Archive for the ‘holiday’ Category

Actress Ananya Chatterjee

Actress Ananya Chatterjee

I had been away from Kolkata for more than seven years but what makes me feel really wonderful to be back in the city is the warmth of the people I have always known professionally and personally.

Recently when I was invited to the newly-opened seafood and tribal cuisine restaurant, Fishermen’s Deck, on Swinhoe Street, apart from sampling their mouth-watering fare, I was really looking forward to meeting Ananya Chatterjee, who was the celeb guest at the do.

While working as a full-time journalist in Kolkata I had known Ananya well. She was always a straight-talking person, lived life on her own terms, believed in style statements and needless to say, was supremely talented.

The last time we exchanged an SMS was in 2009 when she bagged the National Award for Best Actress for her role in Abohoman directed by late Rituparno Ghosh. I was elated that she had won. She acknowledged my wishes with warmth.

The next time we met was a few weeks back at the restaurant and I was elated once again to see that Ananya hadn’t changed a wee bit. She hugged me warmly and said, “I was looking forward to the adda with you.”

We quickly got down to that between devouring pepper calamari and green rice. Ananya wanted the mutton, made in bamboo, to be specially cooked for her and with her trademark simplicity she told me: “I can only have the crab if you can extract the meat for me from the shell.”

I did that. Then we moved on to the unusual-yet-tasty egg halwa and embarked on a trip down memory lane talking about all our earlier addas on shooting floors, at parties and about a couple of occasions when she saved my day by accommodating a last-minute shoot in her hectic schedule.

The interiors of Fishermen's Deck

The interiors of Fishermen’s Deck where Ananya and I had our chat and yum seafood

While talking about work, Ananya said: “You know I can never accept a script where I don’t have much acting to do. But I am looking at some innovative work which includes a short film.”

Now close on the heels of the superhit short film Ahalya, that stars yet another wonderful actor and down-to-earth human being Tota Roy Chaudhury, Ananya is acting in Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s 15-minute Debi.

The film has got an equally talented cast of Arjun Chakraborty, Koushik Banerjee, Reshmi Sen and singer Monali Thakur.

Filmmaker Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury

Filmmaker Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury

Debi is about the nostalgia of Durga Puja in Kolkata and about homecoming. It is nothing like Ahalya but it has something that is bound to pull at your heart strings and remind you about the Bengali’s love for grandparents, for food and the magic of wearing red during Durga Puja.

It’s nine days to Durga Puja now and National Award-winning director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury couldn’t have picked a better time to release Debi online. This is the time Bengalis all over the world miss the azure of the Bengal sky, what we call the “sarater akash”.

Ananya has beautifully portayed the character of a strong, independent single mom Anu, who comes to her ancestral home during Durga Puja with daughter Lali in tow.

Some relationships don’t change even if you haven’t met for ages – like mine with Ananya’s or Anu’s with her home.

Watch to see what I mean:

Link to Short film Debi

 

 

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Mount Kilimanjaro, the Chander Pahar

Mount Kilimanjaro, the Chander Pahar

As a child Chandrani Kar would read the great Bengali adventure novel Chander Pahar (The Mountain of the Moon) and fantasize about protagonist Shankar’s journey across Africa. But as she grew up in a conservative Bengali family in the suburban town of Chakdah near Kolkata, studied political science at Kalyani University and then moved to Kolkata post marriage, mundane life took over. And one fine day without realizing, she had forgotten about Shankar, about Africa.

But destiny had other plans for her. In 2000, her husband Sankha Kar, an award-winning photographer, got a job offer in a Dubai newspaper. “Anyone else would have jumped at the opportunity of living in Dubai, but I burst into tears. The thought of leaving my family and staying alone in a foreign land was harrowing to me,” said Chandrani.

Living in Dubai did not change her outlook much. “My husband worked long hours while I was holed up in our apartment. We went out only on his off days, because I used to get scared crossing the road or using the escalator on my own. I never hailed a taxi alone. I was scared if the driver went the wrong way, I would not be aware. I had hardly gone out alone in Chakdah or Kolkata,” said Chandrani.

