Now that I’m back in Oman, I’m facing the challenge of being torn in many directions of interest and personal exertion. However, I am also becoming involved in a number of fascinating projects and activities, so I really can’t complain. Here are the main categories of what I do on a daily basis in Muscat, for those (my family) who happen to be interested:
Research: I am here in Oman primarily on a James B. Reynolds Fellowship from Dartmouth to study Omani Woman Entrepreneurs, and that research – which involves networking with and interviewing businesswomen, diplomats, government ministers, and private citizens – takes up a lot of my time. It is endlessly fascinating stuff, and so I am motivated to proceed and to continue digging further in every interaction or with every contact I make. This research is also expedited and facilitated enormously by having an active social life (because I am constantly meeting and exchanging contact information with tons of interesting people), which obviously suits my generally extroverted disposition.
Language: The second principal focus of my time here in Oman is to improve my language skills. In fact, the reason I initially chose Oman, as some may know, was because one fatefully day in Rauner Special Collections library in May 2012 I googled “countries where Arabic, Persian, and Swahili are all spoken,” and the only result I found was Oman. In that vein, upon my return from New Years in Dubai, I moved in with a new Arabic-only speaking host family, which has provided terrific linguistic practice; I love hanging out with them and getting to know them.
For instance, this past weekend I attended an all-female engagement party (khutooba) with my host mother and sister, Nada. The next day, Nada, her brother Hamed and I traveled about a half hour into the interior of the country (al-daakhileeah) to the town of Fenje (pronounced Fenge in Omani, where, as in Egyptian, the jeem’s become guh’s). Their sister, Nawraz, lives in Fenge, and while she wasn’t there over the weekend, the three of us picnicked in the local wadi with Nawraz’ husband, Mohammed (and got our GMC Yukon shway stuck in a riverbed). We also visited some fascinating historical sites, old cannons, ruins of the Fenge fortress, and still-functional aflaj, the amazing subterranean irrigation system for which Oman is famous. The whole day was a vocabulary lesson, apart from being just a wonderful trip (rehla); I’ll try to post some of my new words when I have time (typing in Arabic is great practice). Also, I’ve located a Persian language center, and hopefully will start taking lessons there at some point soon as well.
Novel: As I may have mentioned in passing to various and sundry friends/family, I am currently engaged in the relaxed but active pursuit of completing my first novel. I have the characters and plot sketched out, and write different scenes when I have time. However, this takes a lot of concentration and a particular sentiment of literary desperation (i.e. “these words will explode inside my chest if I do not write them down“), and suffice it to say that because of the other activities I have going on, I do not feel motivated or focused enough to write all the time, nor is this novel, at the moment, my top priority.
Work: So now that I’ve returned, I’m no longer working for Al-Burj (long story, not pleased with their professionalism/honesty, suffice it to say). However, I’ve been working perhaps more than before, as a marketing strategist, a copy-writer (doing company profiles), an advertising consultant (coming up with slogans and mission/vision statements), a model (just got hired by an agency this morning, actually), a french tutor and an MC for corporate events. Much of the work I do originates from contacts I develop through my research; in particular, I often get asked to do jobs for the companies of the women I interview, which is awesome. It basically means I’m a freelance lots-of-stuff-doer at this point, which suits my temperament and means that I learn a LOT about numerous different industries. !Ca va!
Blog: As you can tell if you are even reading this, I really enjoy writing and particularly having a personal space to process my thoughts, experiences and opinions to a wide-ish audience but with the comfortable distance and informality that the internet provides. So yeah, when work and research permit, and or appropriately converge, I blog.
(my future): Eww. Why did you have to bring this up. Stuff. TBD. Ergo why my LinkedIn profile still reads “Student at Dartmouth College.” Lol #denial is not even a river in Egypt. That being said, many of the people for whom I work consistently ask me if there’s any chance I could stay in Oman and continue working beyond this June, which is a lovely sentiment to receive, at the very least.