Oman: Foreigners Go Home…

As published in the Huffington Post 08/08/2012

But wait…not if you are a tourist whose numbers the country wants to increase on its sparkling beaches, glamorous hotels and at remote sites for off-road driving and ancient water holes where ancient forts, castles and towers are being meticulously restored across a diverse terrain of mountains, deserts and jagged coastlines.

It is the badly-needed approximately 1.6 million expatriates living in this country of fewer than 3 million people whom the Omani government would like to go home. But they are crucial to the country’s functioning. In both instances the government believes that the increase in the foreign tourists and the decrease in foreign workers would result in major gains for the economy and the long-term stability of the country.
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London: Oblix non Oblige

Run, your life may be at risk! Do not walk but hasten to the nearest pub if by some fickle finger of fate you find yourself at London’s Oblix Restaurant almost half way up the one-year-old Shard’s 72 floors of glass, steel, escalators, and whizzing elevators….that is assuming you can find your way out, across, under, up, down and through the maze that is the passageway of the already legendary Renzo Piano building and its ‘this-way-tourists’ restaurant Oblix.

To provide the context in which I experienced Oblix and its reputation for being booked two months in advance, I’ll explain how several amusing situations coalesced to land me there at the end of June.
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Robert Hughes: A Recollection

As published in the Huffington Post  08/08/2012

As I was about to learn in the summer of 1972, everything about Robert Hughes was supersized… his wit, erudition, charm, golden pen, and his passion for life lived large.

The first time I met him, he had roared into Provincetown (an age-old artists/writers colony on the bay in Massachusetts) with an enchanting, precocious four-year-old child, Danton, and promptly took over the painter Robert Motherwell’s kitchen and life for several days. The conversation, food and drink were giddy making. Continue reading

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Where are the Shoes of Yesteryear?

On reading “Who Made That Stiletto?”  New York Times,  April 15th, 2012

I was married in 1956. My husband was a young academic psychiatrist and I was a graduate student living inCambridge. The reasons for our visits to NY were many….meetings of the American Psychoanalytic Society, the theater, art galleries, museums, friends, French restaurants…but for me a visit to Ferragamo was always first on the list.

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All That Glitters: An American in Vietnam

As published in the Huffington Post, 03/07/2011

Nothing had adequately prepared me for a recent visit to Vietnam. I knew about the burgeoning economy, the booming tourist industry (500,000 visitors in January), the industriousness of the people, and even more about the corruption and repressive government. But as the bus turned into the main square of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, I gasped like a child who for the first time was seeing the curtain rise on the magical beauty of The Nutcracker. It was the end of Tet, the Lunar New Year. Continue reading

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Cambridge Masters the Art of Julia Child

As published in The Atlantic, 08/13/2009

Dirty Dishes

Mastering the Art of French Cooking fell on fertile soil in Cambridge in 1961. In the late 1950s and early ’60s, the academic community boasted (as we are wont to do) a significant number of accomplished amateur cooks. Fulbright Fellowships, a junior year abroad, the GI Bill of Rights, supportive parents, and obscure fellowships had created a Francophile enclave in Harvard Square. A bored French war bride, Genevieve McMillan (who later became one of the great collectors of African, Asian, and Oceanic Art now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), imported a chef and opened a restaurant, Henri Quatre, where conversation turned to vinaigrettes, soufflés, omelettes, pâtés de foie gras, and even truffles. This was in striking contrast to the post-WWII cuisine from which we were emerging: Spam grilled with canned pineapple, accompanied by colorful fruit-studded gelatin molds.

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Two Tarnished Institutions

As published in the London Times Higher Education Supplement  

April 30, 1999

A lunch with George Bush in Oman makes Dorothy S. Zinberg reflect on personal greed and national need 

In my childhood, I would pick my way through the songbooks piled on my grandmother’s piano. One of the most romantic songs began: “I Dreamt (that) I Dwelt in Marble Halls with Vassals and Serfs by My Side.”

Needless to say, with time reality set in, and the words and music disappeared from memory. But suddenly there they were in a recent dream, accompanying me as I began a long, slow, two-storied descent of a curved white marble staircase. Continue reading

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Workers Flower in Desert

As published in the London Times Higher Education Supplement  

February 5, 1999

Dorothy S. Zinberg looks at how Oman is investing oil wealth to ensure its citizens are its greatest resource

Once a year, Sultan Qaboos, ruler of the Gulf state of Oman, accompanied by only a few aides, drives the length of the country to listen to and talk to its inhabitants. In recent years, his message has been that people should take any job even if it does not provide a large income.

Based on the teaching of religion, and in Oman it is Ibadi, a liberal form of Islam, he propounds that it is the work itself that is valuable, whether it be as a filling station attendant or carpenter. The results are not in. Guest workers are everywhere in evidence in menial jobs, while the middle-level management of Omani-owned large businesses and hotels and the proprietors of small shops appear to be predominantly Indian. Continue reading

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