Jillian R.
As far as first impressions go, Muscat is wonderful with a capital “W”; people are friendly, the gigantic mounts of sand that are the hills and mountains here sets the “desert” scene beautifully, the roads are clean and I’ve yet to encounter a single pothole the entire time we were here – even in the slums, and I love how some of the roads seem to swirl uphill and when lit at night, they appear to wind their way up into the sky.

(A couple enjoying the view by camping on the sidewalk. Weird, but kinda charming really)

(The "Said Bin Taimur" Mosque; named after Sultan Qaboos' father)

(Some of the items sold at the Muttrah Souq made it seem like I've stepped into one of the stories from Arabian Nights - oh wait, maybe I have!)

Living conditions are pretty good too. In terms of food, us expats can find virtually anything we need to make recipes our mothers taught us (or for some; recipes Googled online).The only thing I haven’t seen in a supermarket is a good French coffee press. We brought ours from Korea and but we’re still looking for a replacement in case it breaks. The only one we’ve seen was at expensive kitchen supplies store. Everything it there looked like it belonged on a cooking show.

They say every bushel of apples comes with some bad ones.

I’m sure many are guilty for this, even I am no stranger to tailgating; but these people - they are the worst I’ve seen yet! Every time we get on the road, even in the slow lanes, there would always be someone tailgating us. What I would usually do back in Malaysia was, I would slow down allowing the maniac to pass, but here, they seem to enjoy it, so they don’t pass, they keep it up until it forces you to drive faster too. I guess our little rental Ford Focus (the little hatchback one) screams BULLY in big bold letters. It seems like if you’re driving anything less than a 2 Liter engine, you’re asking for it.

Being in Muscat for 2 months now, I have learnt to never expect anything to be done within the same day. I know the people here are generally very laid back, but there is a very thin line between being laidback and being extremely lazy. The way I see it, they take the term “take it easy” a bit too far. The population of blue collar expats in Muscat is double that of the locals. The locals mostly manage these expats. For example, I was at a computer supplies store once, I just needed a charger for my laptop. There were two employees at the store at the time; a local and an expat. While the local was sitting behind the counter reading the paper, the expat was attending to two customers. When I saw that he was busy, naturally I turned to the local (who was probably the supervisor) behind the counter to ask if they had the charger I was looking for. I was ignored. Ignored!

The husband and I gave each other a look that read both astonishment and puzzlement – something we have been doing quite a lot lately; How could one ignore a potential customer? And Why? The expat had to then excuse himself from the other customers to tell us to wait. I was okay with waiting, I would have been happy to wait even if the supervisor told us to. The other customers were buying a laptop was asking a lot of questions – as they should be. So we left and went back another day.

And oh, It has been two weeks and counting since the employment company told us that they were processing my medical card; a process which should only take a couple of days to complete. They have my medical report from the hospital for about a month now and all the paperwork required. I cannot begin to fathom what is keeping them. Oh wait; there are no expats to process the papers at the company!

And of course, here are some of reasons why I sometimes feel like just packing up and leaving this country.

When I said that people were very friendly (as above), I failed to mention that they are only friendly when I am with Eric. When I go out alone, it’s a whole different story. I can’t walk 500 meters down the road without some guy honking at me. Help me understand this, they honk and I’m supposed to turn around, smile and/or wave happily at them? Or what, get in their car and be their friend? This happens even when I am walking my dog! I have talked to a few women; local ones included, apparently the same thing happens to them all the time. I get it that Oman is still a developing country (and I great one at that) but this is truly primeval behavior at its most basic form!

And finally, the most despicable thing about this country, one which I can barely tolerate is the treatment of dogs. Instead of rounding up strays and bringing them to a shelter or even putting them to sleep in a humane way, they shoot them. Why? Because dogs are filthy, beastly creatures? What kind of human being would shoot a helpless creature, which is already suffering from hunger and burning in the scorching heat? I think the answer lies within these few sentences.  Also, there are signs on beaches here disallowing dogs. Again, why? The beautiful beaches here are littered, nay, covered with Styrofoam containers, soda cans, plastic bottles, plastic bags, well, anything you would bring on a picnic could be found laying somewhere along the beach – when trashcans are places a few meters after one another. Heck, kids even defecate in the water and on the sand. At least dogs cover their waste!

When we moved here, I promised Eric that I would try my best to settle in, give Muscat a fair opinion. I did. On the surface, I LOVE Muscat, I truly do. It is certainly better than Korea in many ways. Once I look closer though, sometimes the ugliness seeps through and it’s hard sustain that love. What we can do when faced with such ugliness is to simply ignore it, just like the computer store supervisor if you may, and perhaps it will eventually go away. 
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5 Responses
  1. hang in there, girl! hope things take a better turn for you soon...

  2. Jillian R. Says:

    Thanks again Jamie? Always a pleasure reading your comments. And yeah, it's hard dealing with these crazy, irresponsible people. I wish I could just go back to Malaysia, we're crazy too but least it's more tolerable

  3. Bita Says:

    Hey Jillian! I really enjoy reading your blog. Keep posting!

    About dogs, you know, in Islam dogs are considered very filthy. For example, if someone keeps a dog in their house, 7 houses on each side of that house should wash up a lot more before their prayers; otherwise, their prayers will not be accepted by God. I don't know how strictly Omanis follows the Sharia law, but if they are very religious, they probably rather be buried in trash than be near a dog. Isn't is so sad?

  4. Jillian R. Says:

    Oh hey Bita! Thanks for stopping by :)

    I didn't know the dog issue is so "severe" with them. Well no wonder they look at us with such mean-ness. But then again, what animal's (including humans) pee/poo is NOT filthy right?

  5. Ginny Says:

    When I was a teenager back in the 50s and 60s, that's what the kids would do--honk their horn at any girls going by. I lived in Dearborn, Michigan, home of Henry Ford, and half the city worked for Ford, and the kids all wanted a convertible (preferably a 57 Ford), and they would just cruise around with their special cars and honk at the girls. It was more to say, "Hey, look at my cool car."

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