Thursday, April 14, 2011
Scariest Thing That's Ever Happened to Someone I Know in Oman
Where I live in Oman is surrounded by farms so it is alot less deserted than where the average expat lives. I personally love the privacy and I know all my neighbors. It is about a 15 minute walk to the nearest store down a dirt road without houses or lights. My husband and I favour walking at night because it much cooler, and I had a friend who was visiting, and she decided to go for a walk after sundown for the same reason. She was just returning from the local store when she noticed that a Pakistani man was following her. She pretended to walk one direction and then she quickly changed course, and he veered after her. She was still on the main road so she didn't freak out as cars DO drive by here. He was about to steal her purse, because he took a hold of it, when a car passing by freaked him out and he let it go. At this point she sprinted off into the night at high speed away from him. But like all nightmares, it wouldn't end. Another car behind the Pakistani man's freak out witnessed the whole thing. There she was, a woman alone at night, conversing it seemed with a Pakistani man in an abaya. (My friend is a convert like me and Western heritage, married, working for a very important company in Oman, and totally respectable by police and Omani standards). He started to follow her in his car. My friend is from Muscat and men follow girls in cars and try to lamely get their phone numbers all the time so this didn't freak her out exactly, she was just annoyed and mad at almost having been robbed already and now being bugged by some bozo. But her annoyance quickly turned to fear when she realized what he was after and who he thought she was. In Arabic he asked her if she was Omani as his car pulled alongside her on the dark and abandoned road. "No, Englezi, and stop following me, or I'll call the police!" He responded in English, "Bengledeshi?" and the way he said it , she knew that he thought she was a prostitute catering to the workers on the farms. She actually knew there was no point calling the ROP here, as the man thought she wouldn't because she was a hooker and that they'd never arrive in time to help her where she was. She stopped to take off her sandals, and pick up a large boulder. My friend has fought off stalkers before in Emirates, armed only with a Pepsi can and some prayer beads, and she may not look it at a mere 96 lbs, but when it comes to a more public scrap, she can handle herself. She warned him, "Leave me alone or I'll throw this rock through your windsheild and another right through your head!" He was already half way out of his car to grab her. He froze. Since she only had one rock and didn't want to get close enough to grind it into his nose unless she had to, she took off at a sprint, abandoning her sandals. While she ran he got back into his car. She ran to one of our neighbor's houses and banged on their gate. They were home and it was locked and their maid obviously didn't hear the bell. Like all horror flicks, the heroine isn't rescued. Bad dude was getting closer so she took to running again. She was outrunning a car with her adreneline turning a 15 minute walk into a 3-5 minute sprint, so before she managed to get to my house she was almost feignting from exertion, still holding her rock and feeling sure she'd have to use it and and turn and fight. As she prepared herself for this, luck would have it that an Iraqi family down the road just happened to be going out. They saw her, sandaless, and clutching the rock, and freaked right out by the headlights of the approching car, and they knew her as my friend, so they told her to come inside. As she was let in the gate of the house tears started dreaming down her face, and the men of the house, the father and his grown sons, went out to confront the bad guy. The Iraqi lady hugged her and made her come inside for a suguary drink (good to prevent shock) as she was shaking a little bit. As my friend did not speak Arabic it was later translated to her, by the Iraqi father, that he told her stalker who she was married to, what passport she held, and where she worked. The man who'd been stalking her realized his mistake in picking on the wrong woman and one with wasta at that, and tried to cover for himself. He said he was ROP and had been trying to help the woman. He did not have any ID, and he had never told my friend he was ROP, and when I contacted the ROP to question men about the incident, they said no one had spoken or recorded such an event, which they would have had to under protocal. My friend, unable to speak, could not tell the Iraqi father not to believe the man at the time. They returned her to me, and by then she was fine, and hungry, but this incident makes me so mad. I know, if we're identifiable as Western expats, no one will do more than ask for our phone number, but if some creep thinks we're third world or an Omani girl walking alone, God forbid. Really, the scariest thing that's ever happened to anyone I know personally in Oman.