Wednesday, August 11, 2010

And, That's It.

Today was our last day in Oman. It's been a hell of a ride.

My Freinds on twitter and in real life all deserve a huge thank you for putting up with my Non-Stop Bitching over the last month. You would Honestly think I am the only person on earth who ever moved country. THe move has been complicated somewhat by Stone being gone for the last 40 days. You heard me right, Stone was in Houston, working, while I was here doing the move, selling the cars, and Re-Homing the maid (It was Absolute Hell, thanks for asking). Anyway, all the cars are sold, the house is packed, the phones disconnected, and we are living it large at the Chedi, until midnight, when we go to Seeb Airport for the last time.

I've been here for most of my adult life, and Stone has been here off and on since the early 90's, we met here, fell in love here, I became a mother here. I have been absolutely awed and humbled by the generosity and kindness shown to me by so many wonderful people here, both online and off. I am honored to have an extended Omani family, who love me even though I am a total freak by their standards, and treat me like one of their own.

I have amassed a collection of experiences so wild and wide ranging, that I myself can hardly believe some of them. I have driven race and rally cars, Spent the night in a police station, cooked for royalty,and testified in an Omani court. I have shared fleabag hotel rooms near the Saudi border with 10 sweaty Arab mechanics, and partied like a rock star in palaces belonging to guys you see in the papers all the time.

I have watched 2 people die, one of them a child, both due to carelessness. I worked on a Yacht full of crazy people. I have walked in on a well known Arab Motorsport Journalist in a hot tub with 2  Moroccan hookers, and been astonished mostly by the tremendous amount of body hair the guy had. A former boss once tried sell me into an arranged marriage with some Saudi dude, and I will never be completely certain if he was joking or not.

 I've learned to pray, grown closer to god, and drifted away again. These days I try not to let organised religion get in the way of my relationship with god. I'll do my best, and I'm happy to be judged on how I live, breathe, and think, and not how pious I pretend to be.

One thing that has not happened, is acquiring a perfect understanding of how this place works. Just when I think I am getting close to really truly and fully understanding everything, something else throws me for a loop, and I'm left with one foot on either side of the world, not really understanding here, and too far gone from there to fully understand home.

I have been far too busy to really process what it means to be leaving, and when people ask me what I'm feeling about leaving this place, I make up something about how sad it is to go, but how much I"m looking forward to a change. But in reality, I feel absolutely nothing. It's been so busy, and I've been under so much pressure that It just hasn't sunk in yet that we are going, and unlikely to return. I expect I will be something of a basket case once we arrive in Stone's home country for some R&R later this week, and I can have a good cry and just let it rip.

The blog will continue, for the short term at any rate. There are a number of stories worth telling, the local media remains extraordinarily amusing, and Oman, I think will forever fascinate me.

I leave you guys with three images I snapped today that sort of illustrate how weird, happy, luxurious, sad, bizarre and all around mystifying Oman is. I hope you all have as many wonderful, mystifying, frightening, happy, sad, and baffling experiences as I have had here.





Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Endorsement: Writer Relocations

First Up, a reminder about my AWESOME INDOOR YARD SALE on Friday Morning, from 9-12, at my house in Qurm.

Please come and buy some stuff at a great bargain, or bring some of your own stuff to sell if you want. If you have been reading the blog for a while, and just want to drop by and say hello, feel free to do that. Likewise, if you already know me in real life, come and say hi. The more the merrier, and I'd love to meet as many of you as I can.

I will post directions to the house on the blog Thursday night  / Friday morning, so check back then.

On to the Endorsement: I MUST let you all know how totally impressed I am with Writer Relocations. Really, they are setting a new standard for moving companies here in Oman.

They have packed, perfectly, about a zillion tons of crap and loaded it into a 40 foot container, in under 2 days.  5 years ago, when we moved from Qurm to Ghubra, another relocation company moved us. It took 7 DAYS, and I nearly killed the uncommunicative and surly guys who were doing the packing.

Write's account managers are great, infinitely flexible, and do amazing stuff like calling to tell you they are running late, BEFORE they are actually late.  The packers all wear uniforms, have been professionally trained in how to pack and label, and smell pretty good for sweaty guys.

My Crew of 6 Cheerful guys from Kerala have been the absolute epitome of good cheer and humor, singing and laughing the whole time they were packing. Writer was kind enough to offer to pack my house maid's things up, gratis, which has been no easy task given her increasing OCD tenancies and her increasing distress at the prospect of being sent home.

Later, an essay on how annoying it is when people show up while your house is being packed and ask to see all your stuff because they might want to buy it, and then proceed to trample on and ignore your objections that you are too busy, and could they please come back on Friday. That is Soooooo Annoying.

In case you are interested, here are a few photos from the Move.





Saturday, July 31, 2010

Shoes



This is an extremely vapid and boring post, but I'm busy, so cut a girl some slack, All right?
Are these shoes awesome, or are they awesome? You can buy them here http://www.etsy.com/listing/51953365/blue-bells 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thank you Faisal

Children here in Oman are often adorned with gold, both for it's beauty and Evil Eye avoidance properties. We were literally showered with gold when the Princess was born, and I can't wait until she is old enough to really appreciate it.


Faisal, our daughter's God Father is forever spoiling her with little trinkets. Faisal  popped by the other night with a lovely farewell for now gift for the baby, and I want to show it to you guys because it's so pretty.



She Loves It. I Love the idea that kids deserve beautiful things too, and should be adorned and decorated like the truly precious things they are. Thank You Faisal!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Kid is so Helpful

What is this? The new printer has stopped working.

FTF? I just bought the thing. This is So Unfair.

What is that colorful stuff inside the printer?

Oh, Marbles and fluffy puff balls, of course.

Hey Kid, did you put these things inside the printer? "yes mommy! also toothpicks!" 


And look at my ridiculous Man-Hands. Have you ever seen such ugly hands? 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

On Facebook

As you may or may not be aware, the ROP have abruptly decided to start enforcing the old law about Expats not being allowed to own pickup trucks. Indeed, yesterday I was told that I cannot even RENEW the registration on either of mine. Seriously, I am no longer allowed to own my own Stuff, because of my race.  I have an idea, lat's take all the farms that are managed or owned by Expats and nationalize those too! It worked great in Zimbabwe!

I'm not even going to go into what a totally bat-shit-crazy law it is yet, because it needs a post entirely to itself. However, as you might imagine, this is pretty much the last thing I needed to deal with in the frantic final weeks of my time in the country.

At least I have friends that make me laugh. Pasted below is an excerpt from a conversation I had on facebook with a friend who never fails to make me smile. You know who you are, and thanks so much mate.

The Dutch Geologist: Incredible.... Paul the octopus was right! Spain-the Netherlands it is!

