Friday, February 5, 2010

Handball, and life back in Oman

So I am safely in Muscat now, alhamdulilah. I have been living the quiet life, shopping for curtains and cushions at Centrepoint and the Mutrah Souq (I found the above majlis cushion set at the souq), and picking out some new abayas and a new balushi/Omani dress from waaaaaaay away Mutrah (best prices---do not pay 40 rials for a traditional souvenier Omani outfit unless it is for a wedding ex-pat people!---else you are getting ripped off ROYALLY). I pay 15-25 rials (that's a good price) and 25-30 is fair. You won't find this right in the Souq.

Other than that, I am also eating schwarma again (um, why OPNO?). For those of you who do not know me, I had to live on schwarma for a whole month due to lack of a kitchen and fuloos (money) last time round in Muscat. I lost 250 rials by leaving my purse somewhere and now, lol, am skimping on luxuries to make rent. Thus schwarma has replaced my other eating out habits.

But last night me and a few friends went to a handball match between two teams that had players on the National Team (and it was televised live on, like, Oman TV channel 2 or something) at the Sultan Qaboos sporting complex so that must be good right? LOL, we'd never heard of the sport previously so an Omani friend tried their best to explain the rules to us (and how the goalkeeper was related to this shirt number on the red shirt team, and how white shirt player on the other team was their cousin).

Handball as I understood it: the game consists of six players on each side of a kinda basketball court (but with soccer nets) and a round dodgeball kind of ball, and six other players on a bench, with each side typically having one dude in a dishdasha on their bench. His role went unquestioned and unexplained but this man likes to wave his hands a lot and jump up and down. I am thinking he might be the sponsor????? Anyways, so the teams have positions, the center guy is the Captain (and he has to have a lot of experience in handball), and there is, on both the right and the left of him, two fellows who play offensive forward but switch to defense when needed, and then on the side of those fellows, two wingmen who are mainly defensive. Oh yeah, and one long pants wearing (the other players wear shorts) goalkeeper. Though it seems that during the game these positions change and no one keeps them for any particular strategic reason (but I am new to handball so maybe I am wrong?). The aim is to throw the ball (not kick it) into the other team's net. This ball is bounced, dribbled, thrown, and passed, while both teams bash into one another (it is kind of a contact sport like a very tame rugby) but grabbing the arm of the other players when they go to throw it seems to result in a penalty, like two minute bench times. This is a yellow card from the refs. Three yellows cards equal one red card (out for the game) like in soccer/football.

One dude on the white team got mad at the ref VERY dramatically, and tore off his t-shirt before heading to the stands (the ones with the nice chairs and the VIPS) (we sat with the generally barefooted Omani guy-crowd set on the plastic seats opposite, LOL). Thus I am surprised there are less older expat women at the matches LOL, as admission to the games is apparently free, and they can be quite entertaining to watch, with people faking injuries (that's what it looked like to me), and very dramatic hand-waving by the dishdasha bench-dude. Plus you apparently don't have to wear shoes because EVERYONE but us had taken off their sandals and had their feet balanced on their friends chair in front of them. And the fans had drums so it made it all very dramatic.

One thing to note, there were exactly 3 and 1/2 women in the entire stadium during the match. OPNO, ODNO [Omani Duchess Not Omani], one expat blonde lady on the VIP side, and a little girl with her father.

And they made me leave my pepsi outside.

And for some reason the entire exit was covered with ripped paper which must have been fun for the blue-jumpered sweepers to attend to. Our Omani friends could not explain this to us.

And I couldn't find a vid of Oman playing handball, but this is a vid of handball clips, so if you are like me, and have never heard of the sport before, you'll know roughly what it is:

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