Friday, October 1, 2010

Oh Man!!

By the end of my second visit to the Sultanate of Oman, I decided to officially change its name to the Sultanate of Oh Man!! (exclamation marks included).

Oh Man!! earned its new name not only because I enjoyed visiting a dear friend who recently moved there, but also because of its natural beauty - which needs a more poetic writer than moi to do it justice - its impressive cleanliness, its homogeneous white  buildings, and the friendly nature of its people.  On two different occasions, and when we asked for directions, instead of the familiar Egyptian di wasfa sahla di wasfa hayla which translates into I have no idea but I will still tell you how to get there, the Oh Manis!! literally escorted us to our destination.

Not impressed? How about if I added that the second Oh Mani!! was originally driving in the opposite direction and he turned around and drove away from his destination to show us the way? 

Only half impressed?  What if you find out that, making a U-turn was no easy task since we were on a narrow mountain road?

Now you might be thinking that this is too good to be true, and that we are too naive or even stupid to trust someone who literally goes out of his way to help two lost tourists.

I fully agree, and I am typically suspicious and  scared of my shadow (as we say in Egypt) but on this occasion I was calm and had full trust in our Oh Mani!! guide Why? Because of what happened on our first visit. 

After asking the concierge of our hotel for directions to the famous al-Bustan Hotel, my hubby drove the rented car to the intersection just outside the hotel premises, and then he asked me whether to turn right or left?
"I don't know. You asked the concierge. YOU are the one driving."
"Exactly, I am the one doing all the driving, so YOU should have paid attention to be able to give me directions."
"Then why didn't you say so earlier?

I will spare you the marital dispute and just say that too embarrassed to go back and ask the same guy for directions again, my hubby parked the car and approached a number of young men playing football in a nearby field. Instead of returning with directions, he came back with the Goalie!! He had asked him  to come give ME the directions, I guess so that if we are lost, I would be the one to blame.

Mr. Goalie started giving me directions, then he stopped in the middle of a sentence, asked my hubby to wait, went and talked to his friends in a language I could not recognize, and then came back with another player and asked us to follow his car. He had decided to take us there. My hubby tried to dissuade him from leaving the game, reminding him that his heroic efforts are needed to defend the den of his team, but Mr. Goalie insisted.

We followed him through valleys and mountains, populated areas and deserted ones. That was fine while we could see our surroundings aided by the last light before sunset. But when it became pitch dark, I started panicking.

After following them for over twenty minutes, I couldn't believe that our destination was so far away from where we started our journey, and the fact that Mr. Goalie asked a friend to accompany him, and remembering that they spoke in a strange language (I later I found out that it is called Balushi) was enough evidence that we have been abducted. So I started pleading with hubby to turn around to try to lose our kidnappers. But as usual, he never listens.

Since no matter how hard I try, I can't remember any other indecent  when I was wrong and  hubby was right, you can imagine how happily surprised I was when a few minutes later we arrived safely at al-Boustan. Unfortunately, Mr Goalie and Mr. Left-Back did not wave and leave as I was hoping they would, no they had to rub it in. They walked up to us to bid us farewell and apologized for not being able to come in with us to buy us dinner or to have a conversation over a cup of tea cause they were still in their football shorts and cleats.

We thanked them for their kindness, and walked towards the hotel lobby.  As hubby was basking in his one and only, once in a lifetime, good judgment triumph, we heard them running after us. My wicked soul wished they would say or do anything nasty, so I can later brag: "See, I was right after all!!" But instead, Mr. Goalie informed us that he remembered that he has a cousin who works at al-Boustan, and that he called him and found him on duty. So guess what?  This cousin was coming to meet us at the main entrance to show us around, and to escort us to the Hotel's best restaurant.

As I was looking around waiting for the crew of "Candid Camera" to come out of hiding, cause there was no way those guys were for real, Mr. Goalie gave hubby his card so that we can call him if we needed him to return in a few hours to escort us back to our hotel!!!  Oh-Man!! Oh-Man!! Oh-Man!!


Anonymous said...

Fantastic piece of travel writing!! looking forward for more. Oh Man!! is a place that has human features; you fall in love with it, miss it when you are away - you get let down by how things go sometimes when you live in it, it is just magic.

Anonymous said...

Very well said about OhMan. American Professors I took with me to that land of wonders became enthralled by its beauty; one commented on its clean streets: "Oh Man, you could eat off the pavement". It sure is a place of beauty and its people are beautiful human beings.

nahoul said...

Comments by two of my best friends!! Another very good reason to love OhMan!!