Thursday, February 23, 2012

Grocery Shopping, Omani Style

One of the great things about my job, and all the traveling I get to do, is grocery shopping in a foreign country.  At my last post, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, so much was available, with fresh fruits and vegetables out of this world!  Shopping was a dream and the prices were great.  Here in Oman, so much is imported that the cost of everything is very high. The fun part comes when you read the cash register receipt and see where things come from.  For example, today I shopped for vegetables and salad fixings to make a really nice salad for a dinner I'm going to tonight.

As you can see, everything is beautiful...fresh, great color and tasty.  But the fun is finding out how far each of these things traveled to end up on my plate tonight.
  • Cucumbers are from Oman
  • Cauliflower is from Iran
  • Bananas are from India (and they are not your standard peel-and-eat variety...very bitter!)
  • Carrots are from Australia
  • Tomato is from Oman
  • Fresh beets are Omani
  • The gorgeous red pepper is from Holland
  • The lettuce is from Jordan
  • And the huge sweet strawberries are from the U.S.A. And at $7.80, they better be good!
Such an international salad I'll have tonight!  I have a garden of my own here and have been very successful in growing some things.  I bought a tiny, 10", fig tree shortly after I arrived here in July 2010 and now it is about 10' tall and covered in figs. I hope some of them ripen in the next 49 days so I can enjoy one!  I've also grown basil from seed and at one time, had 6 large basil bushes.  The plants were so big and healthy that I was supplying the embassy cafeteria with basil and bringing it to work and giving it to my co-workers.

I have some small tomato plants now, and will harvest the first tomato of the season today.  It will go on top of my salad tonight.
It's the size of a walnut but I'm sure it will be delicious!!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

In shaa'Allah

In shaa'Allah (Arabic: إن شاء الله‎) An Arabic term to indicate hope for an aforementioned event to occur in the future.  The phrase translates into English as "God willing" or "If it is God's will."  In Arabic speaking countries the term is used by members of all religions, meaning the term in and of itself does not denote a religion, but simply means "God willing."  
If you are living or traveling in a country where Arabic is spoken, you no doubt have heard people say In shaa'Allah.  It's used in so many instances that it really does become a part of everyday language. 
  • I'll see you tomorrow. In shaa'Allah.
  • I'll get that report to you before 5:00. In shaa'Allah.
  • Your flight will depart at 11:35 sharp. In shaa'Allah.
So you can see how In shaa'Allah can become a real part of your vocabulary.  Living in Oman, I have really bought in to the a certain point. 
I was having a conversation with an Omani couple the other day and we were discussing the very large numbers of people killed in auto accidents in Oman.   Children never appear to be buckled in...they're standing in the back seat or standing in the front seat or sitting in someone's lap.  The statistics are terrible when it comes to death on the roads here.  It doesn't help that there is no such thing as common courtesy on the road.   I asked why children were not restrained in seat belts. Her response...In shaa'Allah.  The prevailing attitude is that things are predestined and if Allah is ready to accept you or your child in death, you go.  I asked if this person went to the doctor when they were sick. Yes, she did.  Did they fastened their seat belt when they flew? Yes, her husband said they did.  I asked if they looked both ways when they crossed the street.  They did.  It looked like a light bulb came on in their heads.  I then asked them why, if they take other precautions for their own safety, did they not do the same for their children while riding in a car.  They had no answer.  Before we said goodbye, I asked again if they thought they would fasten the seat belt on their children the next time they rode in the car.  The lady looked at me, smiled and said she would.  In shaa'Allah.
Living in foreign countries, you learn there is a cultural barrier.  Most of the time, you won't convince someone to do something that, all their lives, they've done it their own way. I don't try to change anyone's culture, but sometimes a little conversation might make a difference.  In shaa'Allah.