August 10 – 14 2014

The journey began at early dawn. It was extraordinary windy. The car doors would not close easily. So much that I even had second thought to continue the journey or not. Nevertheless, with the prayers said, the wheels rolled on.

A 14 hour journey is not that short. Especially when one is the only person in the car who can drive. And the only way to meet the challenge of keeping the eyes wide open is to engage either the mind and heart. What else beside the commentary of the Word of God shall come as handy in igniting both, especially in the dawn hours? The warmth of such thoughts may suffice the energy for the sun to heat its celestial cousins for the day.

And so the cd of Quranic commentary played on.

Our indebtedness to Mother earth is no insignificant matter. We need to protect and care for her, even as we proudly walk, run and ride on her surface. She deserves her dues from the servants of her Creator. Tayammum, the Islamic ritual of purifying with sand for prayer in cases of non-availability of water, literally means to take the earth in one’s hand.

A few 100kms had passed. Border crossings procedures completed in a breeze. The fruits of the country’s leaders efforts to maintain friendly relations between neighborly states. What a wonder it would be if the whole world’s borders were the same.

The Tafsir thoughts were interrupted with the call for breakfast. We stopped by an Arabian restaurant and were served with modest snacks, though a little late. When I approached the aged owner in a gracious white beard, he shied from insisting on full payment. ‘You are our guests and it is fine’. I saved a few change and the old man earned our duas.

The rest of the route was windy and sandy from both sides of the road. The car sped not less than 160km/hour. Oceans of desert appeared as far as sight could reach. Only fuel stations interrupted this homogeneous scene.

At times, sleep did weigh heavy on the eyes. And it would be life-threatening to try weight lifting with eye-lids, especially on a road journey with heavy vehicles traffic. It was not by chance we escaped the parade of trucks carrying cabins on top of them coming from the opposite direction. Therefore I had to accept few intervals lasting 10-15 minutes for resting the visionary organs. Such escape was highly rewarding to keep my consciousness on the right track, literally. For, it is frightening to drive in a state of seeing multiple tracks than there are actually built.

The winds got wilder as sky grew darker. It was hard to say if we would reach in such a state to our final destination. Heart whispered to halt at the neighboring town of Thumrait, a minor township with all necessary major amenities.

Next day morning was afresh. Winds had subsided. Our energy bar was it its peak. We left the township after breakfast and on the way dropped by a frankincense park. The tree when burnt is used for fragrance purposes. Albeit, our real perfume is our good character which would leave a lasting impression on our friends and foes alike. The life of Holy Prophet Sallallahualaihiwasallam proved it by theory and in practice.

Salala begins with a mountainous welcome. Fog and rain applauded this cinematic moment. Greenery left and right. Was this still the Arabian gulf or some Indian hill station spot?

Unable to resist the temptation of the scenic miracle, I drove to a mountain where some other cars were parked too. We walked on the green carpet of Salalah. At a distance, saw an Emirati family offering their midday prayer. For, it would be a crime to admire nature without saluting its Sustainer.

After enjoying enough of this feast, we left for the Ayn Garziz. There are several springs in and around Salalah. Visitors from the country and neighbouring states flock here to see the powerplay of water and mountains. The land is marshy due to the light rain. And mosquitoes find it inevitable to attend such a party.

It would be highly recommended for the visual artists in the GCC countries to exploit this free gift of nature in their vicinity. The green pastures could be effortlessly pictured in motion pictures produced in the region. Authorities may take note of this opportunity.

We arrived at the chosen boutique beach residence close to the locality called Taqa. The staff welcomed us with a warm assuring smile as is usual in the leisure travel industry. Children got their share of fun in the pools. Grown-ups joined too.

In the evening, we rode to a mountain top where the tomb of Prophet Ayyub was located. It was extremely foggy and rainy. We reached the destination close to Maghreb prayer. As I walked to the tomb, two young men approached with a friendly smile and confirmed if I was who I was. Thanks to social media, these ‘Jaihoonis’ were awaiting to meet me somewhere at Salalah. These gentlemen belonged to my hometown and were ardent followers of the SM updates.

On return, I drove to a place called Sa’ada to meet an old scholarly friend who was earlier in Sharjah before moving to Salalah. He continues to do what he was always best at: regular Quran commentary lectures for the truth-thirsty folks, although he is employed as a marketing manager of an aluminium company. When asked how his job was, he replied, ‘Hum tho logon ko Deen samjhathe hai. Is Aluminium tho kuch bhi nahi hai’. The Creed was the real priceless thing. All worldly possessions are nothing compared to it.

Dinner was destined at a Turkish bbq outlet. And it was indeed royal.

While returning from the two night stay, I realised that out of all the sights and sounds I witnessed, there was nothing as exciting and enlightening as the Adamic Project. Salalah is an emerging city with all modern amenities blessed with the nectar of natural beauty. If developed carefully, both could go hand in hand.

When I reached home, the meter read 3000km since I left my doorstep. Content beyond any count, I was out of words for the heavenly experience. Every pleasure is followed by pain. The mosquito bites these days remind me of that universal wisdom.

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August 22 2014