The Balloon Safari changed it all

There was a surprise in store for her when her husband Sankha expressed his desire to go to Africa. “He wanted to go because he is interested in wildlife photography. At that point I was elated at the prospect of seeing the land of Chander Pahar, but as our travel date neared I started developing cold feet. Finally in 2008 when we flew to Tanzania, I got my first glimpse of Chander Pahar – Mount Kilimanjaro. I could feel the goose bumps.”

Chandrani and Sankha inside the balloon basket prior to take off in Tanzania

Chandrani and Sankha inside the balloon basket in Tanzania

Their first stop was the Kirurumu Tented Camp which had only zippers for door latches and every kind of animal sound for company. “I was so scared I could not sleep the entire night. The next day we had the balloon safari over Serengeti. Thankfully, I had not read up anything on the experience. If I had, I would have been petrified. After a 45-minute balloon ride, landing in the middle of the dense jungle should have been a very scary experience. But for the first time in my life I did not feel any fear.”

The balloon ride proved to be the turning point for Chandrani. “I realized I had overcome all my fears in Africa and emerged a more confident person.”

Chandrani in front of a cottage with a zipped door in Tanzania

Chandrani in front of a cottage with a zipped door in Tanzania

Adventure takes over

After that, Chandrani was willing to go anywhere and do anything and she quickly developed a keen interest in photography. “I could feel I had completely changed inside. My husband always encouraged me to pick up the camera but like always, I was not too sure. But in Africa, I felt I was wasting all the opportunities God was giving me. In my first trip I had a Sony handycam and a 5-megapixel Panasonic digicam. In the next trip, Sankha bought me a Canon with a 16X Zoom, and in the following, a Canon with a 30X Zoom and now I have a DSLR.”

Chandrani found herself exploring the African Savanna between 2010 and 2013, taking up challenges, courting danger and escaping perils on the way – holding on to her camera firmly all the while. I personally believe her adventures are worth going down in a book, but till she sits down to write it, here is a glimpse of her exploits in her own words along with some photographs taken by her on each trip.

Lioness at Ndutu, Tanzania

Lionesses at Ndutu, Tanzania

Tanzania, 2010

  • Ndutu lodge had no fencing or boundary:  This time our destination was Nogorongoro and Ndutu. As soon as we stepped into Ndutu lodge, I realized there was no boundary wall, only a single signboard that said DO NOT ENTER BEYOND THIS POINT. We humans could read it but what about the animals? I was shocked when I was informed this was the rule in Tanzania so that the Big 5 – lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros, leopard could find free roaming space. It took me some time to digest this information.
  • There was no electricity or telephone: The rangers with AK-47 first ensured we had locked the door of our cottage and only then left at night. If there had been any emergency we could have alerted them by a torchlight and a whistle. There was no electricity or telephone in the lodge.

    Ndutu Lodge in Tanzania had no fencing

    Ndutu Lodge in Tanzania had no fencing

  • In the middle of the night a strange sound woke me up: I was so scared that I couldn’t open my eyes. But I finally overcame my fear and woke up Sankha. Then we looked out of the window and saw two giraffes chomping on leaves next to the window. There were days when we couldn’t enter our room because of a line of giraffes blocking our path.
  • Our car broke down: The sun was just going down and our car broke down one day right in the middle of nowhere. While the driver tried to fix it and Sankha helped him out, I kept a watch. Now when I think back, I wonder what I would have done if I had spotted a lion in the bush.
  • We went on the trail of 15 lionesses: We spotted this group and started following them. At one point few of them were just a couple of feet away from the open jeep. My eyes met with a lioness and I could feel cold sweat when I realized she was just a jumping distance away from me. My head was jutting out of the jeep and I quietly sat down. I can never forget those eyes.
    Giraffe in Tanzania

