Are we there yet?

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Pregnancy- day two hundred seventy freakin’ three. No seriously. I am still pregnant.

although I am not overdue (yet…) statistics do show that most first time mothers give birth a week or two before their due date, the same darn statistics that promised me that only 5% of women deliver on the actual due date that has been forecast.

Yet, here I am. Excited, nervous and oh-so-sick of waiting. (Not to mention bloated, uncomfortable, tired, swollen…just peachy basically…)

I read somewhere that the most common craving that pregnant women have is not to be pregnant. That might seem a little over the top but trust me 9 months into it even the most “sunshine-up-their-butts” mothers start to feel like this just can’t end soon enough. The exhaustion you feel is both mental and physical, your mind is constantly replaying possibilities of “what could go wrong in labor” and your body aches from your toes to the ends of your hair.

I also miss the little things. Like seeing my feet when I look down, fitting into my clothes and shoes or simply getting out of bed without having to roll to the side and readjust the 4 pillows that are prompting my back. Ugh.

The general opinion here (amongst husband and family) is that I still have time and the baby will come out when she needs to and when she decides. But wait, I though I was the boss of this baby- why can’t she come out when I want her to? I pick now. Or at least today. Please?

I have friends calling me every single day asking me if she is here yet or every time I call one of them they thing it’s only because I am in labor…nope…still pregnant…just wanted to say hello. The conversation I have with My Cynthia everyday is a straight replay out of Shrek ” Are we there yet? ” ….” No not yet”….”What about now”….”Still not”….It’s rediculous.

I apologize if you were expecting a touchy-feely post about how prepared and excited we are to welcome our daughter any day now and instead you got stuck reading the rantings of a sick-and-oh-so-tired pregnant woman. Believe you me, we are ready. The bed is made, the hospital bags packed, the baby bottles sterilized and even the video camera is charged. I’ve had a lot of time on my hands…just waiting for the grand entrance now.

I shall keep you posted.

A stroke of genius!

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I’ve had a lot of time to think about how I want the first artwork of the USF store to look like. It was going to be sassy but modest, chique but also relevant and above all…it was going to stand out. Given the opportunity, I expected to have at least a week to plan it out and collaborate with an experienced designer. Instead I faced a deadline of about 24 hours, a complete lack of ideas and extreme pressure.
I love it when magazines feature “behind the scenes” shots. On one side of the page you see Eva Longoria in glamorous high heels and a breathtaking gown, with her hair tossed just-right and a glimmer in her eyes. On the other side of the page the trendy editor would let you sneak a peek into the making of the photo shoot with racks of messy clothes, dozens of busy-bees huffing and puffing over Eva’s hair and make-up and the stressed-out photographer who has already gone red in the face.
When I realized I needed to put together a photo shoot for the store in about 3 hours time I of course called my best friend to the rescue and yet again she saved my ass. Throughout the day I tossed around some ideas with Is This Serious, Yuliya and mom and we decided to recreate an image I found online earlier that day. It was simple, straight to the point and allowed the imagination to run wild. So, after a hard day at work I dragged by pregnant-self to the store and picked out a few outfits for Cynthia to wear during the shoot. Oh and the shoes. And the bags.
You see…I didn’t want a page that simply featured a bag and matching shoes. We have enough of these. But I also didn’t have the time and resources to create an image that would fully convey the uniqueness and the style of the store. I wanted it to portray sexiness without seeming vulgar. Most importantly I wanted the image to be focused on the stylish items sold at the store.
Two hours of trying on clothes, finding the correct shoe sizes, crawling on the floor trying-to-get-the-angle-right and two cans of Redbull later- we were stunned by the results. I shot over 100 pictures. They all turned out exactly how I wanted them. Not bad for a rookie huh?
I will let you judge:
We have received a lot of supportive comments and very positive feedback from friends and families regarding the final product. Personally, I am very happy with how it turned out, given the circumstances.
I will now begin working on a Facebook page for the store where I hope to feature more images from the photoshoot to help spread the word!
During Ramadan the shop is open from 10am to 1pm and then again from 7pm to 11pm! Happy Shopping!

