Saturday, January 28, 2006

Wahiba

I was in the Wahiba Sands this past weekend. We went up a dune to catch the sunset but instead of that I ended up taking lots of pictures of these camels. Unfortunately in my rush I had put on a cheap slow lens on the camera and some of the best shots came out too blurry to use. Click each picture to view full size or you can see the full photoset on Flickr.

DSC_0188

DSC_0196

Under a blood red sky

DSC_01652

Camel lovin'

Camel lovin'

DSC_0182

DSC_01411

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Greyish brown.. brownish grey... I'm so confused

Brownish Grey.. greyish brown?

Toyotas really do sell themselves

Location: Toyota's absolutely massive new showroom in Al Wattaya.

Scene:

Salesman: How can I help you?
Customer: I came to see the new Avalon.
Salesman takes the customer to the top of the range Avalon on display on the far-end of the showroom and starts listing the features: six airbags, JBL speakers, ventilated power seats, etc etc.
Customer: Excellent, when can I get a test drive?
Salesman: Sorry sir, our test-drive vehicle has met with an accident.
Customer: I'm in no hurry, just put me on the list and call me when it's fixed.
Salesman: I'm afraid it was a total loss, sir. It's been a month and we still don't have a replacemen test drive car.
Customer: Are you telling me you might not get a replacement?
Salesman: Yes sir.
Customer: So all these Avalons I see on the street, people bought them without test driving them?
Salesman: Yes.
Customer: But this is a 12000 rial car!
Salesman gives expressionless look.
Customer: In that case I guess I have nothing else to do here. Bye.
Salesman: Thank you sir.
Customer: Why are you thanking me, didn't you just lose a potential sale?
Another expressionless stare.
Customer walks out the showroom.

So you see, the product really does sell itself. The fact there is a salesman in the picture is just incidental.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Oman Blog Awards 2005




After a bit of a hiccup the first stage of voting in the OBA 2005 has been restarted. The final list of nominees is now set. In the first stage voters are requested to choose three choices from the list and the five with the most votes will go to the final voting stage. Voting is open for one week only [link].




Sunday, January 22, 2006

At your service (not really)

If I had a business whose only service was to collect money from people I'd make sure I'd give every possible channel for people to come and pay me the money that I'm trying to collect from them. Makes sense, no? Well I've been wanting to pay the ESO's bills for the past two days and I just haven't been able to make it to OIFC's payment centers during their office hours. OIFC does not have any self service kiosks or electronic payment systems. You either pay at their counter or you can go pay at a bank (which will most likely charge you 500 baisas per bill). It's virtually impossible for me to leave work these days for anything and OIFC's offices only open in the evening from 4 to 6 (which I didn't know until I found myself outside the locked door of their Zakher branch at 6.15pm today).

While we're on this subject, isn't it time that retailers in Oman stop this dark ages business of opening two shifts and start going for a more convenient morning till night straight shift? I still have no idea which shops open at 4 and which don't open till 5 and then again which ones are closed by 9 and which ones stay open till 9.30 or 10. Yesterday I called Mac Center at 7.45pm and asked them what time they close. The guy said "8.. 8.30." I didn't understand so he explained it could be anytime in between the two!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Muscat Film Festival

The Fourth Muscat Film Festival starts tomorrow (January 21st) and runs for seven days ending on January 28th, 2006. I've been trying to get ahold of the schedule but it's not available anywhere online. I have a printed copy from today's Oman newspaper but I'm not sure of its accuracy and also the names of the movies are written in Arabic with sometimes inaccurate English translations. The festival is organized by the Oman Film Society but their website still hasn't been updated to include any details except "coming soon" and a partial list of movies (in Arabic).

The movies will be screened daily at Shatti Plaza and Al Bahja Cinema. If you're interested keep checking the newspapers the next few days as well as the two cinemas' websites.

I can't say that I'm overly excited about the movies. I'm disappointed that even now in its fourth round the festival still can't secure newer releases. Still there are films going for. Of interest: Al Boom, the first Omani film will be premiered in the festival. The first show tomorrow will be by invitation only but the movie will be shown twice again for the public. The one movie I am definitely going to see is George Clooney's Goodnight, and Good Luck will be shown Monday night 8pm at Bahja. Other notable films: French film Le Grand Voyage which won many awards in 2005. Man Push Cart , In Casablanca Angels Don't Fly, Sophie Scholl - The Final Days (Germany). Also: Jawhara (Morocco), Shouf Shouf Habibi (Dutch), A New Day in Sana'a.

In the first Muscat Film Festival all the movies shown were unknown to me and yet I attending almost every single show and ended up finding quite a few gems. I don't have the time to do that again, but I bet there's a lot to be discovered this time around as well.

