Sunday, August 30, 2015

DAILY DIARY: Wedding Drifting, and Police Brutality: The Nizwa Beatings ;)

All I have to say is, I feel sorry for the bride.

Seriously, twitter is still busy alive with the jokes about Nizwa guys. No the price of Luqman oil has not really gone up in Nizwa (its a medicine for bruises and cuts that Omanis like to use).

In case you haven't heard...More than a couple of days ago now, two poor young people were getting married. As is the custom in Oman, a train of male relatives and the groom come to transport the bride from her home [or female-only party in a rented wedding hall] to her new home.

Now, this groom was into cars and the sport of drifting.

Call him what you will,  but he gets the word out to all the guys in his family, that they should come, and drift and cause a ruckus, as he drives his new bride to her new home.
You've probably seen a wedding procession before in Oman. The clues to look for that it is indeed a wedding procession in front of you honking rather than, like, some guys who are in love with either football/soccer or HM Qaboos, is the car will be decorated with flowers and ribbons and not Omani flags and cardboard cut-outs of Qaboos.

The wedding procession is supposed to be, the guys protect the bride on her journey to her new home. That usually means, they don't let anyone pass them on the road or come alongside the car to see inside it.

I personally would just find that weird, or, backwards, or insulting, as a woman, and am glad we didn't do this for my marriage to an Omani although it is done in his family and his region of Oman.

However, IFFFFFF the guys doing the transporting drive the speed limit, and not, 10 km an hour, this usually doesn't piss anyone off. People honk, smile nicely etc...

However, as you can imagine, the Nizwa guy's procession, got the interest of every young drifter in Nizwa....and the attention of the ROP (Royal Oman Police).

As the wedding procession had all but annoyingly shut down traffic, the ROP told people, if you don't go home NOW, well...

So thus, the male section of the wedding party AND anybody who was watching taking videos with their I-phones etc... were beaten up by the police.

Honestly, usually, police brutality would bother me... However, as every Omani out there seems to think this was the correct response from the police;) what else should I say on the matter but that I have pity for the poor bride?

And I do. This was supposed to be her wedding day.... And its not like Omani girls get a lot of parties and stuff that's all about them in their life, so...

So now guys: if you have to carry-on the rather antiquated tradition of a now mostly unarmed male pack who wouldn't know how to use the guns or swords they are wearing to save their own lives escorting a young lady to her new life, do drive the speed limit, and don't ask male strangers (unrelated non-maharams of the bride) to join in the parade and everybody should be okay.

Spending your wedding night bailing your idiot husband's family and friends out of jail or seeing them in the hospital because they were beaten by riot police, totally not how any young woman envisions spending her wedding night.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

KHALEEJI ABAYAS: coloured abayas

I know I am a little behind trend but I finally made some time to go fabric shopping and to a tailor. I have ordered my first Khaleeji-cut abaya in colour.

Not just patterned or panelled with colour, but 100% colour!

I chose beige because my Omani husband won't try to forbid me outright from wearing beige in Oman... Slowly we go...

My SIL is already doing it, so why not me? I figured, although it was one of the things my husband MADE me promise to not do BEFORE we got married (I hate when people try to change something they already knew about one AFTER you get married so I asked for a list---too bad he forgot red lipstick and wearing my earrings sticking out of scarves and stuff) and I promised I'd never wear a bright pink abaya in his village... He was less specific about navy and beige however so.... So we'll see how that goes.

I also got a couple black with coloured patterns ones made up.

Fingers crossed---I hope the tailor doesn't trash them... He's a new-to-me tailor, near the fruit-and-vegatable souq in Mabaila. My SIL swears he's good but he only charged me, like 13 OMR to make 3 abayas (though he charged me 3 omr per shayla since he used his own fabric for that), so I hope he's as good as she says, since the fabric was a lot more than that...

I've had some bad experiences with tailors as of late, when other SILs were like "oh he only charges 3 omr to make a dress... and the fabric was of course 20 or more, and then the dress is so bloody horrible I have to give it away, thanks Rustaq dude. You amazed even me, who thought no one could do worse than the guy who made my eid dress a few years back in Barka.

I usually have good luck with abaya tailors but they charge more, usually...

