Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Perfect Stranger

Have you ever been so shocked and touched by an act of kindness from a complete and total stranger? One that left you to reflect on your own kindness and question whether you’ve been selfless enough? Well, its happened to me many times, but for some reason here in Salalah, its been happening almost…often? Someone, usually a stranger, does something entirely selfless for me.

We were being really adventuress this past weekend. We packed up our igloo on thursday night and when the sun rose we set off into the desert. It was beautiful. Romantic. The mountains, the trees, the sand and the beaches all seemed more perfect than the day before. Two hours into our drive, our eyes caught a glimpse of a distant a part of beach that was simply too gorgeous not to venture to. The only thing separating us and the beach was …..SAND of course (soft sand).

Without a thought we swerved to the right off the paved road and cut through into the beautiful sand. The exhiliration lasted 4 seconds, our tires never experienced it. The car wouldn’t move. The tires spun in the sand digging us deeper in. Reverse, nada, Drive, nada, Neutral, nada. Not a person in sight, no sign of civilization and we were stuck. Of course being a woman, a million thoughts ran through my head. "We’re gonna die here, there’s no cell phone reception, well at least we have water, ok so we’ll ration our sandwiches and worse come to worse we can walk to the beach and find fish until help comes?"

So, we got out of the car, and being rookies in the desert we tried to dig ourselves loose. Of course that didn’t work. Then we tried to push our car, our huge car. It didn’t budge, barely shook. Darn this brand new defiant car!. After 45 minutes and no more ideas we resigned to eat lunch... in the car. I thought to myself, but dared not say aloud "You call yourself Omani and can't get us out of the sand?" lol. Before I could finish my rationed sandwich, we heard another car. Hubby jumped out of the car to wave our saviour down. The car was going so fast, so furious, I thought for sure the guy in it didn't even see us! His car zigzagged through, passed us in seconds, practically skipping in the sand.  I could almost swear, I heard it whistle it was so happy. My mouth agape I thought “How the HECK can that, old beat up car go through the sand soooo easily and our brand new defiant car wont even crawl????!

By Gods Mercy, the car zigzags over to us, the driver rolls his window down to talk to Sam. A minute later the guy gets out of his car so excited, opens our door and shakes Sams hand smiling from ear to ear praising God and swears to help (at least that’s what I could make out). He skips away in his car and we’re left in the sand again. I wonder to myself if the guy will ever come back. I ask hubby to translate what the guy said. "He's gonna come back with a rope". I roll my eyes thinking "yeah right, where is he going to get a rope in the middle of nowehere?" Well, a little over 30 minutes later, yes, skipping of course (and whistling), he comes back with a rope and in minutes we are rescued. This perfect stranger drove out all the way to his home, got a rope, drove back to us and then insisted we come to his families home for tea!!!. We were truly touched. We very politely declined and kept thanking him for his help, I even convinced Sam to offer money(total insult I learned). But you should know, you can’t say “no” to an Omani.

We were so graciously served hot tea and were with wonderful company. I tried my best to communicate in broken Arabic. By the end of our visit we were sad to say goodbye. I wont ever forget them. They also convinced me to try camping in the desert during winter. I think I'll take their advice, maybe next weekend?

And about the skipping car, Khalid (our saviour) advised us; “New cars no good. Old, much better.”

Have you ever been touched with selfless kindness by a total stranger?


  1. I love Oman for one major reason; its peoples. I have never been to a place where the people are always kind and hospitable towards me. I have traveled to 31 countries and have lived in 11 of them, Oman is still number 1.

    Thank you rania for this reminder to those of us who sometimes forget.


  2. I have to agree - the majority of Omani Nationals are extremely friendly... :)

    I had just landed here - wondering around carrefour looking for a certain spice (its called something different here to what I call it) I was trying to explain it to a shop assistant - to no avail...

    Some time later an Omani National caught up with me - he had gone searching for what I need - found it - and then followed me until he caught up with me to give it to me...

    I seriously doubt that would happen in any other country...

    Thanks for a great blog - and yes as per N above thanks for the reminder.... - we need to pay it forward... :)

  3. Yes, I definitely have! Although this is not the only act of selfless kindness I've experienced here there is one that definitely sticks out.

    During Ramadan I went to the pool with my kids. We hadn't even been in for half an hour when one of them slipped and badly cut his chin.
    With the help of an Omani friend we went to a private clinic. They couldn't help us there and referred us to the large state hospital. At that time the sun was starting to set and our Omani friend could have gone home to break the fast. But, instead of doing that he went to the hospital with us and kept our other child busy while the one who had slipped was having stitches. All the while this poor guy hadn't eaten or drunk all day! It wasn't until well after dark that he got home. We were really touched. Needless to say, we are good friends. :-)


  5. When I first came to Oman I felt so lost. I remember driving out trying to find a shop. I asked a random guy for directions and he couldn't speak english but knew where I wanted to go. Next thing I know, he jumps in his car and tells me to follow him. The shop was 20 minutes intown and I was so greatful to him. Honestly, who would do that?

    Oman has been so wonderful to my children too. I've never felt safer and more secure. Thank you Rania it IS a great reminder. PAY IT FORWARD all the way.

  6. oh and I know what you mean about "skipping" in the sand LOLOLOL. Happens all the time.

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  8. I love Oman. Oman and especially SALALAH is where I wanna spend my rest of the life. And InshaALLAH I will do that come what may,

    Salalah is my place, no where else in the world be it anywhere,

  9. I am an Omani
    I had bad experience with Omanis
    (One time) I was in one of the fish market resturants.. I went to wash my hands while my cell phone was on the table. After less than 3 minutes I did not find my cell phone..
    (may be he wants me to save money by preventing me from calling?)

  10. Just yesterday a friend of mine was telling yet another selfless story about an Omani who helped her husband and son in a time of crisis. MashaAllah.

    Anonymous, that story during Ramadan is so amazing. May God reward him for his selfless act of kindness.

    Gatvol, Pay it forward is right!

    Nadia, what a fantastic story, how'd the tire blow ?? :)

    Mahfeef! thats crazy, usually you leave just about anything out and it will still be there when you return. Hope it wasn't an expensive phone.

    The world can really learn from Oman's kind people.

  11. My dad never understands why I go out of my way to help strangers.. He asked me one day, Why do you do that?

    I didn't know how to answer that question. It keeps me busy? I get ajar (god's blessing)? He simply needed help and had no one to turn to at that moment? One day he might help me? I have nothing better to do? It's Entertaining? I might get to know someone (socializing)?


  12. I'm an Omani from Salalah,

    I do care about people in the road, because you'll get that back somehow. Even if you don't, it doesn't "kill" you if you help others and give good impression about your society.

    Sometimes you "can't" leave some of them behind, it stabs in the heart so deep!

    In my opinion, you SHALL help others when you can, if not then your manners need to be "UPDATED!".

    I really wanna thank you for what you've written about Salalah. I'm not a blogger, so I might not respond again...

    Best wishes.

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  14. How is it an insult to try to pay him in return for his kindness?

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