Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentines in Salalah

Like Nadia, I thought Valentines day in Salalah would go unnoticed. No such luck? Upstairs from Al Istikrar, (Hypermarket) I saw this….

At least six girls stood in front of the stand browsing through all the red shaped hearts. I have to admit it amused me. Its such a paradox. I waited nearly 10 minutes for them to dwadle away to get this shot, I hope you all enjoy :)

So Salalah has now opened its first “Authentic" Chinese Restaurant, Zen in the Hamdan Plaza. Nothing authentic about it except the beautiful dragon hanging from the ceiling. The food was on the bland side and I just can’t get used to eating Basmati Fried Rice. Its just not right. The “Chinese” tea was simply Lipton red tea with no sugar to give the bitter effect?. I’m sure they can find at least Green tea as a better substitute, I left the suggestion with the waiter. Without completely trashing the place they do try to make it fancy-ish. The d├ęcor is very classy, its certainly a step up for Salalah dining, I enjoyed the atmosphere most. The garnish on most entree’s are impressive. Your cucumber takes a nice shape along with your pine-tree shaped carrots. We ordered several dishes considering the price is not too bad. Nothing really over 5 OR. We ordered the Dragon Chicken, Spring Rolls, Zen Chicken and Prawns in Garlic sauce (pretty decent). Fried Rice of course and Dessert. If you’re looking for change of atmosphere, its a good option. If you’re really hungry, you’re better off at Chinese Cascade.

Facebook: I recently realized that putting up personal photos in facebook is a no-no. Any one of your "friends" can simply right click, and save your image, having a permanent moment in your life in their private possession. I have deleted all albums and I encourage my friends to do the same. For the longest time I had a landscape photo as my profile pic. I decided to give my facebook a "facelift" and put in a new profile pic to update my friends (particularly those back home) with a recent photo since they haven’t seen me in so long. It has been a mere two weeks since the facelift and I have accumulated 6 friend requests, all from boys, all Dhofari. I'm so clueless as to how they find me and how bold they are to add me, back to landscape?.

Generally I am a curious person. I tend to ask a lot of questions and I enjoy learning. But I have my limits when it comes to prodding or being downright nosy. This evening when we got back from dinner, a few neighbors were outside huddled in the dark near their gate. After the usual greeting, one of them asked me where we were coming from so late at night. I simply answered "dinner". I hurried the farewell so that I wouldn't have to share more. Some of my neighbors are especially nosy. They ask questions like "what do you cook for dinner", "where do you go on Monday and Wednesday night", "who is that friend of yours in the blue car"....

Since the birth of this blog, I have had some strange emails. For one, I have received two emails from the same person claiming they know exactly who I am. Suuure you do Mr/Mrs Anonymous. I also get emails asking me very, very personal questions about who I am, who is my husband, what tribe is he from, when and why did we marry, am I American, Canadian or British, am I really Muslim, how many children do I have etc. Its annoying. I share what I want, period. The intention behind this blog was initially to share what’s happening around me in this strange place, now home and not so strange...

Its not an autobiography. Goodnight Salalah.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Filipina Women

I am trying to figure this out on my own, but I'm stumped. Perhaps, someone, somewhere out there, can help me "get it"?

-Shes Filipina...
-Shes usually somewhat young...
-Shes visibly the "maid" (holding an Omani child in her arms while the mother shops...) Heres where I get confused...
-She wears somewhat of a uniform...(Extra tight jeans, a very fitted top and.................hijab???).

Why is it that so many filipina women here have this uniform? Is it by choice? Is this "uniform" a request from their sponsor? Whats the deal?. Every restaurant or retail store, with or without hijab they typically wear the same kind of clothes. Last night we were parked in front of Browniz and I just sat in the car blown away. One waitress was wearing skin tight jeans and her shirt was tucked in, she served a group of Omani men who openly stared at her up and down and continued staring as she walked away, all with sheepish smiles. 

If its by choice, why do the women choose to stand out and contrast so sharply against black abayas and obvious societal conservatism? If its not by choice, why are they required to dress as so? Is it to humiliate them? Is it to entice male customers?.

This is not an issue of Islamic vs. Non-Islamic. The expats here in Salalah are very respectful and conscious of their attire, they don't typically stand out because of what they choose to wear.

Help me out people, I'm confused!!!. Its the most perplexing image these days

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Traditional Omani Food

Last night I was supposed to be at the gym, working out, burning fat, dodging pom-poms. Instead on the way to the gym I get text from Nadia, "Look in your rearview?". I look up, there she is, driving behind me, shades on her head (jk).

Next thing I know my gym bag and sneakers are haphazardly thrown against a wall and I'm sitting cross-legged with a few friends in front of this...

We ended up at Bin Ateeq (For Traditional Omani Food) for dinner. None of us had eaten lunch and I needed any excuse to not go to the gym. The food was delicious. For the first time I tried Habsha Maqlee (Fried INTESTINE), once my gag reflex passed it was actually quite tasty, I promise. We also ordered fried calamari, yum, Dijaj Khasoosi (small fried chicken pieces with fried onion, tomato etc.) I also tried Qarass which is bread boiled with sugar, cardamom and fresh cow ghee, soooo delicious! We ended our meal with

A'seedha of course, which is like a jello made with wheat flour topped with ghee. Also very delicious!

I really enjoyed myself with great company and delicious food. We talked about the different foods in Dhofar and that in Muscat. I am not used to eating any of those foods so its taken a little getting used to. I do however, appreciate and enjoy it every now and then. Salalah is unique and very fortunate not to be bombarded with fast-food restaurants yet so often we still choose food that isnt good for us. Its not just Salalah of course, its everywhere. We keep putting crap in our bodies and the effects are evident.

A few weeks ago my family was invited to lunch at a friends house, we ate a huge plate of food (mostly carbs) and after eating more than her share, my host became so drowsy. She could barely keep a conversation and politely excused herself for her habitual afternoon nap. I ended up playing with the children and her 18 year old daughter mustered enough energy to stay awake and keep me company. I know its common to take naps, even healthy, but not when its the effect of a large meal.

My 32 year old neighbor who has extremely high cholesterol and has been complaining of chest pains. She is a beautiful young woman who is alarmingly overweight. I stopped by for a hello just the other day and she served me tea (loaded with sugar), cookies and dates stuffed with butter, which she also generously participated in. I tried to kindly, lovingly suggest that she try to stay away from these things because the result can be lethal. I lost count of how many times I've seen 2 year olds with a can of Dew and a bag of junk roaming the streets. All that ketchup, hot sauce, soda, ghee, and sweets are a huge contributing factor to the diabetes problems. Not to mention the lack of exercise (particularly women).

We are blessed to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables and meat.

A friend and I have I been thinking of doing a free seminar for Dhofaris on how to eat healthy (myself included).

Monday, February 1, 2010

Salalah Sugar Shortage

I don't know all the logistics of whats going on with the sugar, but its true, and Nadia is right...its hard to come by. Last night we had a family friend over and I used up the remaining sugar we had for tea and cookies. Sam went out this morning to Al Istikrar to grab some more for my ritual, obligatory, absolutely necessary morning coffee....NO SUGAR to be found at our local market.

Bravely, he came home empty handed. Without my "medicine" its hard to think straight. I demanded (with pouting lips) could he please go on a search for sugar. Three supermarkets later he found some at Al Mashoor in Sa'ada, ALHAMDULILAH!! Ive had  my dose and now I need to figure out if I'll have to ration what we have.