Subruban: Dutch, you must tell me, what the hell is this Paul the Octopus thing everyone is talking about? Seriously, I feel like I have woken up in an episode of the twilight zone.


The Dutch Geologist: In the Oberhausen Sea Life Aquarium in Germany, they have an octopus -Paul- who is predicting the outcome of the games Germany is playing. So far, he has been right all through the tournament, and he rightly predicted Spain would beat Germany, too. The way they do it is that they give him the choice of two containers with a tasty mussle inside, marked with the national flags of the countries playing. The one he opens first is the country that is going to win. 


And the episode of the twilight zone you are in is the one where the principle character cannot leave a small exotic country because she should not own two certain cars but she does, and then she cannot sell the one and export the other, until some weird ally shows up (probably a man wearing a dress) who speaks in a strange language to the stern government agents until they mysteriously do what they ought to do or whatever, and then there is a law that national heritage cannot be exported and a thirty year old japanese car is national heritage so the lead character needs to produce a rare, stamped, papyrus scroll to show to the gate keepers leading to many adventures in the grotty insides of some large buildings populated by people shoving paper from left to right on their desk all day, and then when all's well that end's well there is a "to be continued..." sign on the other side of the large water because there she needs to mysteriously reverse-act all hurdles taken on 'episode one' because the car is stuck in a worm hole time conundrum of sorts or something to do with exhaust fumes or the BP oil spill or something. Luckily, she will be offered nacho cheese chips in this episode.
The end



Suburban: Dutch, I LOVE you. You Made My Day.


And I found out what this Paul the Octopus business was all about. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

International Relocation for the Highly Disorganized, Pt1

Because I care about you all so much, find below the first in my series on International Relocation for the Highly Disorganized. Today we will cover the To-Do list, a most critical part of your pre-departure planning.
  • Be sure to make an orderly list for the things you need to accomplish.  
  • Post it somewhere where you will see it many times a day, like next to the Liquor Cabinet. 
  • A graphic representation of the pre-departure flowchart and/or your current mental state drawn by your youngest child is optional, but highly recommended. 
  • Always use your best handwriting. 

You are welcome.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Kids are weird

We are on the roof of the Al Falaj Hotel, looking out over the city with the kid. After a moment of silence, the kid looks up at us and says:

"when I was a little girl, a long time ago, there were not many cars here. Things were different before."  She gestures to the Sheraton, where the old landing strip was 40 years ago "over there the planes were landing and coming from the sky. I was Salima, when I was a little girl." 


Stone and I were speechless. Do your kids ever say anything really freaky?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Where does suburban shop? Home Style

Household Style

I hate furniture and decoration shopping here. There is nothing unique anywhere, and it's like most of the furniture shops are still selling back stock of  stuff that went out of style in the early 80's.

Perhaps your husband adores the sort of Ugly sofas features extensively in Egyptian Soap operas? those are available in Abundance here. My husband, Stone, has a major Boner for things made out of dark wood from Marina, and so does every other white dude in Oman. All our houses look the same, inside and out.

Short of driving to Dubai to Shop at Ikea, or ordering something massive over the internet, what's a style conscious girl to do? The answer is to make it yourself. Or hire someone to make it for you.

Before we go any further, can I share a secret with you that will Guarantee your success in having stuff made? Here it is:
Take the amount of time you think it will take to create something, and double it.  

Clear? OK. First off, browse design sites on the internet, find some outrageous stuff you want, and go to Wadi Kabir. Try this for starters http://www.opulentitems.com/ You can have ANYTHING you can imagine made to order in Wadi Kabir. There are some fantastic woodworking, upholstery and metal crafting shops in Wadi Kabir.

Got an Ugly Sofa? Go buy some Luxe upholstery fabrics and have it restyled and recovered. Want a newer, cooler headboard for your bed? Go find some super high gloss oil based paints in outrageous colors, and have a luscious new headboard designed from scrap wood. Troll the automotive scrap yards and get a bed made of corrugated Iron and glossy, powdercoated,  Classic car fenders. If you can dream it, it's likely the dudes in WK / Ghala can create it.

Ladies, you do not need to be afraid to go into Wadi Kabir or darkest Ghala. Contrary to whatever bullshit rumours you have heard, no one there will rape, rob or harass you.

Barring a trip into the depths of Wadi Kabir, following, is a list of the best places for home style in Muscat.

Al Medina Art Gallery
Al Madina is located on the sliproad between the Omanoil and the New Mosque (or the ghost house) on the  MQ side of the Sultan Qaboos Street. Al Medina has a limited selection of locally themed art, but the real beauty of the place lies in their talent at framing. They are OUTSTANDING, and can frame anything beautifully. Do not be an asshole and ignore their advice, they are professionals, you are not.

-Adlink Trading, and Photo Magic
Vinyl Stickers are where it's at. Got an Ugly Mirror, Plain Walls, or a car that needs Jazzing up?  Create your Own vinyl stickers. You can use fancy fonts, quotes from your favorite book, poetry, or 2-3 color images snatched from Google. Photo Magic has a Laser cutter for vinyl, and a variety of interesting fonts to play with. I had Adlink do some custom stickers and a custom wheel cover for a Pirate themed Car I was building. It looked awesome. I took one of the extra stickers and stuck it to an ugly mirror, and Viola, Subversive and Sexy. I might hang it over our bed  in the new house. Surrender the Booty Indeed.....

Doing stickers right takes some practice, so get 3 times as many as you will need to start. You can also order larger, readymade scenes off of www.etsy.com go there and search for Vinyl Stickers. There is some really awesome stuff available.






-Neon Factory In Wadi Kabir-2482-1221
Actually called Al Nahar trading, this little company is located about 800 meters before the Wadi Kabir R/A on the right hand side coming from Ruwi. You'll see the sign out front advertising Neon Signs. These guys can make anything. Get creative, maybe you would like a funky neon chandelier for your dining room? A neon design to illuminate your back porch? Sajith, the guy who looks after the front end of the business is a delightful guy to deal with, and really did an astonishingly good job on the design and execution. All the other guys are kind, talented dudes who really get into the chance to do something creative for a change. Remember that you are not a huge customer, and show these guys some patience while they are working on your little order. You will be rewarded with an outstanding conversation piece for your home or business.


-Caravans Flowers-2456-6795
Located in their new Al Asfoor Plaza location, Caravans is better than ever. Run by a fascinating, and rather salty Canadian lady and her long suffering staff, Caravans is the best florist in Muscat. They did the flowers for my wedding, and they should do the flowers for yours. They have the freshest flowers anywhere, and they really understand how to care for them so that they stay fresh, often for weeks after you bring them home. Don't miss the outstanding Orchids and custom made arrangements they do.  The prices are on par with everywhere else, and they also have an outstanding selection of unique trinkets, cards, gifts and sculpture available. It's a No Bullshit place, with the freshest flowers around. Never again will you have to deal with the unfriendly staff and third-rate flowers from La Bella Rose. 


