Saturday, 28 March 2009

The Steepest of Learning Curves

Just a quick post...

I have just driven out of the airport and along the highway to see that the red and white striped, high visibility, reinforced steel height limitation barrier that they put up at the flyover entrance at Carrefour, now has a truck embedded underneath it - both vehicle and barrier are thrashed. 

This is the third one that has been put up! When will they ever learn!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

We're Running Out Of Petrol!!

Just had a look at this:

More UD's type of thing, but......should I go and fill up the car?

Dubai: Oman has shut its 116,000 barrel per day (bpd) Sohar refinery for unplanned maintenance because of a technical fault at its gasoline-making unit, trade sources said on Sunday.

The 75,200 bpd gasoline-making residual fluid catalytic cracker (RFCC) went down sometime last week, which led to the shutdown of the refinery, traders said.

"We don't really know what the problem was," a Middle East-based trader said.

"It should be down for at least another two weeks, maybe longer, although in the best case it comes back online at the end of the month," the trader said.

Refinery officials were not immediately available for comment.

Traders said they expected to see Oman issue an import tender if the refinery does not come back online by the end of the week.

Oman typically imports 95-octane gasoline and even 92-octane gasoline.

Asia's gasoline reforming margin or the premium of a barrel of 92-octane grade fetches over Asian naphtha prices, rose for four-straight sessions last week, closing at $9.76 on Sunday -- the highest since February 24.

Traders were also expecting to see Oman issue a sell tender for at least 200,000 tonnes of straight-run fuel oil, which is the primary feedstock for the Sohar refinery's gasoline cracking unit.

"That fuel oil will likely get picked up for blending and will move either to Fujairah or Singapore, but more likely to go to Fujairah," a fuel oil trader said.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

"Bright" Omanis

Was reading through some of the comments on Muscat Confidential (the best blog in Oman by a long shot), when I came across, as usual, an anonymous comment which stated "it is not easy to find bright put it mildly."

The above comment is, to put it equally mildly, bollocks!

There are thousands and thousands of highly capable and extremely bright Omanis in this country and further afield. They are even within the lines of the blogs that we read each day. 
Muscati? Abdullah? Amjad? - anybody want to go and have a face to face debate with any of those chaps?

My colleagues in the sky? Sharp as tacks. No problems there. Would trust each one of them with my life and in fact, on most days that is exactly what I do. 
Air traffic controllers on the ground. 
Muscat Tower - manned completely by Omanis. Hundreds of aircraft movements in a day.
Not an expat in sight. They do a fantastic job. 

The Armed Forces in general - enough said. Great bunch of chaps.
The ROP Coastguard? Did I mention the rescue of the Russian Ambassador's wife? 36 hours non-stop searching in conditions that most other experts gave zero chance of survival or location in. They did it. Everyone got out alive. 

Security guards in City Centre. Most of them speak about four languages. That's a security guard folks! The same bloke in the UK would be a school drop-out or a failed squaddie. 

Difficult to find bright Omanis? - Spare me!

Room Service in Hong Kong

The Jet Driver has to travel a lot. And while I know that there has to be some give and take and understanding and, of course, respect; I thought that you might like to have a read of this conversation which took place at a five-star establishment in Hong Kong:

RS = Room Service ; JD = Jet Driver

RS: Morny. Ruin sorbees.
JD: Sorry, I thought I'd dialed room-service.

RS: Rye...ruin sorbees...morny! Jewish to odour sunteen?
JD: Uhhh, yes. I'd like to order some bacon and eggs please.

RS: Ow July den?
JD: What?
RS: Ow July den? Pry, boy, pooch?

JD: Oh, the eggs! OK. How do I like them? Sorry, scrambled please.
RS: Ow July dee baychem? Crease?
JD: Crisp will be fine, yes.

RS: Hokay. An San tos? 
JD: What?
RS: San tos. July San tos?
JD: Err, I don't think so.
RS: No? Judo one toes?
JD: I feel really bad about this, but I don't know what "judo one toes" means.
RS: Toes! Toes! Why jew don juan toes? Ow bow Engrish moppin we bother?

JD: English Muffin! Got it! You were saying 'Toast'. Fine, yes. An English Muffin will be fine. 
RS: We bother? 
JD: No....just put the bother on the side.
RS: Wad? 
JD: I mean, butter...just put it on the side.

