Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mountains on my mind---Jabal Shams eye-candy post

I've had mountains on my mind of late, and not just a camping trip to Jabal Shams. Sorry dear blog readers. I am tied up in legalities, and work, and life and the other OPNO girls did send a hilarious story to post but I haven't got around to it. So forgive the eye-candy;) inshaAllah, of beautiful Jebal Shams mountain in Dhakliyiah Region of Oman.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

MY OWN PHOTOS: and my Omani husband's opinions about Siffa

One of the OPNO girl's is---we can say, in development--- and she invited us over the weekend to check out Sifaa. She's been too busy to post, driving up and down from Sohar, to Siffa, so beyond my photos I don't have much to say. The people involved in the Siffa project were caught up in a big meeting, so my family took to the beach. My husband, however, had a lot to say. He didn't like the beach itself, but the architecture and "marina kick the Wave's butt". Alas, his feeling was, unless he could yacht over to Siffa, the road was too bad and too far to be worth investing out here. And "the closest gas station is in Wadi Adai." Not great for tourism, as we were not alone on the roads driving 50 to conserve gas. However, depsite his negativity, our two year old had a ball... and I mentally made some notes to myself on how I'd like to design my villa in six years time if my six year's plan holds;). INshaAllah. Anyways, to our other---almost guest contributer now- OPNO girl, great work! Can't wait to see what you've got cooking in Sohar, since my husband apparently prefers the drive to Sohar over the drive to Siffa;P. IF YOU, dear reader, would like to visit Siffa to stay at the hotel, eat at the restaurants, or rent a boat at the marina, you take the road from Al Bustan and keep going past the Oman Dive Center. Signage is really clear on the way there. Just fill up on gas before leaving Muscat;).

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Getting Ready for Eid----Early?

My husband made a new rule for Eid last Eid. That rule is, all Eid clothes must be purchased two months before Eid. Why? Because he is tired of driving all the women of the family around last minute to this tailor and that fabric shop, and of course, something is always wrong with the dress you order and the tailor is never done on the day he promises it will be done.

So. Next month. We do our Eid shopping. I have most of my fabrics already. Feels weird though. I am the kind of person that whenever I buy anything new I wear it almost immediately sooo... I will have to fight myself not wear my new Eid dresses BEFORE the actual Eid.

Husbands just don't understand this.....

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

My maid ran away in Muscat... and why I am happy about that, in the end

Don't take this to be your typical "complaining about maids" scenario. Read on. As our housemaid nanny recently ran away after stealing 300 OMR from a friend who was staying with me, and then tried to lie and say she was beaten by me to maid agency where we had hired her from, I was mocked by one friend woman girl I used to know, about my former stance on housemaids.

So, has anything changed in my opinion about housemaids?

No, definately not. I still feel I am perfectly right about how to humanely treat someone I hire to work for me. I don't think I should treat another human being "strict" or "mean" or ask them to do more work than I would be willing to do under their same circumstances for the same wage. I also do not think we should be all racist (like some) and claim Ethiopians are dirty, liars, untrustworthy, ect... simply because one person holding that passport happened to be untrustworthy in the circumstance I shall elaborate upon herein.

I was saddened that she claimed I beat her. I felt betrayed, devastated. I don't know why. I was always fighting for her rights as relatives wanted me to impose different rules and work and social norms upon her. I am the last person who would ever strike an employee unless that employee was an actual relative (relatives and family have different rules when it comes to my anger management handbook). She had seen me strike a close friend I had considered like a relative, a best friend, and I guess was going with that? While I may be hard on myself, my husband, and my sister, and probably my daughter too one day when she's big enough to be accountable for her mistakes (I see too many brats running around while their parents are careless in this part of the world), staff are staff. They don't depend on me for anything but their salary so what they do outside of work I don't care, and in work, if they screw up, they get fired that's it.

Stealing would mean a plane ticket back to her home country. Not a big deal to me, since it isn't a whole lot out of my pocket.

Slapping is not really to anyone's advantage. Although {I WAS ANGRY} I did consider scaring her with the ROP (but then, since I knew a housemaid who had been abused by police, I didn't end up doing that either). I was mad but I didn't want to hurt her. {Maybe scare her a little since I was mad but a maid in our family did get beaten for lying by her maid agency and it made me mad}.

Why did she run away then?

Well, the fact was, she was hired as a nanny. My daughter is old enough now she doesn't need a nanny. While I am at work, she can go to daycare. We required less and less from her her since most of our houseguests had left and I had more time to be a wife and mother.

So we asked her (probably a mistake) if she wanted to go back home or is she wanted to work still.

She claimed she wanted to work still so we went to the office where we had hired her from to ask if they could find her a new family. The office said no way, they don't do that, that we would have to find her a new family ourselves.

So we told her this. Asked her again if she still wanted to work in Oman and if so that meant my husband would find a family that would pay her the same as we did (which was hard, because no one wanted to no matter her experience because of her passport).

