Thursday, March 26, 2015

Oman TV Live for His Majesty: "I'm glad he's back because..."

If you've been watching Oman TV, Magan Channel, etc., you'll have seen the series where Oman TV is interviewing people about His Majesty's recovery and return to Oman. I am as happy as the next person, but supporting the marching of school kids instead of their attendance of classes, actually isn't in line with His Majesty's vision etc... and talking about "where you were" when you heard the news of His Majesty's return, like it was, the first time someone walked on the moon, or world war II was declared, or something, makes me role my eyes as a former-Westerner. It feels a bit "dictator-ish" in news-coverage-style and flavour, even though that is from people, not His Majesty himself AT ALL. Because Sultan Qaboos isn't really like that.

Omanis are genuinely happy. I see many a video of people crying (with the news channel coverage of HM's return on in the background on the TV). People (expats and Omanis) genuinely believe we don't have anyone to replace him as good as he is so there is joy in the country and he is truly beloved.

Even when news in UAE announced there would be a holiday and double salary (false says Oman's diwaan/palace) that couldn't stire up any ill will. People remained elated. They don't need a day off for an excuse to party, celebrate, wear red-white-and-green and parade their cars about.

So of course, in true dictator-ish style news coverage, after all the hours of discussing "where I was when I heard the news" another section of coverage commenced with live-on-the-street interviews with regular Omani folks for "how I felt when I heard His Majesty had returned."

The one getting all the feed, even by the Palace, is one citizen in Mutrah souq, and the reaction of the news presenter . When asked how he felt upon the news of His Majesty's return, the Omani man said "I am glad because there is a lot of corruption in the country..."

And the news presenter was like, hurry and rush along now, jump to somewhere else, "and now we will move on to another person" and Omanis watching everywhere were howling with laughter, since the reporter's reaction was so predictable.

Although I doubt HM is recovered enough to deal with that level of corruption, I wish him good health and remain thankful for the vision he has had for Oman up until 2015, from the 70s to the now. I wish the man could just sit back and relax and enjoy some rest, but there is a lot of corruption, a lot of better planning than the Ministries ever seem to manage on their own so....

But I hope this National Day comes and we have more fireworks than ever to celebrate the progress made up until this point. Progress has to become sustainability now for Oman, not "expansion" as they keep saying in the Ministries. Expansion is not going to cut it until sustainability is a ready element of the economy and that's that.

Honestly, I would never blame HM if he chose to sit back and relax now (medically he totally should and most people would understand) ---he's earned it. But most of the government other than, have not. They have made mum speach about his vision, education, job creation, but most jobs for Omanis are actually just drains on the economy (army positions, police positions, ministry office positions) while most work is still imported (expat here speaking). Most of the laws and rights we talk about, such as Omani women having the right to work and hold a passport despite family and husband are supposed to be absolute---but when it comes down to it there is absolutely no responsible or uncorrupt structure in the government to enforce such law, even if an Omani woman is so brave as to runaway and seek the government's protection against her family while seeking those rights.

HM Qaboos had a vision where education would change the country, and basic human rights could exist where people would otherwise bend Islamic tenets to their own whim in order to dominate others', and Omaniss would create industry and trade beyond oil, but corruption, and lack of enforcement of education and law are rampant to the highest levels... So as a person seeking to become Omani by law, I am glad for HM Sultan Qaboos Al Said's return, and am ever-grateful for his vision, and do think he deserves to take time to relax and heal, but that people have been taking advantage of His absence, and trying to make a threat out of his loving people, who understand well enough, that it is hard for him to act while tribalism exists, and that even he doesn't always know who to trust. So, to his return, and to the Oman he envisioned, thanks be to Allah.

BTW, do you think Oman TV will do live interviews again;)?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

About Jackasses* and Racism [sorry for swearing---calling someone a donkey in Oman is actually illegal;)]

Please note, this is a nice Omani man, not the jackass who slapped the poor Indian gas station attendant, who is, not slapping anyone, merely buying a goat or something at auction;)
So yeah, the jackass at the gas station in barka who slapped the Indian attendant, he has a little background to his story, which y'all might find interesting to note.

