Monthly Archives: September 2012
Antecedently the day 2 was really creme de la creme. Now after visiting places far from the madding crowd it was time to explore populous dimensions of Muscat. We egressed our house and on that day(June 17, 2012), Mausin(wearing anklelength white collarless gown with full hand sleeves), another colleague of pratap mausaji was there at our service and acted as a guide too. We went to Muttrah Souk, the oldest market in Oman and found it on the verge of closing since it was 1300 hours, time(from 1300hrs. to 1600 hours) in Oman where you’ll find most places motionless. A prompt verdict was taken to proceed to Sultan’s Palace, known as Al Alam Palace via fish market. There was nothing new there in fish market, we saw varieties of different fishes and that’s all that spot was all about. You can surely give it an omission. Al Alam palace was really resplendent was here its time to raise The Indian flag high!! Sultan Qaboos’s palace was zilch in comparison with The President’s residence at Rashtrapati Bhavan (India’s President). We only had a glimpse of the palace and did not pay our homage, another date was decided for visiting Al Alam. Sagacious verdict was promptly taken by scrupulous Urmila mausi. She used her senses to visit that place which was in motion at that time: Barr Al Jissah, again a 5 star hotel. We went in, Ashie, Anshu and Manju mausi preferred to stay back in the lobby area of the hotel as they were not able to beat the heat, and now you can well comprehend the hot in Muscat. Remaining of us went at back side of the spot and clicked pics. We saw the vast sea and some island shaped land there. My Brother, making it the list of mausi, Ashie and Anshu, started shivering, in fact he topped the list!! Though it was damn hot but he was shivering, don’t know what it was but one thing was limpid that he was sick and needed medical attention. We came home for our nourishment. Heat affected people took medicines and we slept. In the evening we left Bunty at home with Urmila mausi. Guddu & Tunnu also did not joined us as they were engaged in their regular routine schedule. Mausin was there at are relevance again. He took us to Carrefour Mall and while going through, he acknowledged us about the future airport of Muscat which was in the way. Now before i proceed it would be fab enough to explain you about the currency system of Oman. The Omani Rial is the currency of Oman with OMR being its code. It is divided into 1000 baisa ie, 1 Rial= 1000 Baisa. Various denominations for bank notes are, half Rial, 1Rials, 5Rials, 10 Rials, 20Rials, 50Rials(highest denomination). Coins include, 5 Baisa, 10 Baisa, 25 Baisa, 50 Baisa, 100 Baisa, 1/4 and 1/2 Omani Rials.
We made groups. My father, Anand Mausaji, me and Ashie in one and mother and Manju mausi in another. Ashie and me were further divided into a sub group. Gargantuan, massive, tremendous, enormous, i guess, these words combined, can explain the size of the Carrefour mall better. It was really BIG. One word would would be insufficient 🙂 We perceived zillions of items of zillion categories. Individually, we brought many utilities. It was time to leave now. I took out my cell phone and it said, “OMAN MOBILE, 8:30 pm. We assembled at the main exit and this time Pratap Mausa and Bunty were there for us. At home, Urmila Mausi was pleased to see the shopping progress. And this was the end of that day.
Day 2: Indelible sojourn to Marina Bandar Al Rowdha, Al Bustan Palace, Sink Hole park, Quantab beach and Wadi Shab and Wadi Tiwi
As admonished and exhorted by our host and moderator, we, adroitly aroused people were all accessible by 0700 hours and absconded Bait Muscat. We were running short of time and in computation to not to miss the booked charter boat at Marina Bandar, we preferred to carry our breakfast stuff with us instead of having at home. On that day one more person joined our group, his name was Ambu and was a colleague of Pratap Mausa. Including him, we made a baker’s dozen. Two GMC cars, Acadia and Envoy were at our relevance. Pratap mausa drove Envoy and Ambu, Acadia.It was a hot sunny day. The climate for most part of Oman is sunny with very less rainfall. Omanis and other foreign tourists experience the scorching heat of the sun, temperature reaching about 50 degree. I preferred to sit in Acadia and we drove from Al Ghubra to Marina Bandar. It was about 25 km. drive from our home at Al Gubra. I could not resist myself from capturing images of the scenes outside the car. I clicked many pics of the natural beauties of the city, including mountains, clean roads, greenery gardens and flowers planted on the sides of the road and divider. The thing of that day which i admire the most was the roads or you can say the traffic system of the country. Wonderfully groomed, tranquil, tidy serene and smooth roads were really a center of attraction for us. Ironically, these types of roads and traffic system is not seen in India. We made the inception of our sojourn by visiting Marina Bandar Port Al Rowdha, which is the main marina in Muscat in old fishing area of Sidab, between Mutrah Port and Al Bustan Palace. Inside the car we were perfectly protected and relaxed with AC turned on. We quit our respective cars and and the scorching heat made us realized the reality of outside temperature. Everybody was instructed to keep their hats/caps on. The sight of zillions of charted boats caught our attention. Ashie said, “Wow, Bhaiya, apan kya in boats me jaenge ?”. I said, “Yes”.
