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The First Rule About bin Laden is: Don’t Talk About bin Laden

The First Rule About bin Laden is: Don’t Talk About bin Laden

yay bin Laden’s dead hooray whoop-de-doo!!

yeah……That’s not gonna fly in Oman. Internet access in Oman, for me, is pretty limited. I’ve become a regular at a sheesha/coffee shop just so I can use their wi-fi. So I learned last night that bin Laden had finally been killed while I was at the coffee shop – of course I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try and talk about it with some of the people in the place.

At first I tried to be all “hey guys bin Laden’s dead isn’t that good?”” but that was pretty much ignored. I sat next to a guy watching al-Jazeera and started to talk to him about it. I got a lot of “I don’t know”s and “We’ll sees” and eventually the channel changed to soccer. I was pretty disappointed – I mean, is there any opportunity cooler than the one I had? I didn’t want to let it slip away.

So I started pushing in on subjects that Omanis might be more concerned about. I talked about how he was from the Saudi Arabia, one of Oman’s neighbors, and also the rise of al-Qaeda in Yemen. I wanted to get their opinions’, but I was just met with more ambiguities and question-dodges.

I eventually left the place and went to a little stand outside that sells mishkek (mishkek is like barbecued meat on a stick, it can be goat, beef, camel, I’ve even seen quid, each stick is about 30 cents). I offered to buy mishkek for the people in line. Of course, like Arabs tend to do, they declined. Rather than get into one of those stupid “No I insist,” “No you don’t have to,” “Please I want to,” blah blah blah moments I explained that today was an important day because of bin Laden’s death. That went nowhere, although I did get a few “bin Laden is crazy!”‘s, but that was nowhere near what I wanted.

After trying the taxi driver and the gas station guy I eventually just gave up.

Now today I’m reading the emails from a) the US State department telling me to keep my mouth shut, b) SIT telling me to keep my mouth shut, and c) Loyola telling me to keep my mouth shut. I knew to keep a low profile since I first got here, but when something like this just flew in my face I had to go for it. I’m just glad I didn’t say anything to a cop in street clothes or someone who actually sympathized with bin Laden.

Omanis don’t like talking about bad things, or problems on the horizon. For shame if you mention His Majesty’s death and don’t you even think about talking about oil reserves depleting. Same goes for bin Laden. Oman’s cool – in the sense that it has no insurgency problems, but its neighbors, Yemen and Saudi, are different. There is a fear that some of that could spill over into Oman. In fact Yemen is so bad that it wasn’t even an appropriate topic of conversation BEFORE Osama died. It’s like it isn’t there. So yeah “How cool is it that you’re in the region during such historic times?”

honestly? meh, I could have more insightful conversations stateside.

on another note. I am done. I was hanging out at home in America earlier, remembering the time when I said goodbye to my host family at the airport. Then I woke up. My mind is no longer abroad. I’m done. And by that I mean I’m not at all done. In ten days I’m gonna board a plane to the US, but between then and now there are 30 pages waiting to be typed. But I am done. Of course I’ll get the work done and of course it will be good, but I am done. My mind has officially left the building. I. Can. Not. Wait. to get back home. Nothing against Oman but a) this program has been really hard, b) this research paper has been both physically and mentally exhausting, and c) summer is awesome. I don’t want to do a retrospect yet, because I’m still in the country, but study abroad: great experience, much harder than a regular semester, and, just as I couldn’t wait to get here, I can’t wait to leave.

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