Saturday, April 26, 2014

My Opinion about the Zouk Nightclub Pajama Party

Honestly, I just heard about the "Zouk Nightblub Pajama Party" last night. It is already cancelled. I was never intending to go, obviously, being, I am married, Muslim, wear hijab and what-not (which is not to say that does not stop Muslims from going to these places---we muslims are not a perfect representation of the religion of Islam, that's for sure). But towards the matter, given that, why bother to form an opinion of it?

I was shown the advertisement for the event last night, and heard about the "pillow fight". Omani inlaws were aghast. "They'll probably wear lingerie" "women going alone go for free" {which they do in most nightclubs in Oman all the time}.

I don't really understand why it was so shocking and offensive. I mean, if you are going to be all Islamist about it, be offended that nightclubs exist at all, that Muslim Omanis CAN and DO buy alcohol at hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, ect... That half of the Omani dudes your husband or son works with have Omani girlfriends or unhalal and even adulterous affairs (big sin in Islam BTW) without ever going to nightclubs. They do. It is a simple fact. Ask how I know?: I wasn't always perfect {in fact, I still majorly suck}. But to digress, I grew up a non-Muslim teenager here. Back then my friends were guys because the British girls were on holiday or their parents were super cool and let them ride in rally's across the desert--- and mine did not think I should leave Qu'rum, like ever. They {Omani guys} told me some awesomely wicked stories.

Sure, what goes on isn't advertised on a poster, but what are nightclubs anyways? I mean, as a girl, it was a place to dance, that's it, hang out with friends. For guys, it is either the same as the former, or it is a place to drink, stare at girls, and hopefully hook up with something female and none too ugly. That is the nightclub. A pajama party is not going to make the people going any worse, than any old night of regular unnanounced activity at a nightclub, Oman.

I know, I know, sex and the body are the worst possible sins somehow, but really guys? Pajamas?

How many grown up expat women do you know that would dress in slutty lingerie and whack other women with pillows anyways? Even the ones I know who like nightclubs, for the dancing, they wouldn't really do that. Maybe they'd go to watch other drunk stupid girls do that, that could be fun...

But the event was encouraging it! And we Omanis as country are Islamic and don't support that.

Now really?

Well past nightclub events in Oman have promoted the wearing of swimsuits, and, lo and behold, dating, far worse than pillow fights, technically, provided I am sure only 1-2 women would be bold enough to actually wear lingerie, and not like, shorts and t-shirts or whatever they'd normally wear out dancing, and no woman actually usually intentionally hooks up with guys at a nightclub who wouldn't do that with or without a pillow fight. I'd usually blame the cheap vodka, but hey.... In Oman it is far easier to blame pillows and promoters, rather than our own actions and society.

To sum it up simply: Islam is against drinking, sex/kissing/touching before and without marriage, and women dancing in front of men. Thus, the average mainstay of the nightclub depending on what crowd of night-club-goer you fall into. However, I'd like to be the one Islamist person in Oman to boldly state for public record: Islam has nothing against pillow-fights or women wearing pajamas.

That is my opinion as a former-expat-now-Muslim who understands the nightclub scene, expat women, Omani and expat dudes, and Islam.  As a Muslim, I am against drinking for any Muslims in Oman, and will disown your friendship or probably scorn you publically if you are cheating on your spouse and don't feel sorry about it and change, like, immediately. That's how the Qu'ran says we Muslims roll. For the people who don't share my beliefs: I just wish that you stay safe, do as you will, it isn't for me to judge or control, but try not to harm anyone else, including yourselves, your bodies, your hearts, or your minds.

FABULOUS FINDS: Mango Grecian Cross-back Floor-length dress in Red

I was in City Center, Seeb last night, checking out the new Mango (not new- but newly rennovated) when I spied this Grecian-draped cross-backed chiffon number dazzling me from the racks. In the words of Valentino, every woman needs a floor-length red gown in opera red.

Okay, I don't know if Valentino actually said that, I made it up, so you could say, those are the words of this OPNO, but so...I firmly believe it.