So we'll see.
If going for a gradual move to coloured abays, a front open style with black wide-leg+tunic combo or black maxi dress can help ease a girl out of her comfort zone...
Love the simplicity of this look!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How an expat living in Oman divorces a non-resident non-national in her home country while not living there herself---I have no idea, thanks Canada and every lawyer I met

Getting a divorce as an expat living in Oman can be tricky.

No, I am not talking about divorcing an Omani;) all my enemies and ill-wishers, that is usually easily done (I am not saying cleanly or pleasantly but it is an action of relative ease).

I am trying to divorce my ex-husband (we are no longer Islamically married right?) who I married in my home country. He is not a resident or a citizen of my home country. Like me, he lives in the GCC.

I went back there recently (the land-far-and-away), and tried to find out about how to file for divorce. As neither he nor I lives in the province where we were legally wedded, or even in the country (him being a citizen of another GCC country and me living and working here) apparently every legal expert we consulted was stumped as to how to apply for divorce or annullment although our case for divorce is clear and easy in itself.

Apparently, ONLY same sex couples are allowed to do so outside of their region/wilayat/province. Awesome. So not us. Everyone else has to reside in their region for some time (a year) before applying for a divorce.

I simply cannot do that. I have a house loan, and a family, here in Oman.

Yes, I am already re-married. Religious law and legal law are two different things in my home country, although in Oman, as I am a Muslim, religious law trumps legal law, and so my second marriage is considered valid even though I am still technically legally married to another man in my home country.

And despite my mother's usual freak-outs, no I cannot be arrested for being a bigamist in my home country because the-Land-far-and-Away does not recognize my Islamic marriage as a legal marriage.

Although it REALLY isn't important for me to get a divorce, I can live without one as I wish to, AND IT IS kind of cool, whenever someone's like, "your husband has two wives, what?!" I can so be like, "well I have two husbands so we're perfect for one another"... and annullments and divorces cost money...

...But having an Omani man for husband means you deal with stupid jealousies time to time. And if I could have my former marriage annulled or struck out by law, I would for my Omani husband's sake I guess, because he probably deserves that. Despite having two wives;).

So, if anybody who does read this blog has any miracle of an idea in law what I should do (in Canadian law) to be divorced without going back to live in Canada, please let me know and I'd be so grateful as to treat you for coffee (or my husband would if you're a man since like, he'd freak if I did).

And yes, anonymous, I know this blog title says "an every girl's guide to Oman" and this isn't really an every girl problem in Oman;)... but I can write what I want when I have nothing better to say.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The National Flower of Oman---a suggestion

After a debate last night, MOP proved that he was right, and indeed, Oman has no national flower.

However, in light of that, I propose that the Omani lime tree be considered for the national flower, since, well, date trees and species would automatically be assumed by every Arab GCC nation as their national "flower or tree or what have you" and then, well, differing species of date trees are awfully hard to differentiate from one another by botanical sketch.... At least to my poor gardener's eyes.

MOP's suggestion was for the luban tree, or for a desert rose, or something.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Up all night and another blog opened

"Did you stay up all night again?" my husband asks me. If I had need to answer, that yes I had, he would not have asked me, for I am sure my eyes are rightly red. I am drinking coffee now. I drank Chinese black tea all night.

"Mhmmmm," I answer, brewing another pot of coffee, for I've almost done the last.

"What on earth were you doing?" he eyes my laptop, the stacks of books on the table, old notes I have gone through, and the open lap-top on the table.

"Writing, reading," I say.

I sometimes stay up all night. Especially if I feel like writing. Partially, because it is the only time with two children under five I have to spare, and the rest of the ways, because that is when I am too tired to overthink myself.

I know my husband doesn't like it, because I am a terribly feindishly devlishly mean kind of person, when I don't sleep enough and I've had too much coffee, but he knows I want to be finished with this book---and the other one I am actually being paid to write---this year.
When you write for a living for others, writing for yourself and what interests you, well making time for that is hard.

I have been writing this kind of story for a long time. A work of fiction based on Irish mythology and set in the late bronze age/early iron age of ireland, since I was, like twelve. Nothing related to Oman at all. I never get far and then pick apart my words and critisize my story-line and stop for a while and then go back to it and do the same all over again.

My father (and my husband) tease me about never finishing anything of my own work.

My paintings, a pile of unfinished but mostly-done oils, lean up against one wall.

A half-embroidered abaya hangs on a coat-rack, and waits for another sleeve to be done.

Several old journals and boxes of papers were presented to me by my father when I was in Canada for me to pick through. Indeed, I carried a whole suitcase of books back to Oman with me.

I know they've been on my back forever to finish this story, and set it all down, so even if it is utter rubbish and not perfectly researched, I've decided to write it all out so they can read it and fix it later.

So I have another blog { }if you'd kindly like to read it and give some constructive criticism and bug me to the ends of the earth if I don't get down at least twelve chapters by the end of this year, like one or two a month.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

TWO OMANIS IN: Victoria, B.C., Canada---the whole tourist experience---from a local PT. 2; Fan Tan Alley, Market Square, and Yates Old Town

As a child I always loved Chinatown (i.e. Fisgard street). I don't know if it was the Chinese food (Don Mee's has the best Dim Sum and seafood, the little dive in Fan Tan alley cafe? the best chow mein and wonton) or the little Chinese groceries with Chinese ginger candy and pokey sticks, or the underground opium smuggling tunnels from the 1900s my uncle showed me (he used to play mujong with aged gangsters in the 50s--circa 90s-2000s chinese gansters in Victoria don't exist anymore that I am aware of) where we could find some period treasures, or the bright painted colours, or the streets filled with Chinese speaking locals themselves...
Actually, I know what I loved the best as a child, it was this little store below, which had, like, the coolest stuff ever! Wooden swords, plastic chinese cheap toys, fans, parasols, lanterns, and kites, and so many other odd and wonderful (traditional or modern) things! It was wonderful... and still is.
However, the biggest "tourist-ey thing" to do in Chinatown, is to take a photo near the "heart's content" sign in Fan Tan alley, the narrowest alley in Victoria and most of Canada I assume. (There's also another witche's shop in here;) as I told my Omani husband).
Leaving Chinatown, going up from the gate and exiting to the left (but crossing the street like the way of the Chinese school) there's oddly enough a cute little French bistro (super romantic) call Brasserie le ecole and I love it too, along with all the furniture stores one is approaching this way to circle back to Wharf Street etc... but I didn't take any pictures of those. Apparently there's also a Muslim-friendly vegetarian Chinese food joint. I haven't been but others have said.
 However, moving on, just a short walk away is...
Johnson Street is a really old-fashioned brick-front style section of row buildings painted in bright colours, where there are some really unique-to-Victoria shops, and Market Square, which is the place our traditional "souq" used to be, however now it is basically a shaded open area with shops lining. I sometimes walk down Johnson Street just to get to Wharf Street or to China town, or to Bastion Square, other sections of Victoria I like to walk or have things to do in, though I remember Market Square used to be the only place I could buy beads and crystals for abayas way back when;). And if Oman thinks its got the thing to do with witches (nobody bring up Bahla to me again, please) well in Market Square you'll find one store that stocks spell making materials and spell books for would-be witches;), one of five stores that I know to exist on the island, and of the 3 in Victoria itself.
My actual favourite thing about walking in Victoria is that Victoria has a lot of hidden back alleys, courtyards (with fountains) and underground tunnels. Most of these are locked 98% of the time, but one that is open is the alley behind Johnson street and Al Terrazo Italian restaurant. It leads to a courtyard and is somewhere more locals will wander than tourists.
Now, walking between Johnson to Yates Street (another very old section of town) there is an alley conntecting the two, just before the bottom of the road. This street is worth checking out for a couple of reasons. #1 is the Italian restaurant, Al Terrazo, here. Good restaurant. Cherry-soaked venison, is beyond words, stuffed mushrooms, all that. You'll eat like a King.
 Also, to note, this is the oldest surviving street in Victoria, and it is cobbled with wooden bricks.
 This alley takes you to Old Town in Yates, and if you climb Yates Street parkade you'll have a good view of Old Victoria. I also love "Outlooks Menswear Boutique" here, and always fancied that if I was a multi-millionaire I'd buy the old "Oriental Hotel" and rennovate it---which looks like someone is in the process of doing now. Also, "Ferris' Oyster Bar" was a popular hang-out for my friends and I in our teens---really good food. Anyways, posting all these photos takes an awful lot of time, so that's all for now... to be continued onwards and whenever...