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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why I love yellow paint on a Muscat Villa

I work at home and on weekends. I probably will do so this weekend, so I don't feel bad that I haven't done anything but shop today (and yeah, I worked this morning) in the afternoon, and looked at pinterest.

These photos are of a little hotel/cafe where I used to live that I chanced upon online, where I'd always come with my father to have breakfast or coffee. Good memories for the most. Even the bad things that happened as I walked out onto the street, away from the cafe, slightly ahead of my father, have an undertone of something good to them, when I look at the world through rose-coloured glasses.

Maybe this building is why I have an afifnity for yellow villas?

That one bad memory, was that my father was just starting to stop hiding behind his menu when he was out with me. My headscarf, regardless of whatever else I might wear with it, long sleeved t-shirt and tight jeans or abaya and face veil (aka niqab, not burqa, {no one wears burkas in Europe or Canada except as a joke}) drew unpleasant attention at times, and he felt embarassed to be seen with me.

You see, I was not born a Muslim, nor was I raised to like religions of any kind, although I was taught to study them in order to understand their flaws. Ironic, I suppose.

But Swans drew a  pretty hip and young crowd for breakfast, and we had none of that. More like people were impressed that our city was becoming so multi-cultural, when let's face it, it had been for the last two hundred years that you were either British, French, or Chinese in the place.

Breakfast was delcious. Dad was peeking out from behind the menu more often. My little sis was dressed kind of punk and totally didn't look like they were Muslim, just me so people were just kindly curious.

As we left though, a man who had been stalking me with a camera, and who'd made racial slurs against Arabs to me on numerous occasions, stepped in then, and grabbed me. He knew where my house was, and took photos but never more than that, and before this incident, I'd never been afraid of him.

My father saw that and was a little shaken. My little sister insisted we make a case with the police over the matter when I didn't really think they would take me serriously.

I was also stalked by some "special top secret" section of some police who claimed they worked for Canada (the Candian set, called inset, were interviewing my girlfriends---but INSET, said no, and wanted to know who they worked for). BTW, I don't think our countries anti-terrorism task force actually knows alot about terrorists and Islamic beliefs that lead to terrorism per say, or they'd never have bothered with a bunch of girls who like to pray, shop, and eat, but whatever.... WHAT A WASTE OF TAXPAYERS DOLLARS their salaries are for, yeah.

At first my father was like, "well you deserve it because you choose to dress in a way that makes people upset"...

But slowly, he began to change from that point onwards. I think it was the moment in time he realized my choices were not a "want for attention" or a love of "standing out and being different" but an actual part of who I was, and what I believed. I was always taught by him to guard the oppressed, and speak my mind, and fight for what is right, if it is a battle worth fighting, and maybe he saw that part of himself in me that day, in the headscarf and abaya?

No one wants to be threatened with harm, to have people wish against them the right not to go to school, or to work, simply because of a piece of fabric. For always these people told me, it was the Islamic faith that stopped women from marrying who they wanted, or working outside the the home, ect... but really, it was the people who made doing those things unpleasent, or actually illegal, that inhibited me, nothing else. Ignorance, from Islamaphobes, and from Muslims themselves, are the only things that oppress Muslim women.

I couldn't understand why they wanted to make a peice of fabric illegal. My sister can wear a tank top and motorcycle boots, and a skirt on the shortish side, and I an abaya and headscarf, even a veil, and we were happy together and friends. My friends never changed because of what I wore, but from what I chose to refrain from, which was neither choice, nor social responsibility, love, or happiness.

No one likes being thought of as "less" or "brainwashed" or "inferior" and have other human beings think they have the right to tell them how to live their lives.

So my father is all good with me now, and I think he changed a little from that day forward. From a yellow building with turquoise ironwork and hanging baskets of flowers and a stack of pancakes, to a man who likes to press Neo-nazi literature on the street.

So when I think of that landmark, I think of hope, and possible happiness. Maybe that is why I love a yellow paint on a Muscat villa so much?

I have long ago now, moved form the yellow villa pictured on my sidebar. I live in a better area, in a less impressive building, as I seek the new. I saw an old house the other day, crumbling, fading, uncared for, almost suppressed under evening sky.

