Friday, February 26, 2010

Not Exactly a Treatise.

What is a blog but a place to discuss the boring minutiae of everyday life. A place where I can write about the bits of everyday flotsam that mean little to me, and close to nothing to anyone else.

With that preamble, I make no apologies for the following:

After close to four months of earnest searching, I am now the proud owner of my very own cheese grater. I don't know why it has been so difficult to find, I don't know what particular aversion this country has to cheese graters (perhaps an obscure Hadith explains the Prophets' particular views on the topic), but I do know that it's been a near constant search. The past few months have seen me chopping large bricks of cheese into ever smaller cubes, the kind that are suitable for melting into omelets or pasta or any of the other dozens of dishes that are improved by cheese. (And let's be honest, very few foods aren't improved by a smothering of melted cheese).

While vaguely still on the topic of food; this morning I had fresh strawberries with my breakfast. I bought a small plastic case of them for less than a dollar at the store last night. And while I'm sure I should feel guilty about the external costs associated with the production, storage and shipping of this product, I'm mostly just pleased and slightly amazed that I can eat low cost strawberries in the middle of the desert. I don't know where they came from or who picked them, and I don't particularly wish to find out.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Winning Cut.

One of my favorite things to do in a new or strange town is to visit the barber for a haircut. Especially overseas, barbers have their own rituals and styles that continue to fascinate me.

I once had my head shaved on the beach in Micronesia by an old man with palsied hands while he told stories about cutting hair in the Navy during WWII. I had my hair expertly trimmed by a young guy in Cambodia; he gave me a nice neck rub with the haircut and charged me $2. In DC I got my haircut by a guy who claimed to be retired from cutting hair in the Senate and later the Supreme Court. I've already written about one haircut I've had here, but I had another fun one this weekend.

I relaxed in the chair while the Pakistani barber clipped and cut my hair. In the corner on a small TV two local soccer teams were tied in the second half. I watched the transposed image of the game in the mirror while the barber deftly trimmed the hair along my neckline with a straight razor.

Suddenly, a goal was scored. I don't know which team it was, but it didn't seem to matter. My barber put down the razor he was using and threw his hands up into the air. The other barber next to him did the same and they ran out the door and shouted into the street. When they returned to the shop they both made sure to shake my hand while I offered congratulations to their team.

Then, as quickly as it started, the festivities ended and both barbers returned to the business at hand. My guy finished up my cut by giving me a head rub and neck massage.

I thanked them both on my way out the door.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Retreat.

If you ever happen to find yourself on the Arabian Peninsula, I highly recommend a stop in Muscat, the very low key but modern capital of Oman.

We spent five days at a very nice resort on the coast just outside of Muscat and it was really beautiful.

Oman is a (relatively, considering the neighborhood) liberal country that is modern without being Dubai, and traditional without being Riyadh.

In Muscat one can relax at the beach or wander through the old souk or visit the fish market; all without seeing an indoor ski resort or worry about the religious police beating you with sticks for violating some ancient Bedouin code.

I don't have much more to add other than to say it was a nice visit and I'd love to go back some day.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The More You Know.

In the event that you are dining at the Dairy Queen inside the Muscat International Airport and order the chili cheese hotdog meal (#11), be aware that what they really mean to say is that your hotdog will arrive with a folded up piece of Kraft single melted on top and the whole thing will be slathered with Tabasco sauce.

This is not to disparage the DQ menu in the Muscat International Airport, the hotdog was quite good, but simply to let you know what you're getting into. Think of it as a public service announcement.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Out of Bounds.

Today at work someone used the word bailiwick in conversation. And they weren't trying to be funny. Worse than that, it didn't even seem strange to me when they said it.