My chocolate-covered daughter agreed, and alarmingly, reached for it. Thankfully, said gown was rescued by a very polite store clerk, who did not mention why I had such a grubby kid in her place of work. Who lets their kids run around a store hung neatly in shades pastel chiffon, with choclate coating said child's every available orifice, huh?

Sadly, I tried it on. It looked fab, but was like four sizes too big. Sizes 2 and 4 were gone, but the larger sizes from there up remain.

For less than 60 OMR, you should invest if it would fit you, dear sizes 6-8. Red floor length gowns in Grecian drapes are forever, think Vionnet. Diamonds match perfectly. And you just got your salaries all, so why not splurge?

RECIPE: Iranian Spinach Soup

In Oman, there are a select number of Omanis who cook more soups and salads, and with a greater  dependency on vegetables, than the other groups of Omanis in the Sultanate. These tend to be Omanis of an Iranian/persian descent (I don't mean to generalize) and it is through them that I came to know a rather ancient 'persian' recipe called 'aish (like the Omani word for rice, but from farsi). Iranians back in my home country also are rather fond of it, and I remember going out for Iranian food after friday prayers rather fondly, and eating "ash". Apparently the true name is a'ish reshteh, meaning 'noodle soup'. I googled it, no one told me. I also found the following recipe, and made it with success at home. Since I am domestically challenged, this may assure you that the recipe totally works. More simply, one may call it in English

Iranian Spinach Soup

Ingredients:
-2 large onions, sliced thinly length wise
-6-8 cloves of garlic, minced (five if you are using fresh Omani garlic straight from the garden that hasn't been watered in recent months)
-1/3 cup chickpeas
-1/3 cup red beans
-1/2 cup lentils
-2 tsp turmeric
-3 cups fresh parsley (packed – equivalent to 1 1/2 bunch)
-2 cups fresh cilantro (packed – equivalent to 1 bunch)
-20 springs of fresh chives or  scallions ( green portion of scallions only)
-1 1/2 lb baby spinach
-2 oz reshteh (I used way less, and it worked, and I didn't have traditional reshteh noodles so I used those thin little noodles Omanis usually fry up with sugar?---worked nicely---same as the kind used in Moroccan harira soup)
-1 tbsp flour

Directions
1. Soak beans for a few hours in water (overnight is better or used canned beans)
2. Sauté onion and garlic until translucent.  Add chickpeas, red beans, and turmeric.  Sauté for a few minutes together.
3. Add 8 cups of water. Season with salt, cover and cook for one hour. In the mean time rough chop all the herbs.
4. Add lentils and herbs to pot. Cover and cook for another 1/2 hour on low. Stir the pot every so often during the cooking process.
5. Break off reshteh (noodles) into three sections and add to the pot.
6. Add spinach. You will need to add half of it first and allow for the first batch to wilt, then add a second batch. Cook covered for another 1/2 hour.  Make sure to stir the pot every so often.
7.  Place flour in a small bowl.  Take 3 tablespoons of the liquid from the soup and add to the flour. Mix well until there are no lumps. When adding flour to soups it is always a good idea to use this technique to ensure that there are no lumps in the soup.
8. Add water and flour to the soup.  Adjust seasoning by adding salt.  Cook for 1/2 hour longer on low.  At this point your soup is ready as the beans should be cooked. You can further cook the soup to deepen the flavors, however, it must be on very low temperature, since this soup is very thick, chances are the bottom will stick.
 
Traditionally, whey is used as a garnish, but sour cream works too. I like mine with neither, but if you wanted to have it the old way...
 
I hate spinach, don't generally eat red meat or fish, will never, ever eat liver, but with a severe iron deficiency, which many Omanis tend to be prone to as well, this soup is super good on boosting iron levels. And the spinach tastes good too, when made into this soup, ha.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I know other fashion bloggers have already posted it, but I am truly in love with the new H&M Conscious collection. Delicate lace, sheer, with minute but utterly feminine details? What's not to love.

If I was running away to get married in secret (again) maybe I'd go super casual in one of these pieces, depending on the fit. Hoping to check them out in-store.

