Monday, 24 November 2008

The end of the road?

I began November in Nizwa for another Shell graduate team building week, and then headed off to visit Barbara in the back-of-beyond, UAE. (see pic). It was a long, long drive, and if I visit again I shall fly to Abu Dhabi and hire a car from there. From Nizwa it took me 7.5hrs, but just over 8 back to Muscat as I barely stopped or got held up at the border. It was a very short visit, but good to catch up and also go somewhere new. I especially liked going to the fish market and a trip to Barbara's school.

Last week was very tiring. Saturday night Jim had his birthday party – a party on the equivalent of a Monday yuck. I had an early start the next morning as training so left at a sensible 11pm after not drinking, but 6am came around far too soon. 2 nights later J was hosting a company manager’s dinner at Rock Bottom. Nice food but horrendously slow service, again I was sensible, leaving J there to head home for bed. When did I get so old, sensible, and boring???? Unfortunately, I left the door key in the lock and was woken with J ringing the doorbell to get in. oops. Finally, Wednesday was Valia’s birthday do and it was very pleasant to stand outside chatting until nearly midnight. I got a bit cool, so I had to put a cardi on about 11ish. Don’t we get soft??? It was about 19/20°C.

Whatelse... Oh been in The Week again, twice! The first event with J was an opening of an Austrian art exhibition. The majority of the art was a bit strange, home-made Japanese style paper hangings for example, but there were a couple of paintings we liked. The following day a Lebanese friend invited me to the opening of a handbag exhibition, not really my thing but… This is the background: “Sarah’s bag. Sarah decided to set up her company as part of a rehabilitation program, whereby women at risk from economic depravation or the stigma of having served time in prison would learn valuable skills in return for a reliable income and a stable source of pride, dignity, and empowerment. In the process, these women would be helping to revamp the centuries’ old traditions of artisans and textile makers in the Middle East for the purpose of invigorating contemporary fashion.” After the exhibition, Ale & I went to a store, it like TKMax however among the bargains we saw some of the funniest garments and despite my not liking shopping had a really good giggle as we teased each other into buying horrendous nylon garrish outfits. We both resisted, but I did manage to buy a pair of casual trousers and a couple of Ts. I went to another opening this week in a new private art gallery. It was an exhibition of Omani artists, some very interesting, with VERY nice prices. I shall take mum when she is over as the exhibition will still be on. I didn’t have my photo taken, so no photo in next week’s edition. Yes I know, I complain about the lack of cultural things to do and obviously I'm doing ok at the moment.

Finally, my flat purchase still hasn't gone through & I'm getting really fedup. As is my estate agent, & mortgage broker. The new completion date is December 6th, and if that doesn't go through then my mortgage offer expires and will have to start again. AAAAARRGGG! If that isn't enough I am very confused. My job contract expires whilst I'm on holiday at Christmas, and I was contacted by a company in Toledo Spain with a job which sounded perfect, and paid ok for Europe (with current eco-situation less than half my current salary). Thought I could do that for one semester, giving me some breathing space from Oman, J etc but they want me to start when I'm supposed to be still in SA. I told them I couldn't accept and to bare me in mind should the position remain unfilled... but I am sooooo tempted. Guess that says a lot about my state of mind here.

A positive note to end on is that mum will be here in 10 days, which I am really looking forward to her visit, and spending some time with her. As Eid falls during that time I thing I will only have to work a few days whilst she is here. Even if I'm working I'm sure she'll be ok by the pool - It may seem cool to us who live here, but coming from Colchester at 7°C to our cool 28°C will be great for her.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

You know you've lived too long in the Middle East when...

You're not surprised to see a goat in the passenger seat

You think the uncut version of 'Little House on the Prairie' is provocative

You think every one's surname is Al

You need a sweater when it's 27 degrees Celsius (80 F)

You expect everyone to own a mobile phone

Your idea of housework is leaving a list for the houseboy

You believe that speed limits are only advisory

You expect all police to drive BMWs or Merc's

You know whether you are within missile range of Iraq

You believe that the definition of a nanosecond is the time interval between the time the light turns green and the time that the guy behind you begins to blow his horn

You can't buy anything without asking for a discount

You expect all stores to stay open till midnight

You understand that 'wadi bashing' isn't a criminal act

You make left turns from the far right lane

You send friends a map instead of your address

You understand why huge 4x4s must slow down to a snail's pace whilst

crossing a speed bump yet hurtle through a wadi at 100kph

You think that 'Howareyoufine' is one word. So is 'Mamsir'

You think it perfectly normal to have a picnic in the middle of a roundabout at 11pm

You know exactly how much alcohol allowance you have left for the month

You have a moon phase predictor on your computer

You never say Saturday instead of Friday or Sunday instead of Saturday any more

You accept that there is no point in asking why you are not allowed to do something

You expect queues to be 1 person deep and 40 people wide

You realise that the black and white stripes in the road are not a zebra crossing, just bait to get tourists into the firing line

Seeing guys welcome each other with a kiss and hold hands while walking no longer distracts you

You carry 12 passport size photos around with you just in case

You can tell the time by listening to the local mosque

You think it's a good night if there are fewer than 10 men for every woman in a bar

Phrases like 'potato peeler', 'dish washer', 'coffee maker' and 'fly swatter' are no longer household items but are actually job titles

Habibi isn't just the ex-president of Indonesia

Problem with your car AC or horn is more serious to you than a problem with the brakes!


Scarily most of these are true for me. Time to leave? Sx