Thursday, 27 October 2011

Journalists in Muscat

My loyal and valued readers.

I have been perusing those bastions of the free-press "The Week" and "Y!" magazine over the past fortnight, and while the sensational scoops contained within are of incontrovertible benefit to this ginormous conurbation, I wanted to particularly laud the indubitably staggering thesaurus skills of our sub-continental newshounds. 

That is why, without further ado, I am naming Saturday, 29th of October "International Write Like An Indian Journalist Day".

So let's waylay our readers with a plethora of Webster-sourced vocabulary. Who knows, maybe we will uncover a glut of penmen to further add to the existing hoard of wordsmiths downtown.


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Oman Space Program Part 3

Since its inception two years ago, the Omani Space Program has suffered numerous setbacks. The early demise of Baisa Bus One and a training accident in Al Khoudh which literally brought the program to its knees, has resulted in very damaging press for section head Nasser Bin Tumoon and chief engineer George Alexander Gupta ('from Kerala, sir') and ultimately for the Omani Space Program on the whole.

Numerous investment prospects from both the public and private sector have all but dried up in the wake of the incidents from last year, but a glimmer of funding hope has emerged, with a new joint venture.
The Oman Space Program has teamed up local businessman Ahmed Al Shady to give entrepreneurs a chance to hedge their investment bets: by furnishing them a chance to buy their very own planet.

Oman Solar Systems is now open for business, selling a whole range of intergalactic property investment opportunities including small asteroids, m-class planets, stars and, for the more affluent, entire galaxies. 
With the money gleaned from planetary sales, the company will then provide transport using exploration ships, piloted by space-cadets from the beleaguered Omani program. 

The main investments for sale, however, are plans for a new five-thousand apartment and villa complex with eight golf-courses, twenty-two hotels and ninety restaurants called Blue Planet.
They tell me that it is going to be like nothing the universe has ever seen, so you had  better get your checkbooks out now!

Monday, 17 October 2011

What The Cluck?

(Edited with thanks to a creative comment! - JD) 

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Living On The Edge At Qurum City Centre

I stopped into the ever entertaining Qurum City Centre for a burger a while back, and while I was there, a few families were getting together in the food court for what appeared to be a children's party of some sort. 

When I took the following photo, I noticed that I held no surprise or dismay at all - just a resignation that stuff like this always seems to happen in Oman: and that, my friends, is nothing short of just sad. 

Someone in that building decided that it was ok to send two workers onto a glass roof to sweep it down. And while you may tell me that they were safe to walk on the concrete plinths, the second photo shows that they were not even attempting to do that. 

A slip or a fall could cause untold injuries to the workers and the patrons below, as even reinforced glass can fail. Doing this type of stuff during the day is simply inexcusable. The whole process could be done at night while cordoning off the zone below. 
I would expect this type of safety attitude from a construction company in Al Hail, but a centre charging thousands of rials a day in rent and inviting the general public to come inside? That's just inexcusable! Is there a safety manager in the building? If not, why not?

By the way....where are their safety harnesses and helmets? Are workers at City Centre supplied with them? As I said before, if the glass does happen to fail, the fall from there would be fatal.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

I Don't Know About This....

Undercover Dragon has recently blogged about the new transparent selection of students who will be able to go abroad for scholarships. 
It set me thinking about whether or not this is a good idea and what, if any, are the motivations of doing it. 

Is there a certain element of a pending 'I told you so' from the movers and shakers at Diwan level? There is no doubt that His Majesty is exceptionally wise in these affairs. 
Have a ponder on this...

If you take the general opinion of the quality of Omani middle and high-school students and you run it in tandem with Linoleum Surfer's article about Omani youth that he wrote a few weeks ago, there is a window into the potential downside to sending 'unconnected' kids overseas. 

My preference is to maintain the status quo and send the wastafarians to university and here is why. 
The privileged kids in Oman have always been that way, have always had the best of education and are used to being in an environment where you have to work. There is no way that an English, Australian or German college is going to accept low levels of work and by default these kids have grown up in an international culture where they learn about the financial merits of hard work.

On the other hand, Ahmed Al Mawalah has grown up in a school system that has shown him that it doesn't matter if he passes or fails, and average is fine anyway. 
It is too late for Ahmed, as he's already been hard-wired since the age of five to not give a toss about school.

The solution might be to send younger kids to top-end primary schools to first of all develop that "good teachers + hard work = success" equation, rather than trying to change the attitude of older kids that are already well established on the mediocrity curve.