DAILY DIARY: Yesturday, Setting Broken Bones

I know a lot of doctors in Oman. I spend a lot of time around doctors. As a result, I always tell my friends, "Never marry a {medical} doctor." All my friends who ignored me, are divorced now. I'd say I told you so, but maybe that is a bit mean, given what they went through?

Don't get me wrong, I find doctors to be funny, engaging, intelligent (some of them), and quirky people. I like quirky people. I enjoy observing the different personalities in a hospital and how they interact and deal with others.

But there just isn't something entirely right usually in someone who decides to become a doctor. I'm okay with nurses, generally.

For example, yesturday. You'd be surprised how many people wanted a turn at setting my bone.

To enjoy cracking someone's bone into place, or to be excited by it, is something 100% strange to me. I've done this before, out of need. Didn't enjoy it one bit, and from that experience, didn't really want to set my own injury.

I avoided going to the hospital because I know everyone there. Doctors get perversely excited over traumas. Cut off limbs, cruel dislocations... Being a test of their skills I guess.

Doesn't make me like them or admire them less, understand, I just find something oddly inhuman about them. Not in a bad way, but in a way I can't relate to myself.

It was like, that time I met the doctor who delivered my daughter, who I threw a tea cup at, and swore at, calling her useless, and had to sit beside her for a three day conference.

Awkward.

But incompetance of the extreme led me to having to go there for paperwork anyways, and they caught one sight of me, and that was it.

To that one woman at the reception. "No, I am not going to go back there. It is hot out, I walked here already with a broken bone, as you can see, and that's far."

"So just ask one of the doctors you know to write you one, that's closer," she told me.

Ugh.

Weird having people you work with or know professionally touch your body. Weird having them know every nuance of your medical history.

They remember my allergies, if my relatives forget. Which I find strange, but I suppose is all and well for the health system. After a day of about minus -70 for Oman's health system, I'd give that to be +40 on my scale of rating hospital competance.

Of course, the awesome part of knowing doctors personally is, you can ask them for medical advice when they are off duty by phone.

But let me tell you why that is not so awesome.

It is not so awesome, because then you owe them. Yeah.

Oweing them means trusting them.

I usually don't trust the medical opinions of doctors in Oman, as a rule. The first doctor I meet is usually wrong, or looses a test result, or something.

But as a result of coming there, I asked the doctor I knew least to make me the required paperwork, and while I was waiting for him, I ran into another doctor that I knew. And owed.

As a result, he took me into the training room, and while asking me a rather odd question that gave his intent immediately away, he cracked my bone into place.

I screamed.

I know, I am a baby.

The worst thing about knowing medical people is you see a lot of stuff. So then, complaining or whining about a mere broken bone seems petty, when, say, there's that car accident victim over there bleeeding out, that woman in horrible, ceaseless pain to the left, and the amputated trauma.

A broken bone not jetting out of the flesh, even at a wickedly odd angle, seems, so small and mundane.

I don't know about you, but I don't really like other people knowing what my last words would be if I were going to be stabbed to death, or what kind of obcenities, pathetic or gross, I mutter when I am in pain.

Now he knows. We'll work together, and I find other people knowing that to be beyond bizarre.

Of course, he also now knows, my feet are sweaty. My feet sweat when I walk across a parking lot in Oman in the middle of the afternoon. Forgive me, it's hot.

Besides commenting on that, he didn't set it all the way.

In come the medical students. Have to say yes to them. This time they freeze it. I call them a bunch of mosquitoes, which probably makes no sense to them. That's me trying not to kick a nurse or swear.

The doctor I did not know well, but whose name I now know, sets it finally.

All this began with me taking a day off from work to make a cup of tea and write for work. I am a klutz, and now my Omani husband is telling me everytime I walk anywhere "there is a raised tile!", or "a corner--watch out!". It is driving me insane and I think I might actually kill him if he doesn't shut up.

No, I will not wear steel-toe work boots while doing dishes in the kitchen. Ugh.

{day ends---alhamdulilah}

My God that was long.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why I love yellow paint on a Muscat Villa

I work at home and on weekends. I probably will do so this weekend, so I don't feel bad that I haven't done anything but shop today (and yeah, I worked this morning) in the afternoon, and looked at pinterest.

