Wadi Kabir

Wadi Kabir means The Big Wadi. I know what you’re thinking: “Man, another Wadi? Has he got nothing else to write on?”

Wadi Kabir, ladies and gentlemen, is a village situated in the Masqat (Muscat) Governorate. It also happens to be the place where I live in. In fact, I’ve lived here (I’m writing this from that place) all my live. True, we also did live in Ruwi, Seeb, Mawalih and Al-Hail but only for short periods. These are not names taken from a Harlan Ellison story but are town / villages of Oman. The thing is that they, et al, are so closely connected that you can cross 10 towns in a matter of 20-30 minutes, and each has a different pattern, style, story and people in them.

The thing that makes Wadi-Kabir special from the others, apart from the fact that I live there (hee-hee), is that this has been my home all my life. I know, and have gone to, all the major shopping centres here and can recognize all the major attractions and parks. Virtually everything seems familiar, inviting, home. Nothing is out of place or alien, maybe the odd new shop here or there.

One of the best major attraction in this place was the Wadi-Kabir roundabout, also known as the Mijmar roundabout. In the middle housed the giant frankincense, one of the many landmarks of Oman and the socially accepted icon of Wadi-Kabir. Sadly, the whole roundabout was taken down several months ago due to traffic problems. I agree, the traffic used to get congested at times and the removal, which is still going, was a good step but the only regret it that I will never get to see the wonderful artifact ever again unless, of course, they re-locate it somewhere but even then, it won’t seem right. Nothing seems familiar or recognizable when you take it away from its original position. Going around that roundabout for 18 years I now realize I had taken its beauty for granted but that doesn’t mean I didn’t pay any attention to it, just didn’t look at it closely than I should’ve. So, that’s one icon down and let’s just hope that it stays that way.

Apart from offering hundreds of apartments and shops that carry virtually everything, Wadi-Kabir also gives you long stretches of sidewalks filled with beautiful trees and small gardens here and there. Perfect for evening strolls, alone or with family. Now, if I start talking about the whole of Wadi-Kabir, it will take me hours and this post will be painfully long so I will narrow it down to one street: Al-Nuzha Street. And why? Because that’s one street where I’ve lived most of my life and my (ex) school is also situated here.

The school is Sri-Lankan School Muscat and I studied there for 11 years. The building on the right is called A’Soud Building and we lived there for a little more than a year – 2010-2011. The building on the left is called NHI (national hospitality Institute) and we lived there for 7 years – 1999-2006. Then, there’s another building called Scientific Pharmacy just next to it and that was our abode for near 2 years – 2006-2008.  So, you can say that the school was extremely near, 30 second walk, that’s it. But despite all that, I still used to be late!

Living here for more than 10 years has made me a part of it; I’m able to spot a new change, addition or a removal. Over the years many people came and many left, friends were made, friends were lost, enemies were made, enemies were lost, memories were made, many are long forgotten, and despite all the ups and downs, there is no place in Oman that can replace Wadi-Kabir, at-least to me, if not you.

So, that’s all I’m going to say as my thinking goes as much and I hoped you enjoyed it. In the photos below you’re gonna see, among others, the buildings I’ve mentioned above, the mountains, my backyard and other odds and ends.

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Wadi Tiwi & Wadi Shab!

Two weeks ago we had a week’s holiday from work / school. That was also the time when most us had had an unwelcome visit from Mr. Cold and Mr. Headache. That’s right, for the whole week most of us were bed-ridden. Not exactly the best way to spend a holiday, right? But, despite the conditions, we managed to go out 2 times. (Saturday and Tuesday) Our first trip was to Wadi Al-Khoud, you can read my post on that if you want to, and our second was to Wadi Tiwi & Wadi Al-Shab, simultaneously.

A week before the holidays started, a local newspaper covered the best family spots for the weekend. The above 2 were mentioned and it caught my dad’s eye. He showed it to us and we all agreed to go there. We all readied our cameras, our clothes and the food we would be taking. When all done, Mr. Cold and Mr. Headache came to greet us. They shook hands, no, hugged everyone, but I was somehow forgotten. Everyone, by that I mean my parents and my younger 2 sisters, got a splitting headache, running nose and wild coughing. As for me? Fit as a fiddle. I shouldn’t really be smiling but I can’t help it.

Suddenly our big plan was bust. All the excitement had turned sour and the smiles had been turned upside down. But to every dark cloud there is a silver lining and that came in a form of medicines, Aspirin to be exact. Everyone, bar me, took a dose of Aspirin and we took off, despite the fact that everyone kept clearing their throats as if they were auditioning for Cannibal Corpse and had tears brimming in their eyes. When you’re determined to achieve your goal, nothing can stop you.

