Monday, July 11, 2016

How to Experience Omani Culture During Eid Days

One thing that I have noticed is that quite a few tour companies in Oman offer tours of traditional Omani villages on the very first day of Eid...which is great, if you have an interest in Omani cuisine, and photographing the Eid prayer and cute Omani kids in general. The first day of both Eids usually involve food, getting dressed up (maybe in traditional dress), cutting meat, and in some villages [usually the ones on the tourist itinerary] preparing the shuwa (traditional Omani dish). I however, find that from a photography point of view, beyond all the cute little Omani kids in traditional dress, this to be an uneventful day as a guest or onlooker.

Of course, if you are involved in the food preparation and going to the Eid prayers (which are super early in the morning), it is, instead, just exhausting;).

Here is my guide to enjoying other Eid activities (if you happen to be an outsider, these are usually more to taste):

The second day of Eid many Omani families share their food (especially skewers of grilled meat in the early to late evening). Also, many traditional villages have a singing/dancing/drumming event late afternoon to early evening called "azwah" [as pictured in the photographs here].

Some villages also arrange rifle/marksmanship contests and sword skills contests on this or on a fourth day of Eid holidays. If you are a male tourist/traveler, if you ask some of the younger guys in one of these traditional villages, they've been known to allow one to come to the event (usually not hosted in the village itself), photograph it, and maybe even help you to get there. For ladies, not so much;). We have to make due with watching the Azwah, and visiting in our best clothes;).

The third day of Eid is the best Eid day from a guest perspective, as there is usually the "azwah" drumming/singing in the late afternoon, with sword dancing/skills contest, and also, the Omani shuwa dish is served. Most Omanis share;) especially if asked, even if they don't like tourists in general;). It would be impolite not to.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

DAILY DIARY: Kids' Events over the Eid Holiday in Muscat

City Center Mall in Qurum (July 7-9) is hosting an activity area with Shaun the Sheep characters (and July 12-16) at Seeb City Center Mall (my kids love Shaun the Sheep).
Avenues mall is apparently hosting free kids creative workshops, magicians, brain games (and they have a photo booth). This is aimed July 8th & 9th from 7pm – 11pm.

Al Bustan is advertising a family-friendly brunch buffet at Al Khiran Terrace for July 8th (starting 1pm). Kids are 12 omr each, adults (for the no alcohol option) are 25 omr. Henna, other kid's activities, and face painting, keep the little one's entertained while the adults relax I assume;).

I am still looking to add more events. If you have an event to be featured please email us at opnoprincess   @   hotmail.com

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Eid Mubarak Oman, and Our Readers

Here's to wishing you and your families a safe and happy Eid ul Fitr!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Tennis in Oman pt. 1: post in progress

Today is the start of Wimbledon... Tennis, in other words.

Despite growing up literally next to the Tennis courts in any country I have ever lived in, I am a horrible misfortunate player. I killed a bird once, instead of hitting the ball, and that was the end of my attempts at the sport. I am not a "sporty" girl. I wear heels, not sneakers. Still... I am going to post about tennis nonetheless, and those more avid in the sport will have to forgive me for any errors.

Still whenever Wimbledon comes around... I begin to miss the land far and away just a little... in particular, one of my Aunts, who was actually a badminton player, but is a person totally obsessed with Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. She is actually quite famous notorious, because she was one of the first female baseball players in our city, and one of the first girls to protest for permission for girls to wear pants to school (in her time, you had to wear a skirt or a dress). She's the sporty one in the family, obviously.

Every Wimbledon she'd have a Wimbledon party, and watch all the matches. I wonder if she will this year (she is currently suffering memory loss due Alzheimer's so I have to wonder). In her honour, and in the honour of other female grounder-breakers who happen to side towards tennis-fanatic tendencies, I will try to write something about Oman and tennis.

If you do happen to be in Oman, I am working on rounding up a list of some of the best places to play, learn, or watch tennis this month:
Omani Tennis Player
Oman does have a famous female tennis player actually, and she is 24 year old Fatma Al Nabhani. I remember my husband having a cute freak out moment in the mall, where he was torn between Omani male modesty and general societal privacy, and the wish to go up and ask for the autograph of Fatma. In the end he decided to leave her alone;) but I still remember the incident.

Fatma was the first female pro tennis player in the GCC. Last year she made history when she won a doubles match at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship, the first GCC woman to do so at a Premier 5 event. I think it was at age 19 when she ranked #362 in the world?

...She attributes her success to her family first, then to the freedom women have in Oman, and then to her sponsor, Nike, who accept that she wears longer sleeves and leggings;). There's a documentary movie about her and other Arab women in sport, where Fatma's achievements are featured.

Definitely impressive.

Playing and Learning (Omani):
Oman does have a tennis association. They can be reached apparently (no guarantee, since this is a government thing;)) by email: tennis@omantel.net.om or by phoning 2475 1402. I am assuming their facilities are in the main Ghubra/Baushar sports complex. I will try to check and then update this. If you are Omani you can probably read Arabic better than I;). The Arabic version of the website does seem to have much more information and some links that actually work.

Playing and Learning (Expat and Omani):
PDO's Ras Al Hamra Tennis club is one of the largest (they have 2 indoor courts as well if I remember correctly), and reminds me of things my parents tried to force me to get into;). : http://www.tennis.pdorc.com/
Al Bustan Hotel has 4 tennis courts, and offers annual and 6 month memberships to guests and non-guests, as well as various activities including group and private lessons, matches for all levels and ages. I had a look at their prices, and a lot of the activities and lessons were actually very reasonable  : www.ritzcarlton.com/albustanpalace and phone: 2479 9666. Their Wimbledon coverage will be in the "Summer Lounge" just off from Al Khiran terrace...so a lovely way to take in the game.
Juices and cocktails, from 2-3.5 omr, and an A la carte menu (snacks, burgers, sandwiches, sharing finger foods). Open from 6:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Intercontinental Hotel has 2 tennis courts at their Palm Beach Club and their courts are open from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm. Bookings for the courts can be done on the same day by calling the hotel extension# 8507 and booking online is possible www.pbitennis.setmore.com . Lessons with a Tennis pro are available annually from September to June. I have no idea yet as to their fees or other activities, or Wimbledon coverage as of yet.

