Eric in Oman/ إرك في عمان

الموضوع في ',, البُريمِي لـِ/ لُغًات العَالم ,,' بواسطة أ“أ‡أ،أ£ أ‡أ،أˆأ‡أڈأ­, بتاريخ ‏9 أبريل 2013.

  1. إكتشفت أن السيد إرك يسكن في حارتنا الموقره ،،وما ان رأيت بعض التقارير التي تنتمي لتلك المنطقه التي نعشقها قلت لما لا نتشارك معاً بها..؟

    Eric in Oman/ إرك في عمان

    Hi, I’m Eric. I was generously awarded the first and only Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Oman for 2010-2011. My placement was at Al Buraimi University College, near the UAE border. This blog details some of my experiences there as well as other places I was able to travel to.
    This is not an official Department of State, and the views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the Department of State

    The Family visits Oman →
    Life in Buraimi

    Posted on August 4, 2011by echiang1
    My time in Buraimi has ended and I have since moved to Muscat to live out the end of my grant period.
    I was glad to leave but had also developed a comfortable familiarity with the town and during my first few days in Muscat, I did miss the simplicity of the town layout and generally quiet atmosphere. I lost cheap solid places to eat and an excellent juice spot but to balance that out I now have regular and convenient access to Lulu’s Hypermarket.
    When I first arrived in Buraimi, the dean of the college gave me a quick tour by driving around in a square through the four main roundabouts and then exclaimed “that’s it! No need for a car, you can walk everywhere” and so for most of my time I stuck to that route. But a student finally gave me a fuller tour of the town and Buraimi turned out to be bigger than I thought, not much bigger, but still bigger. It was a much needed tour and he pointed out places I would have missed if I drove around on my own. There was a small soccer stadium called the Buraimi Club and nearby was a small enclosed area for riding ponies. We passed by some parks, one of which was built during the Sultan’s 40th anniversary celebration. It was a nice narrow grassy area with scattered benches and we chatted and drank avocado juice while a mass of Indian kids wrestled nearby. He showed me a hangout spot where people could play billiards. He also showed me the drive through souq which sold fruits and vegetables and in the early morning even had fresh fish. Afterwards we ate dinner at a traditional Omani restaurant. There were private booths and also a large open carpeted area. We sat on the floor cross legged and they laid out a plastic sheet and a large plate of rice with pieces of rotisserie and grilled chicken. A side of raw veggies and cups of salsa accompanied the meal. I opted to try to eat Omani style which means with my hands and specifically with my right hand only because in Islam, the left hand is deemed to be unclean. The chicken was .....d nicely so the meat slid easily off the bone. You mix the salsa with the rice, ball the rice up, add a piece of chicken and some veggies and pop or flick the conglomerate in your mouth. Unlike sushi rice, briyani rice doesn’t lend itself to sticking together and I experienced much difficulty. The rice conglomerate kept falling apart and I was slurping it out of my hand and leaving a mess all over my clothes and the plastic sheet and I looked over at my student and his side was completely spotless. He finally pointed out that I needed to reduce the amount of rice I was trying to ball up and by the end I was gaining some finesse, still, I’ll accept a fork from now on.

