Day:1 First Glimpses of Muscat, Oman
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.