Friday, April 25, 2008

Last Night's Fortune Cookies

Last night was date night. Stone took me to Trader Vic's, where we drank the aptly named Suffering Bastard cocktails. Nothing has changed in Trader Vic's for ten years, it's like time stands still in there, I love it.

As always, the food was great, and the service perfect. I hate the band, but everyone else seems to love them. If I have to listen to a Cuban version of I'd rather be a hammer than a nail again I might just shave my head, climb a tower, and start picking people off with a high powered rifle.

Anyway.... We got extra fortune cookies at the end of our meal. Stone's were unremarkable, but mine were are really, really funny. Especially because we were playing the amazing fortune Cookie Game my cousin taught us.

You will have many friends when you need them.... In Bed

A long dispute will soon arrive at it's end... In Bed

A delay may work out to your advantage.... In Bed

I think the last one is the funniest, but you need to think outside the box to get it.

Oh Yeah...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

General update from around here

OK. What to write about today?

Not a lot of comments on the panties post. What a bunch of pure, innocent, moral readers I have! Just kidding, because Sitemeter doesn't lie. I got more than twice the number of hits (mostly from google reader) as usual. So fess up you perverts.

We are having a BBQ at our house on Tursday afternoon for the five families in our neighbourhood that we haven't threatened to arrest or kill recently. It's a pretty mixed bunch of folks, and we are hoping that everybody has a nice time, drinks fresh squeezed Juices and beer, and eats our food.

I am also hoping that we can form a Coalition Of The Sane around here, and gradually convince the other 600 assholes in Al Ghubra to move along to a trailer park elsewhere. Or maybe back to whatever rock they crawled out from under in the first place.

Remember back when I was bitching about the kids in our neighbourhood Joyriding in thier dad's Minibus? A couple of weeks ago, while we were out camping, our own resident adolescent decided to "borrow" my car to practice driving. By borrow, I mean steal. Oh god, the irony.

She proceded to run it into / past a wall, at very low speed, scratching the quarter panel and tearing the bumper off. Once we got her to admit that maybe she had taken the car for a teensy-weensy drive, we had the usual discussion. There were tears, and there was lots of shouting. Because as you guys may or may not be aware, the manditory penalty for driving without a lisence here is 48 hours in Prison. Do you think we made her call the ROP and explain that she wrecked the car while driving without a lisence?

You bet your ass we did. She can report that the Byriani in jail is pretty good, but the hamburgers leave something to be desired.

I'm kidding again. We made her call the ROP and explain everything but I' m a little dissapointed/ releived to report that the ROP decided not throw her in the slammer. The guys who came to file the report were very impressed with her owning up to the mistake and accepting responsibility, even if that meant jail. Also, they thought it was hilarious. I was still so angry that I had flat out refused to apply wasta to get my accident report, so she was a very, very lucky girl.

For Sale: One teenager.
Female adolescent, three highly desirable passports, plus a green card. Fair complexion, good with babies and children. Cannot cook to save her life, but could be persuaded to learn. Does laundry. Any reasonable offer considered.
More tomorrow, when I think I'll highlight where to get your hooker fix in Muscat. Gone are the days of One stop shopping at Feeny's or the Sheraton.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Our neighbour's maid, the Conclusion

If you missed the first post, you can read it HERE

I am delighted to report that we have a happy ending for the maid. The night of the confrontation, the wife attacked her as well, for having the audacity to seek help from our housemaid. Our housemaid had advised her of her rights, and has a good friend at the Employment Agency that originally brought her over.

The maid bailed out late that night. The agency intervened with the family, and obtained the release of the maid's paperwork, passport, and personal effects the very next morning. The maid has accepted a somewhat better paying position with a new family, who have been thoroughly advised of the maid's rights. The maid is aware the Stone and I are happy to intervene again, and that she is not to return to A's house without Stone along to escort her. I'll be sure to let you know how it works out in the long run.

Our maids have been instructed to call the police if the man of the house so much as looks at them. The guy is clearly an asshole, and both adults have now shown a propensity for violence.

Stone will be speaking to the wife, and possibly the Husband in the office today, after enlisting the support of a Senior Omani Female to supervise the discussion. Key points will include:
  • We are aware of the Maid's claims, and believe them.
  • Treating and paying your housemaid like that is unacceptable Socially, morally, and legally.
  • A short rundown of the legal rights of any Expatriate employee.
  • That neither Husband or Wife are to set foot on our property ever again, and they are not to have any contact with our housemaids whatsoever.
  • That we have lots of ROP wasta, and plenty of Corporate wasta.
  • That we will be watching, closely, the treatment of A and any future maids.
  • We will not hesitate to throw every ounce of Wasta we have at having charges pressed at the first sign of abuse or neglect, either towards the maid, or A.
The story does not end so happily for A, who has lost the only sane person in his life. I am tempted to involve the Omani Version of Child Protective Services, to follow up on A's care and situation.