    Giraffe in Tanzania

    Zebras in Tanzania

    Zebras in Tanzania

    Kenya and Tanzania, 2011

  • We went by road from Kenya to Tanzania: The driver we went with told us that in his 20 years in the profession he had not taken a single tourist across the border. He also went on the 12-hour journey for the first time from Masai Mara to the Kenya-Tanzania border.
  •  We saw a lion kill: Usually the lioness does the hard work of hunting. But we were lucky to see a lion at it. We were admiring the zebras and wildebeest when suddenly a lion emerged from a bush next to us and went at them. In a moment the peaceful atmosphere was shattered by terror.
  • We were the only two people in Ndutu Lodge this time: It was off season there when we had gone. So we were the only occupants staying in the lodge, with no boundaries. Imagine the scenario.
    Lion with prey at Ndutu, Tanzania

    Lion with prey at Ndutu, Tanzania

    Leopard with prey

    Leopard with prey

    Wildebeest migration at Serengeti, Tanzania

    Wildebeest migration at Serengeti, Tanzania

    Botswana, 2012

  • We flew in a six-seater bush plane: From Kasane airport we boarded this small plane to reach Xugana Island Lodge at the heart of Okavango Delta. This is most often the only way to travel in Botswana. The small, light plane rattling in the wind made my stomach churn. We landed safely, but the next time we took the flight, the landing was delayed because of elephants in the runway.
  • There was a mosquito net for a door with no lock: Our room was on a platform in the delta but I was shocked to see a mosquito net for a door. Apparently that was their way of giving you a feel of the jungle but it took me some time to recover from the shock.

    Chandrani in front of a 6-seater bush plane in Botswana

    Chandrani in front of a 6-seater bush plane in Botswana

  • There was a hippo under our room: The entire night we could not sleep because of a sound below our room. The manger told us in the morning that a hippo had his home below our room and he was making the sound. That’s why he had asked us not to get out of our room at night.
  •  We were in a small boat in a crocodile infested delta: They call it the Mokoro. It is a long boat, just a foot in width, and if you move too much there is a chance of tipping over. I was so engrossed with my camera I didn’t realize what I was into. Even when I saw the crocodiles all around and below the boat in the crystal clear water I didn’t flinch. Not to mention the bobbing heads of the hippos everywhere.
Chandrani rides a Mokoro in crocodile and hippo infested waters in Botswana

Chandrani on a Mokoro ride in crocodile and hippo infested waters in Botswana

Up close with a hippo in Botswana

Up close with a hippo in Botswana

  • We escaped being chased by elephants: The elephants in Botswana are extremely aggressive because poaching and hunting is still rampant there. As such, there would be at least 35 elephants standing right next to our dining room every day. But this incident happened when we were in a marshy area on our tours. The guide sensed something was wrong and was sensible enough to move the car in the nick of time otherwise the herd would have trampled over us.
  • We could have touched the leopard or it could have been the other way round: Our safari jeep in Savuti had a roof and was open on all sides. We saw a leopard which vanished into the jungle. We kept waiting for it only to realize that it had crept right next to the jeep tyres without us noticing. As it walked around we could not even breathe, let alone take photographs.
An elephant taking a mud bath in Botswana

An elephant taking a mud bath in Botswana

Bee-eater birds captured in Botswana

Bee-eater birds captured in Botswana

 Kenya, 2013

  • We escaped a storm: This time we were in Masai Mara in winter when it does not usually rain. But we saw a cloud gathering in the horizon. We were far away from the main road and our guide said that we would get stuck in the mud if it rained and since the sun was setting no one would come looking for us till next morning. He drove the car like a maniac and the rain came pouring down only when we hit the main road. It was a narrow escape once again.
Storm clouds gathering in Kenya

Storm clouds gathering in Kenya

A road less travelled. In Kenya

A road less travelled. In Kenya

Sunset at Masai Mara

Sunset at Masai Mara

Lions in Kenya

Lions in Kenya

When we went back to our room in Ashnil Mara camp we were greeted by a group of hippos lazing on the banks of Mara River just a few yards away from our balcony. Seeing them in the moonlight I forgot our narrow escape from the storm and once again got sucked into the magic of Africa. 