And to the anonymous who commented who kindly reminded me that I myself have issues when it comes to slapping folks, that's true. Which is probably why it was for the best, that my [Omani] husband got out of the car to speak the man [Omani] who slapped the [Indian] petrol station attendant.
This is an Indian petrol attendant in a non-Gulf state country, who is tipped for doing his job, the way any waiter should be in a restaurant, etc.
My husband first asked the [Omani] man what the cause was for the assault [sometimes people have just cause you know---I truly believe that---however always better to be more mature and well-spoken about it instead of lash out right]. His reason was, as you already know, that the attendant forgot to close the thing-a-ma-bob that they open to put gas in there in the first place.

Whoa! Dude, in my country, I pump my own gas. It is considered a luxury (where you tip your attendant money for doing so) for filling your tank for you, and washing your windows while you sit nicely tucked with the ac on inside.

So my husband, also finding this to be insufficient reason to assault another human being, told the man he was being a jerk (in really nice Islamic words not what I'd say AT ALL) and asked him to apologize to the attendant.

Of course he didn't and basically swore more at the poor scared man. Which is where, I WOULD HAVE SLAPPED HIM and then we'd all be happily in court (in Barka--again---with a judge I probably know lol).
Then his (the jackass---let's leave Oman out of this) friend shows up and asks what's going on. My husband is amused to overhear that instead of using his friend's name (the friend being the guy who slapped the attendant) the friend simply calls him "black" in Arabic, being that the dude is rather dark for Omani compared my husband and the friend. In fact, he's ACTUALLY darker than the attendant whom he slapped.
I think black is beautiful y'all (please stop powdering your faces with too light of makeup dear beautiful black Omani women!). When I was a teen I wanted to have Brandy's nose, and Iman or Naomi Campbell's skintone. And height. Those women are AMAZINGLY beautiful. And who DOESN'T think Will Smith is adorable, and Denzel so charming? now come on.
However, in Oman, some people are pretty damn rascist, and no offense awesome self-loving black Omanis, but the most racist of all I ever encounter, are those who seem to hate on themselves.

They are usually the ones who treat the gas attendant (from India or Pakistan) like crap. Who refuse to marry (gorgeous) black Omani women and then complain no one wants to marry them because they're black.

I simply refuse to understand why people put upon by racist others, turn out, somehow even more cruelly racist themselves.

Omani Invents a way to keep books in place for libraries

 Yaqoub Said Al Habsi (a librarian at Sultan Qaboos University) invented a mechanical book prop that repositions books in libary shelves so that when a book is removed from the self, the other books are automatically spaced so there are no gaps, and the place for the removed book is locked until it is checked back in by a librarian.
This means that all books cannot be lost within the library itself due to being disorganized (readers cannot simply take a book and place it somewhere else---they have to place it on a to be returned cart and any book just lying around will be returned to the to-be-returned section, where the librarian can open the locked places where the books rightly belong according to iserial numbers.
How awesome is that? Apparently the device is powered by rechargable batteries.

HM Sultan Qaboos Returned Home from Germany

HM returned the other day (night?) from Germany [I am too lazy to post specifics]. Prayers giving thanks were offered, parties commenced (with 3 young Omani males dying in over enthusiatic drifting in Mabaila), and green red and white appeared everywhere, in terms of headscarves, balloons, I{heart}Oman caps etc....

But there is an uneasiness too, because HM was gone a long time, there are many things to fix in the country, and time is not under human control.

And if I myself just recovered from a major illness, I probably would have been advised by my MDs to not jump right back into any difficult work...


Monday, March 23, 2015

To that Jackass that slapped the Indian worker at the petrol pump/with update

To the Jackass {Omani} who slapped the Indian worker pumping his gas for him who forgot to close the tank and the smell of petrol invaded your car...the other day in barka... you do not have the right to slap anyone for stupidity, and certainly not because you think the person you slapped is below you.

My (omani) husband tried to convince the poor worker to sue you as it is his legal right to. We would be his witness because I bet if it was a white WESTERN chic pumping your gas or a fellow omani you wouldn't dare even swear at us.

BTW we took your plates, jackass, and let's see how you can explain your stupid behavior in court hmmm.