I, as always, could not resist myself from clicking pics of the gargantuanly resplendent boats. Someone(can’t recall it now,who the person was) said,” if you wish you can go for a toilet option as you won’t be able to grab the opportunity inside the charter. I followed Ambu to the toilet as i thought it would be an intelligently fine claim. I have only a vague idea about the rates of the tickets, they charged about 30 OMR (Omani Rials) for four persons. We captured a charter boat and began to sail and explore the vast sea. The charter boat left the port leaving a “BIG Y” behind. I was informed that we’ll also be catching some glimpses of the dolphins present in that area. My father and brother, Anand mausa and me, preferred to sit at the end of the charter. While rest of us occupied the front of it. For about more than half an hour the boat went with splendid speed. The heat of the sun got reduced as the wind’s velocity and our curiosity to know the sea and dolphins got high. The sight of “Y”, which was generated by the water as the engine of the charter boat whirpolled the sea water to sail foarward was notable. And i had a fab experience, as i was sitting at the last end of the boat. I saw about 4-5 other charter boats which seemed to be in frisk and chase of something in the sea. Soon we came near to the area where the other boats with other tourists were halted. I was not aware about their halt and indeed wanted an answer to why we were also at halt. My desperate answer was given by a dolphin who came up for just about a fraction of seconds making a imaginary arc or small opposite “U” in the air.”Waooo”, the crowd exclaimed. People took their cameras, handycams and mobiles out to capture the images of the sea creature. We(including other visitors on other boats) all were astounded at the sight of the dolphin and soon we caught many glimpses on other dolphins too. And whenever our eyes caught the glimpse of any dolphin, we all together said, “waooo”. After hours long journey we returned to the port but missed one spot, which i came to know from some other source when i came India :(. “The Cats Island”, that was the island we blundered and at that time nobody informed about it. You must be wondering about an island where cats dwell but i’ll love to tell you that not a single cat will be discovered by you if you wish to explore that place :). Actually i was informed that it is an island in the shape of a cat and that shape compelled the locals to name it “The cats island” :). Now if you visit Marina Bandar Port, don’t forget to pay homage to that island which we people calamitously passed up :(.
The next place which was ardent for our visit was Al Bustan Palace. A seven star hotel in Oman, only 4-5 km. from Marina port. We visited it quickly as there were many other destinations which were to be connected. The paramount pieces of attraction at the Al Bustan Palace were the charming chandeliers. If you are passionate for chandeliers and its types you should not miss that and if you are not crazy for the same you can afford to miss the palace. There is nothing unique to follow and remember there. We made ourselves busy by clicking pics. While we all were clicking, a visitor of some other country came and captured our group photographs. She said, “one two three, smile”. She repeated the process three times using three different cameras of ours. Thankx to her that we all three families have a group photograph in our respective cameras. I missed to see the portrait of Sultan of Oman, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said at the entrance of the palace. Guddu reminded me of my loss and then and there somebody in our group of a bakers dozen, clicked a snap of mine and Guddu with the portrait. It was indeed a respectable click. We egressed the palace and ate our breakfast, mayonnaise sandwich in our cars itself. I being a non vegetarian was given a veg sandwich while others enjoyed non veg stuff. Then drove to the next spot, Qantab beach. We halted there for only 10 minutes for capturing some pics. If you visit there you can ask the local fishermen to carry you to the near island. We were in hurry and thus couldn’t do so 😦 Moreover if you are beckoned to the sea water you can surely go in the water for enjoyment. I also wanted to go in, not to enjoy but to beat the scorching heat of the sun:). Urmila mausi told me that there is another beach which we’ll be later exploring.
