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Round Peg

Location: Muscat, Oman/ Bangalore, India

Round Peg....in a square hole. That describes me! All my life I have never quite fit in ... now I have just given up trying to live up to the expectations of the square hole or trying to find a round one!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Hurrah to Woman Power

Are women better at solving problems, more empathetic, more patient than their male counter-parts?

When we flew from Muscat to Bangalore, I forgot to request for seats on the ‘A’ row – the first row. This row of seats has more leg room and is therefore perfect for little persons who will fidget their way thru the flight, get up and down the seat innumerable times, and constantly keep changing places. This row also rules out the availability of a great ‘time-pass’ – constantly kicking the seat ahead.

Mindful of the fact that it was a night flight and wanting to disturb those around me the least, I asked the purser (male) if I could shift to Row A from Row C. Even without looking at me he said ‘Sorry, The flight is full.’

Fresh from having read ‘The Aladdin Factor’, I decided to ask once more – this time to the air-hostess. ‘Sure’ she said, ‘Go on to those two empty seats’. She requested a young girl to occupy the seats we had just vacated. Problem solved. Hurrah to woman power!

I was at a sari shop the other day and did not like any of the prints I saw. I asked the salesman if I could buy reams of plain white silk with the idea of getting them block printed myself. I also asked the salesman if he could recommend a printer.

The man hummed and hawed long-windedly (tautology?!) about getting printed saris and not plain material and how they do not deal with printers directly. Then the lady next to him interjected and said she could place a special order for the materials for me. She told me of 2 printers. About 2 short sentences. Problem solved. Hurrah to woman power.

Yesterday I was at BSNL. BSNL is the Omantel of Bangalore. I had been directed to this office by the helpful call centre and obviously the chap at the call centre had all his facts wrong.

The lady at the counter called up the right office, found out what I needed to do, gave me a form to fill up and offered to have it delivered to the right place. Problem solved. Hurrah to woman power!

I watched this lady patiently explain the procedures to a young boy who wanted to cancel a landline registered in the name of his recently deceased mother and take a mobile connection instead. She helped the boy fill up forms, directed him to the right persons and the boy must have gone home with the job done.

In the meantime, the phone rang. This lady was busy but 3 men alongside were not. They did nothing to answer the phone.

The person in charge of the office passed by. Clearly irritated at what she saw, she directed the men to answer the phone. As she walked away, the men debated who should answer the phone. Seniority won. The junior most amongst them picked up the phone. He could not handle the query and asked the others about it. They told him to transfer the call to another person. This he did with alacrity. Putting the phone down he continued where he left off – chatting with his colleagues.

Hurrah to woman power. Next time you want a job done you know whom to approach.

Hail the new world order. China and India are not the only emerging super powers. The women have arrived. And the world is going to be a better place because of it. Doubtless Jacques Sauniere would be pleased.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Choosing Airlines

We have friends that are very brand conscious. And so when it comes to choosing airlines, it is invariably nothing less than the Emirates. Never mind if that means having to fly to Dubai and wait for a connection and wait some for another connection in another airport before finally boarding the plane that will take you home.

They did all this even when they had 2 kids, both under 5 years..

I like my comforts as much as Epicurus did but I will gladly trade in the comforts of a personal TV or a meal prepared by an in-flight chef for the shortest, direct flight back home. Especially now, when part of my hand baggage includes an active and inquisitive 3 year old..

Curious to know how others choose airlines. Is it connectivity, time of take-off or landing, better service….?.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


I am in Bangalore now and using my Dad’s computer. It’s driving me crazy. I miss my computer. My settings. My bookmarks. Firefox. The way my e-mail is organized.

I now understand why the husband goes ‘Waugh…’ every time he is on my computer. His irritation at the ‘large’ number of icons on the task bar which ‘slows’ the computer. Or why Word does not have the blue background. And particularly over the ‘useless’ programmes I collect and like to use – I have this cool programme for instance, which simulates the tapping sounds of a manual typewriter which the husband thinks is absolutely juvenile.

How difficult is it for you to ‘adjust’ to another computer?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Hay Al Rahba

We stay at the Hay Al Rahba complex in Al Khuwair Muscat.

What I like most the complex where we stay is the fact that it so green. Green in more than just the visual sense.

Green it is, even now when night time temperatures reach 42 C.

. The play areas are covered with a nice green lawn. The roads are lined with date palms that are now heavy with ripening fruit. Lemon trees that will soon be full of and I mean full of the most luscious lemons you can see. Shrubs full of white flowers, neem trees, the basil, hibiscus .....I could go on.

. Going for a walk in the complex is pleasure and oftentimes the bonus is a whiff of Jasmine or the Rangoon Creeper (what we call Honey Suckle in India).

. Now comes the unglamorous part.

There is also a septic tank at the far end of the complex. All sewage water is piped into the septic tank. Additionally, tankers bring in the sewage water from other properties of the group that owns this complex.

The sewage water is treated and piped right back to the gardens. There is a robust drip irrigation system and with a turn of the tap, the long stretches of trees and shrubs can have their fill of water.

And our eyes, often blinded by the brilliant sunshine and the bright blue skies, can drink in the soothing green.

Hurray to some excellent waster water management.

Portulaca re-visited!

I snapped a few Portulaca stems when I visited a friend.I stuck it in a pot on the kitchen window, watered it and forgot all about it.