And the award goes to…

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It’s been an odd week here in blogland with the bloggers taking their picks at blogs of note and reposting the ranking for others to see. Oman Collective Intelligence set off the rocket with their post on Top 15 most popular blogs in Oman, which was then reposted by Dhofar Gucci (who made it to #4 on the list-Congratulations!!!). The list was also linked on The Oman Brit’s post and she went on to put together her own list of blogs she enjoys. I did a little shriek of happiness when I discovered Is This Serious on the 3rd position of The Oman Brit’s favorite blogs! C’s blog was made headlines! When C launched her blog some three months ago, I posted a link here calling it my anti-blog and recommending for everyone to check it out because it has zest and attitude! I believe Angry in Oman has inspired C to speak out and say it as it is; be it about getting followed, getting sued or even getting your eyebrows done in Oman! So dear C, thank you for the frustration that you have endured and are now willingly sharing with us for our amusement! We LOVE your blog!

Here a few of my favorite quotes from Is This Serious:

“As I was walking back home, grown ass men started barking at the dog, so I shouted MORE so everybody shuts up. Now I am known in the neighborhood as the crazy dog lady who screams at people.”

“Even if I told someone fuck fuck fuckidy fuck, why would they actually bother making that into an issue instead of catching REAL criminals, sex offenders, and thieves! It’s not like we don’t have enough issues to address!!”

“Groomer: Yes madam, no problem. Only hair, no head.

Me: YESSS head!!!!! NO BALLS. JUST DON’T SHAVE HIS BALLS. OK????”

So dear readers please pay Is This Serious a visit to find out what all the fuss is about.

How to lose an employee in ten days…

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We are all familiar with Conan Doyle’s masterpiece “How to make friends and influence people” and the spin offs that followed. The modern-day business sections of book stores are boasting with books promising to motivate, educate and retain the most effective employees.  No one seems to write books titled “The jerk’s guide to business ethics” or “101 ways to insult your staff”. Well businessmen out there- do not fear! I have put together a rough guide that can be used to piss off and ultimately lose your most productive and valued employees.

(Disclaimer: All quotes and incidents presented below are non-fictional and have actually been used by an employer to drive away hard working and talented staff. )

The following phases must be said in an intimidating and inferior manner:

Late in the evening after hours of overtime:
• “Why are your eyes so blood shot, are you on drugs?”
• “If you leave work right now, you can never come back”
• “Your legs look good in this skirt”

In an official meeting where minutes are taken:
• “That color of nail polish doesn’t match your clothes”
• “Please send me a rough draft of your menstrual cycle”
• “That rash on your face looks like an STD, you should have it checked”
• “I am like a tree, my branches can bend anyway they want”
• “The women in the company can get a day off for PMS every month”
• “Please bring up my cookies and a glass of milk”
• “Make my meetings and travel dates flexible, my mother might pass away next week”

During a moment of truth:
• “If you don’t lose weight your boyfriend will not want to have sex with you”
• “But what are you going to do if your husband dies tomorrow?”
• “Do you know any Russian women I could meet?”
• “If your husband is travelling for business he is probably cheating on you”
• “Why do you look so tired, did you have a lot of fun with your boyfriend last night?”
• “In a company we are one family, sometimes we will need to go to my house to finish work”
• “Do you have any single friends who can come to the concert with me?”
• “You forget everything! It’s probably because you have young children”
• “Your butterfly tattoo is a symbol of prostitution, clearly”

To an Omani employee:
• “I forbid you to wear a black headscarf- its depressing, the orange one is just more cheerful…you know?”
• “You are fined for not showing up to work the day it rained and all the roads in Mawaleh flooded making it impossible to come to Muscat, it doesn’t matter that you actually live in Mawaleh”
• “You are not allowed to lock the door when you are praying in the kitchen, what if I need a glass of water?”
• “You should shape your eyebrows or no one will marry you”

Should the above phrases not provide immediate results, try the following:
• Ask your employees to pick up your lunch during their lunch break
• Ask for apples/cookies/sandwiches to be given to you at a very specific time everyday
• Sneak up on female employees and make animal sounds
• Call your female employees after 10pm and scold them for not picking up the phone fast enough
• Refer to employees in the company as “the black one, the ugly one or the fat one”
• Freak your employees out by googling things like “Single European women travelling alone”
• Rub your enormous stomach and ask in a sexy voice if you have lost weight this week.
• Insist that employees cannot have two days off because you get bored during the weekends
• Lock your female employee out on purpose while she is on her smocking break (out of good intentions of course! Maybe she will quit!)
• Go into the toilet as soon as your employee is done to make sure they put the toilet seat down

Voila. Do you think these are bizarre? They may be but you have my word for it…they actually work!

