Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Cute Lanterns for only 1 omr, and everything else that is random

Okay, so this is a crappy little post. I haven't been feeling that great of late and didn't get around to photographing all the Ramadan decorations for the blog I was going to...or Mosque, or food, or anything. There have been however, a lot of great posts by other bloggers.

What I did want to share were these lanterns from Lifestyle stores... they were only 1 omr each and come in blue, red, green, and white. I thought they were a great deal for only 1 omr.

BTW, I ave been trying to update our blog roll. I finally managed to add the "Oman Law Blog" but there are a lot of other great blogs my net just isn't allowing me to save. Trust me, I have been trying to add "Rummy's Scribblings" for years;). Anyways... I also thought it interesting to note that my husband has been thinking to get into blogging (he'll probably write in Arabic however) and he's been asking me if Suburban would be okay if he translated her posts (and edited out the swearing);) http://otheroman.blogspot.com/.  I love her blog and am glad she's back to writing about what we all talk about but never think to post about, and that she does it in such a hilarious, offhanded, and human way, that heavy subjects don't come across as overly contrived or impossible to approach.

I have also been reading a lot of Kuwaiti blogs of late. My gosh that blogging set are HILARIOUS. If we ever think Oman is impossibly ridiculous, then I suggest reading about Kuwait:). I especially loved Desert Girl's post about dating http://desertgirlkuwait.blogspot.com/2016/05/desert-girl-kuwait-dating-update.html (yes, I know, I am a Muslim, and it is Ramadan, I should be haraam humbugging her), and felt like, you know, we do need a "Sex in the City" set in the Gulf. I know we have "Ayb in the City" already, but Desert Girl is just so heartwarmingly American (in the way that Americans are good---says a Canadian) that I am always laughing or near tears with her stories. Also, her Ramadan story "the time I went to the wrong house for iftar" is the most touching Ramadan story I have read this year http://desertgirlkuwait.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-time-i-walked-into-wrong-house.html.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

THE HOUSE: Updates on Lates

So everything in Oman is always late, so of course construction of a house is going to be late... But towards that, our project is now super super late. It is driving my family crazy. Latest crap is that the main wiring for the first floor has to be re-done. Which means, cutting the stone off the facade, also cutting the walls and plaster, and thus doing re-work. We've hated the work from the electrician all along... so I shouldn't be surprised I guess?

The expense for all this should be from the contractor/construction side since it was their electrician, their work. Of course, we are currently fighting them for this. I am not going to pay for the same stuff twice. Of course, fighting takes time...
It is soooooo.... disheartening.
Also, the wall iron (we are installing decorative iron to our front wall) company did make the iron, but have yet to install it and the front entry gates... and they aren't answering their phone... so that means driving out to crappy industrial Mabaila during already busy Ramadan evenings... which sucks.
...and the granite installation in villas 1 & 2 is finally complete... But my kitchen cabinetry supplier came to fix the cupboards so I could sign off and say everything is as it is supposed to be and they don't have responsibility anymore (beyond supplying the correct colour of handles which should be mid this month) but they neglected to check that all the drawers work after the granite fixing... Thus my under oven drawer? Doesn't work. So now I have to schedule a THIRD round visit from them.... so annoying. The fourth, will be for the handles (I ordered cast iron, not antique bronze).

I also need to hire another construction company (because I am sick of ours) to finish the kitchen counter area. Above is basically my kitchen layout with the blank space I did not purchase cabinetry for. I wanted something more European, so I want plastered counters. ...I also have to paint some kitchen shelving for open shelves in my blank wall space areas... and before I do that I have to customize the shelves to have hooks to hang mugs from the bottom shelves, and for the mid-height shelves, install bars for the support brackets, for platters, and for the bottom shelf, also bars, for plate racking to display my dishes...

...Well, my husband's dishes, since he's the one with a thing for blue and white porcelains... not me;). I blame Holland, since that was his first experience with travel;). Not that I can complain. I am a more rustic earthenware/stoneware kind of girl, but I appreciate the artistry of blue and white porcelains.

For those who think open shelving is a lot of work/dusting, I've had it before and found that I love the look, and it kept me super organized. Also, beyond platters and fancy tea sets, and one or two cannisters, everything else on display usually gets used with frequency, so it was surprisingly no work at all to dust.

So the house remains... a story to be continued.