ADDITION: It is illegal to post the plates on blogger unless he's already been convicted in court for assault, and apparently the Indian man is afraid that if he sues the Omani guy, the Omani guy will beat him up worse, sooooo, what to do?

My husband will try to ask the Indian's sponsor to sue the Omani who slapped him.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

One Old Omani Woman from Barka: one of the greatest Muslim women I met in my lifetime, in memory

To the first woman (Omani) who made me feel like I belonged here.  She was old, older than most who change themselves, and the world around them, and who accept new things. She could not read or write and was not educated but was wise, and educated some of the best Muslim men I have ever encountered (they are rare these days) through simply being mother to them [and even if she could not read, her son was one of the first Omanis to graduate from Harvard].

She preferred a small old crumbling house with some goats to the newly built mansion her husband and sons gifted to her. But it was she who welcomed me, not to her home, to her country, to her religion, but to her family. And everytime I met with her, she pulled some gift out of her purse, as if that simple plain bag were enchanted. "Here is a perfume, a prayer mat from Mecca... here is some incense, here is a pretty toy for your daughter..." .

I had to hide when I saw her coming because I never had something back to gift to her in return, not even news of some well-suited girl to marry her son.
She had asked me to marry one of her children, and he was not a passport snatcher, or lowly employed, or bad in character. He was simply not for me in the way my husband is. I will always remember how she asked so little about me, didn't care about my past, that I was not Omani etc... she simply cared for the happiness of others and wanted everyone to be safe, and happy, and protected, even if they (her son) wanted a different life than the one she preferred, she would help him, not try to change him, or control him.

And she didn't stop caring about me when I said that I couldn't marry her son, another thing rare in experience, from my experience. Her kindness, her helpfulness, none of it was selfish.
This was one old woman who did not see race or colour or one's past when she greeted a stranger. In fact, she was one, who did not see a stranger when she looked with clouded almost green-grey brown eyes at those around her. She veiwed muslims as relatives of her own, and non-muslim domestic staff, as those in need of her kindness and generosity and protection.

I will always remember the housemaid who was saving for the studies of her younger sister. She would try to save her salary for a computer for the relative so far away. This old woman learned of the girl's struggle, and informed her son, the housemaid's employer, and almost the next day, a new laptop appeared, to be sent afar to the struggling student relation of the housemaid, better than my own laptop even to this day.

Sweetness she had, and humility, and kindness. Kindness that pure one rarely sees.

My husband went to the funeral line and remarked how many brothers there were.

"Well, her husband had three wives," I inform him. {My husband's father had two].

I know for a fact, that this woman arranged the marriage of the third for her husband, which most will think as odd, but she really wanted women who would not otherwise marry well to have the same happiness she had.
"And," I remind my husband. "They adopted many orphans together [her husband and herself]. And raised them as their own."

"But they would have been together then and mixed," my husband said.

"They were," I said. "But you can see, nothing bad ever came from that, only good. Look at these good people come from such kindness."

Because my husband knows, of the best Muslim men he has encountered, and kindest, is her son, who is, like, my adopted muslim uncle, since I have no Muslim family beyond my husband's relatives, and certainly, none who care for my well-being no matter what.

From this day in Oman, more than 40 years after the fact that this woman who has now passed raised as she could, Barka's orphans as her own children, Omani families still do not wish to adopt orphans and raise them in their homes. They make excuses, about modesty, and hijab requirements, etc...and would never raise a poor innocent baby who through no fault of their own was born out of wedlock.
Despite the fact that some of the first Muslims were born out of wedlock, and the Prophet Mohmmed S.A.W himself adopted and fostered an orphan boy named Zayed.

But this woman, and her husband, 40 years ago, adopted many, and raised them equal with their own children, and saw them well-raised, and married to their own family and tribe, and had such a reputation for goodness, that no one can say anything bad about this, or say, this child came from this or that... Because she was their mother.

My Omani husband thinks that with this new generation in Oman much will change in terms of tribalism, but I feel that excepting rare people such as this Omani woman, now gone, who we mourn, and pray for forgiveness for her unknown sins (for her known are unknown to me), that we still need more examples. It is like, some great fire went out, and there are embers, but to take care of them and cherish such example, and memory... there is water in my eyes, and a spark she lit. I knew her so little in compare to others, but I can't help but almost cry and be passionate about her quiet passions: family, others, generosity, always keeping just enough and giving the rest away....