Now you are ready to verbally assault and consequently drive away even the most resilient team! Go figure!

UAE’s best kept secrets (from me) revealed…

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1) Crossing through the Sharjah boarder costs only 10 OMR as opposed to the 20 OMR that the Dubai boarder charges. But, it’s not worth it because the total journey then takes close to 6 hours and your butt gets numb and your eyes begin to play tricks on you (especially if you drive after work at night).
2) Pizza can be delivered to your place at 1am and it will actually be hot and taste good! No one will get your order wrong, the delivery dude will not be rude to you and they will include all the toppings and not just those that they randomly selected from the counter.
3) UAE has beautiful people. In hot pants, with monkeys, with baby strollers, on rollerblades, with burgers, in abayas, with Chanel bags, with Chihuahuas or in kinky red shorts. UAE people are gorgeous. A colleague recently referred to it as “a candy store” and yes I know this is very sexist, but it is such a perfect description!
4) Crowds of people are not out there to get me. On the third day I was finally slipping into a mild acceptance of the fact that not everyone is a sexual predator/rapist/stalker (I get that feeling a lot in Oman). Crowds are good. Crowds are fun. Crowds don’t give a crap if you don’t have make up on, if you are standing under the rain and enjoying it, if your husband is feeding you sushi in the middle of the street or if you yell “OMG PEOPLE!” and point at the crowd. Crowd’s don’t give a flying…in the UAE you are average. You are part of the crown and no longer a piece of hot *** that the freaks will drool over.
5) Food tastes insatiably good on the other side of the boarder. I feel like I was under anesthesia up until I arrived to Dubai and had their pizza, burgers, tacos, sushi, noodle soup, Chinese food (Yes, we ate A LOT in Dubai). I could not get enough of the flavors, the variety, the spices and the availability of the palette. I discovered taste buds I never knew I had or perhaps they were dormant up until they were roused by 800 Pizza (cheese, ham, turkey bacon and meat on top of meat).
6) It is possible to spend 9 hours in a mall and you still wouldn’t see it all. Although I am not in particular a shopaholic I felt obliged to visit the BIGGEST MALL IN THE WORLD. It just also happens to have the biggest indoor waterfall and a fantastic aquarium complete with sting rays and sharks. Oh the thrill. Turns out that meeting a 80kg shark nose to nose is not as scary as National Geographic makes it seem.
7) Taxi drivers are not maniacs and can actually be responsible on the road. They will also find your building in the nick of time and use A METER to charge your journey. Seriously! It’s magical. How many of us got into a taxi in Oman having negotiated a price only to get out and pay double because the driver “ bad English no understand two rial”.
8) Their road radars are meanies. It’s not like Oman when you drive on the highway at 140 and think “is this thing on?” oh no. Their super radars are trained to hit your windshield like lightning as soon as you crawl over the 80 m/h limit on the fly over. 😦
9) People go for walks. With their dogs. With their monkeys (I swear!). With their girlfriends. With babies. People just stroll around like no man’s business. I have blisters from all the walking. I hated walking with a passion by Saturday. No gym work out could ever measure up to the calories we burned by walking from our parked car to what seemed like another freaking country.
10) The UAE is going through a rapid baby boom. Or maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me. There are babies of every age, shape and size on every corner of every street and in every shop of every mall in Dubai. There are even twins. I counted 5 sets of twins in the Emirates mall. Between 11 and 5 pm we encountered particularly cute well behaved cherubs that make me have butterflies in my tummy, but towards the evening every toddler we went past was screaming and kicking so the butterflies went away again. Are we missing a trend here in Oman?
I think we are missing about 100 trends here in Oman…and whilst I enjoy our blissful simple existence here, I cannot help but feel bummed to be back 😦

