Sunday, January 22, 2017

Weird Old Omani "snacks": when your Omani husband thinks a craving for dill pickle flavoured potatoe chips is odd but likes to eat locusts

Now the tourism ministry in Oman definitely doesn't promote this, but Oman totally does have weird snacks, depending on the region. You will likely never be offered these as an expat in Oman, except as a joke but...

I was telling my husband, that I kind of miss different potatoe chip flavours from back home, like 'barbecue" and "dill pickle". He thought that dill pickle potatoe chips sounded disgusting. However, my husband does miss an old Interior/Dhakliyia snack of roasted locusts. Apparently.

Yes, you heard me. Roasted locusts.

Mmmm. Yum. So much less weird than any flavour of potatoe chips, right?

In the Interior they also used to cook/roast up this bug:
...which my interior-region husband doesn't miss.

For which, I am glad.

Along the coast here in Muscat and Al Batinah, dried lemon flavoured sardines were an old-time favourite, which always made me want to retch.

I buy them...but for my cats.

But it does get weirder...
In the desert (Sharqiyah, Al Wusta, Bedu areas etc.) there's this lizard (Dhab/Spiny Tail Lizard/Uromastyx Microlepis) that people eat. Usually with biryani rice these days. Looks like this:
I've been offered it...

Yeah. Tastes bad to me.

...But still better than the idea of locusts or bugs... I dunno. Maybe chocolate covered locusts would be fine. But like, dried lemon and chili flavoured-roasted locusts? Probably couldn't swallow it even to be polite.

Like the tongue or any brain part of an Eid shuwa. I can put it in my mouth. Chew. Smile...

...First chance I get I spit it out and dispose of it. Toddlers are awesome. They usually love 'tongue'.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Oman's National Museum pt. 2: Some of the First Floor Galleries

So I already blogged about the ground floor gallery here: [ ] but really, the first floor had what I was I was looking for in terms of collections.
My thing is definitely late-bronze to early iron age civilizations.

I wanted to spend more time in the Prehistory and Ancient History gallery (where a stone axe head is on show, being one of the oldest ever found in Arabia) but my kids were bored, so we mostly spent time in all the other galleries but the ones I actually wanted to see.

Still there was some Magan copper. And bronze age amber necklaces and pottery.
There was also a Nabataean script? (don't quote me, in uni. ancient languages was something I beyond sucked at) tablet.
Also, I liked the Splendors of Islam gallery. Below is a quiblah taken from a masjid in Oman. The tiles were mostly imports from Iran.
I found this to be a surprising piece in the collection [below]. A letter from the Ottoman Empire annexing Oman from them (in the Prophet Mohammed's SAW time he gave Oman permission to collect and distribute the Muslim version of taxes [zakat] independent of the Caliphate in Madinah, so shariah law holds this one country is a separate tax jurisdiction which is kind of interesting).
More of those lovely Iranian imported tiles:
In the Renaissance Gallery? they had the old flag for Muscat for the Royal Family. Oman's old flag was white;) for the Islamic Imamate. Politically.... interesting, to only have the red flag on display...hmmm. Unity, if one is kind, could be the reason, historical re-write... if one is being unkind. I digress.
A royal family (from Zanzibar) life-size oil portrait:
Royal family traditional dress:
The old gate to old Muscat? I believe, or maybe the palace (I forget):
Sultan's custom China service:
This diverged into the Oman and the World and Collections galleries (I like old furniture):
(I read in Zanzibar, the slaves used to sleep under the bed that's why it is so high but I forget the source. Could be wrong).
And then we saw this Portuguese canon and my husband and I argued about the blow up on it. He argued it was made with a flaw but I remember reading somewhere in "A Peninsular War" (oh God, what volume or chapter I have no idea) by Sir Charles W. C. Oman that these lightweight canons weren't good shooting up at fortified hill forts etc... So maybe some idiot gunner thought to increase the range to beat the slope by overloading it beyond its capacity in terms of ammunition or powder. There's an awful lot of hill forts in Oman...;)
Anyways, there was more to see but not time left on the kid's attention span timer.