-Scrapping 
You should make a point of stopping by places where old-ish houses and buildings are being torn down. Take your kids, and a basket of fresh fruit or cookies for the Laborers. Have a poke around, and see what can be salvaged from the jackhammers. I've scored some fantastic old tiles, giant slabs of Italian marble, Custom carved granite stair accents, stained glass windows, Hand made geometric made wooden ceiling inlays, and custom fabricated round window grilles. It's all there for the taking, and would otherwise end up in a landfill, or melted down and recycled. The laborers have always been amazingly helpful, and only to delighted to point out pretty things that I should take. I make sure to bring them treats, and tip them a rial or two if they have to rip something out specially for me.

-Ceros steel
I have Blogged about the wonderland that is Ceros Steel before. Ceros is located on the left hand side of the road road to the Egyptian, Phillipino (sp?), and ABA school in Al Khuwair, just before the rugby club. You can't miss it. They can make anything out of Metal. Aluminum, galvanized steel, powdercoating, and cast bronze are all within their ability. from custom shelving solutions to bespoke wax-cast sculptures, the nice guys at ceros can create it.

-Pro Shots Photography 2456-6663 www.proshots.org
Why don't you get your ugly-ass family and make them look gorgeous? Proshots can make that happen for you. Run by talented husband and wife team Rami and Huda, Proshots is a fantastic photography and videography company. Currently based in Al Qurm, near the recently demolished round mosque, they do high quality studio and offsite photography. Proshots has entirely female editing and photography staff, which is reassuring for women, especially at wedding and family sessions. They are professional to a fault, and they will make you look good no matter how ugly you really are. Trust me on this. They do wonderful framing and oversize canvasses, and well as botique and specialty albums. They are also really nice, and make you feel completely at ease from the first minute.
This is Joy, one of the lovely and talented photographers for Proshots. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Links and Weekly Highlights

Some Random Quickies:

There is an article in The National regarding calls for Omani youths to take up temporary summer jobs. http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100618/FOREIGN/706179900&SearchID=73394439617382 I could write a book on my thoughts regarding Omanization struggles, but part time jobs for students, and a gradual switch to hourly pay instead of salary for lower level jobe would make a good start.

Organica, a popular American blogger of Egyptian extraction, posted a really thoughtful post on how women who chose not to cover their hair are victimized by the same people who get all uppity about places where women are not allowed to cover their hair or faces. It'a an eloquent piece, and I encourage you all to go have a read. http://organicmuslimah.blogspot.com/2010/06/apology-to-non-hijabi.html

Here is a great way to kill some time, and polish your CPR skills. I want to kiss the genius who thought of this advertising campaign. It is totally NOT SAFE FOR WORK. http://www.supersexycpr.com/ It is also Not Safe for Super Fundo Nut-Jobs with no sense of Humour. Everybody else, go, and be fascinated by CPR. *tip of the hat to Stone and T3gib for the referral

More from here soon. Have a great Monday.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Boys

These are the guys who do all my body work.

You can right click and open in a new tab if you want to see the image full size. They do outstanding work, in insufferable heat, and are a lot of fun to hang out with. They always buy the kid a juice when we visit, and always let her "help" them make repairs. They are really nice guys.

I snapped this photo of them a few weeks ago but only got around to getting copies printed and delivered today. I ordered an 8X10 for each of them, plus one for the workshop wall. They seemed really pleased to receive them. I love Wadi Kabir.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Proposal

It is a beautiful thing to develop relationships with the people in your community. Even if you never become true friends with your local grocer, or the guy who pumps your gas, or the smurfs building the house next door, it's nice to know their names, and a little about them.

These casual relationships make the rather impersonal day-to day errands in my neighbourhood pleasant, and I love that it seems everyone within a mile's radius of my house knows my Daughter by name, and on site. It makes me feel safe.

I take our daughter to school almost every morning, and because of the size of my car, and my general apathy towards parking lots, I park across the street from her school, behind a row of apartments, and walk her over. I do this very day, twice a day. On the days when work or other commitments interfere, my Mom and Dad pick her up and Stone also does the occasional pick-up and drop off, but he parks inside the school parking lot.

One of the cleaners at the apartments across the street is a nice Omani man, who is about my age. I'll call him Juma. Juma is a respectable guy, working a rather thankless and low-paying job, but he always seems positive, and happy with what he's got in life. We see Juma every morning, and every afternoon, five days a week, and the kid is quite fond of him.

Juma knows my parents a little from when they do the school runs, and often sees me frazzled and prodding the kid along, on the phone, or in my Chef's outfit, or both. Juma, as would soon become apparent, has never seen Stone, and had drawn his own conclusions about my life from what little information he could gather in our brief interactions.

The other morning, after dropping the kid off to school, the following conversation took place:

Juma: Hi Suburban, You have time?
Me: It's kinda hot, but I've got a minute... How are you?
Juma: I'm fine. How is you car? Good?
Me: Thank god, Car is Good. No problems this week.
Juma: I have something for asking you, but I am, word is wary? You will be angry?
Me: Wow, that's good use of the word wary... Go ahead and ask, I won't be mad, but I do not know if I can help you.
Juma: Your daughter pebbles, she needs a father.
Me: O.O
Juma: You need a husband... to take care of you and your daughter. You are always working like this, too much busy.
Me: Uuuhhh... Um....
Juma: So I can speak to your father, maybe next week, I am knowing where you live! and maybe you will marry me? Because this is not good life for your daughter, I will take care of you.
Me: ......... O.O .......
Juma: Suburban?
Me: Oh... my... god... Juma, that is very sweet, but I am already married to Pebbles Father.
Juma: Really?
Me: Really. His name is Stone.
Juma: (astonished) And he lives here with you and your parents?
Me: Yes, he works for the same company as Dad. I'm so sorry Juma, your offer is very sweet, and you are a nice guy. I am sure you will make a wonderful father and husband some day.
Juma: Ok, so you are not angry?
Me: Not angry, I am flattered, thanks so much for asking.

It sort of broke my heart to tell him I was married already.

I spend a lot of my time on this blog writing about stuff that pisses me off, or stuff that I just don't understand, or cataloging the various unpleasant experiences I have around here. Maybe I should write more often about all the really good tings and people who are a part of my life here. Juma is one of them.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Where Does Suburban Shop? Expensive Fashion Edition

When I am not attempting to import my housemaid into the US, plotting an international move, repairing one of the cars, or chasing my satanic toddler around the neighborhood, I sometimes go shopping, or get bespoke stuff made by one of the many skilled dudes we have around here.

