Friday, July 29, 2005

Blog anniversary

How's this for a milestone: our blog is celebrating its first anniversary today. It was a year ago that I decided to get serious about blogging and got my wife to join me writing here. At that time it was just a pass time while we were finishing off our masters degrees in Glasgow. It never occurred to us that a year later we'd still be blogging.

It's been a great year. Thank you all for being here. It wouldn't be the same without you.


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Trauma

I heard a really disgusting story today. It involves a 9 year old boy who was raped by his 14 year old cousin. The parents of the 14 year old refused to believe that their son would do such a thing, so the father of the victim went and told the police. So far, so disgusting. But then there's a twist.

After lots of begging and pleading between the parents (don't forget, they're siblings), the father of the 9 year old kid who was raped went to the police and dropped charges. And the police accepted and released the rapist!

I asked the person who told me the story if the police had taken the victim to the hospital so he could be checked to confirm if he was raped. I'm told they didn't. And what more, the poor victim has not been offered any kind of counseling. His parents won't take him to a therapist because "their boy's not crazy". God knows what kind of life he's going to live.

I don't know how much of this story is true and how much is exaggerated. I am shocked that even though a crime was committed the police accepted that the father dropped charges and that was sufficient for them to abandon the case as if a crime hadn't been committed. But regardless of the authenticity of the story, I'm still pissed off about it because it woudn't be surprising if it turned out to be true. And worse, quite unfortunately, stories of boys raping other boys are quite common and I have never heard of anyone getting punished for it. Not once. The kids who get raped are made to feel guilty as if it was their fault that it happened to them.

This story reminded me of another issue which I had planned to write about earlier in the month. The lack of counselling in this country is pathetic. On June 26th we had a shooting rampage in the Ministry of Education. A fired teacher went into the office of the department that fired him and shot a bunch of people. It wasn't a random shooting. The guy went from office to office looking for specific people. When he was done he left and drove to second building down the street looking for others who he thought were responsible for his firing. He then escaped, was chased by the police and finally killed himself.

It was five days after my son was born and I couldn't get over thinking what kind of world I had brought him into. My sister works in that same ministry in a different building right across town. She wasn't in any danger. And yet for days after it she was scared and she couldn't stop thinking about it. Imagine how it is for the survivors who were there and saw it all. The shooting, killing.. the blood. All that trauma. Were they offered any counselling? Did anyone care what psychological scars these people are gonna carry from now on? I asked someone who works in the counselling department in SQU. She told me that immediately after the shooting they were called in by the head of their department and asked them if they were willing to volunteer and go meet with the survivors. While some were willing, most apparently wouldn't unless he gives then a formal request. And some even wanted the Ministry of Education to formally request their services.

It's unbelievable how even a counsellor would pass the buck like a seasoned bureaucrat.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Hats off

Hats off to H.E. Yahya Al Jabri, president of the Capital Market Authority for not yielding to pressure from big shot millionaires who tried to influence the share allocation of Omantel's IPO. The CMA announced today that the allocation will be set at 2850 shares. Therefore anyone who's applied for any amount upto 2850 will get all what he requested. As a result 147,000 applicants will get their full allocation. That's an amazing 91% of subscribers.

Trading will begin this Thursday, July 28 and the share will be allowed to float for 5 days before the price is fixed within the 10% daily limit. Some of us will have to scramble to register brokerage accounts in time for Thursday's trading in case the price jump is higher than expected on the first day of trading. With the big investors locked-out and receiving huge refunds of tens of millions there will be a lot of money available for the buyers.

I hope people use their profit wisely.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

UAE blocks blog

Secret Dubai Diary, one of my favorite UAE blogs has been blocked by Etisalat.

Disappointing as the news is, some hope is found in the fact that Gulf News has an article today about it. [link]

Will we ever see a day here in Oman where the press has the courage to actually cover what's happening in the country?

Monday, July 18, 2005

The moment of truth comes again

And so it comes... The dreaded day. The one that comes about two or three times a year, or more accurately every 10,000Km. Yes, I'm talking about my car's service.

It's actually been due since three weeks ago. I've stopped driving it since then but I just couldn't be bothered with taking it for the service. I've been in too good a mood to deal with a huge bill. In addition to the service there are a few other things that need to be fixed in the car. The AC thermostat sensor is broke and I can only use the AC on manual. Only one of the rear doors opens. I never bothered to fix this for a while because it's always just me and OD in the car. But now with the baby I can't delay fixing it anymore. And lately the brakes started squeeling so it's time to get those done too.

This time I've prepared myself for the worst. It's gonna be a heavy one, but it's ok. It's still cheaper than buying a new car, right? Besides I love my car and I don't care for the new BMW 5 Series.

So the dude from the workshop calls last night. He says that they haven't started on fixing the stuff I asked to be fixed, but just doing the regular inspection service they've found about 750 rials worth of stuff to be done and he doesn't advise to do fix the things I wanted fixed just yet. Apparently the radiator's leaking from two places (so how come the car doesn't overheat?), the powerstearing pipes are leaking, the brakes need to be changed entirely not just pads and discs, and the list goes on. And yet I am still in a good mood and I smile as I ok all the repairs and tell the guy to go ahead with the job order and drift into a recurring daydream in which Omantel's shares soar beyond all projections... aaaah.