Chandrani is right now an amateur photographer. She says she is completely content winning competitions in Facebook Groups and planning her sixth trip to Africa by the end of this year. You can check out her photographs on her facebook page Chandrani Clicks

Julie Campos Farmer doing yoga on the Umm Suqeim beach in Dubai

Julie Campos Farmer doing yoga on the Umm Suqeim beach in Dubai

If you are on the quest for any kind of luxury you can be sure your pursuit will end in Dubai. In this emirate of the UAE you just have to name it and you get it – of course it will come with a steep price stag.

For instance I wanted the luxury of attending an yoga session on the beach with a group under the aegis of an able instructor, enjoy the sunrise, feel the sound of the waves as I close my eyes in my yoga posture and then finish off the session with a dip in the sea. Not that I am some kind of a fitness freak or hardcore yoga enthusiast but the whole thought of a session like this filled my being with blissful energy.

I checked if this is possible in Dubai. It is. Some five star hotels offer sessions like this on their private beach for prices between Dhs80 and Dhs150 a session ($22/Rs 1,200 and $40/Rs2,250 per session). I wasn’t sure if I was ready to part with that kind of cash to bring to life my yoga-on-the beach fantasy.

Then I read in the magazine Aquarius that yoga instructor Julie Campos Farmer, through her organization Fields Of Yoga, offered such a class at the beach at Umm Suqeim 1 on Saturday mornings and, that too completely for free. I tried to read the fine print and thought there must be a catch somewhere, a donation expected maybe. Nevertheless I shot an email to the given address and got a warm reply from Julie herself asking me to join the next Saturday session and I very happily noticed that at the end of the email it was written:

Timings:  7:00-8:15am (please plan to arrive at least 5 min early)
What to Wear: comfortable clothes that will allow you to bend and stretch. Bring or wear a swim suit if you would like to join us for a swim after the practice.
What to bring: a bottle of water, a yoga mat and a towel
Rate: Free!

Yoga session in progress

Yoga session in progress

I have been to the Jumeirah Beach many times but never to this tiny tranquil patch at Umm Sequiem 1 next to the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club. As I stepped on to the beach the 7am-sun created a lovely warm hue on the inviting blue waves that met the azure of the sky in the horizon. I could spot the Burj Al Arab in the distance. The collective sight made me feel grateful to the bedside alarm clock, for a change.

Julie, a Yoga Alliance (200-HR RYT) certified teacher, who has done her training in Goa, greeted me with a warm smile and didn’t seem to be judgmental about my love handles. She gestured me to take a place at one of the mats that she had placed on the beach. The session had already started and she was instructing those attending the session with gusto.

Take it easy if you can't do a posture is what Julie says

Take it easy if you can’t do a posture is what Julie says

There were six other people in the class, five women and one man, who followed Julie’s moves with precision and the instructor on her part, did her level best to assist her students. My eyes kept drifting to the tranquil setting. I saw two men set off on a kayaking adventure oblivious to the yoga session in progress on the beach. Then I spotted the lone speedboat in the distance and a woman emerging from the sea in a bikini just like Ursula Andress. I closed my eyes and the sound of sea lapping on the shore filled my ears. I breathed a fulfilled sigh. I couldn’t believe I was getting all this for free.

The setting was absolutely tranquil

The setting was absolutely tranquil

Kayaking enthusiasts in the backdrop

Later when I asked Julie why she didn’t charge for this session she answered in her inimitable simplicity, “Dubai is a place where people are always pursuing wealth. I have a studio at home where I charge Dhs50 per session but I thought Sunrise Yoga is a great way of doing something worthwhile for which you don’t charge.”