After hours of distance we were at Hawiyat Najim Park. Myriad parables are amalgamated with this spot. Local people claim that it was meteorite which was authoritative for the formation of the sink hole. It would be here notable that this park is alternatively also known as Sink Hole Park. That park was our lunch spot. We made ourselves comfortably relaxed and cozy for the lunch and after filling our respective bellies we marched to scrutinize the sink hole. The sun was at its strongest. Descending a flight of stairs we reached the destination. As the name states, it was really a cavity, a massive one, breathtaking and wondrous. Moreover greeny yet clear water added a feather to its beauty. I, strikingly my legs were fatigued(though i have superb stamina :)) and was the first one to naked my feet and pull my jeans up to my keens. Yes, i were to put my feet in the water for sometime as i thought it would be a natural verdict. Following me, other members of my dynasty did the same, in fact my father, brother and Anshu went deep in the hole for their enjoyment. My description would be fragmented and infallibly inadequate if i do not stress here on the fishes present in the sink hole. We saw zillions of minuscule yet brave fishes which gave us foot massage, removing dead skin on the foot area. I was stupefied by their hardwork and heroism.
Now it was time to sojourn the last place of our day, Wadi Tiwi and Wadi Shab. We approached Wadi Shab and succeed. Wadi Tiwi is 2 km. along the coast after Wadi Shab. We preferred to enjoy at Wadi Shab. Prawns coming out of mud hole caught my attention and i made their family or i can say the entire hamlet angry 🙂 by disturbing them by my feet. When i marched ahead, prawns behind me, my feet became active and when i returned to my previous position they went back to their respective mud holes or their houses and the prawns ahead of me came out of their houses again to challenge me. Soon I was joined by my cousins in the act. Following the ceremony, our respective cameras came out :). We asked a local boatmen to carry us to the other end so that we can march our visit ahead. After bargaining he took us to the other end for 100 baisa per person. Now it was time to walk 2 km to be at sufficient water level for the enjoyment. We made groups and started walking. Few of us, including me had opened their shoes before and it became troublesome to walk. To pace up, mechanically i wore my shoes again. We encountered many visitors who were coming opposite to us, after visiting the Wadi. From every coming tourists i asked about the distance left and water level present. I always got positive stock rejoinder. And after facing many detours and adjustments we all were in water of the Wadi. That was the moment of enjoyment so profound. “Mazza a raha hai”, i said to myself with certainty 🙂 Anand mausaji and Urmila mausi did not came in and preferred to relax sitting on the massive stones. I could feel the biting of small fishes on my body but this time they were not visible. Urmila mausi captured our pics. We, after getting wet came out and wore up our clothes again. The horizon was tinged red and gradually the sun began its departure. We set our face homewards. While Ambu was driving the car(i was sitting next to him, in front), i made a gaze on the odometer. It said “180”. I looked outside the window and found everything normal. I said to him, “can we touch 200″. He said,”220, not an issue”. He accelerated and now the odometer said,”210″. It was really a sophisticated exposure. After having evening tea at a petrol filling station we reached heaven(after all home always seems to be a heaven for ennui people) 🙂 On reaching Bait Muscat, “I must get some sleep “, i made a mental note. It was all that happened on that assiduous day. It was a profoundly enriching experience. A hectic yet fabulous and indelible day in our lives eventually came to an end.
It was on June 15 2012, and we (I,my parents and one younger brother) were all equipped to sojourn the land of the desert sands, resplendent beaches, adventuresome wadis, perilous mountains…The jewel of Arabian countries: Sultanate of OMAN. The country is in the Middle East, on the eastern end of the Arabian Peninsula and shares its international borders with United Arab Emirates (UAE) in northwest, Saudi Arabia in west, and Yemen in southwest. Muscat is its capital city.