You may remember when I posted a little something on the places I go for cheap thrills? This time there will not be maps, because I am not a guide book, and the list is by no means exhaustive. Cool?

Today I'm going to highlight some of the places I like to shop for clothes and accessories when I'm feeling flush, or really have my heart set on something unique. There are a lot of places in Muscat to waste wheelbarrows full of of your husband's money, but these are the best. **

Fashion:

First up is Eye Candy in Jawharat Al Shatti. You may die when you see the prices, but the selection of designer clothes, jewelery, and beauty accessories is fantastic. Local and international botique designers are featured on the racks, and you can expect excruciatingly honest feedback on how things fit you, or how to wear them better. Everything is handpicked by the lady who owns the place, and her taste is really, truly, unbelievably, impeccable. I get more complements on my necklace from there than on anything else I own. Save your pennies, mortgage your house, or sell your children into slavery, and then head on over. You won't regret it. (although your children may miss you)

Next up, believe it or not is MANGO located in Muscat City Center. It is, apparently, not just for teenagers. I shop there occasionally at the sales, and there are occasional gems. I especially like their limited, but always excellent shoe selection. I got these there:

Zuhair Murad for Mango. 25 RO. I love these shoes.

Another little known but truly excellent shop is Wardrobe, located in Al Asfoor plaza in Qurm. Alyona, the proprietor, sells genuine designer handbags and accessories, as well as a changing selection of lightly used designer clothes and accessories. Alyona has very good taste, and real knowledge of the stuff she is selling, plus a delightfully unpretentious attitude. You can look for wardrobe on Facebook, all the details of the shop are there.

Boutique Muscat, located in Madinat Qaboos, is the partnership of a couple of sisters with a penchant for design. They sell their own designs, as well as readymade labels, at surprisingly affordable prices. Much of the design is merging traditional omani patterns and fabrics with contemporary design. Despite some questionable items, most of the designs are really nice, and it's groovy to support local designers.

There is a Second Hand Watch Place in Sabco Center, upstairs to the right of the escalators. The consensus on Twitter is that it is called Future Jewelry, but none of us can remember the name for sure. You can find one of a kind and mass produced designer watches there at a fraction of the new cost, which sadly, is still astonishingly expensive.

There is another place that stocks second hand watches nearby: it's outside Sabco, on the way to wadi Center, and opposite the Panasonic showroom. It's called Diamond Watch, and they also do High-end second hand watches. *thanks to @BigManInOman for the tip!

There is an outstanding fabric ship in Al Ghubra, below and to the north west of the shell station exit. Skip the tacky polyester stuff at the front, and head to the back. Buy yourself some Luxe fabrics, and take them to your favorite tailor. I have had a YSL ball gown in a thousand layers of green silk and tuile copied by a local tailorl. I made a few changes that would make it fit my weird figure, and it looks outstanding. Don't be a dipshit and make it a last minute thing, plan ahead, and have at least 5 fittings if you want it to be perfect. My last dress took 10 fittings, and I paid through the nose for it, but it's perfect in every way. I wish I had somewhere to wear it!

If all else fails, seek out the internet. www.etsy.com sells handmade clothes, ball gowns, and home decor items that you just can't find here in Oman as well as lots of recycled designer originals. You need to have a working paypal account, but you can get stuff that you will be guarenteed nobody else in town can dream of owning.

I got this dress from glamarita on etsy, and I couldn't be happier with the service and fitting.
Yes, it's made of neckties. Yes, it's awesome.


Later in the week, I have a post planned on household style solutions, because I know you are all sick to death of the same shit from Marina and Home Center. Stay tuned.

** those of you who actually know me in person may question my authority to write about anything style or fashion related since I am Ms.Tshirt and Jeans, and couldn't put together a coffee morning outfit to save my life. This is true. You've been warned.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

World Cup Hazards, part 1

Text From My Dad Last Night:

I have escaped from football to Trader Vic's along with half the girls in town, evidently.


Men, Beware.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Goodbyes Suck

More from here in the coming days, but for now:

We are Leaving Oman in Early August for what looks to be a 3-4 year stint in the US. I'm Sad and Happy at the same time, but I think anyone who reads this blog regularly will also point out that I am seriously burned out on Muscat, and it's time for a change. Really, I've had a total sense of humor failure.

On the subject of moving on, it would appear that my truck loves me almost as much as I love it. We listed my incredibly reliable and perfect truck for sale on Wednesday night. Thursday morning, his battery died, and could not be convinced to accept a jump. I think it was his way of telling me he does not want me to sell him? Three days and an ungodly amount of hassle and terror later I have a new battery, (which cost 49 freaking rials!!) and things seem OK. Fingers Crossed.

My best friends drove down from the UAE for our farewell party over the weekend. I've been working, partying, and having truly ridiculous adventures with these people for the last 8 years, and they are the only people I know who I can be myself around. When we get together, the conversation and the wine flow like water, the laughs are unending, and the adventures are so epic I am unable to describe them to normal people. I am more at home around them, than I am anywhere else.

I managed to hold back the tears when they left on the return trip yesterday afternoon, but I'm a total wreck now. Boogers, weeping, red eyes, etc.... you know the drill. I'm gutted. I had forgotten how hard it is to say goodbye to someone you really, truly, deeply and passionately love. What if there is nobody where we are going who I can talk to, or laugh with?

I took our wonderful housemaid, who has been caring for our daughter with compassion, love and discipline since the day she was born, to the US embassy yesterday morning. I was hoping to get a visa for her to come to the US with us for 2 years. We really thought she had a chance to be granted a visa, given her work history, age, attachment to the kid, that she is not a flight risk, and because the world is a fair and just place where good people eventually get the good things that are due to them. She could have done two years with us, and as she is 55 already, retired back to Sri Lanka in comfort.

Her visa was denied, in the kindest and most empathetic terms, by the really lovely woman who interviewed her. It's a computer issue, as far as I can tell, that the terms of our posting are too long to allow us to sponsor a nanny / housemaid. The Embassy people were genuinely wonderful, empathetic, and kind, but rules are rules, and it's not going to work out to bring her along with us. I feel sort of bad for the embassy staff having to deliver news like that on a daily basis.

Tita is gutted. This world, that has pretty much been shitting on her since the day she was born, continues to do so. I feel like a total Asshole foe even getting her hopes up. It just does not seem fair. Tita has been raising other people's children for the last 20 years. She cares for our daughter like her own, and does it with equal measures of love and discipline. We had sort of hoped that a nice reward for all her years here would be a 2 year trip to the states, where she would make lots of money (we have to pay her by the hour, provide health insurance, etc... ) see a little more of the world, and atttend school to learn how to use a computer so she can type all her journal entries down, instead of writing them.