Today morning, the brat excitedly dragged me to the kitchen telling me he had a 'suppise' to show me.


Voila!! Portulca flowers in bloom!! Posting a few pictures taken by the husband.

 Posted by Hello

Portulaca in bloom

 Posted by Hello

Portulaca in bloom

Portulaca in bloom

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Pizza Hut is disappointed with Indians.

The Economic Times reports that after conducting a study, Pizza Hut finds "... Indian consumers are not very mature.''

Why? Because ''Out of 90 meals in a month, pizza hardly occupies a place." Funny logic. Just because the Indian does not eat sufficient pizza, they are labeled as 'not mature'.

Pizza Hut probably finds Indians troublesome too.

The study revealed that freshness of food was very important to Indians, many of whom who saw the previous day's food as stale and discarded it.

This has forced Pizza Hut to launch a new product range called 'Freshizza' in an effort to get people to think of Pizza Hut's offering as fresh.

Other than lettuce, capsicum, tomato and onion, nothing that the fast food chains in the Middle East serve is fresh. Most of the buns for the burgers are made in Saudi Arabia and shipped out to the GCC region. Ditto with pizza bases and the meat patties. They are made elsewhere, frozen and shipped out. All this is in the name of, quality (same standards everywhere), cost and convenience. Subway, I think, sends frozen dough from America. The outlets just thaw and heat and serve.

And nobody seems to have a problem with that. Which suits Pizza Hut just fine!

Monday, June 06, 2005


By most standards we took forever to reach Dubai.

A friend does it in less than three and half hours. (Dubai is approximately 450 kms away from Muscat.)

The husband drove for most part at a steady 150 kms. I am slower, happiest at 120 with bursts of 130 kms.

At those speeds we were overtaken by an assortment of vehicles. Obviously.

Sure enough the SUVs whizzed past. So did the larger cars. But what surprised me was the way the compacts zoomed ahead. A beat up Civic, a Daewoo Matiz (no kidding), Toyota Echos'.. all whooshed past. These cars must have been going at 160 kms at the very least since we were going at 150 kms and these cars soon disappeared from sight.

A 160 kms in a Matiz? It mustn't be very comfortable. That apart, is it wise?

But my favorite was the lady at the wheel of a Beetle. She overtook everybody, small and big, and consistently drove at speeds of above 160 kms. We first saw her near Sohar and then followed her right up to Muscat when we lost her. More power to her and yes.... safe driving.

What speeds are you happiest with? As for me, at the smaller roads its never more than 80 and on the arterial Sultan Qaboos Highway max 120 kms.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Road trip to Dubai

An unexpected bonus about the road trip to Dubai is the greenery!

Drive out of Muscat and soon the landscape is dotted with orchards full of date palms, banana plants and even mango trees apart from scattered patches of green vegetable gardens.

The Neem trees that line the road near Sohar are tall and proud, you see the red of the 'Gul-Mohurs' and the yellow of the Acacia (?). You also many many bales of hay. Somebeing carried on the head by Omani women and children!

At a village before Sohar, we saw kids on scooters - there is probably a market here for robust two-wheelers!

Around noon, there was this bunch of kids racing home on their bicycles - school had probably closed!

It was cooler as we got away from Muscat but hot nonetheless. This did not seem to deter people and the marketplace at Sohar was bustling with activity.

Amazingly the entire stretch almost until the Walaja Crossing is inhabited.

I was very impressed with the Walaja border crossing. Impressive gates and you stop near the window and your papers are processed within minutes, without your having to get out of the car or the officer having to get out of his cabin. A great plus when the outside temperature is a blistering 43 C!

In contrast, the UAE border crossing is tacky. Porta cabins, roads with pot holes and you have to park your car and walk to the porta cabin and wait your turn outside in the heat.

We ended up waiting for almost 45 minutes and were turned back because the official at the Walaja crossing had forgotten to stamp the brat's passport. So much for first impressions!!

But the officials at both the places were very courteous and I suppose such things happen - maybe the guy at Walaja was having a bad hair day! Still, we ended up wasting almost a hour and a half.

It gets quite mountainous near Walaja and beyond the UAE border. I wonder if these are the Ras Al Khaima mountain ranges that received snow last winter?

And it is here that we saw a stream of water, small stream but water nonetheless, flowing in a 'Wadi'. Just imagine a stream of water at the height of summer in the middle of the desert!

Cross into the UAE border and suddenly you see a Al Maha petrol bunk and a Shell petrol bunk on the other side. We were quite confused because we thought we had left Oman behind! I suppose there is a stretch of Oman that abuts into the UAE border.

Come UAE and the dunes soon catch up. There are a few patches of vegetation but for most part it is desert land. At Hatta you see the roadside shops selling clay pots and carpets and the shops are not air conditioned. I never see these pots in Muscat which is strange because the Omani Souk in Doha was full of them.

Go on some more and the city begins to make its presence felt. We saw a drycleaners shop - very curious about that unless the people from Hatta village frequent it.

The giant hoardings loom into view - they are being built just now, and you realize you are into the commercial capital of the region.

The jargon changes and you hear about interchanges and underpasses and freeways and so on. If you are driving for the first time to Dubai, that's when you have a pang and get withdrawal symptoms for Sultan Qaboos Highway!!

Pity we had put away the camera in the boot, otherwise I would have interspersed with pictures.