Friday, December 30, 2005

Get married another day, will ya!

I've decided that I hate the wedding season. No, I have nothing against the people getting married or their families. I just hate their evil plan invite my wife to weddings every single Thursday night in December and January. As a private sector employee who gets only one day off a week, Thursday is the only night that I can look forward to spending with my wife without having to worry about work the next morning. And yet for the past three weeks I've been spending Thursday night bored out of my mind, driving aimlessly around town, inventing things to do at the ESO office, and eating disgusting junk food.

Men should join together and put their foot down. No more Thursday weddings.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Introducing

1. The Oman Blog Aggregator - If you're an Omani blogger, or an Oman-based blogger, do take the time to register your blog on the Oman Blog Aggregator. The site takes feeds from all registered blogs and aggregates them on a single page.

1.5 iopBlogs.com is a geographic aggregator which has thus far created specific sites for Oman, UAE, South Africa, Egypt, New Zealand, Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. In case you're wondering, iop is I'm On a Plane, a collective blog from the UAE.

2. newsBriefsOman - nBO started out as a news archive, created and run by Sue Hutton. I've been using it religiously for years whenever I need to search for archival news items from the Omani media. Lately Sue has been too busy to update the archive so she's gone and converted it into a blog where she comments on Oman-related news. The depth of her knowledge on Oman, and her strength in research shines through in all her writing. Highly recommended.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Ten Years

Last week I completed ten years since I graduated from university. (and by graduated I mean finished my last exam because I haven't attended my graduation neither for my bachelors in California nor for the masters in Scotland).

Didn't feel like a milestone. And definitely not like when I went to the Sultan's School graduation last June and realized that the highschool graduates weren't even in KG when I graduated there in 1990!

When life gives you lemons..

Monday the week before last my laptop crashed. Two days later the driver at home came to tell me that my car's leaking something. Turned out there was a leak in the cooling system and all the coolant from the radiator flooded out. A couple days later the buttons on my phone stopped working. I couldn't unlock it. It had happened to me before and worked perfectly fine when I shut it off and turned it back on again. Except this time when I did that the buttons still didn't work and I couldn't enter my PIN code to get it started. Life, that's a whole lotta lemons for a guy to handle in one week.

Long story short, after a lot of tinkering about and diagnosing at the shop it turned out that the computer's crash was caused by a faulty RAM slot on the motherboard, so now I'm down to just 512mb of RAM. Luckily they managed to salvage most of the hard drive and I didn't lose too much of my stuff but it took me days to download all the programs again. Hope Apple comes out with those Intel Macs soon.

As for the car, it turned out that it was the plastic coolant expansion tank had ripped open. Nothing wrong with the radiator itself. I tried to fight the dealer for a few days to make them do it on goodwill. I lost the battle and paid for it myself.

The phone is just over a year old. It's a Nokia 7610 which I've hated since the day I bought it. It's not under warranty anymore. I took it to a shop for fixing and they said only the dealer can fix it. Went to the dealer and whaddya know, it worked perfectly fine with them. So I took it to a phone shop and asked them how much I can get for it if I sell it. Quite incredibly they said 80 rials. SOLD. Paid 60 on top and traded it for a brand new 6680- which I am now convinced will zonk on me any minute because the bad karma's gonna get to me for selling a defective phone.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Poor fella

My sister's tailor was the victom of some very unfortunate circumstances recently. When my sister and her husband went to his shop a week or so ago, he told them his story.

Him and a couple of his friends went swimming at the beach during the weekend ( about 2 weeks ago I think). While peacefully splashing about in the water, one of them brings his camera over and starts taking pictures of his friends.

Then, KABOOOOOM, out of the blue, they were ambushed by policemen and guards who arrested them and took them to the police station.

You are probably wondering why, ha? Well, the unlucky chaps had the misfortune of swimming and taking pictures infront of the American embassy :)

"Ana mafee maloom hatha feeh american embassy hnaak!!!" said the tailor.

Hehe, I feel so bad for laughing so hard when my sister told me the story, but I couldn't help it.

There is a happy ending however, the tailor's sponsor bailed them out that day, and when my sister went to see him a couple of days ago, he told her that the file was closed and that the police believed that it really was an honest mistake.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Tipping at the gas station

I was at a gas station and the dude filling my car actually offered to clean my windscreen! It must have been the first time ever that it happens to me here in Oman. Omani gas stations are the last place on earth where you can expect value added services. Inzain, so I came to tip the guy (he was an Indian) and he flinched. He wanted nothing to do with it. Cool with me, the guy's pride won't stand for it. I understand.

I'm always asking people if they tip petrol station attendants. I rarely do but I know a lot of people do it. My mother is probably the number one tipper of gas station workers in Oman. I know for a fact that she once stopped in a station when she didn't even need gas, tipped the guy without filling-up and drove away- she called it a sadaqa. When my mother goes to fill up her car she makes it a point of always asking the Omani guys to come. In fact if the Indian dude comes up to fill her car she waves him away until an Omani comes. And then of course, she gives the Omani a big tip. She says she does it to encourage Omanis to accept working low paying jobs like this. I tell her she's racist. She says it's hard for the Omani live a decent life or have a family on a gas station's salary while the Indian is probably provided with room and board by the station's owner. Dunno, what do you think?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Fast another day?