Next time.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

DAILY DIARY: what I've been up to, and Muscat Festival 2017

The truth about what I've been up to?

Honestly? Not much. Work, kids...I have a new laundry machine so I've been doing laundry.

I love laundry machines. Seriously. They are awesome. Carrefour delivery... not so much.

I also made this goal to get stronger. Not to exercise or lose weight or anything lame women like to say like that, but to be stronger, to gain muscle and cardio endurance, and maybe some flexibility and skill. You won't see me taking on extreme endurance events like Spartan, like Heather over at her blog;). But, like, I've started with push ups and sit ups and crunches, and using weights and just holding out my arms...

...Because generally, if you are a Muslim woman living in the GCC? You get weak, like seriously, atrociously weak here. Like if you try to carry stuff, people try to help you with it. And doing physical labour, like cutting the grass, digging a hole, building a wall, painting a wall... well, even that isn't normal to do and it can be hard to find a way to do it in a way it's "accepted".

I wanted to do jui-jitsu or mixed martial arts lessons here (I'm not a very motivated gym person), but there is no women-only stuff going on. It's hard for me to learn just watching too, and unless it is an emerg. sit. I just can't justify wrestling in close quarters with a dude. My husband could do the lessons for me and try to teach me, but are they gonna teach him according to my weight class and body type? No. So for now... nothing on that.

-But...bought some wrist wraps just in case.

But...I bought them in pink so for sure everyone will know that I have no idea what I am doing.
And I bought my first pair of runners since like, 2003. I know hiking boots, but like, runners? I just chose the ones that said they were for running in the end. I dunno.

I decided to try dune surfing. Went to the Barka junction lights and took the left to the road to wadi Abyad (lots of construction, results in a detour that is beyond long) to get to the Suwadi Al Batha' dunes.

So. Dune surfing/sand sledding?:

Didn't work, at least not using cardboard surf boards, and plastic tea trays, it didn't. These get bogged down and hardly move unless you flip them...

...And then sand tastes like, well, sand. [,57.6459673,17z]

My Omani husband didn't think it would work. I insisted it would. He thought the attempt to make it work was hilarious though, and worth it in the end. I think there must be a way to do it, but yeah, things that would work on snow? Soooooo don't work on sand.
Oh, and it was like "date night".

 Which is like, super important when you are in poly marriage. You are like, yes, it is finally my days on a weekend. Think of it, as only having a weekend once or twice a month.

Of course, husband was all nervously guessing what the perfect kids-free date would be. In the end I was like, "Can we just go  and see the new Star Wars movie?"
And he was like, sure.

...Even though he doesn't like Star Wars really.

So, saw Rogue One at City Center, Seeb.

I liked it. Less "little kids" Star Wars. Although some flaws I saw (dude who spent his entire life fighting the Empire to the point of extremism just lies down to die?!!!) and that hug on the beach....Like, Rebel first date idea?: Let's sit down on the beach, hug, and watch the planet explode around you? ...I don't know.
But otherwise, I loved it. Now, no one can ever call the Death Star architect an idiot, ever again.


Obviously Chirrut, Temple Priest: "I am one with the Force, and the Force is one with me" because it is repeated, alot. But me, personally, liked when the he tells Rebel Captain Cassian not all prisons are the same and that Cassian takes his with him wherever he Cassian is trying to escape from their prison cell.

Bodhi Rook, defecting Imperial Pilot (Arab actor, Arab accent, not playing a terrorist but a hero, a hero the story couldn't take place without)---About to leave on a last-chance suicide mission to save the Rebellion, the Alliance asks for the call sign of the ship that he's in the process of stealing: "This is Rogue One." [In future Star Wars movies you'll notice Luke Skywalker is 'Rogue Leader' and there's a Rogue 2 but that out of respect for this dude, no one ever uses the Rogue One call sign again.]