I am sad because a very great example was lost this week. May Allah grant her jannah, ameen. May Allah make us like her, ameen.
Everytime I smell a perfume I would not choose myself, or see a sajadah (prayer mat) stuffed into a purse, or see a housemaid or worker or lowly farm labourer struggling to save and on the phone with family, I will recall her generosity.

Every time I see a herd of goats cross the road, I will think of her humility and humbleness, for the little house she chose over a marble mansion.

Everytime I see the glint of gold, I will remember the woman who lent a new bride her own maher, worth more than that girl could afford in two lifetimes, and did not hate or hurt or when such treasure was lost and stolen.

Everytime I attend a wedding, I will think of her wishing the happiness and protection of other women.

Everytime I hear someone say they cannot have children, I will speak the example of her children, adopted and born.

Everytime I see someone alone in the room while others speak in groups, I will remember how even she could not speak my language, she included me as close as family.

And everytime I taste a certain flavour of Omani qhawa, familar to Barka and some other Omani houses, I will remember how she welcomed all, no matter their race or religion or reputation.
When I see an old woman in Omani dress but with abaya or long printed scarf bright and dazzling as a cloak, I will smile to myself, and see that at least in some parts and some places, people can change what is wrong, and keep what is good.

Omani Copper: why can't I find a made-in-Oman copper sink or bathtub, in the kingdom of Magan?

In case you didn't know, Oman's relationship with copper is pretty ancient. In fact, Oman was well and around before Mesopotamia. In fact, Mesopotamia was a big trade partner of Oman's, then called, Magan.
That's why, in Oman, if your name is Megan, instead of Maggie [the soup boullion brand] people will pronounce your name as if you hailed from an ancient empire, rather than MSG and and faux chicken spice. (Sorry for that addition to this post, contract renewal time again, where I get to play at being PRO for all my boss's new staff). The ROP have the funniest way of playing with Western names.
Mesopotamian and Egyptian hand mirrors (using Magan copper)
Me, I am an Iron-age girl. I love the Iron age, but I like the neolithic too. However, archeologically speaking, Oman is awesome from a bronze-age standpoint. If you are a bronze age archeologist than Oman totally rocks your world.
Archeologists in Oman---you can't tell how much coffee they drink, can you;) ;p
 Ha ha, rocks.  Archeologists hate me when I have too much coffee. And they can drink coffee black all day and be the coolest, like, hey, nothing they do is funny in the least, except for when we mock that Egyptologist dude, who ACTUALLY does wear leather bombers and fedoras (in Egypt---in that heat) like Indianna Jones. Although, THAT dude IS one of my childhood friends' father's friend, and I shouldn't mock him, because then, maybe I too, one day, like my friend, will get to go inside of the great pyramid, instead of bribing Egyptian police officers like all my other friends....
Nah... Pyramids never insterested me. Oman's copper industry is waaaaaaaaaaaaay more fascinating.
In Wadi Samad (Samad ash-Shan and Al-Maysar settlements) workshops for copper working existed in the bronze age. Mines for copper still exist in Oman, however, this industry is in a sorry state if we can't even boast much of a made-in-Oman copper culture here in the Sultanate. Government-owned and operated Oman Mining CO. (OMC) operated from 1980-1994 however, now OMC currently operates the smelter and treatment of imported concentrates (toll basis for doing so). Apparently?: Imports have amounted to around 80,000 t/y of concentrate for the production of some 24,000 t/y of copper. However, now the company is listed as privately held? Correct me if I am wrong. And since the price of copper is very high in Oman (since 1994) I am sure we export most of what we have rather than produce many products in-country with it.
modern Omani craftmanship with copper
ancient Omani craftmanship with copper

 I would like to see Oman totally get into its coppery past. Arabian designed copper sinks and bathtubs from Morocco are ALL the rage. Let us make these, and facets, etc... in Oman. I am trying to find Omani versions (and to cost them) for my interior design endeavors and besides independent copper artisans who mainly do plates (only great for stove/hob backsplashes) I am having great difficulty. Morrocan examples below:

To a future in Omani craftsmanship with copper: