Thursday, November 17, 2016

This morning in Muscat, my National Day post

I feel like a princess when I wake up some of the time in the mornings in Muscat, in our new house. Like a princess, in that, I don't want to get up. I want to lie there in the gilded early morning light, while green parrots alite on the balcony, date palms gently wave in a soft warm November breeze, and pretend that I don't have work to do. I could be a house wife right? It's Oman, I could. So for a minute longer than usual I just lie there and pretend for a minute that some smiling, uniformed housemaid is going to come up the stairs with a breakfast tray while I luxuriate in silk pajamas and soft white cotton sheets---because this is is Oman---it could totally happen. Not in my life of course;) but in somebody elses' it does, on golden days like this. And then, in my mind anyways, the housemaid and I would chat about the news, from her country, and from Oman, and about plans for the day. It's all pretend of course, but part of it is real, and lovely. I still choose to immerse myself in only half that life, even it would be possible, because of everything I know.

The most maddening and beautiful thing about living in Muscat, I have learned, is that anything is possible. It simply is. What was yesturday, can be changed another day. Tomorrow is not, the same as today. Your dreams can change, and that's okay too.

...We lived like wild, beautiful things, behind the pristine white walls of our Qurum and MQ expat villas, we privellaged white expat teenaged girls, for the imported expertise of our educated relations. Anything was possible. Most of us left that life though, and sought another Oman. Some ended up poor and lonely in the green mountains and mists of Dhofar. Some of us ended up hardworking housewives in the Interior, with more society than ourselves remaining. One or two became like a Princess for real, and married a diplomat or kin to the royal family or lived life like that. Some of us became Muslims. Some of us left and returned. And left and returned. And left and returned. ...And some of us stayed. Some of us made lives on other corners of the globe, taking what it was that life in Muscat taught us, with us, whereever we go.

Myself, I went from privellage to poverty, to not caring about any of that for the sake of love and Islam. I loved the beauty in the simple things poor people get to see that richer or "whiter" ;) folks never get invited to see. Even my furniture now is hand-carved solid wood and gilded, I still love furniture made of palm frond. I love solid glazed Omani pottery in my hands; its strength is more part of what my fingers seek than the delicate porcelains I grew up with. I like dirt and stone floors, and wood shelves built right into walls, and while I am too much of a collector to be simple myself, I still find serenity in having less. I can appreciate the light on the mountains, no matter how many days I live to see here, the shadows and light on those mountains...the light is never twice the same.

Of course, I lie in the bedroom pictured now, and I'm thankful, for I've lived in houses in Oman where the roof leaked, the power always went out so the ACs wouldn't work, and I had to deal with floods and lizards, and I remember a time I really wanted a strawberry juice and couldn't afford it, the kind you know, that is like, 200-300 baisas? I went to Bank Muscat to withdraw 300 baisa and the teller felt sorry for me, but was like, "uh, you only have 30 baisa, not 300". That was the life.
So know, a lot of Omanis who have luxury now, worked hard for what they have. It is a common White or Indian expat misconception, that they didn't.

Just as it is a misconception commonly held by Omanis, that for white Western expats in Oman any life they dream of is possible. They can be poor, and struggle, and be just as alone. People are the same whereever you go.

But life in Oman, Muscat in particular I have found, anything is truly possible, in the end. You just need to choose, and stay, and try. It might not wind up the life you always envsioned for yourself, but then again, it might turn out to be just that.

...Afterall, I was always that girl who was supposed to wind up in a pristine white townhouse in the city, and a weekend country home to maintain right?;). So old friends can laugh and tease and make fun of "Princess" all they want while I wake, taking a break before beginning the next 18 hours-straight of work I have left to complete before the weekend with a cup of tea in hand, appreciating the gilded light that often frames the coarse reality of an idyllic little Muscat existance.

Tomorrow is National Day, and I see the day in shades of the brass morning Muscat light...in the faded vert and rugged gold of palm, dried and fresh...in the green of the happy cacophony of parrots...in the silver scent of frankincense...and in all the layered purples of the Hajar mountains... and in the pink of the bougainvilla that grows so often over white walls of Muscat villas...instead of in shades of red and green and white.

I am sure whoever you are, expat or Omani, or like me, someone stuck in both-and-neither of those two worlds, that you see Oman in the same light, and thus, because of that changing light, the colours we perceive the country in, what images bring to mind life here, are different to every single one of us. For myself, it is not a flag, or the Sultan, but that light, that recalls Oman to me. However you see it...

Happy National Day, Oman.

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