Cassian Andor, Spy/Alliance Intelligence Officer: "Rebellions are built on hope." "We don't all have the luxury of deciding when and where we care about something." And of course, Jyn to Cassian: J "Are you with me?" C "All the way." ...And Cassian basically telling Jyn the rebellion is her home. Plus battle advice: "Make ten men feel like a hundred."

Sassy reprogrammed Imperial robot K2: When Cassian lets Jyn keep the blaster she stole; "Would you like to know the probability of her using it against you? It's very high." When Jynn shoots at a random Imperial droid "Did you know that wasn't me?" because she didn't care less at the time. Again, to Jyn, when K2 rescues her: "I'll be there for you. Captain said I had to." When asked why he didn't stay on the ship by Cassian, says "That was an awful lot of explosions for two people blending in" and "I was bored." To Cassian and Jyn: "Your arguments are vague and unconvincing." When told [the Rogue One crew] that they could all die in the vacuum of space, he pipes up "Not me. I can survive in space." When their cover is blown: "I'm taking these prisoners...To imprison prison." 

Jyn Erso, normal person caught up in the struggle against the Empire. In reply yo Mon Mothma, who is listing her faults and why Jyn a terrible person for the mission: "This is a rebellion, isn't it? I rebel."  When pointing out that she shouldn't like the sight of Imperial flags flying everywhere, Jyn initially says "it isn't a problem if you don't look up" which I totally felt. Finally, indicating that she has come into the role circumstance and those around her want her to play; "We'll take the next chance, and the next, until we win, or the chances are spent."

And of course the bad guy, Darth Vader: "Careful not to choke on your aspirations." As he chokes the dude.

So, after that, I was like, can you teach me to shoot? [to my husband, not Darth Vader].

...Because Star Wars movies always make me feel like I should be a tougher chic than I am right.

My husband is a pretty good teacher for things that require movement, and he's a decent shot. So he says yes. He usually takes second or first in marksmanship contests, depending on the gun type and the other competitors. I always grumble, I'd place well in swords....

I'm the girl that would-be-kidnappers, rapists, creeps, think makes an easy target, and since I insist on keeping my independence (to me this means going places by myself) my Omani husband has been after me to keep a gun with me anyways. Even just in the house, because, you know, I'm not a lucky person. I'm a rather lucky unlucky person, like bad stuff happens to me, but I get through it. I'm a fighter, but in the totally wrong body. I'm stuck in the please-kidnap-or-molest-me body because creeps are always cowards 99.9% of the time.

...But I hesitated for a couple of reasons. One of them being...

...I've always believed I was a lousy shot. This may come from my inability to make out the pellet or bullet holes in targets. And my general knife-throwing capabilities, which are utter crap. I have no wish to give anyone a weapon to use against me beyond their probably-more-than-mine body mass and muscle.

But with shooting?

Apparently I am so close to the mark I always assumed that wasn't me. Or I use something with a shoddy site, and then I aim terrible. I need a decent site to aim.

So my husband made targets that blow to pieces when you hit them and we discovered I can do this pretty repetitively without any misses quite easily, which makes me feel pretty good about myself.

Like, I am actually a pretty decent shot. That makes a girl feel good about herself more than a bouquet of roses or diamond bracelet ever could, I assure you.

It was like, the perfect date. Shooting lessons. A little knife throwing practice, and Star Wars. LOL.

Which made me think of, I think it was Other Oman? complaining about an Omani guy's idea of date being shooting at Mountain Dew cans, and I'm like... that'd so work for me;XD.

Husband's idea for date night number 2 was to go to Muscat Festival, so we drove to Al Amirat...

....Which would have been totally cool...

But....Muscat Festival starts on the 19th of this month;p so yeah.

