Oman Observer

Because life’s not meant to be lived in one place

By the time you read this, Lena, my wife and I, will be ensconced in County Durham in the North East of the UK, where our daughter Sasha has purchased a beautiful old stone-built house. Like tens of thousands of fellow expatriates, and similar numbers of Omanis, we escape the oppressive heat of the midsummer, by heading to cooler climes, and what’s always something of a culture shock, for a few weeks. I may even sleep in, who knows? As I won’t have the call to prayer waking me in the mornings. It’s not a given though, as I have been an early riser most of my life, and really, it’s not as if the call is terribly intrusive, but it does niggle at my consciousness somehow, and niggle me from my fairly light slumber.
One thing I know I’ll miss is my adherence to a light fitness regime I put in place for myself last October when I hopped on the scales and found myself at 114kg. I wasn’t happy at all. So, I went on the internet, as you do nowadays, and sought advice from numerous sources, as the most effective way to get rid of my ‘podge.’
Swimming was at the heart of most suggestions, “Swimming is more than a sport, it’s a lifestyle,” screamed one blurb, then I saw the one.
“Fact!” It screamed, “Swimming regularly can decrease anxiety, improve stress management, and boost your overall state of mind,” and I thought, “That’s me, if swimming can do all that for ya, it must be good.”
There was only one problem. I swim like a stone. No kidding! I think me, and my dad are the only New Zealanders who can’t swim. Yes, it must be genetics, and it’s all dad’s fault. Of course, that conveniently neglects the fact that all the rest of the tribe (family) can swim.
And its funny. No, it’s not. But it is amazing how everyone you meet says something like, “Anyone can swim, just try harder,” or something equally helpful. You know. It’s like meeting skinny people who look down their nose at you for being ‘portly,’ and say things like, “I dunno how you can let yourself get that big mate. Heck, I eat lots and look at me. You must be a proper garbage disposal!” I wonder if the ‘skinnies’ among us ever stop to think how hurtful such words can be? Have they never heard of metabolism?
Anyway, I started off at my local Golden Tulip Hotel pool, at the kiddies end, only one metre deep, walking and gradually edged deeper and deeper, and getting more and more active giving myself a good workout.
Then in November, our friends Dave and Rana gave me some water wings and a kickboard as a tongue-in-cheek birthday present, and they got me motivated. Now I can swim a little bit, at least.
I did the gym thing, but didn’t enjoy it, but as a consequence, I have rediscovered the joy of walking. I walk most evenings around 10 pm, and find there’s always something to see, and to look at. It’s not like being in a car and having the world rushing by, and on some level, it’s also nice to ‘reconnect’ with a lot more Omanis.
I know some of the younger generation aren’t impressed with this ‘old guy, with his music turned up,’ striding along the street, but I like it, I’m enjoying it, and I’m enjoying, if not the solitude, the opportunity to reflect on a lot of things like work, home, family, memories, and what’s coming next, and best of all, I’m almost at my first target of 100kg.
So life’s good. I’ll be back in a few weeks, and till then, I’ll keep you up to date with life in the cooler climates thanks to the miracle of the internet. Cheerio!
“Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.”

Ray Petersen
petersen_ray@hotmail.com