    For most of my time here I’ve been myself. My two staples were a stir fried mix of dried pasta, frozen veggies, and frozen meat simmered in jarred Indian and Thai sauces and paratha soft tacos of cheese, meat, and fresh onions and peppers. But after the meal at the traditional Omani restaurant with the student, I was able to generate some semblance of anticipation for trying more foods around town and began eating out more. There was one Omani restaurant where I pretty much tried their entire menu, pictured below.
    Charcoal-grilled and rotisserie chicken served over briyani rice.
    Lamb and fresh fish from the Buraimi souq.
    Malleh, dried fish in a box, and Awal, sun dried shark, served over briyani rice.
    Malleh is salted fish preserved in a box or jar, it kind of looks like ceviche but not tender and with bones. The restaurant was surprised when I ordered malleh and the guy at the register replied in a questioning tone “malleh?” and I nodded and he said in a slightly laughing manner “malleh” and then with triumphant excitement, “malleh!” and then he told the waiter “maleh” and pointed at me and the waiter turned to me and said “maleh? Maleh?” and I nodded again hoping I wasn’t making a mistake with this order and when he returned with the food he said “maleh!” and I ate it and got sick afterwards.
    A few days later I walked in again and the man at the register shouted “maleh!” in recognition and asked how it was and I said it was “okay. Different.” And then the waiter came up with a huge smile and asked if I wanted more malleh but the cashier said no, he’s just getting chicken today. But he said, next time, awal.
    Awal is shark dried in the sun. For me, it also caused stomach problems.
    When I told my students I tried malleh and awal, they bunched up their faces in disgust and said only old people eat those dishes. Back in the day, because Buraimi is in the desert interior, fish had to be preserved, but now with roads and trucks, fresh fish is available, and that’s probably the best way to go.
    About once a week I would go to Al Nadi restaurant near my apartment. The owner is Syrian and the waiters were always very friendly and called me “doctor”, accented as “doc-toorrr”. They actually wrote “doctor” on my order slips. It had decent briyani, makbous, and tikka sandwiches but the main reason I went was because it was an easy walk from my place. I had a hard time distinguishing between briyani and makbous because both were basically lamb or chicken served over rice but students told me with makbous, the rice was .....d with the meat, while with bryani, meat was served over the rice.
    I also enjoyed a Lebanese restaurant called Laiyet Bairoot that made decent fatoush (salad with crispy pita strips) and baba ganoush (like salsa but with roasted eggplant added) and had really good bread, freshly baked from a fiery oven and stuffed with melted cheese.
    My students also gave me a bunch of food one day, including the much hyped but hard to find home-made harees.
    Right: Home-made Omani crepes, tasted like any other crepe.
    Left: harees (glutinous wheat mixed with strands of chicken)
    Right: halwa (coffee flavored jello with nuts)
    Once I started going to restaurants I began running into students, never my own, but they knew who I was and sometimes they were from the other college in town, the University of Buraimi.
    I also started witnessing episodes of polite violence over who gets to pay the bill. For example I would notice three Omani men walking up to the counter to pay the bill and one of them would pull out some money from his pocket and start to hand it over to the cashier but then his friend would suddenly grab his hand and force it down and take money from his own pocket and hand it over but then the other friend would take his free remaining hand to retaliate and stop his friend’s hand before it was too late.
    It’s always severely uncomfortable and hilarious to see people try to overcome the challenge of physically preventing someone from handing over money in a polite and subtle manner.
    I would get flashbacks of my own family when we went out to dinner with other Taiwanese friends and relatives and at the end of dinner a tense showdown would occur over who gets the privilege of paying for everyone else’s meal. There’s a rush of hands to grab the bill followed by pleading and exasperation as people articulate reasons why they should pay while simultaneously trying to rip the bill from the other person’s hands and when the bill is settled, attention is turned to the lucky individual who had the quickest hand and that person is mobbed as people try to stuff money into their pockets or their purse is grabbed in reverse robbery to add money into it, and if that person has good Chinese manners they will dodge the attempts and run around the table and block all opening in which a bill could be slipped in and the measures escalate and intensify short of headlocks and wrestling and then a lucky soul may gain traction on a hand and slip money into it and clamp it down and not let go until the original bill payer promises to accept and when the smoke clears clothes are ruffled, glasses have been rattled askew, and people are huffing as they mutter promises to pay the next time.
    But the Omanis stop before a full out public scene, it’s more of a flare, but familiar enough to illicit some nostalgia.
