dancing.

Were I the paranoid sort, I would have been freaking out about being mugged, but I felt safe, and happy in his arms. He smelled of aftershave, cigars, and slightly stale beer, his morning shave already growing out into stubble along his jaw line.

He looked at me and said, “You can’t let it end like that.” And leaned down and planted this huge kiss on my lips.

Of course, I kissed him back. Right there on 2nd Ave, making out in the falling snow with a complete stranger like some sort of godless harlot.

He asked my name, asked if he could take me to dinner, buy me a drink, marry me and father my children. I said no.

And this guy, whose name I will never know, said ok, thanked me for the kiss, for the perfect relationship, kissed me again, and walked off into the falling snow while I stood there grinning, to stunned to thank him back.

I called off the engagement to the scottish guy a week later, and called off the entire relationship a couple of months after that. I moved back home to the Middle East, met the man of my dreams, and lived happily ever after.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

By the Numbers, Suburban Goes back to work.

I'll post a couple of the best stories, and something more detailed in a few days when I've caught up on sleep. In the interimn, here is a numerical stat-shot of my trip.

  • 2,600 Kilometers Driven
  • 300 Kilometers driven while hallucinating from sleep depravation
  • 7 Imaginary R/A’s braked for
  • 1 Total Number of times passport was checked by ROP border
  • 2 Total Number of Times passport should have been checked
  • 1 Glitzy launch attended in Dubai, complete with fireworks
  • 16 Hours worked per day by me
  • 152 pages of documentation typed by me
  • 1 Very frustrating mistakes made by me through sheer laziness
  • 58 Beers Consumed by me
  • 1 Toga Parties Attended in the empty quarter
  • 3 Pairs of Legs waxed using fly paper (Male)
  • 2 Hours of sleep per night, average
  • 2 Days taken to find my former personality
  • 8 Dealership demo cars driven
  • 2.3 Kilos of weight lost
  • 0.4 Kilos of sand in my luggage (approx)
  • 5 Showers taken
  • 35,127 Number of times I heard men calling each other "fucking cunts"
  • 0 women overheard doing the same
  • 100% probibility I will work this event again

Good times.