SHOPPING: OPNO's picks from Homesense for the Arabian home, Ramadan 2016

I really love the colour and print of this 1.6x 2.3 m area rug. I would be tempted to splurge the 57.9 omr for it.
I also like the Arabesque motif on this dinnerware set. If you don't have a dinnerware set (I do) and you need six pieces of everything, then 27.9 omr isn't too much for something this pretty.
 My daughter's pick for a Ramadan decoration are these LED lights which are 2.9 omr.
Me, I like glass bulbs in general and love how multi-purpose this bulb wreath is. So pretty and only 9.9 omr without the fuss of a DIY project.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Qarankasho 2016

I totally forgot last night when I stumbled out the front door to open the gate when I heard the doorbell, that it was the start of Garankasho (or Girgian if you live elsewhere in the Gulf)...Which means the 13, 14, and 15th days of Ramadan. I was confronted by a party of six ridiculously cute Omani kids in traditional dress singing at me in Arabic (whatever that traditional Garankasho song is). They then held their bags and baskets out to me for candies and toys (or cash). None of which I had. Thankkfully my neighbor loaded them up.

Now I know why the candy and chips lines were so busy the other day.

....Oman's Grand Mufti issued a fatwa against practicing Garakasho (which is kinda like a 3-day halloween but in traditional Gulf dress but for Khaleeji kids) as it is not an Islamic holiday (and like Halloween in the west, people kidnap kids, or hurt them, and Khaleeji parents seem to be a bit lax on stranger danger...

He also insists the holiday isn't originally Omani which I totally agree with. I think it came to Oman via Kuwait and Bahrain when a bunch of Omanis had gone there to work in days before oil.

As far as I know it has none of the Pagan cannotations of Halloween, so I wouldn't mind seeing a bunch of cute kids in Gulf dress with palm baskets loaded with candy, but then, I don't know where Girgian came from in Kuwait and Bahrain either...

Anyways, until I know better, I think it is kind of cute...

Sunday, June 12, 2016

An OPNO Family-Style Ramadan: Puting the Lanterns out for Taraweeah

To get my younger kids involved in Taraweeah prayer time I simply cannot bring them to the Mosque...  Especially not for prayers as long as taraweeah ones. We would be disturbing all the other worshippers.

I've tried Jumah with them (Jumah is Friday prayers). The five year old steals chairs from old ladies praying, to make forts out of prayer mats and the disability-prayer-chairs, and my husband says the two year old occasionally jumps on people's backs and takes money out of men's pockets and eats it [which makes me seem like an awesome mother I know].  Trust me, it just doesn't work yet. ...Then there's the sister who writes the Salafi Feminist blog and her daughter is only a year older than mine but mashaAllah she stands for Taraweeah.... So I accept my sucky Muslimah-mommy status with patience....(afterall, my parents were worse with me as a kid... so. Although apparently I liked Bible Study when I was under ten, go figure. ...Liked to show I could memorize more than the adults).

Most Omani Muslim parents don't seem as in tune with getting kids to learn to pray and hang out at the Mosque as Canadian Muslims seem to be... They do take them for eating out, and to the malls and parks to play in the evenings, and do a whole lot of visiting, which seems super fun for kids nonetheless. But I want my kids to get into Taraweeah. I want to go again one day....;).
So, while my husband and the older kids and ladies who have housemaids or relatives to watch their brood of kids float out to Masjids to pray Taraweeah, I give my kids the special responsibility of turning on the lights (if we have strung any decorative lights) and puting out lanterns we keep just for Ramadan. I try to buy a new one once a year.
...That way, when the people praying come back, they come home to a beautifully lit home, and the younger ones feel that the time then is special. After Taraweeah is over and the worshippers come back, we turn off the lights, and blow out the candles.
For the last days of Ramadan I let them keep the lights on for the whole night for those praying the whole night. InshaAllah, it is kind of an experiment, but it seems to make the kids appreciate the unique prayer times of Ramadan.

