Thursday, November 3: This evening my friend and colleague Kathy invites me for a traditional Filipino meal in her flat near the water tower and the Nizwa College of Technology. To get to her home, I must follow a convoluted set of directions, since addresses are nonexistent in Nizwa: Drive past the College of Technology, and at the roundabout near the water tower, turn left, then turn left at the next roundabout, then it will be behind some shops near the water tower. Her flat is out in the middle of nowhere actually, but it’s much newer than mine and actually fully furnished. Imagine that… 🙂
It’s nice to get a glimpse of my colleague’s accommodation, since I’ve never yet seen the other new teachers’ digs. All I’ve seen is my villa and three other places that our housing guy Issa showed me; these I found of lesser quality. I’ve seen Marcia’s and Sara’s flats, but they’ve been here a long time and so have some “wasta,” or privilege, stemming from their longevity at the university.
Looking at Kathy’s flat, I can compare the pros & cons of her place vs. mine. Mine is much larger, but also much older. My villa (well… my half-a-villa), has plenty of privacy as it’s not in an apartment building shared by many other teachers, as hers is. I like having a little courtyard and of course I love my bathtub, which no one else in Oman seems to have. But hers is nicely painted, has new furniture, and DOESN’T have, across the street, a huge, open, stinky garbage bin with 20 cats scrounging around in it. The Cold Store in front of her place does seem to have a lot of trashy boxes piled up in front though. The worst thing about her place could also be the best: its out-in-the-boondocks location away from the hubbub and traffic. My place in Firq is in the center of a bustling commercial area: a strip of car dealerships, building supply shops, Al Khamis Shoes, TJ Discount Store, Family Mart, Pizza Hut, Majan Furniture, and Bank Muscat, along with a bunch of other unidentifiable concerns.
Kathy offers me apple soda, which I’ve never tried before but find refreshing and apple-y tasting. We chat for a while about the university and our curriculum-less Post Foundation courses, which are endlessly frustrating to everyone who teaches them. We discuss our irritations, our love for our enthusiastic students, our experiences with different colleagues, and the floods on Tuesday. Kathy tells me our situation seems much better than that of our colleagues at the College of Technology and the College of Applied Sciences. Then we take a walk around Kathy’s neighborhood where I take pictures of the small gated villas and the mountains with the dramatic sky overhead.
Back at Kathy’s flat, she invites one of her neighbors, Dr. Said from the Pharmacy Department, to join us for dinner. He’s from Zanzibar and is waiting for his wife and daughter to get their visa approved so they can join him in Oman. Kathy has made a delicious traditional meal called Filipino Chicken Adobo: Chicken, garlic, peppercorns, soy sauce and some water in a large pot. She also adds some hard-boiled eggs that soak up the delicious sauce. Lots of rice, a tomato and cucumber salad, and for dessert a fruit and cheese salad. I can say without any hesitation that Kathy is an excellent cook!
It’s a funny story how Kathy and I met. I started writing my blog about the University of Nizwa before I even came to Oman. I simply found information online about the university and put it up as an introduction to my upcoming trip to Oman. Kathy was teaching in Taiwan at the time and did a Google search about the university and my blog post came up. She wrote to me to ask about my experience here, and since I actually hadn’t arrived yet, I couldn’t tell her a darn thing! But we corresponded anyway, each of us sharing what little we knew about the university. I arrived nearly two weeks before she did, but I was on the lookout for her, and was able to greet her upon her arrival, as if I was a long-timer. Now here we are, both in the wonderful Nizwa, Oman, busy creating our own experiences in this foreign & endlessly mesmerizing land.