Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fresh off the tarmac: part 1



You know that building near Al Wizarat you pass driving down Sultan Qaboos highway? The one with the gargantuam gilded gold doors?

The first time I saw it my mother told me it was the courthouse, where people go if they steal or commit crimes.

My eyes grew wide as we drove by as a child at those massive golden doors and the thought of a Shariah-court inside, presided over by Sultan one could beg mercy from before one's head or hand was chopped or the like.

My mother liked to read the Sassoon "Princess" novels. I read "Arabian Nights". Damn Orientalists we were. Dear. God.

Yeah. That building IS A BANK!

Ha ha ha lol.

Yeaaaaaaah, things like that happen when you are an expat fresh off the tarmac. People can tell you things about Oman and you'll believe them and you won't even know it is something completely made up as a joke for expats.

For example, in Abu Dhabi, dressed in abaya as I always am, Muslim convert here, a tourist made a mistake of thinking from the fact that I was talking to a camel in Arabic, that I was its beduoin owner or something. They decided to ask me how long camels live. Amused by their mistake I said 25 years.

What do I know about camels?!

Now that poor lady and her husband are wandering around telling other tourists and expats and their relatives back home that camels live to be roughly 25 years of age.
Which, I have never bothered to look it up, may or may not be true.


Looking for a friend's home in Ras Al Hamra was supposed to be easy. Their car was parked out front, and we knew its make and colour.

It was a white PRADO.

We'd gone camping with our friend. This was supposed to be easy.

In front of their home were parked four identical white Prado 4x4s, which made determining left or right nigh impossible.

Damn PDO expats and their prediliction for white Prado 4x4s.

Our white toyota pick up stood out by far.
When asked WHY we moved from our old place in Al Khuwair (I miss the pool) to the PDO camp, I tell people it is because of a lemon tree.

Yes, because of lemons.

My mother has a habit of fighting with ALL of her neighbors, but she forgot that if you start a feud with a tribe in Oman, the feud can outlive you.
Apparently there was some fight over who the lemons on a particular lemon tree belonged to since the tree had never produced any lemons until the water paid for by our waterbill watered it.

You can see where this is going.

Dispute of ownership of said lemons ensued.

Lemons are pretty cheap here in Oman. They sell them in Al Fair, right near are old house.

It was my mother versus a tribe of angry Al ________ and they won by overwhelming numbers, and we were chased out.
Yes, the poor ROP were involved, tsk tsk.

"Phone the ROP! They're fighting!"

I held out the mobile. "I already am. 9999. It's busy."

Oman, serriously, how can your emergancy number be busy? What if somebody was being murdered?
Oh, there you go, just add another 9 to bump somebody else. It worked.

"Hi, this is a call from ___________ Al Khuwair, I need a patrol car here and some officers. There is an assault going on."

ROP man on the other side: "You don't speak Arabic."

Our end: "No."

Click. On hold.

Eye roll.
Driving out there was horrifyingly bright flashing building large with Neon lights.

Confused, a young OPNO asks their Omani driver: "Isn't this an Islamic country?"

She knows that gambling isn't allowed in the Muslim holy book.

This knowledge is confirmed to her.

Still gawking at the local Lulus Hypermarket she asks, "Then why do you have giant Casino?"

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