An OPNO Family-Style Ramadan: Paper Star (and moon) Decorations

My kids are much too small for fasting, but they like to be involved in Ramadan nonetheless. I do like to have them think of iftars and suhoor meals as special (so they get an occasional treat) but I don't like the Khaleeji way of Ramadan being so much about food (preparing it, cooking it, eating it, thinking about it). Ramadan issupposed to be about prayer, charity, being the best self one can be, studying religion, helping others... So, I like them to think about it. One thing my kids like to do is do a craft project to decorate the house for the people coming back from Taraweeah prayer. I want them to think about Taraweeah as a special thing for the grown up/bigger kids to do.
One of the easiest projects for my kids are paper star decorations (the five year old can cut), the two year old can choose the colours and tell us where to hang things and wreak havoc with glitter. Sometimes I pre-cut and pre-hold punch so he can try to string them. I do the taping and gluing and hanging I guess. They really enjoy themselves and feel like they are participating. Also, my kids are mixie (i.e. they have non-Muslim grandparents, so thus, they don't feel like Christmas is way more awesome in terms of decor---although they still think we should have Christmas trees for Eid lol, not that they get the pagan significance to the evergreen for Yule, but nonetheless, I agree, those look pretty).
I also take them to see all the decorations and window displays at the malls and as a family we vote on our favourite one. It is always interesting to hear a five year old's reason why she chose a particular design and its significance to her.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

RAMADAN RANT #1: Asking your coworker to wear hijab just for Ramadan

Now people who know me, know I am decently strict with my own hijab. My personal style prescription:

1.) Scarf has gotta cover the chest completely (who cares if that is a granny style here in the Sultanate, I don't wear hijab to be part of Khaleeji fashion as much as I love the designer abaya scene). Hair also isn't purposefully showing.
2.) Stuff (clothes) are loose.
3.) They are not see-through.
4.) They aren't overly expensive beyond what people I encounter day-to-day could ever afford.

I'd wear a face veil if I realistically could without also taking it off. I admit, compared to the strictest schools of thought, I don't think lipstick is sinful but if I were wrong, a face veil would solve all wouldn't it?;). I also am of the school of thought that hijab should be an overgarment (be worn over regular clothes that don't have to be modest).

At the same time, hijab (modest Islamic dress code) isn't a pillar of the religion. Belief, prayer, fasting, charity, and preforming pilgrimage, those are.

So my first Ramadan rant this year is that some guys asked another Muslim girl at work to wear hijab "just for Ramadan".

Now, my first problem with this is they mean, a headscarf by hijab. Hijab in Islam is a lot more than that. Obviously, this is their meaning, since there are five other women (all Muslim) in that office, and almost none of them actually wear Islamic hijab. They wear Omani cultural hijab (scarf over most of hair, over one breast, abaya closed but fitted in one area or another (usually waist) or open with not always modest clothing underneath.

Asking another Muslim woman to wear cultural hijab has what benefit for anyone? I mean, so the guys don't see her whole head of hair?! But they can still see the hair (poking out the scarves) of the other women, the shape of their chests through the fit of their abayas, the curve of their hips? I don't get it...Don't get me wrong, I am still Western, but when I live in Oman as long as I have, I still see a woman with hair and go "Hairrrrr!!!" in my head and stare, but come on. Hair is everywhere. If you are gonna be like that, please don't have internet or a TV at least. Serriously. Hair isn't the point of hijab.

I mean, would they ask the other Omani girls in the office to wear better/looser/more covering hijab, or ask the boss to tuck in her bangs (just for Ramadan?).

Second problem is, hijab is akin to fasting, although it is a much lesser requirement for Muslim women. You have to fast or you are not Muslim. [By this I mean, if you had no excuse not to fast, and died suddenly, it is a sin that you risk not being forgiven for, not that any mortal being can judge what they cannot know---Allah is pretty famously forgiving and understanding].

You are still a muslim if you don't wear hijab so long as you wear it to pray. You might not be doing what you should, but you are still a Muslim. Wearing hijab Islamically is a declaration for yourself and to Allah/the Creator, it isn't for society. It says "I am a believer of the Islamic faith". It goes beyond just being a Muslim...If you wear it for the right reasons, that is.

Third problem is, what is the point of "just for Ramadan?". The Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings be upong him) told Muslims that the best acts they can do are the ones they can do often, not the greater acts they do rarely.

Fourth problem is, people who asked her, obviously don't know the requirements of fasting themselves, which worries me. About them, not her. They told her "what is the point of fasting if you don't cover your hair?".

Number one, fasting isn't invalidated by not covering the hair (so long as she prays, and wwears Islamic hijab to pray her fard (required) prayers).

...They seemed not to know that. So they probably don't know the point of fasting in general, or what invalidates it. Worrying...

End of rant. I told her don't worry. ...And if she is gonna wear hijab, wear it for the right reasons, not other people.

Welcome, Ramadan

Today is the first day of Ramadan in Oman. So I thought I would post some Qu'ran eye-candy;).