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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Class Party at the University

This is what a class party looks like at the end of the semester.
The guys love to get a bit crazy.
They sit on their side of the classroom.
Abduhlaziz has his own "selfie" camera holder (above).
Saif wears a typical Arabia beard.
..fruit juices and soda, and, of coarse, Kleenex.
The girls brought an entire cake, made at a bakery: "Section G-05 Happy Party!"
If you don't like sweets, you can choose pizza or potato chips.
Note the caloric content.
Obviously, this reflects the girls' touch.
Offering a second round of cake.
Here are some guys in a computer lab
and here.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

"The Big Yellow Taxi... er a... Truck," and other short stories

Every so often we need to call in the services of a "Big Yellow Truck," as it's known in these parts...
It's quite noisy when the "Big Yellow Truck" visits, 
so you'll always know if it's in your neighborhood.
They use nice, expensive trucks, and sometimes trailors...
For some reason - maybe it's a strange sense of humor -  I always think of Joni Mitchell's hit song "Big Yellow Taxi" from the early 1970's:
Here are the lyrics, in case you're interested ("...and a big yellow taxi took away my old man...").

(It's funny how my brain associates these two different ideas.)
Anyway, it seems the local infrastructure doesn't include modern sewage disposal systems, so we have a lot of septic tanks, and sometimes they overflow.
Video below: "Well, this is the 15th of November. We have a big yellow truck out here - doing some sewage pumping.  That's pretty exciting because it usually flows over that entire area right there, and makes it quite unpleasant for us..." 
Sometimes, the need gets critical,
and the ground gets flooded way out in front of the building. Unlucky car owners may have trouble reaching their vehicle...
...and the smell gets a bit strong, especially in the Summer.

Changing the topic... we have a guy who comes in occasionally and sweeps.
He gets quite embarrassed around cameras, but I caught him working behind a screen one day...
In this part of the world, people always use a palm branches (never straw) to sweep outdoors.

He visits us from somewhere, on his bike.

It looks like he's from Pakistan.

And finally, a 
view of a plane making a landing.

(to be continued)

I dedicate this post to my friend, Wendy, who is leaving our building and her teaching position at the university, and moving to Florida in June! 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Camel Races in Bidiya

An Omani friend recently shared pictures of the camel races in his hometown of Bidiya.
This is an exciting event for the locals. Camels are a huge part of the culture.
A red X marks where Bidiya is located - just past Ibra on the road between Sultan Qaboos University (30 km. west of Muscat) and Sur, in the Governorate of Sharquyia. It's about 2-1/2 hours by car.

Things get started when the camels are commanded to kneel.
...and take on a rider.
I'm sure it's not easy to wear a dishdasha and climb onto this beast!
It looks like they made it...
... and they're off!
Can you imagine the bumpy ride... much different than on a galloping horse!
The riders head for a finish line straight ahead about 200 meters away.
Grab some refreshments and sit on a roof.
Afterwards, the camel folk take time for each other and the animals.
Coming from the American Wild West, I know a bit about what it's like to relate to your horse on a personal level. Though here, it's still a large cultural shift for me... and many of my male Omani students seem to be "really tied into their camels."
Great friendships are shared - in the presence of the camels.
As an outsider, I wish I had time to learn Arabic, and move a step closer to understanding what these guys are saying to each other - as they drink their kha-waah (coffee).
Said and his camel in front of sand dune near Bidiya, April 2015

Here are links to earlier posts:

Race Camels Training in the UAE

Sohar Celebration and Horse Races

Visiting a Student on a Farm at Dank #1

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Visiting Oman

New German friends from Wittenberg visited in December. We met at the SQU Staff Club swimming pool.

One evening I took them to the nearby village of Al-Khoud where we stopped in to a local shoe repair shop to pick up a bag.

The father from Pakistan sits out front and repairs shoes, holding them between his feet. His son, the owner, doesn't like to have his picture taken.

Annette and Michael with an Omani who was visiting the shop.

I set up another picture, and all of the sudden, a multitude curious of S. Asians gathered. It was a very funny moment. We were actually "on their turf," so it's no wonder. These fellows gather at night on every weekend to watch television in front of the grey building.

We proceeded to Seeb, where we went shopping. I took this picture in front of a halwah (Omani convection) shop.

Here's a 7-minute video about Oman:

And, this is a link to an earlier post of a shopping trip to Seeb, the nearby seaside village we visited.
Here are a couple views of the shoe repairman's shop and his father during the day. It looks like you can rent generators and ladders right next door.
I enjoy visiting these guys.