So, the 2+ hour journey was mostly spent in silence. You see, it had turned into a big orgy of prayers, sneezing, coughing and shouts of “turn on the FM” and “Why did you switch off the FM?” and all that. Unable to take all that, I adjusted myself and slept. I’m not exactly a beautiful sleeper so I don’t know how many laughed at me when we stopped at red lights.

So, we reached there 4:30 in the evening (we had started our journey at 2:00) and once we disembarked, we were confused where to go. What was shown in the pictures did not match up to what we were seeing in reality. No sign of greenery, water or something that can described as “beautiful”, “wow” or “stunning.” It was only when a nice passing Chinese man showed us to the right direction did we realize that we had stopped at the back side of the Wadi. What was shown in the pictures was the front side. So, we picked up our gear, er, let me rephrase that; I picked up all the gear and we set off. What awaited us can, and should, be described as “stunning”, “wow” and “beautiful.” It was truly capturing, inspiring I must say. Now, to get to the other side, one has 2 options: Either cross the water by foot or by boat. Since the water was stand-still, meaning dirty water, and since our car was brand new, we opted for the boat. My mom went in first, helped by 2 overly-eager Omani people, then the rest of the family and then me, since I had all the gear. Seriously, I felt like a servant. “Here you go ma’am, your blouse. Oh, don’t worry about me, I will come later, ma’am”. After what seemed like ages I managed to the back of the boat, where I found a French mom, Mere, sitting with dark glasses. I sat next to her and tried not to look at her direction. She could’ve been a KGB Agent, you never know.

The short 25 seconds boat trip felt like eons. When we docked and when we were getting off, a lot of grunting and moaning filled the peaceful air, mostly by the Mere. When we all got off, I ended up carrying all the gear, as usual. Somewhere in the corner of a thick palm-tree filled place, we found a spot where we all settled down. The adults ate while us, the children, went off in every which direction and starting taking pictures.

All I can say is, I was transfixed by all the beauty, the magnificent, grand mountains and the way the sunlight was casting shadows on them, and the clear, fresh small lakes here and there. Everything seemed right and inviting. Oh, there were a few Equus africanus asinus’s, too. A certain white one, in the pictures below, is the most beautiful one I’ve ever seen. Apart from the above-mentioned, there were also several 20-or-so foot high palm trees which were just impressive. On the opposite side, where we had started the boat ride, was a huge bridge which gave the feeling that you were in either Crysis or Bionic Commando. I mean, Wadi Al-Shab is a very pleasing place and it is filled with beautiful imagery.

But the cake that should be in the display section has to be Wadi Tiwi. Everything that Wadi Al-Shab is, Wadi Tiwi is all that, except that it is better… and greener. It is adjacent to the above Wadi. Man, the mountains were green I tell you, green. Fresh water was fresher. The story was different here. Everything was alive and energetic. If Wadi Al-Shab was a mighty, slumbering dragon, then Wadi Tiwi was a full-of-spirit Peter Pan. We stayed there a couple of hours before retiring.

If you live in Oman, or are planning to visit Oman, be sure to visit these places. But, when light comes, darkness follows. Everyone, bar me, got seriously ill after the trip and the condition in some worsened. But Mashallah, everyone has now fully recovered and without further ado… the pictures!

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Sea Waves

Beaches in Oman are as copious as punk rockers in New York. Or bicycles in China.

The thing about beaches here are that they are a great place for family picnics or photography or for long walks / jogs. On an average day, you will find many middle-aged white eyed devils in shorts and loose shirts stretching or taking their daily jogs. The young ones sit in shallow water and just laze in the sun or sit on the benches and char with their friends. The young Omani’s are separated in 3 categories: The sportsmen, who play football, quite dangerous for families, or do a lot of air-somersaults and other gymnastic movements. The second, the boring ones, just sit there with a frown on their faces, as happy as Ian Curtis. The third, the modern ones, are the ones who come in large groups, have a lot of gear with them but somehow always bury their noses in their phones, completely oblivious to the world around them. It is only after when their batteries start running low that they pick up their belongings and head for home… or a pizza place. And then home!

But enough of that, let’s talk about the sea waves. I love taking pictures at the beach and sea waves are my favourite subject. There is a lot of beauty, grace and power in the tides and a soothing, calming effect in the sounds they make. Something that nothing else can quite duplicate. I love standing there, knee-deep, with not a single care in the world.