RS: Copy?
JD: Sorry?
RS: Copy....tee....mill?
JD: Yes, coffee please, and that's all.
RS: Won minnie. Ass ruin toofohfai.... strangle ache, crease bayhcem, tossy singlish moppin we bother honey sigh, and copy...rye?
JD: Whatever you say.
RS: Tenjewberrymud
JD: You're welcome.

Monday, 16 March 2009

The Dying Art...

There was a time, many moons ago, when cans were all within reach and cardboard boxes were piled high on shelves because backroom warehouses did not exist. 
A man in a short white or sometimes, light brown overall jacket would walk around sweeping away old dust and replacing it with new - the smell is something I will never forget.

Even then, little old ladies and gentlemen of a sort would stroll around the aisles, stopping here and there, chatting and commenting on prices and how things are not the same as they used to be. 

A tin of custard here, a can of peas there and along comes to the next customer, wheeling their way down the tiles with a hello and a smile and the day goes on like that. 
I can remember it like it was yesterday. 

Today was different. 
"Fifty what? Fifty baisa in case I run off with it? Oh...ok. Here you go!"
"The wheel doesn'.....hey!, I said the wheel doesn't turn!"

There are over one thousand trolleys in Carrefour and about eight of them actually work. 
Some people should not be allowed to use shopping trolleys at all.
Let me give you some examples:

Mr. Indian Construction Worker Trolley Person:
You fill your trolley with chilli, mangoes, six kilos of onions, hair tonic and enough rice for the sixty guys you are shopping for.
Multi-tasking is not your forté. You cannot look sideways at shelves and drive the trolley at the same time. 
Bang! "Sorry sorry" Bang! "Sorry sorry" - all through the aisles.

Mrs. You Are All Beneath Me From Muscat Trolley Person:
Trolley full to capacity. Housemaid driving. Can just see over the pushbar. 
"You are pushing it wrong!" "Get me some of those biscuits there. I know you are four feet six and I can easily reach them myself but what do I pay you sixty rials a month for?"
Then you block half the aisle with the trolley and the other half with your fat arse. 
Indian man bumps into you! Bang! "Sorry sorry".

Mrs. Expat European Three Kids Housemaid Husband Friend From Work Trolley Person:
You can't come to Carrefour without an entourage of at least seven. Make sure that you give your kids at least three cans of Coke each before you leave the house, so that they are in a state of extreme hyperactivity when they get to the shelves. Let the housemaid deal with the fifty cans of powdered milk that have just collapsed after being run through by "Timmy".
Keep chatting with your friend. Don't worry about your husband - he is busy wondering how the housemaid would look naked in front of him.

Mr. Local I Couldn't Be Arsed About You Trolley Person:
You have a trolley - but you can't seem to be able to buy anything except giant bags of marshmallows, creme caramels and strawberry milk. 
You wonder why your kids are all on the ceiling at home. Are they jinns? Who knows?
Drive the trolley anywhere. Phone rings - just leave the trolley. "Ahhhh Ahmed, how are you...." 

Maybe someday I will get onto the subject of cars in City Centre but for now, I am off to get some work done.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Working For "The Man"

Crikey! This is a far different experience than the last time! 
Went to the Civil Status Centre this morning - no queueing for the Jet Driver. Something screamed in Arabic from the back of the room by the PRO and Oman's finest parted the crowd like the Red Sea. 

Fingerprints: No more messy hands! All digital now! Wow! Just like in the embassy of a certain big place, the last time I went to get a flight training visa. Like something out of Star Trek - and the cops seem fairly adept at using the stuff as well. 

Over across the road for a resident's card. Photo taken...."Nope, don't like that! I look cross-eyed! Can you take it again please? Much better! Thank you." 

A handful of rials later and Jet Driver is legal again! 

Took the coast road as far as Shatti and noticed the improvements there. The new junctions are very "Abu Dhabi" don't you think? And then the new diners and bread shops beside the Beach Hotel - christ, it's only been eight weeks since I left! Nice! Keep it up folks! 

Didn't make it down to Ruwi to get my Grog Licence yet though. Can't have a house-warming barbecue without beer and wine! Oh no! 
Need to get a few nights on the terrace in before it starts to get mental hot again! 

Right! I'm off to Unfair to get some grossly over-priced steaks and potatoes. Later, my pretties! 

Sunday, 8 March 2009

The Return Of Jet Driver

Well, I arrived back into Oman on a flight last night from Europe. For anyone who has not tried it, Etihad Business Class is very nice indeed.

I will keep it short for today as I have to now go and jump through various administrative hoops to get my resident's card and all the other "usuals". 

I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you again very soon!
It's good to be back!