Wednesday 1 November 2006

Oman: The Sablat at the Al Bustan

I suspected Simon had been around the ladies for too long so I whisked him to view some of Muscat's finest car showrooms. The highlight had to be the glossy BMW showroom which had a collection of junk cars for sale on the forecourt, including an American Buick, which would have embarrassed the average scrap yard. A few hours later, it was getting dark so like two cowardy-custards we dashed back home in order to avoid the wrath of ladies applying layers of makeup in anticipation of dinner at the Al Bustan.

Once past a group of sad looking camels in the car park, our arrival at the Sablat was heralded by a group of women whose wailing was enhanced by megaphone in case any guests were extremely hard of hearing. Once seated, we tucked into communal fish, chicken and meat dishes, including shuwa (pit-roasted meat) and another traditional Eid dish, harees, made from pulverised wheat, which has the consistency of old wallpaper paste. Mrs M’s torch wandered over her plate like a prison camp spotlight in the low light, much to the amusement of the other diners in our tent.

After dining, Mrs M terrorised other guests by steering Mandy’s wheelchair in the direction of the toilet, through ditches and crowds of innocent bystanders. Unfortunately the ladies' loo was not accessible, so the two Omani 'toilet guards' witnessed the creation of Oman's first unisex lavatory. The girls returned sporting henna tattoos which were carefully managed on the drive home to avoid covering everything in brown gloop.

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