These photos are of a little hotel/cafe where I used to live that I chanced upon online, where I'd always come with my father to have breakfast or coffee. Good memories for the most. Even the bad things that happened as I walked out onto the street, away from the cafe, slightly ahead of my father, have an undertone of something good to them, when I look at the world through rose-coloured glasses.

Maybe this building is why I have an afifnity for yellow villas?

That one bad memory, was that my father was just starting to stop hiding behind his menu when he was out with me. My headscarf, regardless of whatever else I might wear with it, long sleeved t-shirt and tight jeans or abaya and face veil (aka niqab, not burqa, {no one wears burkas in Europe or Canada except as a joke}) drew unpleasant attention at times, and he felt embarassed to be seen with me.

You see, I was not born a Muslim, nor was I raised to like religions of any kind, although I was taught to study them in order to understand their flaws. Ironic, I suppose.

But Swans drew a  pretty hip and young crowd for breakfast, and we had none of that. More like people were impressed that our city was becoming so multi-cultural, when let's face it, it had been for the last two hundred years that you were either British, French, or Chinese in the place.

Breakfast was delcious. Dad was peeking out from behind the menu more often. My little sis was dressed kind of punk and totally didn't look like they were Muslim, just me so people were just kindly curious.

As we left though, a man who had been stalking me with a camera, and who'd made racial slurs against Arabs to me on numerous occasions, stepped in then, and grabbed me. He knew where my house was, and took photos but never more than that, and before this incident, I'd never been afraid of him.

My father saw that and was a little shaken. My little sister insisted we make a case with the police over the matter when I didn't really think they would take me serriously.

I was also stalked by some "special top secret" section of some police who claimed they worked for Canada (the Candian set, called inset, were interviewing my girlfriends---but INSET, said no, and wanted to know who they worked for). BTW, I don't think our countries anti-terrorism task force actually knows alot about terrorists and Islamic beliefs that lead to terrorism per say, or they'd never have bothered with a bunch of girls who like to pray, shop, and eat, but whatever.... WHAT A WASTE OF TAXPAYERS DOLLARS their salaries are for, yeah.

At first my father was like, "well you deserve it because you choose to dress in a way that makes people upset"...

But slowly, he began to change from that point onwards. I think it was the moment in time he realized my choices were not a "want for attention" or a love of "standing out and being different" but an actual part of who I was, and what I believed. I was always taught by him to guard the oppressed, and speak my mind, and fight for what is right, if it is a battle worth fighting, and maybe he saw that part of himself in me that day, in the headscarf and abaya?

No one wants to be threatened with harm, to have people wish against them the right not to go to school, or to work, simply because of a piece of fabric. For always these people told me, it was the Islamic faith that stopped women from marrying who they wanted, or working outside the the home, ect... but really, it was the people who made doing those things unpleasent, or actually illegal, that inhibited me, nothing else. Ignorance, from Islamaphobes, and from Muslims themselves, are the only things that oppress Muslim women.

I couldn't understand why they wanted to make a peice of fabric illegal. My sister can wear a tank top and motorcycle boots, and a skirt on the shortish side, and I an abaya and headscarf, even a veil, and we were happy together and friends. My friends never changed because of what I wore, but from what I chose to refrain from, which was neither choice, nor social responsibility, love, or happiness.

No one likes being thought of as "less" or "brainwashed" or "inferior" and have other human beings think they have the right to tell them how to live their lives.

So my father is all good with me now, and I think he changed a little from that day forward. From a yellow building with turquoise ironwork and hanging baskets of flowers and a stack of pancakes, to a man who likes to press Neo-nazi literature on the street.

So when I think of that landmark, I think of hope, and possible happiness. Maybe that is why I love a yellow paint on a Muscat villa so much?

I have long ago now, moved from the yellow villa pictured on my sidebar. I live in a better area, in a less impressive building, as I seek the new. But I saw an old house the other day, crumbling, fading, uncared for, almost suppressed under the evening sky.