We planned to charge the new family 300 OMR upfront (half the maid office fee) which we would hold unto for three months trial so she could tell us if she liked the new family. I wanted to make sure that nothing like that tragic article about the maid raped and dumped in the desert featured in Y magazine ever happened. I would then give her the 300 OMR. I'd already gotten the service she owed me, and after one year I owed her a plane ticket or the cost of one at least. I don't like the feeling of trading human beings for cash you know? My Omani husband said it was a normal practice in our situation for families but that was my final decision. She'd get any money from her new family. You couldn't say "want a housemaid for free" because then people would think she was bad or something, or a theif.

Sadly for her, that isn't how it all worked out.

I guess she thought we were lying, and planned to sell her off to the highest bidder or something (and I could totally understand and forgive that if she hadn't lied about me beating her) so she stole 300 OMR cash from a houseguest, wired it to her "uncle" who turned out to be her husband [she lied and said she was a widow], and went to the office, claimed I beat her, and told them to find her a new family.

The office phoned us and told us that they could get the police to take her to the airport and cancel her visa so she couldn't work in the GCC for a long while. Or we could find another family who would want to hire a lying thief. Which would probably not be a nice family.

My husband found another family. They paid us 300 OMR and she agreed to work for them for only 45 OMR a month+food+rent, when we had paid her 75 plus 5 OMR for phone+phone+rent+food. At our home she had her own room and a four poster bed. At their home she sleeps on the floor with four children to mind and no space fo her own plus all the cooking and housework to do.

Somehow, because of that, I can't stay mad at her. I don't like to own anything I can't afford to lose. She's the one who lost really. She could have had a sinless 300 OMR and a better life, with a better salary and better situation but a better planner exists than any schemer.

What I mean to say though is this, I can live without a housemaid, don't like to have 'em, don't think most people need them. But if the need was upon me again, I wouldn't do a single thing differently.

I believe I should treat people right even if in the end they do me wrong. I can afford to lose a maid or money. What I can't afford to lose is my character, my ideals, my humanity... And I've seen girls like me who've lost that over maids, villas, and GCC cultures.

A maid is a person, human. Many people will lie cheat or steal if their situation is terrible enough I suppose. That isn't my business, that's between them and their Creator. My own character and actions, that is my business. I can say I need to work on my anger when it comes to what I am passionite about, like family, true friendship, right and wrong, or my word choice under frustration. While I would never steal, or lie to hurt anyone's reputation BUT my own;) I shouldn't judge someone because they sin a little different than me.

I won't believe the racism of 'don't hire Ethiopian' . Everyone in my family have Ethiopian housemaids and some of the girls are lovely. In Islam we don't judge someone on their skin, their tribe, their nation, and the Qu'ran tell us intentions are for Allah alone to judge so who is any one to say about any given person that they are more prone to steal or kill babies ect... Just because one maid stole and lied doesn't mean the next one will.

And even if she does, you can call me stupid, but it ain't never gonna be something I can't afford to lose. Because I truly believe that if I treat another person good, I'll get that good back even if it is in another form.


-WHAT DID I LOSE?: 1 nanny/housemaid, 300 OMR owed due a friend now, and nothing much else.

+WHAT DID I GET?: More time with my family, privacy, more attention from my daughter even I am being strict so she won't just run off to the nicer one, 300 OMR minus the visa change cost, and what I wanted anyways, for her to find a new home and get what she deserved.

I only wished that she deserved what I had wanted for her instead of what she wanted for herself... but you can't be everyone's mama now can you?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Saffron-yellow inspiration to warm up my Wednesday

Today I am working from home. That means sun is streaming in through the curtains, there is tea spiced with cloves and cardamom on the side table, and I, of course, still have to go into the office somehow, since I forgot to send an important email before I left yesturday, and of course, that is something I can't do from home. Stressing about that, I ate several slices of the "Kuwaiti Saffron & Rosewater Cake" that I finally managed to bake yesturday in my ghetto-cheap oven from this recipe Kuwaiti Saffron Cardamom Cake - Gers Ogely | Sukarah. I changed it around a little bit, using a recipe for an Iranian cake that is similiar in base for the ingredients I didn't have on hand due to being actually out of sugar.  My two-year old hates it, having a preference for sweeter and more refined French cakes (that is my fault), SO, when I DO finish work (which I am taking a break from to post this post) I will have to sweep the whole house, which is covered in tell-tale yellow-hued saffron crumbs. Something about saffron just feels so warm and homely to me, that I felt saffron was the perfect ingredient to cure my winter sweet tooth. You know I have lived in the Middle East too long, when I am wearing bulky cableknit sweaters over my abayas and shivering while other expats give me the weirdest looks, cue their ACs, and Omanis joke about my nationality. Yes, I love skiing, snowball fights, iceskating, hockey, and falling snow, but I hate the cold, and love hot apple cinnamon cider (halal of course) and sitting by the crackling fireplace. Maybe that's why I suddenly crave a visual eye-candy fest in golden-saffron shades? What I wouldn't give for a fireplace, even if I would only use it one month out of the year. Nothing more homely or romantic than a fireplace, that's for sure. I have yet to find a house in Oman that has a fireplace, so....