Being a Woman
I’ve been a perfect sloth this year and haven’t ventured into the blogosphere as much as I should have. Other than the strong strain of laziness running through my blood, the other reason for my inactivity was post-vacation blues. The more wonderful the holiday, the harder I get hit with the blues. And what a magnificent holiday it was; a trip with family to meet more family. We went to Muscat to meet up with my brother and his family. The matriarch, my mom, hopped along since she didn’t want to miss out on the massive gabfests we were bound to have. So the stage was set, and in the last week of Dec’12 we soared (albeit on slightly battered wings considering the service on Air India Express) to Muscat, the capital of Oman.
The pace of life in Muscat is decidedly relaxed. I felt a sense of peace and calmness envelope me which might be due to the sense of order all around, the homogeneity of the buildings, an air of well being, or the distinct absence of car horns. Since I’m from India where sounding the horn for no apparent reason is a national pastime, this attitude was shocking. Pleasantly so, but still shocking. While gazing excitedly around, one part of my mind was ready for somebody to spring up, blare the horn and shout ‘Surprise Over !’. It really took some time for me to relax my guard and enjoy the silence. The general atmosphere is one which lends itself to reflection and thought.
The Al Hajar mountains which embraces the city in its folds extends a warm welcome to a first time visitor. The honey coloured hills though devoid
of vegetation are not in the least bit menacing and encloses the land in its benevolent embrace. The brilliant blue Arabian Sea, not to be left behind, plays peekaboo with us as we travel through the winding roads. The low lying residential buildings are painted white or pastel shades of brown and reminded me of slices of pale kaju barfi, strewn around. Modernity perches very comfortably alongside the traditional in this country. I glimpsed ancient mosques with the most enchanting domes in jewel toned blues and greens, and as though to remind me that I cannot remain in the past, the elegant white walls of the Royal Opera House beckoned welcomingly.
The abundance of beautifully tended flower beds provide a visual balance to the barrenness of the mountains. The flowers in brilliant shades of red, violet, pink, yellow and orange exude cheer and bonhomie with their gently bobbing heads. The lush green grass and the profusion of flowers everywhere makes it very hard to believe that this haven was carved out of the harsh sands of the desert. However when we venture out beyond the city, the nature of the landscape gradually loses its veneer of modernity. The hills become rugged and slightly intimidating and I felt the roads were practically clinging onto the mountains. Oman experienced the harshness and unpredictability of nature in 2007 when it was hit by Cyclone Gonu which brought life to a standstill and sowed destruction all around.
Today, Muscat is strongly proceeding on the path of development with signs of construction in many places. There’re a lot of places to go to, in and around Muscat, none of which we saw ! First priority for all of us was spending time with family. Of course, we didn’t miss the chance to go mall hopping which was strategically titled a family activity 😉 . My lil tween was a constant source of despair as she didn’t want to go anywhere; just sit at home and play with her cousins. My brother had the Herculean task of shepherding all of us to different places and ensuring we kept to the time schedule. He had the best intentions, of exposing us to the rich culture of Oman, but even the gods were conspiring against him. Some of the places he wanted to take us to, like the Al Hoota caves, were closed for renovation. He had arranged a sea tour which included dolphin watching, but due to choppy seas that too had to be cancelled. However, he was the only one upset by this turn of events, the rest of us gleefully lazed around at home and ambled around in malls. Poor chap will take some time to recover from the experience.
The best part of this holiday was washing my hands off all responsibilities, especially the everyday decisions of what to eat and other such hateful stuff. I made sure that any questions of this nature were deflected smartly to somebody else. Since the kids had cousins to keep them company and an adoring uncle to pamper them, they stayed out of my hair. Total bliss ! We had some wonderful ladies-only sessions and trips which were marred only by my mom’s sudden guilt attacks. She would get an anxious look in the middle of window shopping, which meant a question on the kids’ well being was coming up. My sis-in-law and I rallied magnificently to combat this outbreak and we succeeded in keeping these guilt trips to a minimum . The cherry on the cake was getting to meet a beloved friend after ages.
The trip back was a gloomy one because of the impending contact with reality. Mr. A who could join us only for two days assured me that we could go back, the only condition being that he wanted to see more of the place. I immediately agreed with visions of lazy days, brilliant skies and crisp winds dancing in my mind. Next time I think I’ll end up experiencing more of Oman 🙂