Sunday, 30 August 2009

I've Been A Naughty Boy....Ooooh!

Jet Driver went for a run the other day.
It was 38 degrees outside and naturally I wore shorts.
I also wore some other hi-tech, figure hugging Nike attire and in the midst of a rather "emotional" descent along one of the wadi treks, I came face to face with a brand new member of the ROP.

He was spotlessly turned out, shirt pressed and boots polished - a fine example of a young law-enforcement officer.

The conversation went a little bit like this:

"Hello mate! What's shakin'?"

"Why you errr...why you run?"
"To aid in cardio-vascular health and keep me looking fit and handsome amongst other things."

"I can see your knees and the backs of your legs!"
"Steady on sunshine. The Jet Driver only likes girls - young oriental ones to be precise!"

"What's this?" (Pointing at my chest)
"What's what?"
"This tube from your back."
"Ohhhh. That's water. It stops me from going into coronary arrest."

"You know Ramadan? You have shorts. This is not allowed."
"Oh.....ok.....sorry...and so.....what shall I do now? I'm 10 kilometres from my vehicle. You will take me to there?"
(A quick pow-wow with the notably senior officer in the jeep who had already seen the funny side to this and I suspect sent this poor newbie on a futile battle of wits.)

"You people! Crazy! (points at the sun) GO HOME! Relax! It's Ramadan!"

I love this place!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

How To Run A Furniture Shop In Oman

Ok, I'm tired of flogging the dead horse that is Ramadan so, as an extension of Jamilla Camel's debacle with her new bed, let me give her and other newbies in Oman the rundown on the phenomenon that is "Deliveries" in this town.

The situation is a result of a few traits that can all be combined and summed up in one word....greed:

Source the cheapest Chinese shit-excuse for furniture that you can find and sell it on for ten times the price. 
Never mind if parts are missing...that's not your problem. You will never be facing the customer....ever.

Get the cheapest Indian, Pakistani or whatever to do the job - no qualifications needed.
When he gets here, reduce his salary even further with "deductions" for air ticket etc.
(This will do wonders for his morale.)
Take his passport away and inform him that he has no rights here in Oman.
(More morale building.)

Make sure that you choose floor-staff who have only basic English - they are cheaper to employ and when you drop their salaries and cheat them out of bonuses and days-off etc you can just claim that they did not understand you during the original negotiations and after all, they did sign a contract.

Put the fear of God, Shiva, Allah or whoever into your employees and further compound that cultural flexibility with the truth, so that no matter what the customer wants, they will tell you it is possible, because if it's not possible and the customer walks out the door, you will personally have them transferred to Salalah or some other far-off land as punishment, take a month's salary as compensation and refuse to pay their return flights home.

Your delivery team has to be made up of at least one Omani - this is the law. 
The work ethic is low to non-existent here (don't protest - you know it's true for the menial jobs and I have been here too long to take the wishy-washy crap that is the usual argument for not doing anything.).
Qualifying criteria for a local or "token" Omanisation statistic in a low-level services position appears to be the ability to fog a mirror.
Can't blame him on anything though because he was sitting in the truck all the time.

Work your Indian and Sri Lankan "carpenters" for at least twelve hours a day and then leave them in the squalid conditions that you call "accommodation" - four walls and a roof is NOT a job well done on your part. 
People need proper care and support (especially those who are away from family and friends through no fault of their own and no reason other than a messed up and corrupt economy back home - poverty like you have never seen, folks), proper furniture and facilities, air conditioning that works and when it doesn't you fix it THERE AND THEN and not when you can tear yourself away from your phone, the bar or the massage parlour. 
It doesn't matter that what you have provided is "better than he has at home" - you should be making a conscious human effort to far exceed what his standard of living is....he is making you a bloody fortune!

Gouges get taken out of headboards and scratches get ripped into chairs and tables because most of the time these guys are so tired, pissed-off and disheartened that they have simply lost the will to live and with the loss of primordial instinct that goes with that, you can expect a severe reduction in general competency, motivation and eye-hand co-ordination.

Dissent is bubbling under the surface. An employee rebellion could happen overnight and then what's going to happen? What would a "tools down" protest for a week achieve on the "copping on that you are at the mercy of the minority workforce - they just haven't realised it yet" front?

Have a look across the road in Qatar.
Outnumbered five to one.....can you imagine the carnage if it all kicked off over there?

This is Oman - things are not changing. This is how it is. You just have to roll with it.
I buy furniture, I collect it myself even if I have to rent a van to do it, and finally, I build it myself.
It keeps things under my control - and leaves my blood-pressure within limits.
I recommend you do the same.

However, that said, I still love this place to bits.

This Ramadan: Be Careful What You Put In Your Mouth!

Bit of a stretch eh fellas?

Clicky here!

The problem is that outside of the Middle East, the price of dates skyrockets.
Israeli dates are as cheap as chips so naturally, buyers like Carrefour and Asda will take the lowest priced products.

One could assume that many of the Iftar buffets and bistros at the InterContinentals and Hyatts around the world are supplied by the same dealers.
And not just dates! Apples, oranges, bananas, bed-sheets, truck tyres - maybe even vital medicines and bandages used to patch you up in an accident.

God protect us! We're all war-mongering arms dealers!

No doubt we'll have comments.
Where is Essa when you need him?!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Simply Dangerous and Disrespectful

As much as I understand the importance of Ramadan...getting into a car and driving when you are dog-tired is simply unacceptable.