In the end we had schwarma and falafel, and sat in the dirt of a wadi bed, and talked about going to Muscat Festival when it actually stay tuned for that.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sad about the death of Princess Leia: Omani husband asks if I want to go to the azza

My little sister is supposed to be the nerd/geek girl. She writes fan fiction, uses anime character art as her profile pic on stuff, does cos play, thinks very pale white tall thin guys with odd messy black hair who are good with knives and swords are attractive, all that. When I say I like Star Wars her friends look at me like:
...I was the girl who could follow her along to Comic-Con in my normal clothes, and people expected me to, I guess, be 'Penny' from the "Big Bang Theory" show etc, but when it comes down to it, I'm the bigger 'geek' or 'nerd' I guess because when I heard Carrie Fisher died, the actress who played Princess Leia in "Star Wars" I felt really sad. [Not to mention that I did win the Star Wars trivia contest at every one of these weird events I have ever been to.]


Yes, I know, it's like, being your mother, when Diana died, and being all "I'll hate Charles and Camilla forever"-about-it-ridiculous. My Omani husband snidely said "do you want to go to the azza?"
Azza, btw, is an Omani funeral, which I generally avoid going to, because I hate them.

A person has to be someone I admire (or someone my husband would cry over) for me to attend.

I prefer to pray for the dead in private, or grieve alone.
But, like, Princess Leia is my favourite royal of all time.

...And Carrie Fisher was a really darling personality.

Why does this matter to a Muslim girl? Because I am a girl.

Who is your favourite Disney Princess? 

(Little Western girls get asked this a lot so as a girl you think about it. Like, which one of them is most like you, or who would you like to be like.) ....My little daughter likes Elsa. Mheh.

Well, people would be like "You're so Belle, because you love to read." I'd be like, she's okay I guess, but Pocahontas was a real person (wouldn't want to wind up like she did though---knew this because I liked to read). Mulan was the best, but let's face it, I'd make a crap Mulan.

But there were two 'Princesses' in fiction I really loved. One was Eowyn, from Lord of the Rings. And again, like Mulan, and again, like Arya Stark (I read Game of Thrones before it was tv or famous), I'd probably never be able to live up to these brave strong girls. Physical presence mostly to win the day? Not me.

As already mentioned, people expect me to be Belle or Cinderella, or 'Penny' or something.
The second fictional 'Princess' that I loved?: Princess Leia.

Let me tell you why she was the best.
She was small, feminine, dressed feminine even, but even that, she was still strong. She could shoot, and she could use words, and resist torture, and believe, and hope, and not give up. It was okay that she needed to be rescued sometimes, because she didn't wind up there needing help by being pathetic. She could have taken an easier path, but gave it up to fight for the right thing.
She could also rock a crap-load of braids.
And rolled her eyes. A lot.

Some girls be like, "I'm like Cinderella because my hair is blonde." I'm like, yeah, I roll my eyes.

...She made people want to be better themselves. And all that, and she could still cut a guy who thinks he's all that to the quick. And she was so compassionate, which I'd love to be myself.

Like, I don't know, her adoptive parents just died, her entire planet was blown up, and she's like, comforting some kid whose sad about the death of some guy whose real name he didn't even know the day before.
She didn't give up. And when in command, was always the last to leave the deck.
Disney officially bought out the Star Wars franchise so Princess Leia is my favourite Disney Princess, now.
And Carrie Fisher was an incredibly intelligent woman who totally knew what kind of person she was portraying and what that 'Princess' meant to other women. Like, if you watch the 'Star Wars New Hope' film, in the award scene at the end you'll notice that Chewbacca didn't get a medal? At the MTV awards she gave Chewbacca the medal with the theme song playing.

 She was also, apparently, ridiculously funny.

And understands what sexism and modesty in clothes actually means. For Muslim women, being told what to wear by Western culture, and Arab/Desi cultures? This understanding is important. When asked about the horrible slave-girl costume?
 Carrie Fisher's reply:

And being criticized for no longer keeping the Princess Leia slave-girl costume physique? Fisher is quoted:
She also rather famously spoke out about being bipolar. Having close family with severe bipolar disorder, I can relate to her quotes: "Some women play hard to get, I play hard to understand" and "I told my doctor I felt normal on acid and was a light bulb in a world of moths." Since she was a mother who took the meds so she could be a mother to her kids, I admire her for that. A lot.

So yeah.
If she did have an azza, I'd think about going.