    On living in Buraimi, one girl said there were many people from different villages and cities and countries and I thought she was going to talk about how that made for an interesting mixture of cultural exchanges but instead she said that it was a bad thing because no one knew each other and no one talked to each other. People like to keep to their families and one girl even said her mother told her not to make any friends in school. And even though there are only two high schools in town, one for girls and one for boys, students don’t seem to know each other well before coming to college. Girls who were both born and raised in Buraimi and are about the same age and went to the same high school have said they had never seen each other before.
    A girl living in the hostel said she looks out the window and never sees anyone walking outside.
    Buraimi does have an interesting history although it would probably be more appropriately attributed to what is now the UAE’s Al Ain. Buraimi was once at the center of a dispute between Oman’s Ibadhi Islam and Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi Islam. The Wahhabis used the Buraimi Oasis, now the Al Ain Oasis, as a base for attacking Oman but in 1869, the Ibadi Imam Azzan bin Qays drove the Wahabis out and signed a mutual defense pact against them with Zayed ibn Khalifa I, the chief of the Abu Dhabi Bani Yas tribes. Upon the death of Azzan, the Wahhabis reestablished influence and the area would continue to be disputed until the Treaty of Jeddah, where the border between the UAE and Saudi Arabia was settled.
    The UAE influence on Buraimi Omanis is evident in the male headdress, a mussar instead of a kuma, and students often talked about the large influence of the UAE. Some students spoke more highly of the late Sheikh Zayed, the former president of the UAE, than they did of Oman’s Sultan Qaboos. I made a quick dash to Mucat once and met some Muscat Omani teachers and when they learned I was based in Buraimi, they hesitantly said they didn’t think the Emirati influence on the Buraimi Omanis was good.
    Back at the college, for about a week, right after the end of the first test, there was a spurt of campus activities. There was a poetry competition, some kind of opera, a soccer match, and a volleyball game. I was only able to attend the poetry competition. I didn’t understand anything. It was hosted at night and as usual, the male and female students were segregated in two columns. The competitors were predominantly male although there were a few women. There was a lot of interaction from the audience and they would repeat a word or phrase or complete a sentence, reminiscent of a game show host and his audience. The poems were long, they were more like speeches, some of them were funny, and even without comprehension I found it difficult not to at least break into a smile when everyone else was laughing. You could tell when the speaker was being playful. I asked my students the next day what happened and they said many of the men competitors talked about their ideal woman and the funnier ones for example used the very traditional poetry form to talk about a popular television soap opera.
    The poetry was punctuated by interludes of dances. The dancers were Omani males and tended to be darker skinned and they did head and neck moves like turtles coming out of their ....l and twirled around shepherd sticks and rifles and there were drums. I later learned the dancing was from the coastal region and I remember there were moves that made me thinking of rowing a boat. I was seated in the front row and the nice thing about that is that the most important people, like the local sheikh, are seated in the front and they usually bring out food to those people and include the entire row.
    At the end, all the male students were yelling and forming dance circles and having a good time and the women just sat quietly in their seats and then filed away to their buses. It was such an odd contrast. I later asked my female students if women participated in traditional performances and they said in Oman, yes, but not in this region.
    The road to Buraimi used to go through a slit in a mountain and continued for twenty minutes to reach the town center. In the past 8 months, that slit has been widened to make room for a bigger road and a gateway arch like that of Sohar (all still under construction). All along that road, development is taking place. Buraimi is turning into a city. BUC’s new campus is just about finished and the goal is to have future colleges and the hostels cluster in that area to create a college town. A Lulu’s is slated to be opened at the end of the year, which will include a movie theatre, and other malls are being constructed as well. It will be interesting to see how this place grows.
    Living in Buraimi, and especially walking at night on the dirt sand and surrounded by dark open space, I felt far away, not necessary from home or America, just an unqualified far away. Sometimes I would walk out to drop off the trash outside and I would turn around and there would be the mosque, illuminated in the night, and it would be silent outside and I would be the only one in sight and I had to stop and soak in the eerie beauty.
    When I discovered I had access to the roof of my apartment building, I started going up and planting a chair and reading, occasionally glancing up and there would be the mosque, cleanly white and commanding the center, at night, glowing softly. Behind it in the distance, Jebel Hafeet, at night a line of burning incandescence slithering up the mountain. Particularly after the rains tore down the usual curtain of dust, I got clear views of the craggy mountainous landscape surrounding Buraimi, and from the right perspective, it can be a beautiful place.
  2. Posted on September 25, 2011by echiang1
    Well, my last post.