I don't want to imply that this is a selfless move, I assure it it is totally selfish. If we really, truly cared, you could ask why we have not been paying her by the hour at US minimum wage here, or why we did not send her to computer school here, or why we have not brought her along on holiday with us in the past, if we want her to see the world so badly. Those are all fair questions.

We will leave her with a generous severance, arrange a shipment for some of the stuff she has amassed with us, and try to find her another good family to care for for the next couple of years before she returns home to Sri Lanka. We have met informally with a few potential families, however they seem to think they are hiring a slave, and not a Nanny/ Housemaid. Hopefully we will find someone good where there can be a mutually beneficial relationship.

Moving On, hugs and kisses to a few of my haters out there in the comments sections. Way to go Trolls, you guys make my day.

More later in the week:
  • How some of the stuff my kid says freaks me out.
  • Three weird small-world encounters we've had lately.
  • An update on where to shop, what to eat, and how NOT to murder your own child during the summer months.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Week in Review

Another boring photo post, highlighting the week in review. But first: Some housekeeping notes,
  • I know there are a number of you out there to whom I owe extensive, effusive, gratitude filled Emails. Please accept my continued apologies, things are just waaay too busy to compose anything suitable, or worth reading. I will get on it Soon, I promise.
  • Regarding the various comments on the Where does Suburban shop post, pointing out the fact that my maps and directions were less than perfect: I am not a professional Cartographer, and I often forget that not everybody thinks a google earth snapshot qualifies as a perfect map. The next post may or may not feature better directions, depending on my mood.
  • I have wanted to blog about some more serious stuff going on reigonally and Locally, however, time is too short, so for the moment this blog remains a mostly vapid personal diary. Thanks for your understanding.
  • Lastly, Doesn't anyone want some lovely Wadi cats? Toddler-Proof, Neutered, and totally free to good homes!
Moving on, the week in Pictures:

The Jackass Du Jour is this guy who cut in front of me in line at ARAMEX, spoke rudely to the staff there, and spent almost the entire 15 minutes drumming his fingers on the table, heaving impatient sighs, and having really loud self important conversations on his phone.

Yes, I am a talented Stealth Photographer


Next Up, the fine folks at Marina Bandar Rawdah have placed a lifeguard near the pool, sometimes. They have also hung 3 floatey round things nearby. On the day we visited, the lifeguard was in his chair about 50% of the time, usually reading or texting on his phone. The new sign on the new lifeguard chair reads something like" We are not responsible if you Ignore the Pool Rules". Rather Testy, and still a failure to acknowledge the Marina's need to provide a safe facility for their paying guests to enjoy.

While I think we can all agree that the little girl who drowned did so solely to to the carelessness of her idiot parents. However, the reason she died, instead of just having a close call, and a trip to the emergency room, comes down to the marina being unsafe and ill equipped for a medical emergency, and me and the other adults not recognizing the situation in time. I have owned up to my responsibility, I'd like to see the Marina do the same.

Dude, that must be a FASCINATING newspaper.

You might be interested to know why, exactly, am I so freaking busy? it's because I"m spending all my spare time with these guys.
These guys? These are my People.

I am attempting to overhaul a local restaurant, which will remain unnamed. It is harder than I thought it would be. The Cooks are fantastic though, and I'm really enjoying putting on my old Chef's Whites and doing what I do best.

It has not been without it's frustrations, but I'm genuinely enjoying the work. I am not enjoying re-growing all the callouses I used to have when I was a fancy-pants chef. The ends of all my fingers are permanent burns, and I have gotten so soft, that at the end of each shift my finger where I hold my knife has a new layer of blisters on it. Each night, I peel them off, and the next day, I carve new ones in. I am wondering if I will eventually run out of skin.
This is my finger, after day one. it looks a million time worse now.

Also, I think I am allergic to the handwash in the kitchen, because all the skin on my palms is blistering and peeling off. Super Gross.


I have also been doing a lot of laundry, on account of the fact that Both Stone and the Kid have had a Nasty case of Stomach flu. I can't figure out how to work the washing machine, because none of the symbols make any sense whatsoever. Look Below:

Clockwise from Top:

  • You are a circle standing on a Box
  • this wash cycle is for floral prints
  • This wash cycle is for floral prints with internet access
  • National Park Camp site
  • Campsite by a river
  • This wash cycle is for people from the 60's
  • Caution! Squid Washing in Progress
  • Electrocution Cycle
  • Keyboard Washing Cycle
  • Cycle for clothes soiled by poop
  • Origin Oman Cycle
  • Psychedelic Drugs Cycle
Seriously, could they not think of some better way to classify the cycles?

More from here soon.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Busy Week










Just a quick Photo post to show you what I've been getting up to this week. More news at the Weekend!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Where Does Suburban Shop?

By popular request, a few Google earth snapshots of some of my favorite places for shopping in Muscat. The images are are shrunk, to see them full size right click and select "Open in New Tab"

To stone's dismay, I don't always shop at bargain basement places, I have hideously expensive taste occasionally, so to cover those issues I'll do a follow up series on where I go to shop when I want to spend insane amounts of Stone's money on really unique or fancy stuff. But for today, here are some suggestions for the cheepskate in all of us.

First Off, AdLink Printing and Swag. Adlink is Managed and Owned by my friend Aslam. They make pretty much anything you can think of. Tire covers, custom stickers for your car, screen printed shirts, Exhibition stands, and everything else under the sun. Aslam has flawlessly executed some unique / criminally insane ideas of mine, and done it all on time, every time. AdLink has grown into a large business now, dealing mainly with corporate customers, so if you don't have a bulk order, expect to pay a premium.

Aslam will get a post all his own here soon, as his story of business success here is a fantastic one, and he's a nice guy to boot.

Next off, and down the street from AdLink, is Daiso, the Japanese 600 bz store. I went there for the first time this week and was totaly amazed by the stuff they have for sale. It's way better than the other 600 BZ stores in town. They have an exceptional collection of crockery and gardening supplies as well as a good hardware corner, and about a billion other things you will wonder how you ever lived without. Map Below.





Next up is the Designer Factory Seconds shop, and Sadiq the Jeweler. The factory second's shop answers the question "why does the girl who is bagging my groceries have 3 Louis Vuitton bags, when I can't afford one?" The answer is because her bags are fake.

Go here for a great selection of excellent (and really high quality) fake and factory second clothes, bags, and jackets. It's relatively expensive, but the stuff in the store is really high quality.

Also nearby is Sadiq the Jeweler, who has been holding court for 30 years in the same small unmarked storefront near the wadi. He has a great selection of loose stones, and a no Bullshit attitude. If you go jewelry shopping because you like to have your ass kissed, go elsewhere, if you go jewelery shopping because you want to try your hand at designing something yourself, of having a custom piece made out of old jewelry, Sadiq is your man. His prices are good, and the workmanship is of a pretty high quality. He made my engagement ring and our wedding bands based on rough sketches and verbal descriptions of what I wanted, and we couldn't be happier.
Map Below.

