Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Overheard in muscat, baby edition

So, my baby girl is talking now. All the time.

She is also showing a lot of interest in all matters girly. Skirts please, shoes must be fabulous, lots of jewelery. She wants her hair done, her makeup done, and her fingernails and toenails painted before we leave the house each morning.

A few weeks ago my mom bought her some "panties" or training pants. The Baby is thrilled, and insisted that I put her favorite pair on over her nappy this morning. She had selected blue ones, emblazoned with a boyish Soccer Balls, Baseballs, Rugby Balls theme. Cute.

We arrive at our destination and the kid squirms out of my arms, goes running over to the workshop foreman, yanks up her skirt, points at the panties and yells "Balls!.... Balls Balls Balls!!!!"

I nearly fell over laughing.

This was a quick one, because I'm super busy this week. I'll respond to the last week's comments over the weekend, I promise.

PAIW! It's Wednesday!

Friday, May 23, 2008

In praise of Stone

We live in a house with roughly 20,000 light switches. A house with Electrical wiring installed by an individual who clearly does not have electricity in his own home. A house where the panel of halogen lights in the bathroom has a 12 /24 volt transformer between the lights, because apparently when they were installing it they only had two 240 volt light bulbs and two 12 volt bulbs. A house where most of the hard to reach lighting is 150 watt halogen bulbs, the kind that seem to last about six hours before melting down or exploding in a shower of pyrotechnics.

If you live in Muscat, You likely live in this sort of house too. If you hapen to be married to a man as fantastic as mine, you will spend four hours every weekend watching him sweating and cursing, changing the same 75 light bulbs he changed last weekend.

Any other man would have instructed his family to learn to live with the darkness, to embrace the romance of candlelit dinners, and the excitment of falling down stairs you can't see when getting up to pee in the night. But not Stone. He is slowly, but surely fixing the millions of electrical gremlins that plague this house, and for that I love him.

Stone replaced all the needless transformers this weekend, so now all of our lights run on a 240 volt system. This makes shopping for lights a lot easier because we don't need a seven tiered shopping list every time we go to the hardware shop. He lovingly wiped all the Quartz Halogen bulbs with alcohol before installing them this time, hoping that would remove whatever trace factory residue was causing them to explode. He hauled the giant ladder up and down stairs, replacing difficult to reach fixtures with long life Flourescent fixtures instead, and replaced the melted dimmers we installed last year with ventilated ones rated for the high intensity lighting in the dining room.

Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you; Do I or do I not have the finest man in all of the world?

Baby, Thank you.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

On the importance of answering the phone, and the OtherOman Automotive Awards

I have known the right way to answer a phone since I was Six Years Old. In Case any of you don't know how, it goes like this:

"Good Afternoon, Bahwan Toyota"


"Good Afternoon, Muscat Private Hospital, How Can I help You?"

Or Even:

"Hello, Photocentre Headquarters. This is Asma, may I help you?"

If you don't use English, It's still the same thing. Greeting, Name of Business, What do you need? It's the easiest thing in the world to do, and it makes an enormous impression on whomever is calling. So I Just can't figure out why the hell so many businesses seem to have hired receptionists who are too stupid or lazy to manage even that.

I went a little mental on Muscat Private Hospital last week, after trying off and on for three hours to book an appointment. I'd dial up, press 0 for operator assistance, and then the phone would just ring, and ring, and ring. Twice when the usless girl picked up, she answered with a bored and irritated "allo?" and then proceded to hang up on me while I was trying to ask With whom do I book an appointment for a sprained ankle.

Every single time I need to make an appointment at Muscat Private Hospital I have to go through this woman, or someone like her. Short of looking up the hospital website and saving the direct number for each department to my telephone, there is no way around wasting time waiting for this girl to answer the phone, and then maybe, maybe, maybe, put me in touch with the department I want to speak with.

It makes me think I would be better off putting my life in the hands of an orginazation capable of Answering A Telephone, and possibly an Orginazation that knows the difference between Gynecology and Plastic Surgery.

On to the next matter, Next week I want to do a post
"The Other Oman Automotive Awards!!!!"

Possible categories include : best tow truck driver, Best Parts Department, Best place to have your Useless Land Rover Worked on, Best Mechanic, Most annoying salesman, Worst marketing program, etc.... Nominations in the comments section, or on the Email. OTHEROMAN at gmail OK?

Site Admin issues: I have disabled anonymous commenting for the time being, because the concept of assigning yourself a name which you will use for commenting seems too difficult for some of my haters out there. Haters, You can hate all you wanna, but assign yourself a goddamn nick-name and use it. K?

If you want to comment in the meantime, go get yourself a blogger account. It's super easy, and you can still maintain total anonimity, so I am no more likely come to your house and kill you in your sleep or anything. I use Sitemeter and Google Analytics for that.

OK. I need to go pick up my car from the shop. Again.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A short list of unwanted "gifts" received by me from friends who moved away, and obviously were not too worried about being my friends anymore.

Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but a recent comment from the always entertaining PYR inspired this list of unorthadox gifts received from friends who were moving away. Actually, the title is incorrect, because almost everyone on the list is still my friend.

  • From the British people who used to live next door: A double-wide George Foreman's Lean, Mean, Grilling machine. I have come to love it.

  • From a Highschool Boyfriend who enlisted in the armed forces: A 1970 VW beetle, powder blue, no front fenders. I wrecked it within a week.

  • From the Director of Sales and Marketing for a large corporation I once worked for: A 12" color TV with no antenna, and no remote. Thanks a lot Murray.