In my mind, I saw in its shape, the chance to rebuild, to rennovate, to fix. To make one thing a little more beautiful. I don't have much skill in building people up the same, but a canvas, a blank little notebook, a room, a building... these are things I can make a little better than I found them.

{Random thoughts before the weekend, happy weekend ya'll}.

U.K. Labels for Muslim Women, filed under shopping

Inayah collection is an affordable label based in theU.K. catering to Muslim women's style with a more European/British bent. While my favourite peices are always more formal, or Urbane, I can't help thinking about those Omani girls who ask me, what should they wear in the U.K. or Canada during their studies? Inayah is a label whose more casual stylings would give you a pretty good idea about what the modern Muslim woman in U.K. (and English native) is actually wearing and how they are wearing it.
You can trust them not to scam you if you order online, and this is their website:
www.inayahcollection.com/

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

KHALEEJI DESIGNERS: Emirati label Keswah, Spring 2014

Keswah is an Emirati label that I follow. I am really loving the tweed jalabiyias featured right now, only the website (for myself at least) is not behaving to reveal their prices... And while they don't scream springtime in Muscat to me, I would totally wear them on vacation to Europe or to North America.
Website: www.keswah.com
Instagram: bykeswah
YouTube/Vimeo: bykeswah
Twitter: @Keswah

KHALEEJI DESIGNERS: Qatari label, the Kayys for Spring 2014

Qatarai brand the Kayys released a really exquisite Spring collection. I am loving the 1960s couture flow to it. Reminds me of a looser, lighter Balenciaga collection from that time period. I could probably see myself wearing every single piece in the collection---and that is saying something. Pictured here are only my favourite looks.
To Contact :

info@thekayys.com


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

OPNO MUSCAT SHOPPING GUIDE: classic maternity

I have always admired the maternity style of supermodel & mom Claudia Schiffer. Of course, she has an easier time of it all, living in Paris where both the weather, social norms, and let's face it, shopping, suit being chic. Muscat is not a shopper's paradise. However, being pregnant is made easy here by the availability of caftans/jalabiyia for formal occasions, and abaya for casual. But what if that is not what you regularily live in? And like me, you hate the hastle of driving to Dubai (I'd fly first class of course but who does that really---okay, a few of the girls I know but not me).
 
I admit, to have quite peaceably gone through my last pregnancy broke and barefoot at home (definately not in the kitchen) wearing nothing but the aforementioned and whatever else I had brought from my home country that still fit me during the nine months.
 
But this time, I am determined to do everything differently. I am going to keep working until all else fails. I am going to dress fabulous and take more photos. I will eat actual food.
 
Those are my goals. So recently I have been going over the latest Western/European style fashions in store in Muscat, and I admit to finding stuff mainly from Matalan, Promod, and H&M (with one dress in Zara) that fits my blooming figure. My favourite store, Mango, has some investments, but they won't fit me now, and so... I will wear what I like that fits from wherever else. I put together a few inspiration boards to get me going one pieces I can wear through out the nine months that will last me later. They aren't too on trend, but are simply the sort of classic look I like.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Real Estate Agents in Oman Suck

Real Estate {OMANI} agents in Oman suck. I've been friends with a few real estate agents, who are expats {Canadian, American, Australian} and they were pretty awesome professionals but the ones I have encountered lately in Muscat... I'd say don't get me started but I'm already off on a rant.

I am currently in the process of looking for a piece of property (to buy-to own). Exciting, yes? Scary, yes. But it has been a long time coming, with scrimping and saving and renting. Owning my own home has always been a dream of mine, and I never wanted a man to buy it for me, (i.e. my husband---he can buy me my dream furniture if he wants to}. So finally comes the time, when I am secure enough to be able to, so we begin the search process.

I'll give you a few examples.

There was a duplex/split villa for sale in Mubaila. Agent takes forever to meet us (I am saying, over an hour). I didn't want to wait. I think that is rude, since he knew we were coming and at what time, but my husband waits. Agent arrives. Agent doesn't seem to know where the house is either. He drives us around for forty minutes, and at every house with a for sale sign stops to check if it might be the one we'd asked to see. Loser. Finally, he calls an Indian man who built the house to show us all where it is. Two hours gone from my life I can never get back, just driving around Mabaila.

