Tuesday 5 June 2007

Oman: be prepared

The talk at work focused on the impending storm. The Omanis have little idea of what to expect as this is the first recorded cyclone to reach the Gulf of Oman. Emotions range from excitement to trepidation and rumour is rife. At the hospital, Mrs M noted that staff were disappearing because the storm had apparently struck Qurayyat (about 50km southeast of Muscat) whereas it had not actually hit land at this point.

After work I joined the queue of traffic in Ruwi in the westward exodus. All seemed calm until drivers approached As Sarooj petrol station and supermarket where road traffic laws became irrelevant. Cars were stacked on top of each other in a desperate attempt to get fuel and the queue in Al Fair was no better. I abandoned my quest for bread and plodded home.

After living in the US we became used to storm preparation where everything that is not set in concrete or nailed to very large pieces of wood is brought inside. We knew the Omani house would stand up to a battering as it is made of concrete (unlike American houses which are made of wood and chipboard and fly away in anything more than a large sneeze). However, there are a lot of peripheral items that are not designed for wet weather, yet alone a cyclone. We erred on the side of caution and packed everything away.

Thick grey clouds sat heavily above as the wind became stronger in the late afternoon. There was nothing more to be done. We were ready. The cats asked why they could not go out to play again. We said it was for their own good.

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