For those of you who own Toyotas or Lexus and are tired of the useless, inbred, monopolistic, and evil twats at Bahwan Toyota, be sure to buy all your spare parts from Tariq Al Kiyumi Genuine Toyota Parts. He's in Wadi Kabir, with other locations scheduled for opening soon. He's Also my brother, and a genuinely nice guy. Map Below


I buy 90% of my clothes from SANA in Wadi Kabir. The prices are really really fantastic, and the selection changes weekly. I have, on one occasion, worn a SANA outfit down the catwalk at a fashion show because the organiser liked my own outfit so much. For real, there are some real gems there.

The Key with SANA is to go often, and take chances. Some of my favorite, and most complemented pieces have come from there and they are invariably the ones that I wasn't sure about purchasing at the time. The bras and panties section often has slightly imperfect or factory second Victoria's Secret and other designer brands, as well as the house brand. There is a small home-wares section, and an extensive children's section, though the prices for the kid's stuff isn't as spectacular. Do try everything on, as with some pieces, the sizing or cut is just totally wrong, no matter how good it looks on the hanger. Map Below.



All of our cars are insured through the 3 guys who operate out of a battered porta-cabin in a forgotten corner of Qurm. They work mostly with Oman United Insurance, but broker with all the big companies. I LOVE these guys, I love them so much that we have discussed all going on holiday together. For real. They are efficient, no bullshit, full of good humor, and tell a wicked joke. They also get me some astonishingly good rates on the insurance for the cars.

The system is as follows: I go in with my license and the mulkiya for the car, and leave it with them for a few days. I stop back by later in the week and they tell me what the best deal they could get is. Occasionally if I forget to come back, they call me or drop by my house. We have a good relationship, and a few year's worth of trust, so when they get a good price, they usually take out the policy straight away and don't need to consult me. Whenever I get around to it, I stop back by the office, and pay them, and pick up the insurance policy.

They are really sweet, kind guys, who know me and my daughter by name. Go see them, and be nice, they are No Bullshit Dudes. Map Below.





So, In summary, I am a Cheepskate, who can't stand groveling salesman. Enjoy the deals.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What we did this week, surviving the summer of 2010

Can you name some things that are less painful than a full summer in Muscat with a toddler? It's a long list, but lighting myself on fire, and pulling out all my fingernails spring immediately to mind. Thus, I give you how we have made it through this week without a murder or suicide or both occurring in our family.

The highlight of this week were two visits to the houses of friends. Nothing like sharing the chaos. I must share with you what one friend has done as part of her summertime survival plan: She bought her kids a giant trampoline with safety netting around it, and then, wait for it... set the thing up INSIDE her house. This Woman is genius.

First off, let me repeat my advice to go to the Children's museum in Qurm as often as you can stand it. The kid can't get enough of it. Lately, I have my ass handed to me over at the brain puzzles table by Salem the Savant-like Security guy.



Here we See Salem the Savant Security guy looking triumphant after whipping my ass at the random red blocks competition


If you do not yet own a garden cat or four, may I recommend acquiring one ASAP. Ours keep the kid entertained for more than an hour every day. She dresses them up in baby clothes, carries them around in her arms, wrestles them, strokes them and yesterday, painted one purple. We have also died them a rainbow of colors using food coloring and a little water in a sprayer, it's hilarious.
No cat? We have 3 lovely, toddler-proof kittens and 1 purple cat which can be provided to you free of charge!
Email Now! Otheroman at gmail dot com! Please!



We went into Ruwi over the weekend and hit the Designer Knock off store. The kid had a blast wandering through the various back alleys of Darkest Ruwi, and was quite the little attention getter. We bought one of those fresh whole coconut drinks, which she thought was super crazy, and then had a shopping fest at the place that sells fake designer stuff.

I now know why everyone and their sister seems to have Louis Vuttion handbags around here. It's because they are fake. We also scored some excellent factory second winter jackets, giving us hope for a time and place where they might actually be required.

After touring through Ruwi, we went as a Family for Thali, which is a type of Indian meal that features unlimited teeny tiny portions of about a million different Indian Specialties. It's really really really fun and excellent value. a massive lunch for four of us plus two big bottles of water and 4 Pepsi set us back less than 10 rials. A much better value than the champaigne brunch at a local hotel, I'll tell you.
Thali. I could not tell you what a single thing on this plate is, but it was all delicious

Late last week, I took the kid on a long drive to the ODC near the Shangri-la for lunch and a paddle on the beach, followed by a quick shopping excursion at SANA in Wadi Kabir, the greatest temple of discount shopping this side of Walmart. If you have not yet been to SANA, I highly recommend it. 90% of my wardrobe comes from there.

I have typed this entire post while the kid has played in the bathtub. I threw in some food coloring to turn the water blue, and gave her some dirty clothes to "wash". It might not be genius, but it's killed an hour.

How are you guys keeping your sanity intact?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Random

Back when I used to work for "The Juice" We had an agreement, stipulated in my employment contract, that any decisions made while shouting were subject to a 48 hour holding period.

It worked really well. I should try and use that rule in my day-to-day life here.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

And, We're Back.

I had an absolutely fantastic time in Abu Dhabi. 11 nights and 12 days of hard work, great friends, desert sand, long drives, long talks, stress and laughter. I missed my family more than usual this time, but not so much that it didn't feel fantastic to get away. A By the Numbers Round up, followed by a few highlights in detail.

Cars Driven: 4... of which, Awesome: 1
Best Car: Renault Sherpa
Worst Car: a 1995 deisel Land Rover Discovery
Top speed of a Nissan Altima: 210 kph.
Number of times hopelessly lost on the streets of Abu Dhabi: 2
Kilometers logged: 800
Pairs of Shoes Packed: 3
Pairs of jeans packed: 9
Evening gowns packed: 1
Evening gowns worn: 0
Showers taken: 5
Average number of meals consumed per day: 2.6
Percentage of total Body Weight lost: 6.8%
Gin and Tonic's Consumed by Me: 4
Beers consumed by me: 65
Wine consumed by me: 5 glasses
Number of times Hit on, Total: 65
Number of times hit on by American fighter pilots: 12
Number of above American fighter pilots who had Moustaches: 11 (wtf?)
Number of times I was referred to as a "Freak Magnet": 15+
Fake eyelashes applied and worn in a sandstorm: 1 set
Helicopter rides for me: O




A few highlights in Detail. I got to drive one of these things. It's one of four in the world, a Rally Protoype, everything carbon fiber, everything custom, with 4 racing seats and harnesses. The guy who owns it kindly took me, Tanya and Lana out one evening and let us drive it in circles around the desert. It was awesome, I may have had an actual orgasm.

