Sunday, January 31, 2010

Taking the Mickey?

Given that Oman Air had a really calamatous training exercise last November(see Muscat Mutterings and Muscat Confidential), do you thihk that the person in charge of advertising at Muscat City Centre was having a laugh, or are they really that blind?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Evil Dr. Rabbito

So in the last few weeks we have seen some pretty unusual rain. Not that it is blue or yellow with pink dots or anything, just that there has been so much of it.

The first downpour was a couple of weeks before Christmas and lasted for four days. Fortunately we had prior warning, (I saw some clouds coming) and had time to put the roof up on the car.
So I set off for work the next day expecting trouble on the roads but it seemed that a lot of people chose to stay home instead. It wasn’t until I turned off to Sultan Qaboos University that I saw a flowing wadi. As per usual, cars were backed up on either side with people assessing the conditions and watching carefully those who chose to drive through the flowing waters. I myself watched and waited for a good ten minutes before deciding it was safe enough to cross. I stuck the jeep into 4Low and with a little trepidation eased the jeep into the water.
Everything was going swimmingly until I bumped into a couple of rock about half way across and the jeep came to a complete standstill. Arghhh!! Poo Pants etc. WHAT HAD HAPPENED???? Fortunately panic didn’t set in, I didn’t open the door and let the water in and I didn’t stall the engine. After the initial shock, I realized that I had somehow slipped out of 4Low and try as I might couldn’t get it back, switching to 4Hi I was able to carry on again, ffffeeeeeewwwweee! So I carried on with the journey through the water, heart pumping somewhat faster, face considerably redder but somewhat relieved none the less.
Wadi watching appears to be a national pastime in Oman, so I hope that my performance was well received amongst the copious amounts of spectators that morning and that they weren’t too disappointed by my recovery???

It may all seem amusing in hindsight, but driving through fast flowing water is not to be treated lightly; a friend of a friend lost his life trying to save an Omani family whose saloon car had got stuck in a fast flowing wadi on the very same day. It can be genuinely frightening to see the power of the water in motion, but underneath the surface, large rocks are on the move that will pummel anything in their path.

The rain provided us with another opportunity in that we got to test out the ‘new’ old house. Previously in our ‘old’ new house the rain would allow us the opportunity to host the unexpected attraction of an indoor waterfall, all the way from the third to the ground floor (Everyone should experience this at least once in their life). Conversely, the ‘new’ old house was pretty much watertight, with only one minor leak at the door to the roof, thereby denying us the pleasure of an impromptu water feature, what bliss!
Becky told me of a friend’s house on a newly completed section of the Wave, whose back wall was one complete water feature, not what you would expect from a brand new house built by the No.1 contractor in the country.
Our ‘new’ old house may be a little tired around the edges but I bet it will age better than the new ones.
Recently, someone at work tried the “But this is Oman, what do you expect??” excuse on me to try and excuse bad workmanship, I was not a very happy bunny prior to this, so after the steam had stopped coming out of my ears, I politely explained that they would have to re-do the work (and continue to re-do it) until such time as they did it properly. Early indications are promising!

As the official holiday for his Majesty’s Birthday had been moved to coincide with the Islamic calendars’ New Year, I think the celebratory street lighting had stayed up a little longer and closer to Christmas. Just so that no one got confused why they were up in the first place, the workmen got them down a week or so before Christmas day. Still, it did help to get one in to a more festive mood, I think I have grown so accustomed to LuLu’s all year light round show that I no longer notice it.

There was a fair amount of talk on different blogs on whether or not it was appropriate for Muslims to wish Christians ‘a merry Christmas’, it is not something I had ever thought about before and I was really surprised by some of the comments. I recommend you have a read of this post and comments on Dofari Gucci’s Blog.

Well, this Christmas our goose was cooked thank to Al Fair’s (Not so fair?) pricing. Last year we had friends over and so we organized a large goose for the princely sum of RO 45 or there abouts. This year with just the two of us and the two boys, a small goose was the order of the day, or so we thought.
However, at just under RO 13 per kilo and a minimum weight of 5 kilos, meant a minimum price tag of RO 65, which is equivalent to One Hundred and Four Pounds Sterling!!!! A little too rich for my taste, I am afraid.
So it was CarreFour that eventually supplied us with a far more reasonably priced duck for our Christmas family lunch.

Christmas morning began with the boys sleeping in a little, which was an unexpected surprise, and when they did wake (Oscar was full of Christmas Cheer, NOT!) there was some confusion as to why Santa had left an extra stocking by the tree. Even more confusing was that it was filled with dog treats and dog toys. However, common sense soon prevailed and it was decided that there had been a North Pole admin error and that it was probably meant for our friend’s dog ‘Harley’, although I suspect Jacob felt a little crestfallen.
The traditional breakfast of scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and a small glass of bubbly, was forgone this year for bacon sarnies, brown sauce and big mugs of tea, yummy :o)
Being suitably sated, the serious business of present opening began, with young Oscar doing extremely well on the aircraft front, much to his delight. Needless to say that both of the boys did extremely well on the present front, with gifts from family and friends, near and far. It was at the very end that Jacob picked up a festively decorated bag and began to remove copious amounts of tissue paper from within. Deeper and deeper he delved until with a puzzled (but extremely short lived) look on his face he pulled out a little red dog collar. This look rapidly evolved into an enormous grin and he continued to pull out more tissue paper until he found a photo of a little brown chocolate labrador with a message asking if the puppy (called Biscuit) could come to live with us.
It wasn’t long before the realization that Jacob’s longest standing wish had finally come true and boy, what a moment that was!

Christmas lunch was a success with both of the boys surprising us by tucking in to their food with gusto, and as per usual there were plenty of left-overs to facilitate several days worth of bubble and squeak. Becky had clearly stated her intention not to cook for the next three days and we were not disappointed.

Thankfully, despite Omantel’s best efforts we were able to share our celebrations with our families back home, via the wonders of modern technology and some free software, and introduce them all to Biscuit.

So despite the miles apart we had a very Merry Christmas and we hope you did too.

And finally to the name of this post, the Evil Dr. Rabbito.
I don’t quite remember when or how it happened, but it has everything to do with bedtime cuddly toys. Jacob had the traditional bear (who has the surprisingly deep and meaningful moniker of “Bear”), whilst Oscar has a long eared rabbit, the result of a lost argument in the Kingston branch of John Lewis department store a couple of years back.
Now at some point in the intervening years, the rabbit gained first, the name of “Rabbit” which then evolved into “Dr. Rabbito” and finally reached the ultimate title of “The Evil Dr. Rabbito”.
He appears to have a quasi East European accent, ostensibly due to my enjoyment of Phineas and Ferb, with megalomaniacal tendencies and a desire for a good nights sleep before hatching yet another diabolic plan to take over the world.

I’m not sure if it is appropriate to have a warm fuzzy feeling as my two and a half year old son apologizes to this rabbit for not going to sleep and, agreeing to demands for hugs and no further interruptions with a sleepy “OK Dr. Rabbito, I’m Sorry”, what do you think??