Julie’s morning session is often attended by as many as 15-20 people. “I have regulars and first timers. My sessions are open to everyone – from a labourer to a well-placed person. I have had regulars, who have been on business trips and taken the taxi straight from the airport just to be in time for the session. I have had whole families trooping in with three generations in tow, and there have been women dragging along their unwilling boyfriends, who have later admitted that they enjoyed the session immensely.”

What about tourists? “This is a great way to explore Dubai,” says Julie adding, “I often get emails from tourists much before they land here telling me to book a place for them at my beach yoga session.”

Julie started Sunrise Yoga in January 2012 and apart from the summer break – which she will be taking after two weeks because it will get too hot to practise yoga in the open and she will be travelling to her home in California also – she is always the first to reach the beach and lay out the mats. “There have been days when I have had only one person attending the class. I am alright with that too. Actually the turnout depends a lot on how people have had their Friday nights,” she smiles.

Yoga reaches its crescendo when Julie does the headstand and asks us to try. I, of course, prefer to stand and watch while one of the enthusiasts, who has been doing yoga for 25 years, gives it a try with a bit of help from the instructor. The session ends with a prayer as Julie says, “Let’s thank god for giving us this lovely place to practise yoga, for giving us health.”

I did my own small prayer though, thanking god for bringing me this amazing experience, this luxury for FREE.

Here’s how Julie did the headstand:

Step 1

Step 1

Step 2

Step 2

Step 3

Step 3

To enjoy yoga on the beach email Julie at: fieldsofyoga@gmail.com

(Photographs: Amrita Mukherjee)

DSCN3960

It’s common to witness Dubai bashing in the international media but when one comes across a report like this in Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/britchick-paris/why-dubai-is-rapidly-beco_b_3156110.html#postComment

one is indeed pleasantly surprised.

More than anything else what struck me most in the article is the following paragraph:

Dubai allows you to be you. And controversially especially if you are a woman. I’m not the only woman to think that. I feel safer here in Dubai than I do in London or Paris. There is a healthy respect that means you are just left alone, so long as you in turn respect the local values and customs.

Also in Europe there is often an underlying chauvinism, that means that men can do it better, hence the paucity of women board members at big Western companies. Here from my experience and that of my entrepreneur friends, women in business are admired. I can hear all the cynics ready to wade in but I cannot refute the evidence I have from the last few weeks working here. It has been a breath of fresh air. Not to mention the openness and creativity that comes from a city that is exploding and growing at lightening speed. In ten years it has achieved what New York did in 150.

This egged me to write about what I know about the city living here for the last six years.

Ask any woman from any nationality if they feel safe living in or travelling to Dubai the answer will always be “yes” without a second thought.

Without any statistics at hand it might be a bit hard to explain why the answer is always so but I will try to do so with a few examples.

When I first moved to Dubai in 2007 my husband and I would go for after-dinner walks to the Dubai Creek which is 20 minutes from my home. One day while sitting there and enjoying the lovely view we never realized it was 1am. It was a weekday and the place was empty except for a few men sitting around here and there in twos and threes chatting amongst themselves.

I looked around and told my husband fearfully, “Do you think it’s safe to hang around here so late?”

He said, “Don’t worry, Dubai is totally safe for women. The longer you live here the better you will know.”

That’s when I spotted an abaya and sheyla-clad lady walking rigorously in her sneakers – all alone.  Coming from India, where a woman’s safety is a perpetual concern, this was quite an impossible scenario for me. Six years down the line I have not yet experienced a lone walk at Dubai Creek at 1 am but I have comfortably walked alone at 12am to the 24X7 supermarket in my neighbourhood to fetch something, I have driven back home from the outskirts of the city at 2am after an office party taking a detour to drop a female friend on the way. I have hailed a cab post-midnight and reached home safe and sound lost in conversation with a friendly cabbie, and I have walked back home from a friend’s place all alone pretty late in the night.

Men and women hang out at a cafe in Dubai. many cafes are open till 4am or through the night.