In my mind, I saw in its shape, the chance to rebuild, to rennovate, to fix. To make one thing a little more beautiful. I don't have much skill in building people up the same, but a canvas, a blank little notebook, a room, a building... these are things I can make a little better than I found them.

{Random thoughts before the weekend, happy weekend ya'll}.

U.K. Labels for Muslim Women, filed under shopping

Inayah collection is an affordable label based in theU.K. catering to Muslim women's style with a more European/British bent. While my favourite peices are always more formal, or Urbane, I can't help thinking about those Omani girls who ask me, what should they wear in the U.K. or Canada during their studies? Inayah is a label whose more casual stylings would give you a pretty good idea about what the modern Muslim woman in U.K. (and English native) is actually wearing and how they are wearing it.
You can trust them not to scam you if you order online, and this is their website:
www.inayahcollection.com/

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

KHALEEJI DESIGNERS: Emirati label Keswah, Spring 2014

Keswah is an Emirati label that I follow. I am really loving the tweed jalabiyias featured right now, only the website (for myself at least) is not behaving to reveal their prices... And while they don't scream springtime in Muscat to me, I would totally wear them on vacation to Europe or to North America.
Website: www.keswah.com
Instagram: bykeswah
YouTube/Vimeo: bykeswah
Twitter: @Keswah

KHALEEJI DESIGNERS: Qatari label, the Kayys for Spring 2014

Qatarai brand the Kayys released a really exquisite Spring collection. I am loving the 1960s couture flow to it. Reminds me of a looser, lighter Balenciaga collection from that time period. I could probably see myself wearing every single piece in the collection---and that is saying something. Pictured here are only my favourite looks.
To Contact :

info@thekayys.com


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

OPNO MUSCAT SHOPPING GUIDE: classic maternity

I have always admired the maternity style of supermodel & mom Claudia Schiffer. Of course, she has an easier time of it all, living in Paris where both the weather, social norms, and let's face it, shopping, suit being chic. Muscat is not a shopper's paradise. However, being pregnant is made easy here by the availability of caftans/jalabiyia for formal occasions, and abaya for casual. But what if that is not what you regularily live in? And like me, you hate the hastle of driving to Dubai (I'd fly first class of course but who does that really---okay, a few of the girls I know but not me).
 
I admit, to have quite peaceably gone through my last pregnancy broke and barefoot at home (definately not in the kitchen) wearing nothing but the aforementioned and whatever else I had brought from my home country that still fit me during the nine months.
 
But this time, I am determined to do everything differently. I am going to keep working until all else fails. I am going to dress fabulous and take more photos. I will eat actual food.
 
Those are my goals. So recently I have been going over the latest Western/European style fashions in store in Muscat, and I admit to finding stuff mainly from Matalan, Promod, and H&M (with one dress in Zara) that fits my blooming figure. My favourite store, Mango, has some investments, but they won't fit me now, and so... I will wear what I like that fits from wherever else. I put together a few inspiration boards to get me going one pieces I can wear through out the nine months that will last me later. They aren't too on trend, but are simply the sort of classic look I like.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Real Estate Agents in Oman Suck

Real Estate {OMANI} agents in Oman suck. I've been friends with a few real estate agents, who are expats {Canadian, American, Australian} and they were pretty awesome professionals but the ones I have encountered lately in Muscat... I'd say don't get me started but I'm already off on a rant.

I am currently in the process of looking for a piece of property (to buy-to own). Exciting, yes? Scary, yes. But it has been a long time coming, with scrimping and saving and renting. Owning my own home has always been a dream of mine, and I never wanted a man to buy it for me, (i.e. my husband---he can buy me my dream furniture if he wants to}. So finally comes the time, when I am secure enough to be able to, so we begin the search process.

I'll give you a few examples.

There was a duplex/split villa for sale in Mubaila. Agent takes forever to meet us (I am saying, over an hour). I didn't want to wait. I think that is rude, since he knew we were coming and at what time, but my husband waits. Agent arrives. Agent doesn't seem to know where the house is either. He drives us around for forty minutes, and at every house with a for sale sign stops to check if it might be the one we'd asked to see. Loser. Finally, he calls an Indian man who built the house to show us all where it is. Two hours gone from my life I can never get back, just driving around Mabaila.

