January 12th Muscat Oman
Sorry, in my previous posts I have been mis-spelling the city calling it Muskat, when it is actually spelled Muscat. Today we had two interviews, one with the ship’s doctor and the other with the Food & Beverage Manager. The interviews went well and I captured a unique perspective of the medical facilities available onboard the Brilliance of the Seas. This is such a unique itinerary for a cruise ship. This little town of Muscat doesn’t see many cruise ships or tourists visit, so it’s one of those rare opportunities to see a culture unique to this region. There are a lot of Indians living here and doing business in Muscat, which is fascinating, but one thing I have learned over the years is that people from India are not open to bartering, and they are very strict with the pricing they set in-place. There’s very little negotiating because of the shrude business style if the Indians. Also, much of the trinkets and product for sale is from India, England, or Germany, and you really have to search for items made in Muscat Oman. It was amazing to see this mall or market in Muscat which was filled with shops that carried the same stuff…lots of useless trinkets, jewelry and silk made in India. As a foreigner, wanting to buy something for my wife and my son back home, it was really tough to find something unique to Muscat. There were many vendors that sold the same items, and a massive volume of trinkets, the big challenge was to find something that represented the area and region.
I must comment on this region and culture. We explored this town of Muscat and walked the streets with many who live here. It seems like such an ancient culture here, and yet most of the locals have the latest cell phones and technology. I’m not sure how the Indians co-exist here and what faith they follow, but this is a society deeply connected to the Muslim faith. The Muslim prayers are broadcast on giant speakers throughout the city just as I heard in Dubai. The only people running the businesses in Muscat are men. Very few women are seen in public areas, but those women that are visible in public are covered in the usual black garments, and all you see is the face. I saw some women who even covered their face except for their eyes. And one woman had her face completely covered with a black veil. I’m not sure I understand the intricacies of the Muslim faith and reasoning behind the suppression of women in this culture, but I have gained a respect for the dedication to follow their faith-principles to such an extreme level. This is what sets this culture apart from other’s world-wide, which is their strict adherence to the rules of their faith.
Today we went into the town again to shop in the fascinating mall or market we discovered yesterday. Then, we made our way back to the Brilliance of the Seas to rest-up for dinner in the specialty restaurant onboard called Portofinos, the Italian restaurant.