Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Why I'm Leaving

Reader Advisory: This post contains profanity. It also generalises people according to race. It criticizes and calls hypocritical the way the dominant faith is practiced here, and it's a fucking angry rant and rave. Thank you.

I realised three hours ago that I'm going to leave Oman as soon as possible. Things have changed here. I don't know it it's the arrival of Satellite TV, the trickle-down influence of Wahhabi petro-dollar Islam, or the gradual ascension of wastafarian youngsters who don't remember life before HM. Maybe I've finally opened my eyes enough to see that the other side of the baiza isn't quite so shiny. Mostly, I can't take the driving anymore, and it pains me to think about the underlying societal traits that the driving habits reflect.

Yesterday morning, my holier than thou, Uber-Pious Niqabi neighbour sat behind me at the local intersection and blared her horn while I waited for a safe gap to open up. I wanted to be like Maverick in Top Gun and jump out of the car, grab her by her super religious extra pious shoulders and shake the shit out of her while yelling that I will turn right when I am goddamn good and ready! Can you not see that my child is in the car and I'm not going to turn before it's safe just because YOU have failed to allow enough time to reach YOUR appointed destination???? I didn't though, I waved, and kept waiting. When she eventually overtook me a minute later, she shook her fist at me, eyes blazing.

This afternoon, I sat, radiator boiling, Thirsty and hot, child screaming, awaiting my turn in the que for more than an hour while people overtook from the left and right. Reaching the intersection the whole thing was blocked with cars that wouldn't let me make a left turn, even though they were going nowhere. They'd look over at me, and just slooowly keep rolling forward, blocking the entire intersection. Every single one of them was Omani.

I finally was allowed out by a kind guy driving a Jag, only to be cut up by three more cars illegally overtaking on the left, against opposing traffic, and turning right in front of me. ALso, unfortunately, Omani.

I have never, ever, ever, intentionally blocked an intersection, boxed someone in while parking, or cut in in a que in traffic. I'm sure many of you are the same, but can somone, anyone, explain to me why so many people seem to think this sort of behavior is ok? Why, Excatly is my time any less valuable than thiers? Why is My child's comfort any less important than thiers?

First, on the subject Muslim drivers, and the holy month of Ramadhan: You can fast all you want, be a Self righteous twit about your hijab, wax poetic regarding the importance of caring for the greater community, and pray your heart out, You'll still be an Asshole if you fail to show kindness, charity and compassion when only god is watching you.

Secondly, to my beloved ROP: I know you are afraid to really enforce traffic law, or to ticket for minor offences. I know that there is a worry about the sort of resentment and anger from ordinary citizens would alienate you and make your work that much harder. I know your hands are sort of tied on this but I am telling you for the record: Citizens and residents are ready and grown up enough for you to start enforcing the traffic laws. Yes, it will make you unpopular for a while but the society is ready for some critical feedback on their driving habits, accompanied by hefty fines. Please, Please, Please start enforcing the traffic law. We're ready, it's time.


MMK080 said...

Qatar is very much the same traffic wise. I just thought you should know incase u plan on leaving Oman to come to Qatar or something (although I have a feeling you would never even consider coming to Qatar to live even if its the last place on earth).

Anyway. hope your next few weeks get better.

Undercover Dragon said...


Yes, the impoliteness levels just soar during Ramadan. Its not the crazy driving I mind, its that damn 'I'm more important than you, so I'll break the law and cut in in front', making the original problem even worse.


At least one can brake check the tailgaters.

Chin up. At least you can have a nice cold G&T once you're home? Thats what I do...

Angry In Oman said...

I think they know they're fuck heads, they just don't care.

I refuse to believe that people can be so unintentially ignorant.

I think you need a set of 12 inch spikes on your front and rear bumpers.

That'll smarten em up.

Ali said...

Ahh sad post, first I apologize on behalf the Omani population about this... I think it has alot to do with the road planning (yayy for one main street) and what Undercover Dragon said about "feeling more important".

Unfortunately even the good people sometimes slip, whenever I am back in Oman for holiday I HATE running errands during peak traffic times for my family as it means my blood boiling.. and by the end of it I see myself acting similarly just like the other animals on the street (although I still think am courteous to other drivers, only the fuckwits who cut lanes I yell and horn at). I guess it just breeds itself.

There are many good things in Oman, driving is definitely not one of them... don't give up on the country yet >_<

Amber said...

ooh...so sorry suburban. I know you want to remain anonymous and stuff, but if you ever want a ride in a car with ac please contact me. I even have carseats!!! I don't know how people can just let their kids in the car without even bothering buckling them. I see it everywhere. Today I saw 3 spots where there had been obvious wrecks because of the leftover glass on the ground.