I’m now gonna show you the pictures but before I do, let me tell you one more thing: I was inspired by the amazing photography of Stuart Gibson. They are mesmerizing and magnificent. One of my favourite photographers.

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Wadi Al-Khoud

Two of Oman’s major strengths are its Wadi’s and the spectacular mountains which seem to have no end to it. Similar they may seem to many but only when one takes a closer inspection does he realize that each & every one of them has a unique story etched in them. Oman just won’t seem Oman without them. Just like a Jim Carrey sequel without Jim Carrey. Or Britain’s Got Talent without Simon Cowell.

Anyway, on to Wadi Al-Khoud, one of the most beautiful Wadi’s in Oman, and one of the beautiful places in general. When you reach there, all you will see are fast flowing lakes and layers of pebbles and mighty mountains and 10 foot high leaves. Not much, eh? The main beauty, however, is hidden deep. It is reserved only for certain eyes and not for everyone else.

The scenery there is just something else. The cuts in the mountains are so beautiful, so artistically done that they very well could’ve been done by Pablo Picasso. Once you get to the lakes, it will be like as if you landed in an alternate universe; they’re of different colours, green, yellow, violent, blue and the like. I know, I know, not ideal for swimming but the effect it gives is mesmerizing. Top that off with 4-to-5 foot high marshes and you’ve got yourself a quite-perfect location just to relax or find yourself. Did I mention about the silence? It is absolute. The silence is so loud it is deafening. That’s the main reason why I fell in love with that place, you could just stand there in the silence and just keep staring at the majestic vision all around you.

I suggest you go there somewhere in the morning, you know, 8-9 o’clock, because that’s the perfect time and everything is greatly detailed. But if you want a moment of silence or peace, then go there between 3-5 o’clock in the evening.

All right, when we reached there, the colourful, fresh pebbles and the fresh water greeted us enthusiastically. Since most of us were not feeling well due to headaches and/or slight fever, we couldn’t return the favour. Instead, my parents just sat down and told us, (me and my younger two sisters), to take your cameras and go and explore. Well, my sisters got tired just after a few minutes, they were suffering from mild cold, so they retreated while I, not suffering from anything, went forward. I must’ve walked for 30 minutes when I found the above-mentioned paradise. I stood there and took pictures for nearly an hour. But since my sisters were complaining about the cold, we had to go back which was a shame because I wanted to stay a bit longer.

So, if you’re living in Oman, I suggest that you visit this place at-least once. You won’t be disappointed I can assure you that. Now for the pictures!

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My Lonely Dubai Trip – 2007!

November 1, 2007. Little does a squeaky 14 year old realize that it would become the longest day of his life. The teenage in question is me. You see, back then I was like the most persistent, most annoying kid you’d ever meet. But thankfully I’ve changed now. Another thing has changed over the years; my love for automobiles. Yes, I loved them so much that I used to have a carton full of Classic Car and Automan magazines alongside with a solid 250+ collection of Matchbox and Hot-Wheels die-cast models. Anything four-wheel or three-wheel related I had to get it, nomadder what (does anybody get the reference?). When I was at the peak of my, let’s say, fascination, I heard about this car-show that was going to happen in Dubai. Since back then the price was cheap and since my mom’s brother was living there, my parents said yes – after a lot of nagging, of course. You know the type, running nose and empty promises. Reminds me of the song Running (nose) on Empty (promises).

 Anyway, I started my quite-epic journey in the wee hours of the morning when there was nothing but a thin purple line in the sky. I had my gear packed up. When we reached the bus-stop and when the bus was about to go, my mom got into her protective mom mode and outlined all the do’s and do-not’s in such a cinematic manner that it felt like as if it was written down for her. My dad, however, just smiled and wished me all the best. No tears were shed, mind you. Just a teenager going off to a car show, not a battlefield.

The 7-hour trip from the bus-stop to the Dubai-Oman border wasn’t exactly boring but it wasn’t exactly fun either. Two guys on my right had started chain-smoking while an old lady in the front started snoring which was louder than any Motorhead song. After several stops and sporadic naps later we finally reached and here is where my pain-filled story starts:

When we got off the bus (I managed to hit my head on my way out), the driver asked for my passport and assured that he would clarify it for me. I gave him and he disappeared, just like that. If that wasn’t bad enough, the police officer told me that no-one under the age of 16 can enter without an adult, a fact we did not know. Shaken, disturbed and miles away from home, I did the one thing a sensible person would do: Call mama. I did and she told me to wait and that she would be there as soon as possible. Classic horror movie line.

