In Oman the scenery didn’t look like anything I’ve seen in India, but culturally it felt like we were riding through the Indian Subcontinent, not the Arabian Peninsula. It seems like foreigners do all the work in the country, and the majority come from Indian, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. In Muscat we stayed with Stuart and Aslı, from England and Turkey, and their live-in housekeeper, Mary from Goa.
Our first tasks leaving Muscat at the start of our bicycle tour were to buy groceries, fuel for the stove, and a SIM card. I didn’t see Omanis working at any of these places. It was all Bangladeshis at the gas station, and Indians from Kerala got me set up with an Omani phone card. In my notes from the first day biking in the country, I wrote, “Aren’t there any Omanis?”
The Sri Lankan mosque manager in Fanja:
The Omanis we did see at shops were customers, not workers. Omanis drive to the shops in their fancy cars (or Toyota Hilux pickups if the roads aren’t so good), honk the horn, and are served without ever leaving the car. They sit in their air-conditioned bubbles while an Indian braves the heat to serve them tea, chips, and samosas. Coming from the US, it seems incredibly rude. Jack even saw this sort of drive-up service at a hardware store.