Sunday, July 17, 2005

Coffee pt. 1

All out of Nescafe Gold Decaf

I think most workplaces provide free tea and coffee to their employees. Where I work, like just about everywhere else I'm sure, they provide Nescafe instant coffee. 6 or 7 years ago I switched to Nescafe Gold Decaf on a friend's advice. Of course I have to buy my own supply. In both places that I've worked, and across 4 different departments so far, other staff take from my coffee. They never ask. I never complain. About a month ago I ran out and went to buy some more from Alfair but they were all out. A few days later I looked in another Alfair with no luck. Then I went to Lulu Hypermarket, Carrefour.. Sultan Center.. no one has it. I wouldn't be surprised if they've stopped selling it in Oman. Other than myself and the guy who recommended it to me, I don't know anyone else who buys this stuff.

Inzain, so here's the clincher. In the past month people have been coming to me asking how come I don't bring that "good" coffee anymore. They tell me they used to drink from it and they liked it much better than the regular Nescafe. They ask me why I stopped and when I'll bring some more.. I just smile and say it's not available. Can you believe that. They never once asked if they can drink from it and now that I don't get it anymore they're asking for it. Man sometimes you wonder where people get the guts to go on like that.

How to rip-off muslims

A local bank has launched a so-called "interest-free" credit card billed as "the first interest-free card in the Sultanate that allows its customers to enjoy all the benefits of international credit cards".

How does it work?
Total spending during a particular month is payable in 12 equal instalments. In addition to the monthly instalment amount, the first statement of the account that customers receives will also include an administrative fee, which is a percentage of the amount the cardholder spent.
So by taking a flat percentage as a fee on every month's purchases instead of charging monthly on the actual balance, that makes it interest free? Looks to me like the "administrative fee" will end up costing the ripped-off users more than regular interest.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Haven't gone anywhere

blog summary

It's been 10 days without a new post on the blog. I was checking the blog stats and incredibly there are about 50 of you guys who keep coming back to check the blog every single day. I apologize for the lack of new posts and I thank you for your patience. I've taken 4 weeks off from work starting tomorrow and I'll be back to blogging regularly in my free time whenever little Al lets me.

Meantime, the ESO's website has finally been launched. It's still on a test server and there are a few typos here and there plus two sections which are still incomplete. There's a ton of information on it and anyone who's interested in Oman and the environment should check it out.

Environment Society of Oman website

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Disgusting

cigarette ad

I can't believe that half way through the first decade of the 21st century, not only does Oman still not have any anti-smoking laws, we still allow tobacco adverts in the daily newspapers.

The anti-smoking law which the municipality promised last summer for enforcement by September 2004 never materialized. Smoking is still allowed in public places. The age limit on smoking exists only on paper and there's no enforcement to stop shops from selling cigarettes to under 18s or cafes from serving sheesha to youngsters. And today in most of the local newspapers there's a quarter-page ad for a new Marlboro product placed in the sports section since as you know nothing helps an athelete more than a little tobacco in the lungs.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Pssssssst...

(Sorry, need to keep it down because I just put Faisal down to sleep)

Phew...

Wow, its been a while! But no need to update you since you all know what I've been up to :) Which isn't much really. Baby has very simple and basic needs. He's either hungry or wants me to change his nappy. Although they are only two requirements, he can demand these a zillion times a day. Oh and sleep for mom and dad isn't even in his dictionary!

Its amazing how much our lives have changed in just two weeks.

I don't really have much to say, but I just wanted to tell all of you how much your wishes and kind words have meant to us. I was teary eyed when I first went through the replies. I'm sure if Faisal could read he'd appreciate the replies as well!

(Yes his name is Al Faisal but I call him Faisal, he's too tiny to be Al Faisal)

Finally, did I tell you guys how absolutely cute and adorable`our baby is? And I'm not biassed cause I'm his mother :) We still don't know`who he looks like. Mux's family say he looks exactly like me, while my family think he resembles Mux. I don't think he looks like anyone yet.

Oi!!! Gotta go.. Baby beckons!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Book-tagged

We got book-tagged by Nomadica on June 6th but I never got around to completing it. Now suddenly every single blog I visit has a book tag. Here goes.

How many books do you own?

I have no idea. I'd guess we have hundreds of books. Probably more than 200 but less than 500. They're all in boxes in a storage place along with all our furniture.

What's the last book you bought?

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, based on the positive reviews and recommendations of many fellow bloggers.

Last book you read?

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

Currently reading?

Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell (bought it same time that I saw Kite Runner)
Quicksilver - Neal Stephenson
The Smartest Guys in the Room- The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron - Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind

A book you've been reading for long but never got around to finish?

Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World - Niall Ferguson
Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
The Lexus and the Olive Tree - Thomas Friedman

Which five books have meant the most to you?

Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell
The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton
The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
Dune - Frank Herbert
About a Boy - Nick Hornby
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

Oops that's 6 (well actually it's more than 10 since LOTR is a trilogy and HHGG is 5 novels)

Whom would you like to book tag?

Devilish
Z
Masquerader

Wicked