In Oman we've been lucky that there hasn't been any fragmentation of society among the sects. While the government is ibadhi, the population is probably more sunni than ibadhi and there's a small but prominent shia minority. Other countries have enough problems from just having shia and sunnis. Oman has three sects and yet thank God, we've been stable. This stability is best displayed by the fact that there has never been a fragmentation from following the government in observing the begining and end of Ramadhan. Unlike some of our neighboring countries where we always here news of the sunnis and shia fasting and breaking fast on different days, here in Oman we all follow the govenrment. I have never once heard a shi3i say that they don't believe the govenrnment's declaration for the begining of Ramadhan. We all trust the government and we are proud of the fact that unlike other countries Oman follows its own sighting. We don't just wait to hear if Saudi Arabia has sighted the new moon and then follow it blindly like some other countries do. True, this results in Oman often being a day ahead or behind other countries, but we don't mind because we trust that we're probably right.

A week ago rumors came out that the grand mufti has declared that this year's eid sighting was in doubt and hence he advises everyone in Oman to fast an extra day to compensate. This would be well and good if it weren't for the fact that the mufti himself was involved in the live television broadcast on the night of 29th Ramadhan with live telecasts from various points in Oman in which not one of the remote locations had seen the new moon. And yet despite that the mufti declared the begining of eid due to a few other sitings from off-site locations. And now the mufti says that one of the astronomers in one of those sites has declared a doubt about whether he really saw the moon. So the mufti is basically telling us that even though on the night of 29th Ramadhan he got multiple witnesses with sightings which he believed, he is now willing to ask a whole nation to fast an extra day due to a single doubting astronomer?

Does the mufti not realize the path that he's putting us on by doing this? I would really hate it if next year the sunna, shi3a and ibadha all start fasting on different days. If it happens it will all be traced to this one decision.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Mafi malum

From yesterday's Times of Oman:

"Mafi malum, ustad. This is the one Arabic expression that teachers of English language dread to hear from their students because it effectively means that all their efforts have gone down the drain."

Is mafi malum an Arabic expression? Once again I found myself wishing I could just reach out and bitch slap one of their editors.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Incompetent Omani Newspaper Dude

From here on, the above mentioned person will be referred to as IOND.

This week we sent out invitations to all the Arabic and English newspapers in Oman asking them to kindly send reporters to cover the Bird Flu lecture (which was amazing by the way for all of you people who didn't attend).

So one of the Arabic papers graciously accepts and sends one their reporters: (IOND). IOND walks up to me before the lecture, introduces himself and tells me he wants to do a write-up on the lecture.

Excellent, says I.

To which he replies, can you write me a small paragraph with all of your society's aims and objectives?

No problem I say.

IOND: Can I also get a copy of the lecturer's presentation?

Me: Ummm, I'm not sure the lecturer would agree to that, but please come with me to the front and I will introduce you to her and perhaps you can get the information you want from her now.

IOND: La, la its ok. No need to disturb her before the lecture, maybe you can just write up a summery of her presentation for me highlighting the important points.

Me: *gapes*

IOND: Will you be taking pictures?

Me: *nods head*

IOND: Oh good because I don't have a photographer with me, so can you email me a picture or two to use for my story?

OD: .............................................

IOND: Thans so much OD, I'll call you. Sorry though, I can't remain for the lecture, I have other things to do. *waves*

IOND leaves before I catch my breath and before the lecture starts.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

ESO Lecture December 10th

ESO Bird Flu lecture


We are having a lecture entitled "Bird Flu - Separate the fact from the myth" on Saturday, December 10th. The lecture will be given by Dr. Faryal Al Lawati from SQU. As always, our lectures are open to the general public.

Venue: The American International School Muscat (TAISM)

Time: Doors open at 7pm. Lecture starts at 7:30pm

TAISM Directions: At the Azaiba R/A on the highway, head towards Ghala. Go straight through Mosque R/A and Royal hospital R/A. The entrance to TAISM will be on the left hand side just past the Toyota body shop. Follow the curve around and enter second entrance.

The Muscatis in OER

The Muscati(s) in Oman Economic Review magazine

Oman Economic Review magazine has an "interview" with me in the current issue which is out now. Unforunately you cannot browse the site without registering first. [link]

I thought I was being "interviewed" as part of a bigger article about blogging. I'm surprised when I saw it now and it's just me.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

reBlog: Blog Disparity

Wardat Al Khaleeej writes about the disparity she feels between Omani blogs and the other gulf bloggers that she reads. She says that:
While Omani bloggers maintain a common norm of posting things in general with a reflection towards the country, their daily activities, music or news other bloggers are more daring and venture to discuss issues which we could not conceive of placing on our blogs.
It's a topic I've written about before but it's worth bringing up ahead of the Omani Blog Awards which are coming up. A reporter from TheWeek is working on a story about the awards. I'll write about that more when the story comes out depending on how much of what I said appears in the article. The most relevent question that she asked me was:

Do you think that there’s an adequate sense of community and responsibility between bloggers in Oman? As in, are issues and causes taken up through blogs? Do you ever meet up with other bloggers?

I don't know of any Omani bloggers meet ups, do you? Regardless of whether we know each other or not. Do you feel that there's a sense of community in the Omani blogosphere? At the very least are there any issues which we've taken up together? I honestly couldn't think of any.

Anyhow, read Warda's full post and reply there if you have anything to add about the disparity. Please reply here if you have comments on the question above.

Update:

Mahmood has an excellent post on the same topic. A taste:

The Emirates is more of an expat scene with continuous bitching on how bad life is in the Emirates and how brain-dead Aeraabs are as well as how smelly and uncouth Indians and Pakis are and how oh how mundane and boooaring this expat life is and how they want permaent membership in the "clooob" and have to live in lurvly Jumaira beach area. There are a few more blogs written by locals, but I fail to find a trend really. They are all over the spectrum but seem to be united in their feeling of superiority.

Oman's blogs are peaceful and human and personal and lovely and cuddly! Hardly a controversy but the mundane day-to-day existence and experiences. I read Omani blogs if I want to believe that everything in the world is hunky-dory and relax. [link]