It was noon time and the sun was at its highest point. Since there was no shade nearby and the police-station was closed, I had no choice but to bask in the sun for 7 hours. Oh, and there was no soul for miles, which definitely gave an effect that I was stuck in a post-apocalyptic film. After 3+ hours of nothing but with thoughts for company, came help in the most scariest way possible; Police-officers. They ganged up on me and demanded information, The Prisoner style. But I gotta tell you, Omani police-officers are some of the nicest, friendliest people you will ever meet, take it from me, I know. They invited me in and offered me biscuits and juice. Orange, I believe it was. When they heard my story, they hung their head in sympathy and left out to search the driver who took my passport. There was a, I kid you not, handgun on the wall next to me and an AK-47 in front. I was getting ide… well, let’s not talk about that.

At 7:30 in the evening, my parents came and thanked the police-officers for their kindness, even if it was limited to only biscuits and juice. After several hugs and bodily inspection by my mom, FBI style, later, I went in the car and slept, while they called the driver and asked for his whereabouts. It turned out that he had unknowingly crossed the border with my passport and was kept in a room for some suspicions. When he came to, my dad scolded him and snatched my passport from him.

My uncle, who was to greet me at the border, turned up around 9:00, more than 9 hours behind schedule time. He said that he had reached the border but had to turn back at the 11th hour because of a business meeting. That took more than the expected time and was therefore late.

Thus, ends the story. But I gotta say, the 4 day stay at Dubai with my uncle in his (then) bachelor pad was, in the simplest of words, AWESOME! I saw all the major attractions, the (then) incomplete Burj building (the tallest building in the world currently) and of course, the car show, the main reason of going there.

So, I won’t bore you any further and here are the pictures. The edited ones, obviously. All the others did not come out nice.

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This is who I am and who I will be!

I’ve already introduced myself in my other Blog – http://hacksawhamza17.wordpress.com/

Feel free to check it out. The purpose of this Blog is to show my amateur photography and my amateur editing skills. I want to showcase my talents and receive feedback, all the while having fun in doing so.

I got interested in photography very recently. In fact, only 4 months ago. That’s when I picked up my camera, Olympus FE-210, alongside with my water bottle and tripod and set off to explore the wor… sorry, Oman. Just Oman. I’m still not allowed to explore the other slices of the earth yet. But that’s OK because Oman is a very photo-friendly place. The historic places, – I’m talking forts here – the mosques, the landscapes, the mountains, the beaches – everything has a distinct charm to it that can only be expressed via photography and/or poetry. You may notice I haven’t mentioned people, believe me I want to, but you see, they give you this evil glare that weakens you from the inside and/or this weird look as if you just landed from outer space. And those are just the next door neighbours! I’m more of a nature photographer, you know, with sea-waves and mountains being my favourite subjects and with people posing and trash cans being my least favourites. I mostly do it for pleasure but some part of me wants to do it because I want to bring the glory and beauty of Oman to a wider world, if I can manage it, and in my own style.

The camera I use is Olympus FE-210 and the editing software I use is Picasa 3. Granted, the former is the least likely object you want in your hand when facing a Zombie Apocalypse but I can assure you, for full-cut beginners like me, it’s the ideal weapon of choice. Like they say, “If you can’t shoot ’em with a gun, shoot ’em with a camera”,
or something like that. Even though I’d bought the camera 5 years ago, I started using it only 4 months ago. You may find it hard to believe but the very first time I took the camera out of my shelf, it fell in a pond. Of all the places, the pond. Ever since that, er, accident, my camera has been acting up and because of certain set-backs, I’m now reduced to shooting it only in the day-time. Come evening and my camera refuses to take one picture. Come night and it doesn’t even switch ON. Speaking of which, I must use the camera within one hour of switching ON or listen to the most painful message of all: Battery Low. That’s right, I have the most unfortunate camera in the world. And this is why I’m an amateur photographer with an amateur editing program but I’m not complaining. Not one bit. Hey, at least something is better than nothing, eh?

Take a look at my sisters’ for example: Started out with nothing and now they all have Canon’s and Sony’s. Not 5 year old messed-up ones, the latest-released-only-months-ago ones. And do they give it to me? Let’s just say that you need permission just to even talk about it.

But someone once said, “It’s not the camera that takes the pictures, it’s the photographer”… and ironically, that was said by my Canon-wielding elder sister.

Anyway, I hope you will enjoy my photography and remember to send feedback!