- by Jaihoon
Crisis and conflicts sometimes evoke in us the wildest response from within which we would have never imagined before. We may cry in times of joy or laugh during troublesome times as part of this response mechanism. I, therefore, opted to celebrate the recent challenges which were hovering around me with an aquatic getaway.
Day One. The raindrops which began to fall on the car’s windowpanes as I started the journey convinced me that my body and mind were destined for the right direction.
Though I did not embrace a moment of rest after a hectic day at work, I tried to desensitize the workload with some alternative intellectually engaging lectures played from my iPhone.
We crossed the border smoothly and drove the coastal route in high spirits. Night settled in and the sun of our joy rose up. We were to meet our fellow pilgrims of this getaway in a nearby village called Al Bukha. And very soon we did.
An old man from Kerala also accompanied them. It was for the first time that I heard someone reciting blessings on the Holy Prophet when meeting for the first time. The old man seemed deeply religious and praised the Lord in every gesture he made. We went up a hill in the dark and saw the small village from the high. The night was dark-coated well, so the stars up there really shined. I showed the children those ‘little’ shiny creatures of God which were otherwise hardly visible to them at home. They were only used to the ‘stars’ as stickers which their teachers pasted on their classroom notebooks.
From there we went to our hosts who hailed from Kasarkode, the northern district of Kerala. The residents from this part are known for their legendary hospitality with tasty dishes. And we thought it would be not a good idea to disappoint our hosts.
At around 10, we left for a lecture session in a nearby mosque. Yes, it was also a part of the getaway plan. The talk centered on values and responsibilities of the most noble profession in this world, Parenting. The event at Masjid Sheikh Hamdan was organized by the Keralite community in Al Khasab. A man recited Burdah Shareef, the classical gem of Arabic eulogy of the Holy Prophet sallallahua alaihi wa sallam. Kerala Muslims would qualify to be the subject of a anthropological study for their commitment in preserving the traditional Islam. They have achieved enormous success in transplanting their ‘Malabar’ model of religious activism, deeply rooted in academic and mystic flavors.
The speaker emphasized on the mother as the first living institution of learning for the child. The child has immeasurable duties for the Mother. A man would generally feel troubled if he over ate for A DAY. A woman carries her child in her womb for NINE MONTHS!
The talk ended with the message to remember two and forget the other two for leading a joyful life. Think of Allah and Death as much as possible. Recollect not the favors you did for others and the harms others did for you.
Day Two. To break the dryness of head and heart, we went by the beach where land and sea combined in interesting proportions. Children as usual absorbed and enjoyed this nature’s mix to its full.
We later moved to a nearby shopping hypermarket to fetch a simcard favoring local rates. The newly opened outlet, part of the retail chain spread across Asia and Africa, is another example of the iconic entrepreneurship of the Keralites, outside Kerala that is. The prayer hall inside the mall was aesthetically charming.
We then headed to the port where the ferry was anchored. Procedures were completed in a breeze and we parked the cars at the basement. This was the ride for which we had anticipated much.
The interior was ergonomically designed and comfortable to sit and walk around. The view from the window kept us mesmerized for hours. The oceanic world was indeed wonderful. Food and drinks were periodically served and there was nothing to complain about.
After a while I began to turn the pages of an English translation of Mathnavi I had brought along. I thought it would be an interesting experience to enjoy the words of the greatest mystic poet, Jalaludhin Rumi, while traversing the waters from Al Khasab to Muscat.
We reached Muscat at around 830 after around seven hours voyage.
Day Three. The palace of the Sultan in Oman is a popular attraction for the visitors to this historic city. In fact not many countries in the Gulf have found a mention in the books of Islamic history as Oman. Oman has been home to many of the pre-Islamic prophets including Ayyub and Salih. There are tombs of countless saints and sages in this rocky country.
Muscat also hosts mosques with very colorful design patterns which are different from those found in the neighboring countries.
Oman has smoothly blended ancient and modern landscapes under the leadership of the Sultan. Politics is an undesirable keyword in monarchies to talk about in these troubled times. So I’d better leave it there untouched.
Since this was a water-themed getaway, we again decided to explore the beach here. And following the request from the kids, we agreed for a boat ride across the green waters. Enclaves of different colors were seen throughout.
As Sun moved across the sky we moved towards the final destination. After running for an hour or more, we reached Ain Al Kabeesa at Al Rustaq. This is a well from which really hot water springs and flows across a village. Two things were strange about this spring. To find such a water body that has been flowing for hundreds of years. And that the heat of the water does not die down at least after flowing until a few hundred meters. Residents around this well used the public bathrooms built by the authorities.
The sun had set by then. And we too called it off for the day.
The journey back required a drive for more than five hours. But the sense of fulfillment was certainly rewarding. It was my mother’s long time wish to visit these lands. And I was glad to make it happen for her. If not anything else, a payback for her service at least. Praised be the Lord.
March 30 2012