Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

22 DW-- Navy blue mercedes (SLK?)

Yeah you, driving the Navy Blue Mercedes, illegally overtaking, and forcing opposing traffic to swerve to avoid you, while in a mad rush to get out of Lulu.

You, my man, are a true Assclown.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Be carefull what you wish for (contains swear words)

Remember back when I had just started this blog and I was complaining about the endless racket from the house next door? they were converting a single villa into a six flat apartment block, and the noise shook the floors of our house from six am until nine pm.

Our relationship with the construction guys had it's ups and downs, with things finally coming to a head one friday morning when they started banging at six. Stone went over and explaned that if they did that again on a friday morning he would grab a gun and shoot each guy one by one. They called the supervisor and he showed up and Stone told him that he would shoot him too. The supervisor called the Omani owner who showed up and said that you cant' threaten to shoot people, to which Stone reported that you can't shake the fucking floors with jackhammering at Six O clock on a friday morning either, and if he preferred we could involve the ROP and the municipality.

The Omani owner looked over at the Lazy Pakistani "supervisor" Who spent most mornings supervising the inside of his eyelids from the comfort of his Air conditioned Prado, and whacked him. After that Friday mornings were quieter,and the construction guys would try and find quiet work to do until seven. We would give them fresh fruit from our trees, and they would help carry grceries for me from the store across the street.

I only had harsh words with them them one other time, which was when they were applying a layer of concrete to the outside of thier building, and also, inadvertantly, to my house, the windows, and to the floor of my patio, and to our patio furniture, and to our freshly washed laundry hanging in our yard.

I climbed the scaffolding, whipped the trowell out of one guy's hand, and said something like "Godfuckingdamnit you morons, if you're going to spray everything in the yard with concrete then get down here and help me move the laundry line! " We looked after each other during the Cyclone, and Stone and I made sure they got fed since thier Company aparrently forgot about them for two weeks following the storm. They would sometimes come over and play with the baby in the evenings.

Still, the endless banging and the constant spatter of paint and concrete all over our house and yard, and the random but occasional objects (brick, paint can, 2X4) falling from the sky into us got old fast. So when they finally finished thier work and went away it was like a dream come true.

Or so I thought.

Each of the six flats has been leased to famalies with kids between the ages of 4 and 10. They love Football, and play directly below my bedroom window from 10:00-14:00 and from 16:00-22:00 every day. All ten of them, screaming and chasing one ball around, all day long.

Sadly, these kids really really, really, suck at Football. They suck so badly that I am considering paying for all of them to attend some sort of football coaching camp for the football-challenged. How do I know they suck? Because four times today, three times yesterday and at least twice a day, every day for the last month they have managed to kick the soccer ball into our yard. So, four times today, three times yesterday, and at least twice a day, every day for the last month they have rung the bell, interrupting me, and often waking the baby.

I have disconnected the bell now, and taken the soccer ball away. They can have it back tomorrow.

I have a new wish now, I wish there were a safe park for the kids in my neighbourhood to play in. All we have are empty lots strewn with trash and construction debris. Which is a little pathetic when you think about how much money the municipality spends landscaping round abouts and highway verges.

More tomorrow, when I will be lighting candles instead of cursing the darlness.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Overheard at Muscat Festival, and general blah blah

At the Jordanian spice shop, where an arabic speaking Jordanian is telling a English speaking British woman about his wares. A kind Omani teen is assisting with translation.

Jordanian guy: (in arabic) This is for pain in the stomach
Omani Guy: This is for stomach ache
Jordanian guy: (in arabic) This helps to lower your cholesterol
Omani Guy: This is for cholestorol
Jordanian guy: (in arabic) This is for Diabetics to control thier blood sugar
Omani Guy: This is for too much sugar in the blood
Jordanian guy: (in arabic, with hand gestures) This is for making a man's Organ bigger for a long time
Omani Guy: (blushing) Ummmm... hmmm... uhhh... This is for married people.

How cute is that? I almost died laughing.

On to other news.

Back when I used to work, about half of my job was PRO type stuff. This last week I have needed to have some involvement in sorting out government and immigration issues for a friend who has had an emergency, and looking around the offices I was once again struck by the fact that I was the only woman every place I went.

Why are there not very many female PRO's here? I used to charge a fortune for a day's work, because as a woman people (read: various officials) tend to trust me. Need that container cleared from the port ASAP? Need some honest but unusual paperwork notarized by an arabic court? Want to avoid paying 5% import duty on those spare parts? Need your DVD's back from the airport guys who took them? I could do it, and do it three times as fast as the PRO who actually worked for our company in the role of PRO.

So why aren't more women fulling that role here? My friend Tariq helpfully suggested that only a whore would want to run around all day dealing with men and having to walk in the sun so much. It's not respectable, he says. I figure making a month's pay in one day for doing a job I can complete with all my clothes on is a pretty sweet deal.

On the home front:

Stone has been working twelve to thirteen hour days for the last couple of weeks, in addition to weekends. I miss him. His boss had the nerve to call Stone cocky and lazy a couple of months ago... Cocky and Lazy are 100% accurate descriptions of Stone, but in a nice way. His boss didn't mean them in a nice way.

What I think his boss doesn't realise is that Stone is about three times as smart as the average guy, and has about fiften times the charisma of your standard issue corporate Boffin. Stone can be both Lazy and Cocky because he can be brilliant on demand, and could sell ice to an Eskimo.