Men and women hang out at a cafe in Dubai. Many cafes are open till 4am or through the night.

In the neighbourhood where I live, it is not uncommon to see women coming back home from work really late, mixed or even all men’s groups sitting around and chatting in the cafés late in the night. Nobody will give you a second look, nobody will try to follow you, make passes at you, hassle you with lewd comments.

In India we are always looking over our shoulders, something we hardly have to do here. So when something happens in Dubai it always comes as a shock.

Does this mean crime against women does not exist in Dubai?

Not at all. With 120 nationalities living together in a metropolis it is inevitable crime will exist and one gets to read about sexual crimes against women in the newspapers often. Dubai is also fighting human trafficking and domestic violence is also one of the issues here. But one has to admit that the rate of crime is much lower in Dubai compared to other cities.

Teenage girls move around the city comfortably

Teenage girls move around the city comfortably

Women are as comfortable in western clothes as they are in traditional ethnic wear

Women are as comfortable in western clothes as they are in traditional ethnic wear

Moving around the city late in the night is not an issue at all

Moving around the city late in the night is not an issue at all

Then how is Dubai safe?

For me it is safe because every time I step out of my home I don’t have be constantly on my guard. I come from Kolkata where I am used to being groped, commented and stared at all the time. That way Dubai comes as a breath of fresh air for me. I can be myself, wear whatever clothes I want, not worry about attracting too much attention in my short skirt, go for after-dinner-walks at 11pm with my son and travel comfortably in public transport. And also, the same Indians who misbehave back home are civil here.

Police has a major role to play

The police here provides an amazing safety net for women by efficiently patrolling the city 24×7. Be sure to spot a Dubai Police patrol wherever you go. If a woman dials 999 for help they will be there in two minutes. And most importantly the Dubai police force command respect and fear among the people for their commitment. Unlike in India, where bribes can settle matters with the police, that is unthinkable here.

Another thing that keeps women in Dubai safe is the inevitability of punishment. There is no escaping that. A British woman was raped and kidnapped by three men last July. They were eventually caught and in eight months the verdict was out and they are now in jail. Justice is delivered quickly and efficiently.

Read her story here:

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/general/call-me-a-survivor-says-gang-raped-woman-in-dubai-1.1155077

Recently an intoxicated Pakistani bus driver tried to rape an American lady tourist in an empty bus only to be beaten up by her. She escaped from the bus and reported the incident to the police. The man has been arrested and the court proceedings have already started. I will not be surprised if the case is settled quickly. Read about it here:

http://gulfnews.com/about-gulf-news/al-nisr-portfolio/xpress/female-sailor-escapes-rape-during-dubai-visit-1.1175039

In this regard I would like to share an incident that put my friend in a tricky situation. This happened a few years back when she had just moved to Dubai alone. She and another friend were returning home late from a party when some men in a four-wheel started tailing them. They drove around town trying to shake them off but to no avail. Then after much deliberation they called the police. The officer on patrol duty immediately came to their rescue, did not ask them why they were out so late, escorted them home and needless to say, nabbed the men immediately.

Dubai Police patrolling the city

Dubai Police patrolling the city

My friends with teenage daughters growing up here say that they are less worried about them when they go out for their tuitions or to meet friends than they would have been had they been in India.

That day a friend asked, “What is it you will miss about Dubai when you move back to Kolkata?”

My instant reply was, “I will miss venturing out of my home, even at unearthly hours, without a care in the world.”

When I move back to Kolkata I guess I will have to sharpen my claws all over again.

(Photographs: Amrita Mukherjee)

Finding my past in Muscat through Facebook.

Wadi Dayqah Dam in Quriyat

Wadi Dayqah Dam in Quriyat

When we were planning a trip to Muscat from Dubai one of my friends said, “If Dubai is Kolkata Muscat is Panskura. Or to put it in a more international parlance if Dubai is New York Muscat is a sleepy US suburb with nothing to do there. Definitely not a place for a holiday.”

