Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Americana

First Up; Confidential to Western Expatriate Bloggers and Blog Commenters: You cannot possibly be helping the country if you are unable to see past Local / Expat divides. Complaining and criticism is good, outright racist degradation and shallow-ass insults? Bad. If you are truly so bitter and angry about Oman that you can only see it as "US vs THEM", or so deluded to think that you are irreplaceable, maybe it's time for you to move on somewhere else, for your happiness, sanity and for everybody else's sake.  I did, and I'm glad because I managed to leave with my sanity and passion for Oman (Mostly)  intact

We are surviving, here in America. Slowly but surely, I am making friends, getting to know the neighbors, and reacquainting myself with my home country. We have a local bar where some of the regulars know our names, we are friendly with a handful of neighbors, and every once in a while my phone rings and it's someone other the Stone or my Mom on the line. 

The most surprising thing to me about our new life here is how very foreign I feel in a country which I had always assumed was home. I was not aware of the extent to which I had assimilated into the Omani culture. I can't get used to people wearing shorts, or men jogging shirtless down my street. I am a physically affectionate person, but I'm struggling to be comfortable with virtual strangers hugging me. The freedom of speech is wonderful, but shocking, reading the opinion pieces in the newspaper, or listening to these really offensive morning DJ's makes me gasp aloud. Like I can't belive you can just say / write that sort of stuff for public consumption. The food is not spicy enough, the people talk really loudly, and I cant' seem to keep up with the somewhat frenetic pace of life. Americans are really really busy people. 

Most telling, however, is my adjusted attitude towards Voice-mail. Voice mail is where you call a person, and if they don't answer, you leave a verbal message on a machine that plays it back for them at a later time. As you may know, Voice-mail is practically unheard of in Oman. If you want to actually talk to somebody in a business or personal setting, you give them a missed call, or if it's really urgent, send a SMS. In almost a decade there, I think I left One voicemail for somebody. 

Arriving here in Houston, the "Missed Call Culture" is noticeably absent. everyone has voice mail, answering machines, they expect you to leave a message, and to be able to do the same for you.  People take it really personally if they cannot leave a message for you. Seriously, my landlord threatened to stop calling me if I didn't set up voicemail on my mobile phone, and I was all " Wha? But I see your  missed call, I'll just call you back? No?"

I have another post in the works about the many many many similarities between Texas the the GCC, but I'll have to save that for another day. Crazy driving, racism, tribalism, and unjustifiable levels of state/national pride, jump immediately to mind

 Hope you all are well?  Below, a few recent photos of what we have been up to lately.

We have to pay extra to get Omani Style Dew

We are making Ass-Loads of homemade Ravioli

There is a giant tank of Piranhas at the Zoo with a tunnel through it. 

I am being menaced by vicious Raccoons and Possums.

8 comments:

theomanibrit said...

Yay - you are back :) glad to hear you are settling in well, Oman misses you too much. You reminded me I promised myself for New Year to buy a pasta machine - any suggestions on a good one? x

Suburban said...

TOB- You want a kitchenaid 600 pro with shockingly expensive pasta attachment. Having one has changed my life. x

Mr. Steve said...

Glad to hear you are settling into life in that strange land.

[If I may plagiarise slightly]. We are also surviving, here in Singapore. I am not making friends, and not getting to know the neighbours. We do not have a local bar so no-one knows our names. Maybe I’m not trying hard enough. The phone only rings a few times on Sunday because Mrs M’s parents still can’t use Skype properly. There are 5 million people crammed into an island the size of Muscat municipality. It is claustrophobic.

The food is fantastic. The beaches are dreadful. The toilets are squeaky clean. Internet connection is superb. Everybody is thin. Everyone is well dressed, particularly the pencil-thin, elegant women. Most people exercise - it’s part of the Chinese way of life. Women jog shirtless (well, nearly). On the surface, it is a super-clean, efficient, well-ordered, multi-cultural society. There is no freedom of speech, but nobody really cares. Everyone is obliged to speak ‘proper’ English. There is little opportunity to learn or use Mandarin. Everything is expensive.

I miss Oman. I am tired of reading blogs about what is wrong with the country. I am fortunate to be in a job which allows me to travel. I want to learn. I need to learn. My brain needs feeding otherwise it will wither and I will end up sitting behind this computer whinging about the airport’s baggage retrieval system.

Christmas is coming and the shops are decorated with enormous trees surrounded by plastic reindeers and elves standing on plastic snow. There is a danger that we will eat Christmas dinner around a proper table this year rather than digging a turkey out of the sand. Are you looking forward to your first American Christmas?

www.103degreeseast.com

hnd said...

Glad you're back and to hear that things are settling down.

Off to MCT Saturday to get keys for the house so it's going to be a busy few months - such a shame you won't be there :-(

Amber said...

The "everything is bigger and better in Texas" can be a bit overwhelming. I grew up with it so I am used to it...well, actually brainwashed to it :)

Bland food....hmmmm...there are some really kickin' indian food restaurants, genuine mexican restaurants and hotwing places...I'll see about putting a list together...sometimes it is difficult to hit a really good place blind.

Anonymous said...

Missed your posts!!!!

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

Thank you for reminding me how lucky I am to be in Oman and I am glad to hear you are well;)

I sent an email but I think it got lost.

Dino$ said...

Would love to visit oman one day :)