We thought a property scout agent would be better for us, you know, since their comission for the sale comes from us, not the owner. This was a villa for sale in a farther away from Muscat end of Mabaila. HE DIDN'T SHOW UP AT ALL! But described it to us, in a way that begins with, it is just behind pizza hut, and doesn't add "then driver forever and a day on a road out to nowhere," "take a turn on a dirt road". You will see the house. But you can't drive TO the house yet, because it is built in a wadi. Um yeah. I refused to get out of the car. "is the house still on water tank or does it have government water?" My husband asks. The house would need a 4x4 water truck to get to it. Of course, it doesn't have water! 'Screw property scouts,' I thought.

Back in Muscat, we saw two beautiful, stunning flats. We agreed to take them both with the agent. We take time out of our busy schedules to go and draw the papers up, and guess what? The flats that were shown to us for the price we were told, are actually not for sale, but are the same design as the flats that are for sale, only difference being, they had penthouse situated views of the ocean on all sides, and the flats were almost tricked into buying?: walls. As the old real estate adage goes, location, location, location, locations. Wadis, water trucks, and walls will never spell out home for me.

What about for-sale-by-owner?: there was an older home in Muscat, one storey. The owner agreed to a quick cash sale. But, wouldn't give my husband the plans for the property. Why, because the house is not built to support an added-on-second story as it was pitched. So it is worth a good 20, 000 OMR less. No sale for us, we're not stupid!

So annoyed right now!

OOTD+abaya: stranded on a desert island

What would you wear if you knew you were going to be stranded on a desert island?: Me, of course, had to have pearls and paisley+abaya. Two OPNO girls and a half (my daughter) took a boat trip out to the Daymaniyat Islands over the weekend. Of course, we were only stranded for about 3 hours, as our boat dropped us on the white sand beach and in the crystal clear waters around 4:30 pm, and picked us up before sunset. Except for that one time the boat ran out of gas... in the middle of the ocean. Yeah, anyways, the plan was to picnic, and the day (early evening) was excruciatingly beautiful.
Sadly an iphone (not mine of course!;D) was lost to the sea, but the clear water (see below) almost repaired that sense of tragedy. Phones can be replaced, memories, never.
Our favourite Island has breathtakingly beautiful white sand, obviously from the coral reefs that line the shores. There were plenty of swimmers, snorkelers, divers, and campers on one side of the island, and at night one can watch turtles here.
 
If you are interested in going, boats can be caught for 15-20 OMR (drop off and pick up, either same day or next) from both Barka/Sawadi and Seeb Souq (the dock behind the fish souq along the Seeb Corniche road, behind that building that says "ice" on it).
My abaya is my own design, and I got it tailored in Souq Al Khoud near Al Nafeesa jewelers (behind and at the side). It is a simple wide sleeve closed front abaya in al nada fabric with white paisleys embroidered all over it, and pearls beaded on top. Shoes were from Nine West. The other OPNO girl pictured, her abaya is from "Black" in Al Khoud, because I think she buys every abaya she owns from there unless one of our friends designs one for her.
I just love speeding along at sea, but our shaylas (headscarves) really hated it, and mine nigh flew off, so I will probably pack a pashmina or men's musayr to tie around my head, Joradnian-bedu style via boat trip until we get there. I will go camping next time, I promise, and take better photos.
 Above, one of the sea caves.
It was a lovely day, and then, on the way back, just short of Muscat and Seeb conriche, we ran out of gas, which was, thankfully, not even something we were aware of.  We pulled in to the dock nonetheless, just at Magraib (sunset prayer) and then I spent the next day just relaxing since this day took a lot out of me while holding a two year old in a little motor-powered speed boat. I recommend scheduling a proper tour boat or Dhow cruise if taking little ones, if you want to relax more at sea than I was able to. Bandar Al Jissah in Shangrila (too lazy to spell that properly, sorry) offers one, and I am sure other places do as well. {THE END}