I just want my husband back.

We got the new Nawras 3G internet,

It is so, so, so,so, fast. Sooooooooooooooooo Fast.

It's like being Amish, in a world where people only ride horses or walk and then all of a sudden your dad comes home with a ferarri f1 car. Or like being a snail and then suddenly transmographying into a fighter jet. It's that fast. When stone was downloading some Youtube I was all like "Stop! You'll hurt the computer!"

We also paid a small fortune for the internet box with wireless magic internet sparkles So I can internet from everywhere in the house! for all you know I typed this while sitting on the toilet.

Stone and I were discussing what we would do if someone gave us a million dollars tomorrow. I would spend it on cars. Specifically, I would buy one brand new GMC Yukon XL with all the bells and whistles, and I would buy four Old, Old, Old, Chevy Suburbans and pimp two out as his and hers drag mobiles. the other two would be for spare parts. I would also buy one Toyota Echo, because they are cute, cheap and fun. Then I would buy a big house somewhere remote and stock it with guns and food so I am ready when the end of the world comes cute animals and old used cars and Kitchy furniture, and lots of Beer.

I will Publish the Chedi Review this week, but I need Stone to be home from work while I am awake... because I need him to fact check the review of the things he ordered.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Rain!

So, it's raining here. there is about two feet of water in the street. Traffic, if I watch from the rooftop, looks heavy, but I am pleased to note that for once nobody is tailgating.

We have moved the rugs, the valuables, and the electronic gizmos onto table tops on the top level of the ground floor. We have also moved two of the cars to higher ground. I feel a little bit silly, but not nearly as silly as I did when we lost four cars and everything else in the house during cyclone Gonu. Because Stone and I spent the duration of the cyclone drinking Gin and tonics and assuming the water could never get that high. Oh yes, we felt positively silly then. Super silly even.

The trusty Abu Shenab remains in the front yard, awaiting a trip to the beach or the store later. I took it and the baby out to get some DVD roms earlier, and we had a blast blowing past people who had stopped thier cars to navigate puddles.

The air intake on an abushenab is like four feet off the ground, and there is a reservoir and oil bath for the airfilter behind that, so I can drive through about four and a half feet of water worry free. Well except that the floor of the cab fills with water.

Still, it is pretty funny to see guys in Porsche Cayannes, Touota Landcruisers, and GMC Yukons stopped, terrified of the two feet of water pooling at the foot of my road. It is even more fun to blow past them in my truck, waving, with the baby strapped in to the passenger seat up front. She waves too.

OK. I am going to work a little more on the Chedi Restaurant Review, which is like ten pages long at the moment. I am such a looser. I canot belive this is how I am spending my free time. Ha.

Monday, January 14, 2008

2.8 rials for a bottle of water. The Chedi has lost it's mind.

I am working on a review of the restaurant at the chedi, but for today, I will share one major grievance with you. Bottled water.

Our recent visits the The restaurant in the Chedi Muscat, started off on the wrong foot with something as simple as water. They used to serve locally bottled Arwa or Tanuf, in big or small bottles, for a 200% mark up over the cost anywhere else. Fair enough, this is the Chedi.

Now, they sell 750 ml glass bottles of still water, imported from Scotland, for a whopping 2.8 rials, which is slightly more than Seven US dollars. It's just water. It's not particularly great water, but it's fancy, pretentious, expensive water that required many tonnes of fossil fuels to extract, bottle, and ship it here.

Additionally, they won't sell any other type of water, nothing local, nothing cheap, and our requests for a pitcher of tap water were initially refused. They have a good scheme here, knowing full well that tourists are terrified of drinking tap water, and so will pay the extortionate rates for bottled water.

The attitude from the staff was that the Chedi is too good to serve water from plastic bottles, or to offer filtered tap water. Thus, I was rather surprised to see that the complementary water inside the suite for which we had paid RO 350 per night ( 900 USD!!!) was Arwa, in plastic bottles. So it's ok to serve water in plastic bottles if you can't charge the guests an arm and a leg for it. It's a rip off, pure and simple, not to mention an absolute waste of resources.

If the chedi wanted to get serious about being an environmentally conscious hotel, they would serve filtered tap water, for 100bz a glass, with the money collected going to the Environmental society of Oman, or some other charity. They could offer the guests the option of buying the premium water, and quite a few would go for it, for the snob factor.

Kids, when you go to the Chedi, do me a favor and complain long and loud about the bottled water issue. demand tap water. I think if they get enough complaints, they might be willing to change the policy when their contract expires with the Scottish company next year. Maybe.

Tomorrow, a really Complete restaurant review by Me, a former hoity toity chef.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

One quick thought.

The US Dollar is the defacto unit of measurement when quantifying poverty, selling barells of oil, or explaining the cost of pretty much anything that NGO's want to spend money on.

"70% of Nigerians live on less than a dollar a day"
"XYZ disease could be eliminated for less than the cost of a dollar per person"
"the average Filipino farmer makes less than a dollar a day"

With the recent collapse of the dollar, I wonder how many fewer poverty stricken people are living on less than a dollar a day. If I were a certain not too bright President of a certain global super power, I could claim that I have personally saved millions from living on less than a dollar a day!

Assuming those currencies are not pegged to the dollar... Hmmm.