We emerged at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai at 1700 hours to board a direct indigo airlines flight (6E081) to Muscat. I and my brother (Bunty) went to fetch three trolleys to carry our accoutrements, while our parents were making payment to the taxi driver. Airport- certainly, a damn crowded place :(. After waiting for 15 minutes the entry for our flight were opened and we entered the airport through “Gate C” and approached the Indigo counter which fortunately was in front of “the Gate C”. At the counter, an exquisite women (i dare not call her a lady :D), i must say an exquisite girl wearing a dark purplish-blue outfit with a small elegant cap of the same colour gave me four emigration form and requested me to fill them. At that point of time indigo people weighted our main luggage bags and told us to collect them at Muscat International airport. The weight was 67 kg. Now we had only our four handbags with us. “We have got rid off our heavy luggage bags and they are still in safe hands” , my mind said to me. 😀 Quite easily with patience, progressing into various stages (security check, visa check, passport stamp, check in counter) which every passenger encounters, officialismly we cleared all legal ritualities. We then stepped in the pulchritudinous duty free territory of the Mumbai airport. The clock at airport showed me 2000 hours and i knew it was time to relax and enjoy shopping as we had captured the boarding passes to board the plane. My experience about the duty free section was awesome and if you visit the same then i must tell you that you can enjoy buying liquor, wine, champagne, fragrances, books, chocolates, sunglasses, watches, tobacco and zillions of other things. Time passed quickly. We clicked many pics. A proclamation was made by the airport people on the behalf of indigo airlines, “passengers travelling to Muscat through indigo are requested to appear at gate no. 7″ We heard the announcement and did as instructed. We were instructed to keep our passports handy, we did, and the same were checked to ensure that every passenger carries an official seal. One by one, we entered the plane. I searched for seat no. 8A,8B,8C and 8D and became successful. An air hostess present there helped me in my bid. My enthusiasm helped me to capture seat no. 8A, the window seat. Other passengers kept on pouring. Just as minuscule granules of sand settles down below in a glass filled with water, the passengers too settled in their respective seats. I, my parents and brother smiled on each other but did not said a single word. Happiness were to be seen on our faces.
Outside the window , i saw variegated aeroplanes of different airlines including Srilankan Airlines, Jet India, Air India, British airways, Lufthansa, Air France, Emirates, Air Canada, US Airways, Oman Air, Turkish Airlines, Tam Airlines, Egypt Air, etc. Since it was my first flying experience, i kept glued to the window and was astonished to see the gargantuan size of the planes. “We our only two hours from Muscat,two hours from Mausi,two hours….” my mind commented personally to me again” It was 2130 hours and time to fly high in the sky. Abruptly, I found that the plane has made the inception and has started moving slowly. Four beautiful air hostess, which were in the hospitality of the passengers gave some useful instructions but i didn’t paid them any of my attention. I kept meditating outside the window and realized that it can take off any time. Assumingly, the airport wished me bon voyage. The plane started running like anything and a powerful force compelled us to rest our heads on the back on our respective seats. I developed an illusion that the front seats were going to fall on us and within no time i found myself flying. I wished to open the window and say good bye to Mumbai :). Juices inside my stomach overreacted, for they gave me an unique experience which i could feel inside my stomach. The Scenario outside the window was really awesome. It reminded me of diwali, the whole city seemed to be embellished with yellow bulbs just as some gold coins are kept over a black cloth. After some time i witnessed zilch outside the window. Air hostess started their services. I kept on ruminating about Muscat. The plane was flying and so was time. After two hours i perceived the same category of yellow bulbs scenes which i captured in my mind just two hours before. Yes, it was time for the plane to land. It landed and we landed too. I switched on my Vodafone, internationally activated cell phone. I was expecting some signals but to my surprise, did not appear. One Omani wearing white dishdash(national dress for Omani men, anklelength, collarless gown with long sleeves) inquired about our visas and passports. Since i’m going through visa stuff, i would like to inform that a visiting visa costs 20 OMR(Omani rial is the currency of Oman) per traveler. My mausi and mausa dwelling there had made the arrangement for the same. He(Omani men) kept the original pink colour visas with him and punched a seal on our respective passports. Presence of that men made me to think that we were miles away from India. We waited patiently for our accoutrements on belt no. 2. and after collecting, clearing all legal formalities egressed the area. I was expecting my relatives to come to receive us but they were not there and moreover my sim card was also not working. Adding to all this i regretted myself for not carrying Rials, i did not even had coins to make a call. I tried to change the currency from currency change counter but to reach the counter i had to wait for approx. 20 peoples who were already engaged in the same business :(. And here you can learn a lesson, i request to carry some currency of the country you wish to explore. But things worked out for us, I encountered a good samaritan there and requested him to help me. He without hesitatingly, gave me his cell phone. I called mausi and she told :” sorry, stay there only we are comming in 5 minutes.” . God Bless to him. I thanked that person for his kind generosity. I noticed Arabic written everywhere, “Arabic: just some dots and scratches”, my mind commented to me. I saw mausi approaching towards us. Two sisters greeted each other. I handed a rose bookey to her and she was delighted to accept them. Anand mausaji, who were there before us, also came to receive us. We greeted Pratap mausaji and there was a feeling of satisfaction.