There is no excuse for it.
This is not five hundred years ago. You are not on horseback, or donkeyback or whatever.
You are in a two to four ton lump of metal, driving erratically down the highway.
Drifting in and out of lucidity while drifting in and out of your appropriate lane. Madness!

Sorry, but if you are getting into a car and driving when you are tired from fasting, or your blood-sugar is all over the place, then you are just as guilty as the one who drives off under the influence of alcohol.

Islam is a wonderful religion. I see its logic everyday when I talk with colleagues about it, but some of that logic needs to shift into the modern world and what the religion requires, needs to be reflected into the tasks and deeds of the way we live and work today.
Companies should be laying on buses for staff during Ramadan - driven by people who are not fasting or are taking their Quranic "allowances" and giving back a day later on.

It is no longer safe.
If you are tired, please don't get into a car. Don't kill me. Don't hurt my family or my friends. Don't hurt yours!

Behaving like this just shows senseless selfishness, ignorance and as I said earlier - downright stupidity and disrespect for life.

You have to choose between right and wrong. Driving in a state where you are not fit to drive is wrong and it is foolish. Your life is not yours to take. Yes, you go when it is written that you go, however, there are times when you will be held accountable.....I know this!

Friday, 21 August 2009

Ramadan: Sponsored By Carrefour

I've just come back from Carrefour. Bedlam.
People are acting like the place is going to close down tonight and disappear. Panic buying of the highest order - I even managed to receive an elbow in the face from one individual who is lucky that he is not celebrating his first Iftar through a tube in the Royal Hospital - a high price to pay for a box of strawberry jelly. Yes - he wanted the entire box!

It was quite amusing to have a look at how similar the trolley-loads are.
I have worked out that there are some vital things that need to be purchased:

Vimto - about 50 bottles should do the trick. (They actually have built a 20 foot high Vimto pyramid.)
Foster Clark's Powdered Orange Drink - and you all wonder why your kids are on the ceiling!
Jelly - by the palette. Enough for at least 300 people.
Creme Caramel Desserts
Strawberry Milk
Eggs - thousands of them
Yoghurt - again, enough to fill a small ship should do the trick.

Before leaving for Carrefour, I think the locals either take some form of stimulant or maybe just a five litre drum of coffee.
Whatever it is, it has to have the effect of making one edgy, nervous and then pushy.

One month of chaos. I think, just like Christmas around the world, that the spirit of Ramadan is gone.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Airport Car-Park Hell

Aren't the new machines in the airport car-park just dandy?
No more waiting for fifteen minutes for the man, who should have been sitting in the booth instead of shooting the shit in Costa Coffee with his mates, to come and bash the old barriers to make it open.

Instead we have ACS Parking Systems in place!
A company who are dab hands at making trouble-free parking zones. They even have a registration plate detection system at some airports around the world so that staff and aircrew can enter and exit without a ticket. Wonderful!

They claim that the use of their systems will help to reduce the long queues that we have been seeing at Muscat International Airport for the past few years, due to the high-level reliability of their systems.

But there was one thing that they did not factor in to their queue reduction plan.....the high number of twats in Oman.
Now before the regular window-lickers start thinking that this is a witch hunt for Omanis and Indians - it is not. I have seen an eclectic mix of idiots doing this over the past two weeks.

The initial problem is this: There are no buttons on the new machines. None. It's all pressure sensors on the front panel which is smooth like glass.
Jet Driver likes to stand beside the unit in the evenings when he is in need of amusement.

Typical scenario follows:
Drive up to the unit and stare at it.
Screen says: "Press to receive ticket".
The area to press is marked in a circle and is flashing like a Christmas tree!

Driver (while trying to push the screen): "Where's the button?" Two cars now behind.
Driver: "Huh? Press where?" Three.
Passenger: "It says the button" Five.
Driver: "There's none. It's not....." Beeep beeeeeeeeeep! Seven apoplectic drivers now.
Driver: It must be broken. I'll press the Help b......where's the Help button?!" Ten. Beeeep!
Driver: "I know! Why didn't I think of this stroke of genius before? I'll reverse out! There must be another way to get into......" BEEEEEP!

And a whole new level of chaos is born!

Well thought out guys!
Must be the Lulu Car Park Consultancy Service again!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Where Am I?

Jet Driver has escaped for a few days....

Where am I?

I'll give you a clue!

Don't fret, I'll be back for Rammers!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Thanks A Lot Bank Muscat

Dear Bank Muscat

Thanks a million for the eye-catching advertisements that I have seen in all the newspapers. And also for your 6 metre high multi-cultural billboards with expats and Omanis all bandied together, smiling in the knowledge that their money is safe in your hands.

So fucking safe in fact, that it was impossible to book a hotel in a certain South East Asian country last week when the Jet Driver decided to take a well-earned few days in a fabulous place with an equally fabulous young lady. 

It is a very simple procedure. I nominate how much I want in my account. You agree to put this amount onto my credit card every month. And then we all go home smiling.....just like on the billboards.

But no....I get:
Hotel: "Sorry sir. Your card has been declined." 
Me: "What?.....errrrrr NO! I have a Bank Muscat Super Prestige Platinum Wasta Card!"
Hotel: "Sorry sir....."

To the group of friends who told me to wait and get a backup were right, and I was wrong. Read this, print it and frame it.

Jet Driver does not make the same mistakes twice.