You say there is nothing to do in Muscat? I say boo-yaaa

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I am sick, sick, sick of people whining about the lack of entertainment in Muscat. And when I am not sick I am tired. I am sick and tired of the moans, groans, sights, blank expressions and of the whimpering. I would like to argue that the problem does not lie in the lack of activities but rather in the poor coverage and communication of these events to the general public. Look around you, open a newspaper, and check the Events section on Facebook or even call a friend! Every week there are concerts, shows, exhibitions, workshops, garage sales, classes and even educational wine evenings taking place!
I’ve had a culturally diverse couple of weeks. Let me rephrase that, I have been surviving on sugar sticks and red bull the entire month. I have been trotting around town, adoring paintings worth a fortune and even broadening my understanding of Baroque music.
It all started with my eagerness to visit the International Book Fair which was held in the Exhibition Center at the end of February. Rumor has it, we even got on National Television which showed myself, Alex and Cynthia scouting through volumes of Arabic literature in search for transcripts that looked familiar. Since the title of the fair raised my expectations to finding “International” books I was somewhat disappointed at the limited availability of English merchandise. I have nevertheless purchased a very cool book about dinosaurs (for my brother of course), a few Math/French Grade 2 workbooks (also for the little pest) and even treated myself to yet another Paulo Coelho masterpiece which I am enjoying very much. I found their merchandizing to be questionable after I located a “Cocktails 101” guide next to “Nursery Rhymes for Toddles”. But hey maybe that’s just me…
In the first week of March, the Russian Embassy in Oman organized a reception dedicated to International Women’s Day and invited members of the Russian community for a celebration. On this occasion Mrs. Edemskaya (wife to Ambassodor) has addressed her audience with best wishes of prosperity, peace and health. Coincidently this week also saw the commencement of “Maslenitsa” a traditional Russian holiday throughout which bliny (Russian pancakes) are made and offered to family and guests. Keeping in line with tradition the Embassy served Russian pancakes in abundance with a side of sour cream, jam and honey. Mrs. Pavlovna has stressed the importance of keeping native traditions and holidays alive far from home within the fast growing Russian community in Oman.
Just a few days later I found myself in a 45 minute queue to witness the wonder that is Jared Leto. Being the fidgety hyperactive ball of restlessness  anxious person that I am, I managed to lose our tickets while waiting in line- thank god they were later returned to us by a very kind woman. Overall, I was generally impressed by magnitude of the event and the quality of the music and it turned out to be a good night (3 buckets of beer later). What was missing nevertheless, is the vibe and the drive you are notoriously supposed to experience at a rock concert- and for that I blame the crowd of 14 year olds who were yelling “Get off the stage, bring Snoop Dog instead”. I mean seriously, bedtime anyone?
On the 12th of March I had the honor of attending the inauguration of “‘Drip, Spill, Spray, and a Touch of Nostalgia’” by Anna Dudchenko. Held at The Hyatt, it was a beautiful event that saw the turnout of a very dedicated crowd. Anna rightfully mentioned that some of the guests have been turning up to every single one of her exhibitions since she first began showcasing her work over 7 years ago. The paintings were breathtaking, vibrant and hypnotizing, my personal favorites were the painting of the winter landscapes- I am guessing nostalgia kicked in.

And then… yesterday evening Mom invited me to join her at the Al Bustan for an Austrian concert. I called up my loyal partner in crime Cynt (her blog is here) and we dressed up in evening dresses and the whole deal. Now, I am not usually a fan of classical/orchestra/flute but I like to venture into the unknown every now and again. The troop was very impressive and the music- well unlike anything I have ever heard before! Ok, and maybe we did run down to the café for a glass (or 5) of wine at the interval- but we profoundly appreciated the opportunity to enrich our cultural spectrum during the concert. Classy event of the year? Tick.
I guess the point I am trying to make here is that there really is a lot going on in the capital. You just have to pick your battles. Do not fret, I will help you along the way and hopefully my next post will highlight upcoming events instead of bringing to your attention those that have already passed.

Behold- my anti-blog

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Dear Readers,

Hi there.

I would like to bring to your attention that My Cynthia has started a blog of her own (do I hear Hallelujah?). I am proud to introduce http://www.is-this-serious.blogspot.com/ also known as Olga’s anti-blog because of this phrase ” If you are looking for motivational quotes, or some cooking tips, you are not in the right place.”
It is perhaps the most sarcastic, passionate, angry blog there is about Oman. Now, if you are lucky enough to know Cynthia your current thoughts are “but she is such a sweetheart, how can she write something so angry”. Well HA! The joke is on you people. Between the two of us, I am the one who candy-coats, coaxes and generalizes, Cynthia on the other hand will tell it like it is, wrap it in sarcasm and pour chocolate syrup on top just to make it more appealing. So if you are wondering what’s there to hate about Oman- give it a read, it will have you laughing in fits with every sentence.

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