We had the privilege to sit in a white car whose name plate said: “1717 HW”. Acadia it was, a 3.6 cc GMC resplendent car. We drove from Muscat international airport, which is 32 km. from Muscat, to Al- Ghubra. Anand Mausa challenged me to guess the speed of the car,(i with my brother was sitting far behind and was unable to notice the odometer) i guessed 70 but he announced 140 km/hr. We,new arrivals, were all stunned to notice that. Acadia stopped in front of Bait Muscat, a three storey building. Mausi and Mausa told us that they have arranged a 4-star hotel(Bait Muscat) for our accommodation. In the lobby area near lift, mausi called her son(Guddu) to help her by providing some information about the location of the switch plug, to switch on the light. That telephonic conversation made me think:” How Guddu is known to this area….he even knows from where to switch on the light of an alien hotel!!!!!”. I knew something was vague and they were trying to generate an optical hallucination for us, and to abate the effect i increased my stupendous stamina. We went to the third storey and entered a room. They too entered with us. A portrait of Jesus Christ with His twelve Disciples, had such momentum that it cleared all my doubts. It was crystal clear that it was not a hotel(though i appreciate their endeavour) it was my mausi’s home. I must mention here that my mausi’s home was synoptic to a 4-star hotel with all the opulent and sumptuous adroit proficiency. While my parents and brother preferred to have an aquatic break, i adopted to anatomize the home. I went near store room and heard some whisperings . Then and there, one by one, enthusiastically, all my rambunctious cousins; Guddu, Tunna, Ashie and Anshu sprang on me and vociferously howled: Surprise Surprise Surprise!!!!! A voice proclaimed: “It is our home”. Their endeavour got a shock when they saw no expressions on our face :). I guess, my parents and brother were too prepared to not to react. There came an instant energy in the environment. We all greeted each other. My cousin, Guddu showed his respect by lifting me high in the air:). I met my another mausi(who did not came to airport to maintain the hallucination) and on that day she celebrated her B’day. She got annoyed with us, especially with me and said to me: “i was expecting a call, atleast from you”. Though i texted her on the same day but i regretted myself for not making the conversation strong. I blushed,she forgave. I went in the kitchen and said: “I am in Muscat and still i cannot believe it”. Both mausis pinched me. Guddu enquired me about books which he told me to bring from India. I advised him to cultivate some patience :). My mother handed all the love to Guddu, Tunnu, mausa and her younger sister, love including many materialistic things. Guddu was happy to see the books in his hand. We celebrated the reunion. We took dinner, my mausi remained worried about my abstainance from non-veg stuff. Pratap mausa instructed all of us to sleep early(though it was June 16, 0100 hours). He told we were going to visit Marina Bandar Port in the morning. I wished all members good night and good morning simultaneously. This is how that day went. :).
Before i publish my next post, in order to circumvent confusion i’ll briefly describe about our 3 families.
1. The Rawat family: They were the host. A four member team. Pratap mausa, Urmila mausi, Guddu(14) & Tunnu(9)(their children).
2. The Chauhan family: Here I am, in this family with my parents and one younger brother, Bunty(19). 4 members.
3. Last but not the least, The Singh family: Anand mausa, Manju mausi, Ashie(12 years old and our only sister, we all call her “Ashie Amma” which interestingly mean “old lady”) & Anshu(6). Again a 4 menber family. (Singh family landed Muscat before us ie. on June 7, 2012.)
So, we were all together 12 members and represented ONE FAMILY.
When the results of my final class of the school were declared, on that day (May 20,2009) I was taken by my friend Dinesh Lalwani, to a place, where a single railway line was made parallelised, just as above.On that day this poem came to my subconscious mind. While rest of my friends were busy talking about the results, I kept ruminating about that railway track and now after 3 years, I have tried to embellish those ruminations in the form of a poem. Enjoy it and feel the painful torment of the hapless and calamitous railway track. 🙂
We never twiddle,
we never tweak.
We never contact,
we never collide.
We never clash,
we never cross.
We never grapple,
we never greet.
We never connect,
we never converge.
We never coincide,
we never cover.
We never wrestle,
we never tussle.
Yet we share:
Ditto stamina, Duplicate strength.
Identical latitudes, Indistinguishable longitudes
Constant hot, Consistent heat.
Synonymous distance between us, Self-same displacement.
Correspond looks, Carboncopy leer.
Synoptic loneliness, Steady lonesomeness.
Same Destination, Similar Destiny.