Due to both the Death of Sheikh Ahmed and the unusual lack of a bar in the Bivouac, things were rather subdued. None the less, fun was had, and things were extremely social.

I had a chance to have a long chat with one of the Medics about the little girl who drowned at the marina. He's a London guy, who works in a Busy ER and has seen it all. We talked a little but about the physiology of drowning, about how peaceful children usually appear when they are drowning, about how I fucked up not recognizing it, about how the timeline between the kid going under and the Ambulance arriving was unacceptable, about how much it sucks watching children die. It was really good to talk to someone who sees it all the time. I told him about the whole situation, and he described it as a swiss Cheese Situation, where it's not one hole in the safe guards that fails and results in a death, but a series of mistakes which when compounded lead to an accident turning fatal. It was a really healthy conversation, and I feel a lot better for having had it.

We got a fly by by one morning by seven American F-16's. They seemed so close in that I could almost reach up and touch them, though I'm sure they were much higher than that. It was Awesome, but as our guys had 2 helicopters on approach at the time, the guys in our command center were really pissed off, and rightly so. But it was awesome. They sound fantastic.

I, for my part, produced scads of paperwork, attended meetings, sorted out a water crisis at 4:00 am, and drank a lot of coffee.

Stone is home from work now, so I'll sign off. More from here soon.

Monday, March 22, 2010

How Awesome are my Readers?

Totally Awesome and, obviously, people with excellent taste. Also, all of my readers are devastatingly beautiful. Studies have shown that reading otheroman makes you more beautiful.

So, get this, within 24 hours of posting my totally stuck-up sounding request for information about Texas in Genral, and Houston Specifically, I got 4 lengthy replies from nice Texans, or nice people who have lived in Texas and survived it.

For Real. Isn't that Amazing?

Thank you to Kristi, Brian, Michael and Alice! Your delightful, open minded, and honest advice is fantastic. I really cannot thank you enough, except to extend a personal invitation to come eat Arugula salad, mexican food, and drink Microbrews with us in Houston anytime. I promise not to wear my Barack Obama shirt, or act like a major twat. I'm really different in person, I swear.

I'm off to the UAE tonight for 12 days and 11 nights of fast cars, good friends, helicopters, crazy medics, 3,000 k of driving, sleep deprivation, sand dunes, one gala dinner, and a cowboys and Indians themed party.

I'll try and post intermittently, dependant upon having adequate satellite internet facilities this year.

Look after the place while I'm gone?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rollin, rollin, rollin, keep those doggies rollin'

* This started as a blog post and turned into a minor political diatribe. Sorry in advance*

Git along, little doggies.

We find out late next week where we are being sent next, if we are being sent anywhere at all. It looks a lot like Houston at the moment.

Houston, as you may be aware, is located in America. This is nice for me, having been raised in America and all. Houston is also in Texas, which if you are aware of the regional diversity of the United States, is like a different planet to where I was raised. We speak roughly the same language, and drive on the same side of the road, but the similarities peter out from there. If I may reveal to truly shallow depth of my character, Texas frightens me, a lot. One can only assume that Houston is full of Texans, and while I believe they are genuinely kind and welcoming people, THEY SCARE ME.

George Bush (s) came from there. They talk really really really slowly. Some of them have guns, like INSIDE their cars, all the time. The nighbourhoods I have looked at have neither front porches, nor sidewalks, and everyone's suburban back yard has an 8 foot privacy fence around it. They deep fry toast.

Texas is full of republicans, but I'm not sure they are the sort of fiscally conservative and secular republicans with whom I think I share much common ground. I am afraid that the streets will be awash in Zombiefied, Glen Beck Quoting, war-making, Anti-Choice, Anti contraception, racist Nut-bars. In Texas, I think everyone goes to Church, every Sunday. I think they will try to get all "Come to Jesus" and "You'll burn in hell because you don't think exactly like us" on me. I will be ostracized, lonely and friendless. Especially if I keep this attitude up.

I know, I am such a Asshole, unfairly maligning the good people of Texas, without ever having been there for more than a stopover. I'm sorry Texas, it's just that I don't understand you very well, and the media does not portray you in, shall we say, the kindest light.

I am looking forward to decent Mexican food, Ample parking, hardware stores, being able to speak Spanish again, vast grocery stores with everything I could ever dream of on the shelves, one hundred thousand awesome classic cars to choose from, Country music, classic rock radio stations, not being mocked for wearing cowboy boots, outrageous clothes, and for the first time in my entire life, a horse of my own.

I am thankful that Stone is employable in this labour market, and that he can have a real, corporate job with health benefits. I really don't want to raise my daughter without health coverage, and if it were up to me to go back to being a Chef to support the family, we would never in a million years be able to afford health insurance. Maybe that will change, with the health reform stateside, assuming it gets passed. I don't know if I want to live in a country full of people who won't help their fellow man receive the basic human right that is medical care.

I am happy that Stone is not a reluctant, Euro-centric prick who will hate everything about America on principle. Stone genuinely loves America and in his wonderful, flexible, chameleon style, he is delighted to embrace American culture and assimilate to whatever the norm is going to be in Texas. He already owns a few cowboy outfits, which he wears at any opportunity, he's practicing his drawl, and he's even talking about buying some guns.

So it's not like I'm suffering, but I think I am going to find a lonely planet guide book for Texas, because frankly, I know less about the place than I know about Saudi or Pakistan. My friends from the state I grew up in are far more apprehensive about the dangers of my moving to Texas, as they were about me moving here. But none of them are from Texas either.

So, are any of you guys from Texas or Houston? Can you help with some information? Can you correct my hideously ignorant perceptions of your fine state?
  • Is it nice?
  • Are the people nice?
  • Are they nice to Libertarian leaning Democrats like myself?
  • Does it rain in Houston? I heard it rains a lot, which is weird because I thought Texas was really dry, with like Cactus and tumbleweeds and stuff.
  • How do you meet people? Is it Ok to go over to your neighbor's house with like a pie or a six-pack of beer or something and introduce yourself? Or will they shoot at me?
  • Do Texans Drink?
  • Where is a good neighbourhood on the west side?
  • Is there anywhere artsy or creative or edgy out that way?
  • Can I grow Bananas in my garden?
  • Does everybody really have a pool in their backyard? Should I have a pool in my backyard?
  • Should we live in a House or a Condo or a Townhome?
  • What kind of car is appropriate in Houston?
  • Is it OK to let my three year old run around naked on the beach or in the yard, or will people get all freaked out about it?
  • Does Houston Have a beach nearby?
  • Are top-notch Mexican ingredients available in the Suburbs, or do I have to go to Mexicantown to get the good stuff?
  • Does everyone ride western or are there some good Hunter-Jumper Barns around?
  • Is my Daughter going to get picked on for her weird sounding foreign name?
  • Anything else you feel like sharing?
You can comment here, or drop me an email. otheroman@gmail.com Additionally, you may call me an arugula salad eating, microbrew drinking, northern democrat elitist, if you wish. Because that's only fair.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Summer in Muscat With Toddlers: The Survival Guide.