The following passage by mountaineer Mark Twight is still sounding in my head four weeks after reading it:

The inverse of going to Chamonix – where powerful people pushed me to become more powerful myself – is staying in (insert hometown here) with those who don't do anything. I cannot progress and grow and become by starting from "below" – one does not rise much above the mean level around him. Worse, if I come back here and I arrive strong and proud and free after having been transformed in another place, I'll descend to the mean level around me sooner or later. Perhaps I’ll experience a short period of minor notoriety among people who don't matter because they aren't my peers but I’ll weaken just the same. A man becomes what is common around him.

One role-models what he sees daily and if it's shit he sees it is shit he becomes; unless he is really strong and I'm not. I would spend just enough energy to be a little bit better – but insufficient to open the gates to real power. This is why the elite strive to remain so, why they form clubs to exclude, and write stringent laws regarding the qualities of club members: they want those around them to be like them, not weaker. They want their efforts among the strong to breed more strength. Strength is contagious. Weakness too infects. Those who insist a zero counts for something give the zero value by doing so. The elite don't want their attitude and imperative polluted by zeroes. 

Of course, you can stagnate anywhere at any time.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

A Hot & Cold Affair at Burger King

A few weeks ago, Andy Brown, an amateur restaurant critic and high-ranking member of the Oman God Squad, posted an article about Burger King advertising their new chocolate soufflé dessert

Up for debate were the reasons for why they chose to put the eyes of a girl with the phrase 'A Hot & Cold Affair'. A few days on and we are still none the wiser. 
However, what is undeniably definite, from personal experience, is the fact that this latest after-dinner offering from BK is.... shite!

Very difficult to describe what this thing actually is, or even what it tastes like. 
It is basically a lump of super-heated chocolate-flavored mattress foam, covered in what used to be ice-cream but is now just a puddle of gloop. 
(Hint: this is what happens when you put a small dollop of ice-cream onto a piping hot piece of bed stuffing.)

As you can see from the photo - it ain't nothing like what is on the poster. 
But then again, with fast-food chains over here, is it ever any different?
Do any of you remember this?

Monday, 3 October 2011

Another Hamster Wheel In The Making

Well, I said it before, and it would appear that my words are starting to hold true again.
A few years ago, I wrote a blog about what has now become affectionately known as the Shatti Hamster Wheel

A place where there are lots of westerners and not-so-westerners in clothes that do not consist of a black curtain ensemble, is always going to attract the usual sexually-oppressed teen boys, even though they have no financial means of affording the girl sitting there holding the Starbucks Frappolatté!

So the only release from the pressures of a swollen wang for these poor souls was to drive around in a circle passing Jawharat Al Shatti and Sarooj: with a group of six chipping in a rial each to buy petrol for the car. 
Multiply the above scenario by three hundred and you get a kilometre long 'Bombay carbonfibre' road-monster which moves at 20 kph.

Looking at the geography of Muscat, it is not difficult to find out where this monster was spawned: Mawaleh. 

And it does not take a rocket scientist to work out that if it was possible to move the whole Shatti Circus closer to home, then that would save a ton of fuel and wear and tear on the Mustangs, Corollas and Serions. 

They've fantasized about it for years. 
The hopes of a new hamster wheel to go round and round on. A place where girls in bikinis drink cappuchinos under parasols and the roads are wide enough for 'modified rims, nigga!"

And finally, their prayers have been answered.
Ladies and gentlemen.....welcome to The Wave!

You can rationalize or even argue to deny it's existence, but the eye does not lie. There is a hamster wheel in the making down at Costas on a Thursday night...and it is getting bigger....and they've even made the route circular for them!

"Ah but there's security booths at the front entrance of my 250,000 rial villa." 
Be that as it may, but tell me exactly what is a security guard going to do about stopping a car full of young men who are on their way down to Costas to buy a coffee? 
And what about the rumours for the shwarma and other fast-food outlets?

I can see the Indian sales guys at eMax rubbing their little paws together at the thoughts of all those JBL bass cannons that they are going to sell now that the Mawaleh possie don't have to spend so much on gas anymore!
"I love it when ya call me big Poppa".......

That area is PUBLIC ACCESS! They can go wherever they please, and mark my words, in six months time they will be coming in hordes. And they're going to, pardon the pun, drive you nuts...
...assuming you can hear them over the F-16s that are going to be ripping the roof off your villa when the new runway gets built!

"I feel the need! The need......for speed!"

Oh yeeeeeeah!