The Chedi, Muscat, offers guests full coverage of Wimbledon from their hotel rooms. As most of the marketing and events people there are on vacation the best I could find out so far for facilities is that there are tennis courts, and that they are available for single or double games from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00p.m with advance booking. No idea yet, how exactly to make a booking, cost, lessons if any, if they are open to guests only or if outside non-staying guests can book them for a fee nonetheless.

...post in progress, to be continued through-out today

HOUSE UPDATE: Will we move in after Eid?

Decorative wall iron finally installed.... still awaiting gates.... today? InshaAllah.
Almost done, electricity inspection passed, we still have the Baladiyia/Muscat Municipalities to approve, but we are hoping to finally be able to move in after Eid. Here's to hoping for that. I don't think everything will be quite perfect by then.... but at least we should be able to move.

Randomly, decorations for Ramadan at Seeb City Center mall, photographed for my daughter, who loves decorations of any kind:

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Cute Lanterns for only 1 omr, and everything else that is random

Okay, so this is a crappy little post. I haven't been feeling that great of late and didn't get around to photographing all the Ramadan decorations for the blog I was going to...or Mosque, or food, or anything. There have been however, a lot of great posts by other bloggers.

What I did want to share were these lanterns from Lifestyle stores... they were only 1 omr each and come in blue, red, green, and white. I thought they were a great deal for only 1 omr.

BTW, I ave been trying to update our blog roll. I finally managed to add the "Oman Law Blog" but there are a lot of other great blogs my net just isn't allowing me to save. Trust me, I have been trying to add "Rummy's Scribblings" for years;). Anyways... I also thought it interesting to note that my husband has been thinking to get into blogging (he'll probably write in Arabic however) and he's been asking me if Suburban would be okay if he translated her posts (and edited out the swearing);) http://otheroman.blogspot.com/.  I love her blog and am glad she's back to writing about what we all talk about but never think to post about, and that she does it in such a hilarious, offhanded, and human way, that heavy subjects don't come across as overly contrived or impossible to approach.

I have also been reading a lot of Kuwaiti blogs of late. My gosh that blogging set are HILARIOUS. If we ever think Oman is impossibly ridiculous, then I suggest reading about Kuwait:). I especially loved Desert Girl's post about dating http://desertgirlkuwait.blogspot.com/2016/05/desert-girl-kuwait-dating-update.html (yes, I know, I am a Muslim, and it is Ramadan, I should be haraam humbugging her), and felt like, you know, we do need a "Sex in the City" set in the Gulf. I know we have "Ayb in the City" already, but Desert Girl is just so heartwarmingly American (in the way that Americans are good---says a Canadian) that I am always laughing or near tears with her stories. Also, her Ramadan story "the time I went to the wrong house for iftar" is the most touching Ramadan story I have read this year http://desertgirlkuwait.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-time-i-walked-into-wrong-house.html.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

THE HOUSE: Updates on Lates

So everything in Oman is always late, so of course construction of a house is going to be late... But towards that, our project is now super super late. It is driving my family crazy. Latest crap is that the main wiring for the first floor has to be re-done. Which means, cutting the stone off the facade, also cutting the walls and plaster, and thus doing re-work. We've hated the work from the electrician all along... so I shouldn't be surprised I guess?

The expense for all this should be from the contractor/construction side since it was their electrician, their work. Of course, we are currently fighting them for this. I am not going to pay for the same stuff twice. Of course, fighting takes time...
It is soooooo.... disheartening.
Also, the wall iron (we are installing decorative iron to our front wall) company did make the iron, but have yet to install it and the front entry gates... and they aren't answering their phone... so that means driving out to crappy industrial Mabaila during already busy Ramadan evenings... which sucks.
...and the granite installation in villas 1 & 2 is finally complete... But my kitchen cabinetry supplier came to fix the cupboards so I could sign off and say everything is as it is supposed to be and they don't have responsibility anymore (beyond supplying the correct colour of handles which should be mid this month) but they neglected to check that all the drawers work after the granite fixing... Thus my under oven drawer? Doesn't work. So now I have to schedule a THIRD round visit from them.... so annoying. The fourth, will be for the handles (I ordered cast iron, not antique bronze).

I also need to hire another construction company (because I am sick of ours) to finish the kitchen counter area. Above is basically my kitchen layout with the blank space I did not purchase cabinetry for. I wanted something more European, so I want plastered counters. ...I also have to paint some kitchen shelving for open shelves in my blank wall space areas... and before I do that I have to customize the shelves to have hooks to hang mugs from the bottom shelves, and for the mid-height shelves, install bars for the support brackets, for platters, and for the bottom shelf, also bars, for plate racking to display my dishes...

...Well, my husband's dishes, since he's the one with a thing for blue and white porcelains... not me;). I blame Holland, since that was his first experience with travel;). Not that I can complain. I am a more rustic earthenware/stoneware kind of girl, but I appreciate the artistry of blue and white porcelains.

For those who think open shelving is a lot of work/dusting, I've had it before and found that I love the look, and it kept me super organized. Also, beyond platters and fancy tea sets, and one or two cannisters, everything else on display usually gets used with frequency, so it was surprisingly no work at all to dust.

So the house remains... a story to be continued.