Does it seem unusually hot for March to anybody else? This isn't the hottest March I can remember, but it seems close. Thus, in the interests of public service, and the continued survival of my own child, I present the Muscat Summer survival guide.

Coping with the heat in the car
  • We have purchased about a billion giant Coleman freezer blocks from Lulu and Sultan Center. Before a trip in the car, we crab a couple of freezer blocks, wrap them in Dish towels, and pack them inside a cool-box. When we get out of the car, we place them in the car seats, and cover the seats with a towel. When we get back, the kids have an Icy Cool seat, free from scalding hot metal clips, and an Ice Block to cuddle while the A/C kicks in. It's totally worth the hassle.
  • Get your windows tinted with the darkest, most expensive mirrored film available. VCool and 3m film will set you back something insane like RO 200, which for that price should include a Blow Job, and application by leggy naked blondes, but does not. Despite the lack of a Blow Job or naked women, it's still worth the price. Also, it's mirrored film is great to stop pervy dudes from staring at you while you drive.
  • Don't buy a car with a sunroof, if you can avoid it.
  • We had a Tailor create a thick, quilted, reflective windscreen cover, which goes on the OUTSIDE of the car and is held in place with straps that I Affix and slam in the door. It makes an Enormous difference, especially if your windshield is really slanted.
  • leave your windows slightly open when you park.
  • And, (OBVIOUSLY) Never, Ever, Ever leave your kids in the car, even for a second, Even with the Engine running.
Entertainment
  • Pools are great. Slap on the sunblock and hide in the cooling confines of a local pool until summer is over. Watch your kids, alright? Don't be an asshole and just leave them there with a maid who can't swim. That's criminally stupid.
  • Air Conditioned Play groups: Buzzy Bees, in MQ, at the Back of Kargeen is a good indoor play area, and there is also a good indoor play area in Bareeq al Shatti. Admission is 2 - 4 rials, depending on the amount of time you'll spend there.
  • Tumble Tots group meets like two mornings a week at the Rugby Club, near the Egyptian and ABA schools in Al Khuwair.
  • Muscat City Center has a really noisy and expensive play area next to the food court, with video games, rides, and a giant climbing and sliding structure. We sometimes go and play there for a couple of hours, and then have lunch at the Noodle House.
  • The Children's Museum is fantastic. It's open in the mornings.
  • Bait AL Baranda art gallery and museum, near the fish R/A in Muttrah, and The Muscat Aquarium, next to the disgracefully unsafe and irresponsible Marina Bandar Rawdah are both good for killing an hour or so of daylight.
  • Sometimes, we just go and walk through the gorgeous hotel lobbies of the Chedi, the Grand Hyatt, the Al Bustan, and the intercontinental. We bring books to read together, have a glass of juice in the coffee shop, and then listen to the way our voices Echo when we yell and run around. The Concierge really hates that.
  • You can always go to the beach, but I find that in the depth of summer, the water is usually too hot to swim in during the day time, and thhere is rarely enough shade.
  • Most of the hotels offer excellent Residents deals during the summer. Use them to the fullest. We spent a week and a half at the Shangri-la last summer, and 6 nights at the Chedi.
Entertainment At Home
  • Last Year, We bought a giant inflatable waterslide from Toys R US at Markaz Al Bahja. It's great, we've literally got like 300 hours of entertainment out of it in under a year, but be advised that it gets really scuzzy in the humidity.
  • Sultan Center has begun stocking a really great variety of kids science experiments, and puzzles and educational board games. The prices seem quite reasonable, in light of my desperation to keep the kid amused.
  • Host a Kiddie Dinner party. Each week, the kid's two best friends, Ali and Hassan come over for dinner and two hours of evening playtime. Twice a week, she goes to their houses. They amuse each other, leaving me free to bask in the cool comfort of the lounge, without endless interruptions.
  • Stock up on Playdough, paints, crayons, facepaints, and stamp sets.
  • Aging US hipsters might be familiar with the Band "they might be giants". They are producing fantastic Kids music and DVD's these days, and we cannot recommend them highly enough. Here comes science is the best. Even Stone and I like the songs. Links Below.
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Here_Comes_Science
  • http://www.amazon.com/Here-Come-ABCs-DVD-Combo/dp/B000BEZPSC/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1269083457&sr=8-3
  • http://www.amazon.com/Here-Come-123s-CD-DVD/dp/B000VDDCLK/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1269083457&sr=8-4

Further Afield
  • Get out of town with a Long weekend in Lebanon, up in the hills. party down in Beirut, and then take advantage of some great off season deals at the Ski areas, a mere hour's drive away from Downtown Beirut. It's gorgeous Up there, fantastic food, and lots of good walks and hikes for the little ones. . http://www.skilebanon.travel/ http://www.skimzaar.com
  • Head down to Salalah for the Khareef. Fly, don't drive. Salalah is lovely, despite the fact that it's crawling with really hideous examples of Saudi Males at that time of year.
  • Head up to Jabal Akhdar, and let the kids run around in the fantastic ruined village nearby. Altitude is everything.
  • If you are feeling flush, book a villa for a week or a Month in Bodrum, Turkey. It's astonishingly safe, friendly, and gorgeous, and the food and outdoor possibilities for kids are second to none. http://www.bodrumluxuryvillarentals.com/ http://www.holidaylettings.co.uk/bodrum/
Chapter two in the Summertime survival guide, coming soon.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday Random

Some Random questions for today. This is a slightly boring post, but do watch the video, the interesting bit is at the end.

Answers, if you have any, in the comments section or direct to me at otheroman@gmail.com

  • Why is the kid not napping anymore?
  • As a follow up, how long do you think it will be before I loose my mind?
  • My tailor has had my favorite shirt for a month and a half now, and still has not copied it. Is she trying to tell me something?
  • Do we have Child protective services here? Do we have social workers who monitor children in At-Risk situations? Anything?
  • Why can I never remember to buy food for the cats when I go to the store?
  • Is it a subliminal expression of my desire to get rid of them?
  • Why won't anyone take a kitten? Please? They are very good with little kids.
  • Why was 10% of my blog traffic yesterday from the US Department of State in Reston Virginia?
  • Get a load of the video below. Why do people do this?