I think that anyone who treats thier household staff in such a manner is unlikely to treat thier children much better. Perhaps the threat of knowing that we, and other neighbours are watching will be enough.

I really, really, really want to thank those who commented for the good advice, and for the votes of support. I also want to highlight a couple of really great points from the comments section. For the full text of all the excellent comments, please follow the link at the top of the page.

mmk080 said: sadly the mentality is that it will be crazy if we didnt pay them the absolute minimum, it would be 'tabtheer' or 'wasteful'... what's wasteful is our lack of use concsiousness when it comes to treating other human beings like this

That is such a good point! It's one of the ways people justify doing the wrong thing here. Stone and I don't feel it's wasteful to pay our maid well, because we are supporting her family in making thier lives better in the process. Her Son has attended a good school, and has diplomas in Hospitality and Graphic Design. Her Husband gets private medical care for his affliction. Her grandchildren are attending a top preschool back home, and she is able to save for her retirement. There is nothing wasteful about that.

Outsider said: To me, it seems that there is very little enforcement of social norms beyond the very superficial, such as wearing proper clothing. God forbid someone goes out scantily clad, but many will turn a blind eye to what the neighbor is doing to the maid as its not their business.... As long as (a) a minority thinks that they can do whatever the hell they want with no consequences and (b) no one calls them on it, people will continue to act like assholes, from cutting queue to abusing their maids. Very different degrees of wrong, but they both require social enforcement to be stopped.

Thank you so much for your lengthy and thoughtful reply. You. are. dead. right. Nothing much will change until the society decides to start saying aloud that a particular behavior is unacceptable. My mom sometimes says that Sunshine is the best disinfectant. I. E. putting the problem out in the open is usually enough to make the problem go away. It's unfortunate that the usual reaction to problems like this here is to ignore them, or cover them up for fear of causing trouble or embarrassment.

Dragon, Hajib, Alex, and Anon's # 1,2,3 & 4, Thanks a million for taking the time to comment, and for the very, very, Very, good advice. Please come back anytime.

Later in the week, I will write something funny, and maybe publish a love note to Stone.

Also, Suggestions for Blog Posts are always welcome. OtherOman at Gmail Dot Com

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The neighbour's maid

Looks after an adorable child named A.

A has Down's Syndrome. He's a really sweet kid, and spends a lot of time at our house playing with the princess and generally being cute. Like all children with Down's, A can be hard work and he is truly blessed to have a woman as wonderfull as the maid in his life. Both parents have good jobs with reputed companies. They pay thier maid 60 rials a month, and she works seven days a week. She's been working with them for more than five years I think. Stone works for the same company as his mother.

The Maid Claims to have been attacked, sexually, by the man of the house last week when the wife was away overnight. She beat him off, but has a couple of nasty briuses to show for it.

Stone and I have offered to assist, but she feels that no one would belive her, and that there is little we could do that would improve her long-term situation. Though I disagree, I understand where she is coming from. Her family back home counts on her remittances.

When the wife came home, the maid explained what had happened, and asked to be released to work elsewhere. The wife said her husband is a good man, that she shouldn't tell such lies, and took the maid's phone away. They already keep her passport. The maid would really like to be released to work with a family that pays her what she's worth, and doesn't attempt coerced sex as an unpaid benefit. That's not asking much is it?

Tonight, as we were sitting down to dinner, A's father showed up at our gate having a bone to pick with Stone. He was very angry, and said that he has a serious problem with our housemaid. (We pay the housemaid really well, because she is worth every baiza and because as any other human she diserves to work for a living wage) He is Outraged, Outraged, that our housemaid told his housemaid what she is getting paid, and that now his housemaid has the audacity to want to quit her job. God forbid. And He wanted Stone to knock some sense into our "troublesome" housemaid.

I don't know if the guy was drunk, though he was acting pretty strangely. I don't know what went on behind closed doors at the neighbour's house. I don't know what the inter/intra housmaid socio-economic equations add up to, but I do know that this guy is out of his fucking mind rolling up to our house with that attitude, thinking that the root cause of his problems in life can be traced to Stone, Me or the housemaid.

I am so ashamed that guys like him live here in my neighborhood, or in this country. I am so angry at his wife's apparent complicity. I am so heartbroken for the maid, and for the little boy who adores her.

I had been outside for a minute or two at this point, and said that if the maid wanted to quit, that his best bet was to let her quit. Because you don't own people. ( We here in oman are done with Slave trading these days, though it seems the message has been slower reaching some than others) The guy looks right over my head and says he it talking to the boss, meaning Stone.

