Wednesday, September 28: Insha’allah! I have heard this word too many times to count since I arrived in Oman 12 days ago. Insha’allah, meaning “god willing” or “if god wishes,” is used in almost every sentence, especially sentences that have to do with making appointments to get something done. It always makes me smile when I hear it because I know that it’s a promise made but not necessarily kept, and very likely, the thing promised will NOT happen. It’s more like a vague intention, something no one should hold you to. I actually find this attitude quite amusing and feel that if I could carve it into my heart, my life could be blissful and calm, stress-free.
It is a common attitude that Arab people have, and reminds me, as an American, that I must learn to be laid back, and let things happen as they will. Or as they will NOT. To go with the flow. It’s like the Lion King’s Hakuna matata, don’t worry, let go, let the water roll off your back. No problem. Things will happen, if God wills them to happen, and if God doesn’t will it, then it will happen in its own good time, or not at all.
It begins on my first day here when Human Resources explains to me that my labor card, also known as the resident’s card, will be issued approximately 10 days after I turn my passport over to them, insha’allah. At first I think it doesn’t really matter, because I’m here to stay for a while, and I don’t need the card or my passport for a long time. But of course, as the days roll by, I find in fact that many people ask me for my passport, such as the Nawras people, who provide mobile phones and internet. With a resident’s card, you can get certain types of monthly post-paid internet plans, without one, you must pay in advance by the day or the week.
Later, I hear that our first and only holiday of any length until next summer is the one week Eid holiday from November 3-11. Suddenly, I think: I hope they are right about the 10-day turnaround on the resident card, because I might want to travel to Jordan and thus will need my passport by then. Later on still, I hear that the Public Relations Department will not submit the passport to the proper Ministry until I get a medical exam! Funny that no one told me this when I turned my passport over to them. As a matter of fact, I have to actually get the passport back from them just to be able to get the medical exam.
After the 2 1/2 hour medical exam, where nurses take my blood pressure, my blood, a urine sample and X-ray, after they weigh me and have a doctor consult me, I take all the reports and my passport back to Public Relations. At that time they tell me, Now you have to wait until we call you to go to the Ministry for another injection, insha’allah. (By “injection,” I find they actually mean another blood test. And I can’t help but wonder why on earth I need to have another blood test by the Ministry when I just had one done at the clinic.) They will not give me any indication of how long this will take.
When I tell them I am concerned about the time, as I might want to go to Jordan on the Eid break, they say, “No problem. Just wait, we will call you, insha’allah.” I’m still waiting for that call.
Another time I meet Insha’allah is in my dealings with the maintenance guy, Sadiq. I have a list of about 15 things that need fixing in my flat, including a lot of broken drawers and cabinets, a missing toilet seat, and a non-working stove and oven. First Sadiq comes on Tuesday, September 20th. He tells me he will have to buy the toilet seat and come back. Of all the things on the list, he fixes 1 thing and puts a new fan in the bathroom (that wasn’t on my list). Ten minutes after he leaves, I call and tell him my washing machine isn’t working. He says, “Ok, I will come back Saturday and do everything, insha’allah.”
Saturday we have an appointment at 4:50 but he doesn’t show up until a couple of hours later. When he comes, he finds the washing machine doesn’t work, as I had told him, and he will have to get a new one. He will bring one on Sunday, Insha’allah. He has his carpenters fix some of my broken drawers and start to replace some lights (they START but don’t finish). He has one of his boys put on a toilet seat that sticks up in front at a 45 degree angle. I say, What is that? That is not right! He says he will have to replace the toilet, and will do that tomorrow, on Sunday, along with the new washing machine, insha’allah.
On Sunday, I get a call on my mobile: “I took out your toilet, but I couldn’t get another one at the store today. Tonight you will have to use the outdoor toilet!” I have a complete bathroom in the alcove to the left of my front door, which is used when Arab men come to stay in a house where women live. He adds, “I will put the new one in tomorrow.” Now here is where I have some hope. He does not say he will put a new one in tomorrow, Insha’allah. He says he WILL put it in tomorrow.
The next day, I go home to find the new toilet installed, but there is no lid on the tank. After I take a nap, I run off to the Lulu to get some groceries and when I get home, I turn on the tap to wash some dishes. Alas, the water is coming out in a trickle and then it stops. I try all my faucets and no water is coming out of any of them. By this time it is 9:30 at night.
I call Sadiq. “Sadiq, I have no water!” He says, “I’m sorry Miss. I am at my home now.” I say, “But Sadiq, I have no water! It is your fault I have no water because you turned it off today to replace the toilet. I need to have you fix my water.” He says, don’t worry, miss, I’ll be there tomorrow, insha’allah.” I say, “No! I need water tonight and in the morning before work. It is your fault that I have no water and I need you to fix it.” He says, “Ok, I will come tonight.” While waiting for him, I walk around and around the house looking for the water main, but I can’t find it anywhere.
An hour later, around 10:30 pm, he shows up at my house with a baby in tow. He looks all around the house and cannot seem to locate the water main himself. I wonder how he turned it off earlier today if he doesn’t know where it is. Finally, after a good long time, with both of us circling the house in the dark looking for the water main, he goes outside the gate and finds it on the outside of the courtyard wall! He turns it on and then says, “Don’t worry miss. You will have water but you will have to wait one hour, maybe two, insha’allah.”
One hour, or two?? For the water to reach the house from the water main outside the gate? I don’t understand how this can be. I don’t want him to leave until he checks to see that the water is working, but obviously he cannot stay for an hour. It is already 10:30 at night and he has his baby.
Later, I keep turning on the faucets to check if the water is on and it isn’t. I tell myself I must relax. Insha’allah, I will have water in an hour. I put on my pajamas, get in bed and read for a long while, determined not to keep getting up and checking the faucets. At 11:45, Sadiq texts me: “the water is comaing?” I get up and check the faucets. At first nothing comes out of the kitchen or the bathroom sinks. Then I try the bathtub and with a loud spurt, brown water bursts out, like a pent-up bull in a rodeo. I turn on all the other faucets and the water is coming out of all of them. I text him back: “yes…just now it started alhamdullilah. thank you so much!”
As of today, Wednesday, September 28, I am still waiting for the washing machine, the remaining repairs, furniture including a desk, chair, coffee table and end table, as well as the call from Public Relations telling me to go to the Ministry for my other “injection.” Since today is Wednesday, which equals a Friday in the USA, I know that if nothing happens today, it won’t until Saturday, because no one does any work on the weekend (Thursday and Friday in Oman).
Insha’allah, some of these things will be taken care of soon. Insha’allah, I can keep calm, keep my blood from boiling, learn to take it all in stride. This year will likely be a good lesson in patience for me. Insha’allah.