what I talk about when I talk about what I’m not supposed to talk about

You can have that appointment during Ramadan as long as it’s after Iftar. You can have that scheduled time at the scheduled hour anytime you pick up the phone. A tete-a-tete with the clerk who works at the local hypermarket? The kid who showed you his father’s house for rent hasn’t stopped texting and it’s clear he wants to put four quarters on the spit. The guy who helped you move house with his big ol’ truck pauses at the door after he’s finished, shows you his phone and wants to come back tonight for Netflix and chill. Careful, it’s a small country and in the same evening you matched on an app with the same person who you’re messaging on open souq about a twin villa; one phone number and two chores checked off the list. Your friend’s lover really can come help you drill those holes, he recommends you pick up him around 4am, right after suhoor, what there’s nothing weird about that, he answers back to you.

No amount of apps could have brought you this much luck in Germany, in Vietnam, in LA. If what you’re looking for is that, you could trip and land on one, is what one friend said, and she’d know, she’s juggling her fair share, has laid the cards out in front of her, has not chosen but is amusedly receiving gifts in baffled wonder. You can keep what you want in the city and have one in the town for weeknights, if you’re so inclined. Tall, short, young, old, bearded, Omani or foreign, what’s your flavor?

I am just going to come right out and say it, if you’re a woman in Oman and you’re not Arab, you will have more options than you know what to do with. I have been approached an astonishing amount by the most cavalier and assuming men who matter-of-factly expected me to do them the service of opening up simply because they wanted me to. This is also the first country where I have ever been made to feel uncomfortable by a tradesman who entered my house to provide a service but instead focused on making me uncomfortable. Oman is a country full of migrant workers from various countries in Southeast Asia and other Arab nations like Egypt. If you want that, you can find it. If you don’t, keep your guard up and do not buy narrative that everything here is safe, safe, safe.

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