Saturday, January 9, 2010

Meanwhile, at the Bargain Center

During her recent stay, Miss Rheba was treated to all the highlights of local tourism: we took her to forts and castles; she went on a dolphin-watching excursion; we visited the Grand Mosque and the capital's steadily expanding Royal Palace. She saw the souq, smoked a shisha, and ate in restaurants brimming with local color (experiencing one oddity of life in the Gulf: the more atmospheric, thousand-and-one-nights the restaurant, the likelier it is to serve Lebanese food. For very good reasons, mostly, if you've ever tried the actual traditional foods of the Arabian Peninsula).

And, of course, we took her to the One-Rial Store.

...where she experienced the legendary Wall of Knockoff Colognes, an ever-changing array of horror and splendor. This time the highlight was this I'm sure entirely coincidental hommage to one of the region's signature buildings. If you can't actually stay at the $1,000 a night Burj al-Arab Hotel, why not wear a $1.50 parfum that vaguely looks like it?

None of the dozens of Walking Angels on display showed even the vaguest sign of the promised flapping wings (and we wondered whether, in this part of the world, her prayers would be particularly welcome). Nonetheless, we were taken by the way in which she resembled nothing so much as a L'il Edna May Oliver doll and were briefly seized with the idea of a whole line of infantilized character ladies (Baby Marie Dressler, Toddler Magic Margaret Rutherford...).

And this particular offering made us laugh and laugh. We didn't feel good about that, but we did. I know it's just a set of tumblers and pitcher, liberally gilded. But still: golden water set.

Somehow, when inevitably we return to the dear old shores of North America, going to Costco or Target is going to seem awfully dull...


  1. that emblem parfum is kinda faboo. did it smell like excess and slave labor?

  2. yes, that doll looks as though it may have fetal alcohol syndrome.

  3. Actually, Hughman, more like kerosene and regret...

    Something, if Norma is to be trusted, about which little Edna May there may know all too much...

  4. kerosene and regret, the toilette of quaker youth.

  5. and what abou a Bea Arthur doll, who says 'god will get you for that' in her distinctive baritone voice and a scolding tone - she would have loved it!

  6. You MUST make those dolls! I will be the first collector.

  7. Target and Costco still hold their appeal- There are all those lovely samples and where else can you buy your 5 gallon drum of cooking oil and Nascar lunch boxes?

  8. Hello, I am a Muscat resident with a problem: I don't know where this apparently wonderful One-Rial Store is. Please...Directions...

    And I love your blog!

  9. Well, flattery will get you everywhere, AZ, including the sometimes fabulous, sometimes appalling Rameez Centre.

    Take the motorway out past the airport, past the Nizwa turning, and past City Centre. Go to the first flyover/intersection past the Markaz al Bahja, and take the exit before the flyover.

    Turn right, head toward the sea, and the Rameez Centre is just a few hundred metres ahead of you on the right (it's opposite the stretch of open-air garden/plant stores on the left. You really can't miss it; it's stretched out over two buildings, clothes on the right and everything else on the left.

    Have fun...

  10. My first thought on seeing the Walking Angel was not Ms. Oliver but one Shirley Booth.

    Should the Lil' Character Ladies line of dolls be launched, I know I won't sleep untill I've gotten my mitts on a Rub-a-Dub Marjorie Main, Wee Baby Bainter and, of course, a Chatty Thelma Doll.

  11. Thank you so much for the directions. I can't wait to see the place...

    And I REALLY love your blog!