But I wasn’t daunted. I had been to Musandam in Oman in 2007 and loved the fjords and the green sea, loved the dhow cruise with the dolphins swimming along and enjoyed the snorkelling experience. I was determined to check out Oman’s capital Muscat this time and these comparisons did not really matter to me. An added bonus was my desire to reconnect with three people.

One was Swati, who was my junior in Times of India and is settled in Muscat now, second was Sumita my friend from university. I had reconnected with both on FB. And third was Swati’s husband Rahul. My husband, Rahul and I had all started our lives together in Asian Age. Being the crime reporter he often took me to do crime stories with him, an experience that I probably wouldn’t have managed to acquire without him, because despite women joining journalism in hordes crime reporting is often considered a man’s forte even today.

Armed with these two desires – one to see Muscat and the other to reconnect with old friends we set out for the five-hour drive to Oman.

The drive itself was uplifting. As the silky sands of Dubai’s deserts made way for the rough yet ravishing Hajaar Mountains the topography changed from one place to another along with the elevation.

The road to Muscat

The road to Muscat

With the mountains in the backdrop Muscat looked like a city out of Arabian Nights. Most of the houses were painted white, were not beyond four-storeys tall and had an old-world-charm that instantly appealed to me. Swati and Rahul’s home, where we were putting up for our three-day trip, had the best views of the mountain and the city. Every time I looked out of the window I was invaded by a sense of calm and peace.

View from Rahul-Swati's home

View from Rahul-Swati’s home

A typical road in Muscat. Pix credit: Swati.

A typical road in Muscat. Pix credit: Swati.

Muscat wasn’t anything like Dubai that was for sure. But I liked it instantly. It had the best roads, well-stocked supermarkets, bustling eateries and a couple of nice malls. It was definitely not Panskura or for that matter a sleepy US suburb, where life never throbs.

I was keen to explore the natural beauty of Oman so we headed for the Wadi Dayqah Dam in Quriyat the next day. At the end of a lovely drive down a mountainous road a mesmerizing sight awaited us. The biggest dam in Oman is probably the most beautiful dam I have ever seen.

Wadi Dayqah Dam in Quriyat. An hour's drive from Muscat.

Wadi Dayqah Dam in Quriyat. An hour’s drive from Muscat.

The picnic spot next to the dam

The picnic spot next to the dam

The view from the dam

The view from the dam

And the long stretch of the virgin Quriyat beach was another beautiful sight. Apart from us, in the entire stretch of the beach there was only one Omani couple and a group of boys playing football in the distance. It felt like a world where nature still had its say.

Quriyat Beach

Quriyat Beach

Omani couple sitting together

Omani couple sitting together

With a three-year-old son in tow it was not possible to cover much especially when I had to keep his sleep time and eating schedule in mind. But still we managed to see the Matrah Corniche (the heart of old Muscat) and the lovely Qurum Beach and managed a word with god in Muscat’s famous Shiv Mandir.

Qurum Beach

Qurum Beach

Sunset at Qurum beach

Sunset at Qurum beach

And then it was my turn to meet my university pal Sumita who lives in a lovely villa opposite the Azaiba beach. I realized it’s nothing like connecting with old friends, nothing like marveling at our children hitting it off immediately and nothing like taking a collective look at our plumper selves, laughing about it and saying, “Did we ever imagine we will meet like this?”

For me Muscat wasn’t a holiday it was a journey. It was a realization that some people don’t change. Yes Rahul still has that laugh that was so famous in Asian Age. Swati is still that bubbly girl I knew at work only now she is also an efficient mom to a four-year-old son and a brilliant cook. And Sumita is still that bindaas girl I spent hours yapping with at University but now she has two wonderful daughters to have her conversations with.

As for me I think I am still the kind who believes in herself. That’s why I never believed Muscat is like Panskura and made the journey to this quaint city and came back with a bag full of memories.


A relaxing month-long holiday with my two-year old son! What was I thinking?.