That was a mistake.

To say I went ape-shit would be something of an understatement. I was incandescent. I told him to get off my fucking property this instant or I would call the police, and that I was planing on speaking to his wife first thing in the morning, and that Stone would be speaking to her in the office after that.

Advice? Comments?

The Not-So Automatic Car Wash

I have never cleaned the inside of my car. There is almost an inch of sand in the back. There is a layer of dust about 1 cm thick on the dash, which I use to jot down Reg numbers of cars that piss me off as I drive.

I wash the outside of my car once a month. I would do it less often, but it is illegal to have a dirty car in Oman, and I think waiting a month between washed is pushing it enough. Also, I hate the car wash in my neighbourhood.

Anyway, once a month I trundle over to the "automatic" carwash and hand over 1.4 rials in exchange for a cleanish car and fifteen minutes of tedium. Following, in convenient bullet point form, is the routine we go through every time I want the car washed.

  • Arrive at Carwash, wait for carwash supervisor to notice me.
  • Ask for a quick wash, No I don't need the car hand dried.
  • Tell Supervisor that I don't need a receipt, and could he just take the money and let me go through now.
  • Supervisor pretends not to hear me.
  • Wait as supervisor finds carbon copy forms, and fills them out (in triplicate!) with the date, time, service requested, and the car's registration number.
  • Take the white and pink copies, leaving the yellow copy with Supervisor. Hand over 1.4 Rials, becasue it costs more to wash a small 4x4 than it does to wash a regular car, in an automatic car wash.
  • Wait and nod absent mindedly as supervisor circles my car pointing out all the bits that are loose, scratched, or otherwise cosmetically comprimised. Because my entire car is pretty much cosmetically comprimised, he might as well just stand back ten feet and point to the car as a whole.
  • Explain that the Wing mirrors don't fold in. They came from the factory like that. Argue about weather the Automatic car wash will rip them off with it's Category 5 hurricane Power.
  • Explain that the Automatic car wash has been engineered by people smarter than both of us, and designed to safely wash every passenger car commercially produced and sold worldwide.
  • Wait as he tapes the back wiper to the car.
  • Pull forward into the Automatic car wash Finally get my car washed.
  • Pull out of the car wash, and drive round to the drying area to hand over the pink copy of the receipt to the carwash supervisor on the other side
  • Un tape back window wiper, re attach front number plate
  • Drive home, and allow the car to dry itself.

Seriously, I have been through that car wash 64 times by my estimation, it has never taken me less than 15 minutes to getthrough an experience that should take three minutes tops. Unreal.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Forbidden Undergarments!

This is a good one, honest.

We Suburban ladies get most of our swim wear, lengerie, and underwear from Victoria's Secret online. (links to models wearing scanty panties, you've been warned). We order so much that the guys at the post office here know not only my name but the names of all the kids, my husband, and the baby's birthday.

Anyway... The ladies in the house love Victoria's Secret online because everything fits like it should and the style is great. Stone loves it because it gives him the chance to look at hot models wearing practically nothing for hours on end. Everybody wins!

Yesterday, I made my pilgrimage to the post office to retrive a package of swimwear for the adolescent and panties for me. Mostly, the panties Stone had picked were cute boyshort type cotton numbers, embossed with polka dots or sailors or whatever, but the last package was something special. Reeeeeally special.

Panties so naughty they are not sold here in Oman, Panties so forbidden that it is literally Illegal to import them into the country. Wanna see?

See that sticker? Made In Israel. And really, who wouldn't want to gird thier loins in the finest handiwork of the Zionist Occupiers? Yep. Plain white cotton ones. I can tell you that they are super comfy, and the elastic is just right.

But the very best thing about them, is that every time I wear them a little tiny peice if Israel is Kissing My Ass.

Tomorrow or the next day I'll be whining about how totally horrible my day was today. Seriously, today could be a song by the streets, called Suburban can't get it right. Wah.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Now what am I going to do with that Free Tibet Banner?

I was interested to read in yesterday's Times of Oman about the plans for today's Olympic torch relay. The media and the various ministries seem quite excited about it all, though I am slightly disappointed by the lack of enthusiasm shown by most of my friends and associates.

That's not what this post is about though. I laughed out loud when I read the following :

Oman announced yesterday that the nation is all geared up to host the most peaceful leg of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games torch relay tomorrow. The claim came from Oman Olympic Committee vice-chairman Habib bin Abdulnabi Macki, who addressed a large press gathering at the Crowne Plaza yesterday.

“Our security is tight and anyone trying to put a hurdle will be severely dealt with,” said Habib Macki. “The Royal Oman Police is ready to handle any such

Did you catch the pun? Hurdle! get it? Hurdle?