    My 10 month experience has ended. It ended a month ago and now I am back home. It’s been a strange and unique journey. I certainly didn’t expect to go to some of the places I went and do some of the things I did.
    It was a timeline that was mostly a flowing busy, many times a frustrating ineffectiveness but also many times engagingly creative and fruitfully productive. It dipped into lulls of extreme boredom and near surrender and there were periodic spikes of pure wonder and exploration.
    In 10 months, I wallowed in social isolation, watching sandstorms whip past my plot of sand. There were days when the only thing I did was wake up and then go back to sleep. I kicked a rooster out of my apartment. I hiked up to the Monasteries of Meteora, shrouded in mist and surreally perched on smoothly shaped mountain spires. I stood in front of the Acropolis of Athens and looked down on the deep green olive valley of Delphi. I stared up at the masterpiece of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. I walked through the ancient Nabataean capital of Petra, carved into the rose-red sandstone mountains. I applied to four fellowships and was rejected by all of them. I floated on the surface of the Dead Sea. On New Years Eve I saw fireworks explode from the tallest building in the world and was caught in a stampede of people. I saw the baptism site of Jesus Christ along the Jordan River and swam in the jacuzzi warm waters of the Gulf of Oman. I stumbled across processionary caterpillars. I ascended to the summit of Africa and watched the sun illuminate the glaciers of Kilimanjaro. I camped in the Serengeti, witnessing the fiery spectrum of a sunset framed by the complex branching of acacia trees. When the sun rose I witnessed hyenas crunching on zebra bones and a lion tearing apart the carcass of a buffalo. I ate a lunch buffet at Dubai’s “7-star” hotel. I plunged thirty feet into the ocean and scuba dove among the diversity of undersea life. I snorkeled on the surface and saw eagle rays glide below. I woke up before dawn to glimpse the beauty of the green sea turtle circle of life, a reptilian bulk crawling onto shore to dig and lay eggs while babies emerged from the sand to face foxes, crabs, gulls, and the unsympathetic sea. I suffered the sniffling effect of wafting tear gas from protests in Greece, only to return to Oman to witness a protest of the Arab Spring in my very own Buraimi. I shared the road with armored tanks. I got my car stuck in the sand. I hiked up a Sahara Desert sand dune and saw Algeria from Morocco. I got lost in the medieval maze of Fes, dined at Rick’s Café in Casablanca, and watched a furious Atlantic thrash along the shores of Tangier. I entered Spain without leaving Africa. I got food poisoning twice, the second time sending me to a hospital with an IV from dehydration. I visited the sinking city of Venice, climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and strolled around the Florentine birthplace of the Renaissance. I entered the Colosseum of Rome and in Istanbul, was caught between the dueling architectural marvels of the Hagia Sophia and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. I rode a bus across the bridge between Asia and Europe. I ate more gelato in a two week period than I had in the past 23 years. I saw man sized storks strolling the sidewalks of Nairobi. I saw rare black rhinos and a vast wildebeest migration in the cradle of Ngorogoro. On the desolate roads to Buraimi I eased up to 120 miles per hour and was spoiled by one dollar a gallon gas. I ate some of the best meals of my life in Paris and filled up on the art of the Louvre. I experienced the extravagance of Versailles and the stark expanse of white crosses at the American cemetery in Normandy. I taught myself how to drive a manual transmission in France and eventually arrived at the tidal island of Mont St. Michel. I went on “the least memorable journey in the world” to the coastal fog desert of Salalah, dodged wild camels on the road, and stood at the edge of the Oman Yemen border. I finally wore a dishdasha and a kuma and eventually had multiple ones tailored. I drove to another country and back just to buy groceries. I discovered the surprising deliciousness of avocado juice. I became the object of student obsessions. I rode a dhow through the fjords of Musandam with dolphins alongside the boat, got propositioned by a Filipino prostitute, and caught sight of Iranian smugglers on the Strait of Hormuz. I descended under Paris into the Catacombs, navigating through maze walls of stacked human skulls and bones. I was surrounded by the festive excesses of Marrakech and I walked into the charred remains of a fallen Lulus. I stopped meters away from a herd of elephants and saw baboons trying to take over a delivery truck. Also I taught English.
    That last one is probably important to mention. Most of my time was spent teaching English.
    This has been my first experience blogging and it’s been an interesting project. I have a record of these 10 months to share and look back on and writing has helped ferry me though some bewildering, uncomfortable, and frustrating moments to reach the destination of stories I can laugh about.
    I do feel extremely fortunate to have been given the opportunity to have these experiences in Oman (and other places) and hopefully my recollections have been a somewhat enjoyable and informative read.
  3. ŔξVẼήĜξ

    ŔξVẼήĜξ ¬°•| فنّانُ أسـطوري |•°¬

    I took a glimpse through it
    Good luck
  4. `¤*«مُحمدْ البادِيْ»*-¤

    `¤*«مُحمدْ البادِيْ»*-¤ ¬°•| غَيثُ مِن الَعطاء ُ|•°¬

    THNX Moderator. I have not fully finished reading it, but I will some other time​

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