Thursday, July 5: Since Wednesday was the 4th of July in America but a workday for me, I decide to celebrate my American independence in style by going to the Grand Hyatt pool all day Thursday. (Grand Hyatt Muscat)
Before I go, I stop at “Beauty Center” in Bareeq Al Shatti mall to get a haircut. You’d think the owners could have come up with a more creative name, but it is what it is. I have come empty-handed; I couldn’t find the picture of my wanna-be haircut that I take with me every time I visit a beauty salon. I figure it will be okay; I’ll just tell them I want the same haircut I already have, just shorter.
My hairdresser is a Moroccan lady named Rahma, and she acts a little too confident, brushing me off as I try to explain what I want. “I know, I know!” she says impatiently, trying to shut me up. She proceeds to snip away to her heart’s content. When she gets to the front sides, she takes a big chunk out of my hair. I say, pulling at the chopped short hair, “Oh my gosh! This is short! I don’t want the sides short! I want the SAME haircut I had. The sides were long!!”
But of course, it’s too late.
As every woman knows, once a cut has been taken that shouldn’t be taken, there is no turning back. The hair is botched and there is nothing to do but live with it, sometimes for a good long time while you wait for it to grow back.
Anyway, I now have the same haircut that I had in the mid-1990s when I was in the midst of raising my two little boys. It is a haircut I don’t choose. Rahma chooses it for me. And, unless I ask a stylist to “be creative” with my hair, I don’t appreciate her creativity!!
I escape the salon while I still have some hair on my head and head for the Grand Hyatt, where I check in for 10 rials and venture out to the steamy poolside. I first go to lie directly in the sun in hopes of getting a tan for my upcoming trip to Greece. But as it is about 46C out and extremely humid, sitting in the sun is like sizzling on a hot griddle. I move to a sun bed under an umbrella. And there I sit and sweat, taking a dip into the pool every other minute or so.
One of the draws of the Grand Hyatt pool is the swim-up bar. I saw this bar before when my sons and I ate dinner poolside one night in February. And I’ve been dreaming of swimming right up to it and ordering a beverage. Although my usual drink is red wine, I don’t figure a room temperature red wine is the right drink in 46C weather. I’ll wait until I’m inspired.
Later, I go into the pool and a French man named Yves strikes up a conversation with me. He’s the assistant trainer for the national football team in Oman. We chat for quite some time and then he asks me if I’d like a drink at the bar. We swim on over to it, inside the waterfall curtain. Yves orders a Corona with a lemon and I follow suit. Refreshingly sweet!
As we chat, I tell Yves that he is quite charming, as I’m sure he already knows. He says, “You’re quite charming yourself.” I laugh and say that no one has ever used that word before to describe me. He’s surprised. And I’m surprised that he’s surprised.
I’m pleased that the Grand Hyatt is so grand. I linger in the pool with the Frenchman for a while, then we go take a dip in the ocean, where the waves toss us around like jellyfish. Some boys toss their ball too far out into the ocean and ask Yves to get it for them. He swims out and I see his head bobbing in the waves as he catches and tosses the ball to the shore. We eventually make our way back to the pool, rinse off the sand, and part ways.
The biggest drawback to the Grand Hyatt pool is currently a lack of changing room or proper bathroom facility. Maybe the regular bathroom is under renovation or not operational, because today the hotel designated separate hotel rooms for the men’s and women’s changing rooms/bathrooms. This would have been a problem for me if I hadn’t planned to check in at another hotel. Because with one room for all women, and one bathroom, if I wanted to shower, change and blow-dry my hair, women queuing up outside and waiting for me to finish might get just a tad bit irritated.
I leave the Hyatt, where I can’t afford to stay overnight, and check in to Safeer Suites at Medinat Sultan Qaboos, where I’m able to soak in a good long bath. Later, I meet an Omani friend for a delicious dinner of Prawns Hong Kong at China Town restaurant in Qurum.
I think I’ve found a way to while away the weekends in Muscat.