Update (22/01/06):

Finally found a schedule in today's Observer and it looks like I won't be able to see most of the movies that I was looking forward to because of other commitments. Tomorrow Goodnight and Good Luck will show at 8pm in one cinema and at 10pm Capote, which hasn't been announced before, will play at 10pm in the other cinema. There's no way you can watch both because of the scheduling and the distance. It really sucks to schedule the two most high profile movies of the whole festival on the same night like that. Especially when Philip Seymour Hoffman is the front-runner to win the best actor Oscar this year for Capote. I am going to be at a more important event so I'm gonna skip both :)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Stupid stupid stupid

I lost my ATM card last Saturday. Stupid me. I didn't even know it was gone until about 24 hours after I last used it. I went to the ATM to draw some money, opened my wallet.. no ATM card there. I couldn't even check my account to know if the card's been used. It's a Visa Electron, and the way shops never check the name on cards anyone who finds it could have gone on a massive shopping spree on my account. Just my luck that I lost it on salary day. I retraced my steps from the day before, but no chance. No card to be found. Had to call the bank and cancel it. Still waiting for a replacement card. Due to all the holidays we've been having this month the banks are suffering through a huge amount of pending work. So now I'm back to living in the 80's. I have to go to the branch every few days, stand in queue and draw cash from the teller for the first time in my life.

Inzain so since yesterday my back's been knots. Couldn't sleep last night from the pain. Got out of bed this morning and found that I couldn't stand straight. Had a good laugh at myself in the middle of the pain when I attempted to shave and I couldn't bring the razor to my face. It was weird. I could extend my arms to the sides, but I couldn't bring my hand to my face. Anyhoo.. got my mom's driver to take me to the clinic at 7am and the doctor gave me a day off from work and offered two choices: an injection or pills. The injection would bring immediate relief, the pills might take 45 minutes. Chicken that I am, I chose the pills. Took them at 7.45 and two hours later I was still writhing in pain. Remembered that mom has one of those supposed "miracle cure" Ceragem beds. I fidgeted with the controls and figured out a way to get it working on my neck for about 45 minutes at 60 degrees. Ceragemed the hell out of it. Got up feeling damn good..

Felt so good in fact that I thought I was well enough to venture out. I went to the bank to draw cash. Found the bank full of people getting cheques made for the Rayan Bank IPO which everyone in the gulf is going crazy about. Still it didn't take long to get my cash. So I decided that while I was at the bank I should finish some ESO business. It took a whole hour and I finally went out without finishing it. Half an hour later the pain was back. Miracle cure my ass.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Quote that got me thinking

" I find television very educating. Everytime somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book."

Groucho Marx

Friday, January 06, 2006

Oman Environment Day 2006



January 8th is Oman Environment Day and the Environment Society of Oman plans to celebrate with an exhibition of its current and future projects. This is a great opportunity for everyone to see what ESO has been doing and how you can get more involved.

Venue:

Marina Cafe on the coast road between the Crowne Plaza Hotel and the Intercontinental Hotel (share3 al-7ub).

Time:

Drop by anytime between 5pm and 8pm

The exhibition will be open to the public and you are more than welcome to bring family and friends along. You can meet ESO members and board members. Drop by for a chat and find out more about the projects that ESO is working on, or simply to find out what ESO is all about.

Refreshments and snacks will be served.

Please come and support ESO!!!!!

www.environment.org.om

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

What the toot?

I'm on toot

What is toot?
toot celebrates the emergence of an Arab “citizens’ media” in the form of blogging, and we will be featuring, on a daily basis, some of the best writings from 50 of the best blogs from around the Arab world.

We are very excited about the prospects of having a platform that will encourage quality blogging, connect Arab bloggers from around the region, and provide exposure and traffic in return of all the effort put into blogs such as yours.
I'm still trying to get my head around all the different things these guys are trying to achieve over there on toot. But I'm proud and happy that The Muscatis has been chosen as one of the 50 blogs featured in toot's launch.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A "balanced" budget deficit

Which one is it?

03012006.jpg


Or

03012006.jpg

I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't very good at Econ in college but the way I understand it whenever you spend more than what you earn it's called a deficit. And since you can't get something from nothing, the deficit is always financed from somewhere. It could be borrowing, it could be withdrawal from reserves, or selling assets, or whatever. It's ridiculous to call a deficit balanced just because the shortfall is being covered.

The Times of Oman want to have it both ways: praise the government on the first page and then shout DEFICIT on the front of the business page. That's just plain hypocritical.

Fact is unless oil prices collapse in 2006 there will not be a deficit and the government will end the year with a surplus again. I'm disappointed that defence expenditure is rising again and that health and education spending isn't rising fast enough. Nothing's changed. We're still a country that's more concerned with having a big army than with having a better educated population.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Season's Greetings

On behalf of myself, Muscati and Al Faisal, I would like to wish all the readers of our blog a very happy new year! May 2006 bring you all the joy and happiness you deserve.

(And may it bring you anything else you want)

Happy New Year!!

PS: Oh whatheheck, happy new year to the people who don't read this blog as well :)