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.|