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Friday, October 29, 2010

Day 36, Saturday - Muscat

My first day in Oman! Technically, I arrived in Muscat on Saturday, not Friday, (partially due to the fact that I lost an hour because of change in time zones) but I included my airport experience on Friday because it was all part of the story.

In case you didn’t know already, I have been to Oman once before. Three years ago my family and I came and stayed for two weeks with Rashid Al-Kiyumi and his family. Uncle Rashid and his wife Hannan lived in Seattle for a few years and attended Seattle Pacific University; our families have been friends ever since.

When I woke up this morning, almost everybody was gone from the house for work and school, but Shedha, Rashid’s oldest daughter who I stayed with when we were here last time, came and said hello before she went to university. Rashid’s wife, Hannan, was also home and she made me breakfast.

Rashid, Hannan, Basil (their oldest son), and Shedha (their oldest daughter) all look pretty much the same as I remember, and they say I look the same as well, but the younger kids all look so much older! There are three younger boys and one girl. 

When the younger kids came home from school, we sat down for lunch. Now, I have to explain a little about meals. Breakfast we eat at the table in the kitchen (technically it is the indoor kitchen, the cooking is done in the larger kitchen away from the house a little). Lunch and dinner, however, are eaten in the sort of living room area. The space has a sort of a couch around the edge, which consist of stiff cushions on the floor and as back rests which are very comfortable for sitting or reclining on to watch tv, play cards, or just chat. The floor is covered with carpet.

Not the room we eat in, but same idea (this room is next to my bedroom)
For meals (lunch and dinner), a thin plastic sheet is placed on the floor - in lieu of a tablecloth - and the dishes are placed on it. Hannan gave me silverware to eat with, but since the traditional way is to eat with your hands, I did. Eating with your hands almost seems to make the food more real. It takes a little time to become good at it, kind of like getting use to eating with chopsticks, but it is not too difficult.

After lunch we read the newspaper and Abeer (the youngest daughter) and I worked on the sticker book I brought her while she told me the names of the animals in Arabic. We also watched some Arabic soap-operas and then we all took naps. The work day starts about the same as in the US, 8am, but ends earlier, it seems anywhere from 2:30 to 3:30 is typical, then you go home to eat lunch and take a nap so that you can go out in the evening.

Dinner was served in the same way as lunch and afterwards Hannan, Shedha, and I went out for a little bit. We went to a dress shop where my mom, Amanda, and I all got dresses three years ago, then we went to something called “Seeb” which is like an open-air market with small shops, much like the old souq in Kuwait. I believe Seeb is the name of the district.

Example of a dress (from the first store we went to)

Finally, off to bed because I start my job shadow at Sultan Qaboos University tomorrow.

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