We thought a property scout agent would be better for us, you know, since their comission for the sale comes from us, not the owner. This was a villa for sale in a farther away from Muscat end of Mabaila. HE DIDN'T SHOW UP AT ALL! But described it to us, in a way that begins with, it is just behind pizza hut, and doesn't add "then driver forever and a day on a road out to nowhere," "take a turn on a dirt road". You will see the house. But you can't drive TO the house yet, because it is built in a wadi. Um yeah. I refused to get out of the car. "is the house still on water tank or does it have government water?" My husband asks. The house would need a 4x4 water truck to get to it. Of course, it doesn't have water! 'Screw property scouts,' I thought.

Back in Muscat, we saw two beautiful, stunning flats. We agreed to take them both with the agent. We take time out of our busy schedules to go and draw the papers up, and guess what? The flats that were shown to us for the price we were told, are actually not for sale, but are the same design as the flats that are for sale, only difference being, they had penthouse situated views of the ocean on all sides, and the flats were almost tricked into buying?: walls. As the old real estate adage goes, location, location, location, locations. Wadis, water trucks, and walls will never spell out home for me.

What about for-sale-by-owner?: there was an older home in Muscat, one storey. The owner agreed to a quick cash sale. But, wouldn't give my husband the plans for the property. Why, because the house is not built to support an added-on-second story as it was pitched. So it is worth a good 20, 000 OMR less. No sale for us, we're not stupid!

So annoyed right now!

OOTD+abaya: stranded on a desert island

What would you wear if you knew you were going to be stranded on a desert island?: Me, of course, had to have pearls and paisley+abaya. Two OPNO girls and a half (my daughter) took a boat trip out to the Daymaniyat Islands over the weekend. Of course, we were only stranded for about 3 hours, as our boat dropped us on the white sand beach and in the crystal clear waters around 4:30 pm, and picked us up before sunset. Except for that one time the boat ran out of gas... in the middle of the ocean. Yeah, anyways, the plan was to picnic, and the day (early evening) was excruciatingly beautiful.
Sadly an iphone (not mine of course!;D) was lost to the sea, but the clear water (see below) almost repaired that sense of tragedy. Phones can be replaced, memories, never.
Our favourite Island has breathtakingly beautiful white sand, obviously from the coral reefs that line the shores. There were plenty of swimmers, snorkelers, divers, and campers on one side of the island, and at night one can watch turtles here.

If you are interested in going, boats can be caught for 15-20 OMR (drop off and pick up, either same day or next) from both Barka/Sawadi and Seeb Souq (the dock behind the fish souq along the Seeb Corniche road, behind that building that says "ice" on it).
My abaya is my own design, and I got it tailored in Souq Al Khoud near Al Nafeesa jewelers (behind and at the side). It is a simple wide sleeve closed front abaya in al nada fabric with white paisleys embroidered all over it, and pearls beaded on top. Shoes were from Nine West. The other OPNO girl pictured, her abaya is from "Black" in Al Khoud, because I think she buys every abaya she owns from there unless one of our friends designs one for her.
I just love speeding along at sea, but our shaylas (headscarves) really hated it, and mine nigh flew off, so I will probably pack a pashmina or men's musayr to tie around my head, Joradnian-bedu style via boat trip until we get there. I will go camping next time, I promise, and take better photos.
 Above, one of the sea caves.
It was a lovely day, and then, on the way back, just short of Muscat and Seeb conriche, we ran out of gas, which was, thankfully, not even something we were aware of.  We pulled in to the dock nonetheless, just at Magraib (sunset prayer) and then I spent the next day just relaxing since this day took a lot out of me while holding a two year old in a little motor-powered speed boat. I recommend scheduling a proper tour boat or Dhow cruise if taking little ones, if you want to relax more at sea than I was able to. Bandar Al Jissah in Shangrila (too lazy to spell that properly, sorry) offers one, and I am sure other places do as well. {THE END}