Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The first full work week

Well what a week that was. A full week of negotiations with vendors.  No need to bore anyone with the detail, but it was a hard slog.  But today I did get the key to my new office, a computer and access arrives some time soon.  In their words "the day after tomorrow" (that kind of means whenever it happens).

For three days it's been "overcast" which in this case was simply dust hanging in the air, apparently it was like that across most of the Middle East.

In the mean time my details have gone off for processing by the Immigration people so I will soon get the call to finalise the visa and resident card.

The week at work was an education.  The concept of doing business here is interesting and at times there were conversations underway in three languages.  Made getting agreement and finalisation of things interesting, not to mention that people were wandering and out of the room almost at will to take phone calls or whatever. Think of, well I can't really think of an example off the top of my head.  One of the things that will be a challenge here is getting process sorted, so that we have a methodology in place to get things on a professional footing.  gah!  Imagine going into a week of negotiations relying on two new arrivals, essentially because we're expats. Mind you I am thankful that the other guy was there, he represents a major consultancy on the project.

Apart from that we went and found ourselves a place to rent.  It's a little (ish) two bedroom villa with an external kitchen - yes you read that right - an external kitchen.  Katrina is reasonably happy with that as it means that none of the heat generated by cooking will be in the house.  Must admit that sounds just fine to me, in a place where nine months of the year are hot Australian summer hot, plus a bit. On some days that reported iPad3 fault of heating to 47 degrees just might provide a little cooling!

The main attractions of the villa are that it is in what looks to be a quiet area, is enclosed by a full height wall, it has a well established garden with an outside sitting area (under a gazebo) and rooftop access with reasonable views. And it's quite cheap, a bit of a win there, especially as we didn't understand about some critical aspects of rental here.  All leases have to be registered with the Government office. One month bond - fine, three to six months rent up front - What - and unfurnished means just that, nothing!  And by nothing I mean nothing. Tennants provide curtains, curtain rods, all white goods (including stove) and so on.  Last night turned into a mega shopping expedition, buying a stove, two fridges, washing machine, tv, bedroom suite and table.  Fortunately the previous residents left a few chairs and other bits and bobs lying around.  That's the essential furniture dealt with the rest can come later.  By the way you can't buy "off the floor" which means there's a few days between purchase and delivery.  But at least they then do the lugging and setup.

Unlike Australia the gas is bottled, and refills occur when you flag down one of the little orange trucks. There's also no rubbish collection, but that's fine as there are plenty of public skips scattered around the place.  The non Arabic TV is cable and internet while not cheap is not exorbitant, and priced on download speed not usage. Mind you slow speeds also require payment for download, so it wouldn't take long before paying for faster download was cheaper.

Finished off the work week with a luncheon for the team and the potential vendor.  My, my, my. There would be photo's but my phone decided to keel over as the small amount of tethering I had done earlier savaged the battery, but:  Lunch was served on enamelled and gilded plates - four courses and WOW it's two hours since I stopped eating and I think there may be the potential to move in another hour or so.  Omani Halwa, unlike what we see in Australia is gelatinous and often has nuts interspersed through it.  It's also made with (I believe) raw sugar and you can really taste that coming through.

And I still find the call to prayer rather lyrical.

A bit of our garden to be:

And I know Katrina posted it, but then I take em n Katrina posts em.


  1. I am enjoying your writings Mr David. I'm also curious about gelatinous halwa. I love the kind we get here but prefer mine unadulterated with chocolate or vanilla.

  2. Had a bit of a chat about Halwa with the guys at work. It shouldn't be confused with Halva as it is quite different, so that was one David assumption blown away. Katrina has done some research into it and apparently it's not easy to make, but it is starting to carve out its own export niche.
    "The Good Stuff" is really quite gooey, think of a heavy jelly and there are three colours - brown, black and I forget the other! It gets trotted out for landmarks such as births and so on. You can also buy "dessertified" halwa at the shops, but that's nowhere near as nice and the stuff that comes in tubs. Everyone gathers around and pieces are "carved out" with a teaspoon, and then handed out. Goes well with Omani coffee, which is served in small cups and heavily spiced.
    Katrina has promised to learn how to make it however..........