Check my post in a few days of driving here....teehee. Maybe I will have written it by then. I have something to say on the topic.

What is HM?

Leo Americanus said...

I miss some things about Oman, but I have to say that your post brought back some memories that made my pulse pound in my temples.

I've heard some people try to explain that "in certain parts of the world" where people do rude things like that they have no concept that they are being rude. Its just the way it is. I don't think I buy that, but the way that people looked at me like I was crazy when I confronted them over it makes me think they certainly don't expect to be confronted over it.

So, I think its that people feel like there are no consequences for their actions so they do it. They aren't going to get pulled by the ROP and no one is going to get out of their car with a tire iron and dent up the hood of some guy who decides he's going to fly around traffic because he's more important (although I pulled out into the left lane once to block a guy who was cutting around by going the wrong way and started yelling at him in Arabic and he just shook his head like I was in the wrong).

To me, though, what is worse than the shoulder-drivers and lane cutters are the assholes who will look you in the eye in traffic, who know they're not going anywhere ahead, and still refuse to let you cross lanes to turn left. I will never see the logic. And it is things like that that made me hate Oman at times because I see it as amazing hypocrisy. A people who jealously guard their bedu tradition of nobility, independence, and generosity, and their Islamic traditions of righteous moral conduct, but a surprisingly large minority refuse to consider anyone but themselves. How can that be reconciled?

Abid said...

where woudl u move to?

Suburban said...

MMMK- Thanks Sweetie! I really do adore my Qatari friends, they are some of the first people I would call on if the Shit really hit the fan. I've just had a lot of frustration in doing business in Qatar, and so my attitude towards Qatar is reflected in that. I found the driving there to be equally crazy, but the roads were better, and the police (two I met were Omani!) were actually enforcing the laws.

UD- Thanks, and I may have a G&T later. I'm trying to cut down on alcohol, I think I may have a smallish drinking problem.

AIO- Just wait until you see my new car. I'll be able to run them over.

Ali, THanks for stopping by! I know it's not all, or even Most Omanis who behave this way, It's a significant, and intensley annoying Minority. I know from experience that Omani's are more considerate drivers than those in Cairo, Saudi or Syria. So it could be worse!

AMber- THanks, I might take you up on that. Hope to have my new car in a couple of weeks. Can't come soon enough. HM is short for His Majesty, the Sultan. Occasionally referred to as Super Q by expats who think they are hilarious.

Leo- Exactly. great comment! I don't understand how the selfish behaviors can be reconciled with the faith.

Abid- My husband Stone is pretty skilled, so the world is really our oyster. I'm really lucky that we can live and work almost anywhere we want. At the moment, South East Asia looks appealing or maybe somewhere with snow.

Muscato said...

Super Q! Never heard that one. Those that I have I won't repeat...

feliciT said...

I think during Ramadan and Eid there should be driving restrictions in place such that only about 1/2 the autos could be on the streets each day -- could be tied to registration letters/numbers: even numbers can be on roads 3 days per week; odd numbers 3 days and everyone on Friday???
It's not that this plan will cure the root of the problem, but I think it would make it safer for everyone given the rudeness and unsafe behaviour of so many of the local drivers during this holy time.
Mean time, Suburban, hang in there. Muscat would become dreary without you.

kapil said...

I still would go with a rule someone had suggested here on this blog (or i read it somewhere maybe),
3 offences, and liscence suspended.
But again, ROP will need to show some bottle!

Kay said...

This too shall pass Suburban. Whatever adventure our family embarks on I hope you continue to blog about it.

yuseff said...

It saddens me that you're leaving! Every time you post more about Oman, I can see more of it from another point of view (which is honest as well!) - Anyways good luck to wherever you may go and do be sure many of us will continue reading your blog! Btw if you're talking Asia, I suggest Japan (my personal favorite!)

Anonymous said...

So you are leaving - thank god for that because you sure are one hell of a bad advert for an expat.

Javed Islam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Javed Islam said...

Actually I will agree w/ you on this one. Austere lack of courtesy on the road is a big problem in most Muslim countries I've visited, especially in the Gulf Arab states, not by "virtue" of their being Muslim but because of daresay ghetto/third-world mentality. The ROP are really obliged to teach manners roadside because these are things nobody should go through, especially in Ramadhan.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately it seems common courtesy is dying a slow death in Oman.

Omanis have a reputation of being the kindest people in the gulf, and it is not misplaced, but slowly people are getting less considerate. Why is this? Is it the money? Is it because we're opening our doors to more immigration? I really have no idea.

I used to be able to go to a movie, and enjoy it with the rest of the crowd. Now people seem to be more interested in talking on their phones.