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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!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Middle East Monographs: Bangladeshi work ethics

Mir, our Bangladeshi household help, handed in his notice today. He is going on to a more ‘manly’ profession – washing cars.

Mir has been in Oman ten years now. And he has not gone back to Bangladesh even once during the period.

In Sohar for over 8 years, Mir worked in the ‘gardens’. (Sohar has plenty of orchards that grow dates and an assortment of fruits and vegetables.) Back breaking work made worse by the desert climate.

About a year ago, Mir felt he had enough of the arduous work the Sohar’s orchards demanded.

Going home was not an option since there were still 3 sisters to be married and he had yet to accumulate a nest egg for a business he hoped to start back home.

Barely literate and largely unskilled, the only employment option available was ‘ doing part-time’ which is lingo for working as a domestic help.

This job was definitely not as strenuous as working in the orchards. But it came with a terrific price. It meant doing the work of a woman!

If the family ever found out, they would hang their heads in shame. They would never accept money earned from such a shameful occupation. Without doubt, he would never get married.

After much soul searching, Mir decided he really did have enough of the hard life of Sohar. He would stoop to working ‘part-time’ in Muscat but only for now. He resolved the family must never know he worked ‘part time’ – washing vessels or cleaning bathrooms.

In the last one year, Mir has been busy cultivating his contacts. Today he just concluded a deal. To begin with he has a ‘contract’ to wash 15 cars everyday. He is confident of getting more cars to wash and life is beginning to look up.

Mir is a happy man. In a man’s world, he is finally doing a man’s job!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Winter-Spring is here!

Yesterday I found that the outside of the house was as almost as cool as the inside. Hurray!! Winter is here.

I never know what to call this season. To me, this is spring. Of new beginnings. A season when you start planting and start spending more time outdoors. Not Winter which traditionally is a season of shutting down and staying indoors.

We are fortunate Eid and so the Eid holidays are happening at this time of the year – we spend 3 glorious days driving in and around the Wadis near Muscat – could not have done it any other time of the year.

I look forward to seeing the round-abouts / traffic circles come alive with colourful petunias. In India all I had seen were the traditional mauve, purple and white varieties that have a spicy scent. What you see here are flowers in reds, magentas, orange, yellow….. but they do not seem to have a fragrance.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Caution – Drowning popular!

Actual notice board at Dayqah Valley near Mazaree!

This is a beautiful place about 125 kms from Muscat. A great drive with bends that are almost hairpin (queer turn of phrase?!). Reminiscent of Nandi Hills (near Bangalore) but then Nandi Hills is much steeper and much greener.

For the nicest places, drive on at least 2-3 kms beyond the notice board after crossing the ‘falaj’ (canal) on a concrete slab. Best to use a 4WD.

Up ahead are some really scenic places to picnic or camp. There are a couple of coves in the valley which make for shade and for most part the stream is very tame, at places its just knee deep.

The ‘mountains’ around make for some trekking and wild life appears in the form or goats and donkeys.

Well worth a visit.