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


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.