  • From a female next door neighbour: slightly used lengerie

  • From an Ex Boyfriend's Boss: A really obese tabby cat named Pookie, that peed on everything I owned, repeatedly.

  • From Punkin Head Jamal, a prep cook from days of Yore: A switchblade, covered in a substance which I think was dried blood.

  • From Evan, another downstairs Neighbour: A Webber BBQ. Which I hated at first, then I learned to love, so much that it moved seven times with me before I could bring myself to give it away.

  • From a friend of Stone's: Ten Giant freaking tortoises, for whom we have re landscaped the yard, and who eat two rials worth of veggies a day.

  • From Greek George, My old downstairs Neighbour: His entire collection of porn. Print and video. It filled Six Boxes.

Have you guys ever received any bizarre gifts?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Salalah! Bitchezzz!

Another Excerpt from the Bad Girl Diary...

Four Years ago:

I am in Salalah for an event. An Outdoor event. An event of nightmarish proportions, involving no fewer than 200 ROP personell, 60 municipality staff, 4 of my own staff, 6 freeloaders, my boss (The Juice), His Cousin (Sheikh Your-Booty), and 25 bankers, released from the confines of thier desks, blinking in the sunlight, baffled expressions flitting across thier pale faces. An event that requires an entire flatbed semi truck to haul all the vehicles and Equipment, plus one Mitsubishi Canter truck.

We have been in Salalah two days, and I have slept about an hour, total. I have been stared at and harrased by about twenty million Saudi men and have been assigned my own ROP Captain and regular officer to thwart thier ever more annoying advances. I have just spent the last three hours picking up rocks in the company of my increasingly unhappy banker "helpers". Two of my staff went on a drinking binge last night and are nowhere to be found, The Juice has missed his flight, and Sheikh Your Booty is complaining about his room at the Hilton.

As you might imagine, I am not a particularly happy girl, and I am hating Salalah, and hating Saudi for creating these men, whom I cannot avoid, short of locking myself in the hotel room and never leaving again.

Anyway, I digress, this isn't really about the event, or the men.

I am driving the big Mitsubishi Canter truck through Salalah. I love driving that thing, because nobody expects to see a girl behind the wheel. I rock up to the traffic lights, and a moment later, a black SUV with tinted windows and Saudi plates rolls up beside me. Up front, two men in thier mid thirties roll down the windows, stare, and make some unfriendly faces, and say a few unfriendly words at me. The light goes green, and they start to pull away. The back window comes down, and out of the back leans a Saudi Ninja, Niqab flaping in the wind, one gloved hand extended out the window giving me the thumbs up.

I don't know why that story makes me so happy, but it does. I like to imagine I'll run into her again one day, and we'll go out for lunch, chat for hours, and I can teach her to drive a truck. Unlikely I guess.

Appologies to the many, many, many, Saudi men who are not letcherous, bigoted, mysoginistic assholes. I can only assume that you guys take your wives somewhere better for the summer holidays.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Another General Update

Firstly... Goddamn, it is hot.

Because it is hot, summer driving techniques apply from 06:00 until 18:00. All pretense of courtesy on the road has been laid aside; which is to say that we are all driving like the truly selfish jackasses we are.

On a similar vein, one can tell a lot about the true colour of a country by examining it's driving habits. We are selfish, selfish, selfish people.

Secondly; We were recently gifted with ten enormous pet turtles. Why someone thought we were the perfect people to have these pets is beyond me, but we are doing our best not to kill the poor things through neglegence or ignorance.

We have (at vast expense) had our entire back garden set up like a sort of reptile Shangri-La, and so far the stupid things seem to be thriving. We throw them thier hideously expensive fresh veggies every day, and feed them thier funny smelling vitamin supplements on the weekends. The princess adores them, and carries them around in her little arms like babies. She even kisses them on thier little reptilian heads, which totally grosses us out.

Anyway, the other day when I went out to feed them I noticed some candy wrappers in the yard. I thought nothing until later that night when the doorbell rang and two of our teenage neighbours were there with one of the Pets. Bafflement abounded. How could the thing have escaped? Short of scaling a 2.5 metre vertical wall, or growing wings, there was no way out of the garden. Then we noticed that four other turtles were missing. Then the candy wrappers and trash in the yard made sense.

The neighbourhood kids scaled the back wall, heisted the turtles in a dawn raid, and blazed out, leaving only a trail of High fructose corn syrup and reflectve caandy wrappers in thier wake. What little shitheads. We got the turtles back the next day, deposited anonymously back into the garden the same way they were removed. The parents must have made them return the things.

While I am on the subject, are there any MD's out there who would like to organise a study of children raised solely on sugar and white bread? My neighbourhood has a few candidates. I offered some of the kids apples a while back and they looked at them like "What the fuck are these?" Then started throwing them around.

OK. gotta go, baby awake. In a couple days, the story of Saudi's in Salalah, and why I hate the Khareef festival.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Facebook is dangerous

Oh my god, It's addictive. I haven't been blogging lately because I have been talking to and making plans with various long-lost friends. Real Friends!!! Like people who I actually know, have worked with, and have more than likely seen naked. It is awesome.

Posts in the works include:

  • Profiles on some local residents who everybody knows, and who add flavour to muscat. Crazy Kevin, Football John, Dancing Omani Guy, and Dancing Omani Girl, among others.

  • How to impress a girl, how not to impress a girl.

  • Overheard by Omani's in customer service positions

  • House Robberies in Al Ghubra

  • The Holiday plans

  • Trader Vic's Reviewed

  • Thai Basil Restaurant Review

  • Bangladeshi Co-Worker Review

  • Name that smell game, Airport edition

Hope you all have a great weekend, and look for a couple of updates next week.