After I stopped laughing, I spent another twenty or thirty minutes marveling at his poor choice of words regarding how protesters will be treated. I can't believe that nobody prepped him for the question, or if they did that that was the quote he was supposed to give. That is textbook bad Public and Press Relations.

Here is how it could play out in the broader media, if any of them really wanted to run with the quote.

Oman, a country with a questionable human rights scorecard, (Tier III Bitcheeezzz) hosting the Olympic flame relay en route to China (another country with an exceedingly questionable record of human rights violations and abuses) today said that they would happily commit further human rights abuses should any protests mar the journey of the Olympic flame through this quiet Arab hamlet.

Expressing solidarity with China's controversial methods for suppressing free speech and peaceful protest, Oman Olympic Committee vice-chairman Habib bin Abdulnabi Macki said “Our security is tight and anyone trying to put a hurdle will be severely dealt with” He continued “The Royal Oman Police is ready to handle any such situations.”

Political parties and protests are currently illegal in the sultanate, a
small oil producing country with a population of 2.5 million, located south east
of Saudi Arabia.


In other news, I can tell it's summer here because everybody is getting really cranky. Even the Internet is being a pain in my ass.

Come back tomorrow for pictures (Yes! Pictures!) of the Naughtiest Panties in Oman. Stone and I are calling them "the forbidden undergarments". You know, like the Lambada, only under your trousers.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Open Letter to a small white car

Dear Small White Car,

We have to stop seeing each other like this. I just can't take it anymore. It's not personal, but sometimes in a relationship one party has to move on, or move aside, in your case.

As I cruised down the highway this morning, there you were again, impossibly thin tyres and sagging suspension, weaving down the middle lane at a whopping 70 kms. Your driver, a smallish man with terrified eyes and a white knuckled grip on the steering wheel, looks like he qualified for his lisence back in 1920, perhaps in some third world country where the preferred mode of transport is something slower. Like an Elephant, or maybe a sloth.

What are you doing in front of me? and how do you know when I am out on the roads? Every single time I go out, there you are, dwadling along, forcing traffic to part around you. It's like you are Moses, parting a sort of Muscat style Red sea.

Overtaking is of no use, because no sooner have I overtaken you, there you are in front of me again! How the hell do you do that? Do all white cars come standard with Star-Trek type teleporters, along with seventen hanging air fresheners and pre-bald tyres?

Please try to understand, it's not about you, it's about everyone else who's way you are impedeing. Please, I am begging you, small white car, Move over into the slow lane.

Kind Regards,

Suburban Muscat

P.S. And do something about that suspension.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Overheard in airports and airplanes

Ladies, you already know what I'm talking about.

In any airport, at any time of day or night, in any country around the globe, there is at least one guy who sets his inner cumpulsive liar free the moment he clears security. WHat is the deal with that?

Without further Adeu, may I present the top ten insane lies I've been told in airports by men.

  1. Do you know Area 51? I used to work there, and even the president doesn't know the full extent of what we've discovered. - Middle Aged Waiter , JFK Airport, New York City, 2001
  2. I'm one of the founding partners in Microsoft. - 22 Year Old Guy, JFK Airport, New York City, 2003
  3. These track marks are from the heroin I had to take to avoid blowing my cover when I was a secret operative in Afghanistan. - Junkie, Glasgow Airport, UK, 2002
  4. Even though I'm worth millions, I like to fly Ryanair to keep in touch with the little people. - Offshore Worker, Aberdeen Airport, UK, 2004
  5. I was named one of the top 20 bachelors in Dubai last year. Can I give you a ride to your hotel? - Overweight Married Guy, Dubai Airport, 2002
  6. I'm still trying to bury the memories of what happened to the babies I couldn't save from the ophanage fire - Supposed firefighter, Springfield Missouri Reigonal Airport, USA, 1996
  7. Nah, I'm not in the drugs business anymore, too dangerous. - dweeb who has never smoked a spliff in his life, Denver Airport, USA, 2006
  8. Have you ever seen the movie the professional? Yeah, well that's sort of what I do, you know... Kill people for money and all that. I'm just hiding out in India because things got too hot in New York - British Gap Year student, in a bad New York Accent, in Mumbai Airport, India, 2003
  9. I've invented a new software program that's going to make millions. I'll show you, but don't tell anyone, it's super secret. -Random guy who seems to not understand the idea behind "secret", Amsterdam Airport, Holland, 1999
  10. I am Saudi Arabian Royalty. They ... How you Say?? Umm.. You know? I am Next King? Oppoligise, I am only usually speak Arabic... - Mexican guy who does not speak arabic, Tucson Arizona airport, USA, 1997

Tomorrow, Why I am selling my teenage daughter.