The summer sun in
is quite stupendous. As soon as you get out of the creaky Indian Airlines flight, you feel the heat hit on you like a fresh waft of plain sunny-ness. In the summer of 2000 I returned to Muscat . Dad was running his own business, albeit a small one. I remember two years back dad had a huge Volvo sedan (I think it was the 850 or 900 model.) But things change and Dad had shifted to a more modest car – the Nissan Primera. We were heading back to dear old Al-Fayha complex. The same fourth floor. The same second last door on the left. But not for long. It was just a temporary stopover for us. Muscat
Ruwi at night, the Sultan Qaboos Mosque in view (Photo courtsey: Sudheer S)
We were moved towards an apartment in the more crowded-industrialized area of
Baladiyah street, close to Ruwi. It was a fresh start, and there were loads of things to do. For starters, me and dad took up charge of cleaning the whole place up from scratch. We began with the kitchen, since Mom needed it ASAP. And it was quite difficult cleaning the place up. It was filthy dirty the first time we saw it. A lot of pest faeces, darkened corners, and dusty cupboards – all washed clean and disinfected. And then there was the carpeting, starting with the drawing room. There were two bedrooms. The master bedroom had a huge bathroom (which my Mom didn’t like at all – because it is difficult to clean such a large space – she cursed that bathroom for as long as we stayed there.) I kinda liked the enormousness of the bathroom (kinda made me feel like a king.) Then there was the laying of the tiles for the corridor, that Dad got from his new wood workshop. And it was totally my masterpiece; I laid all the tiles across the 15 foot by 4 foot corridor. Still very proud of it.
The neighbourhood was not that great. There were too many metal workshops and what not out there. It was not the ideal residential place. And maybe one of the reasons that I didn’t even have any pictures of the place. After long, we resumed going to school by bus, which was again quite boring. I don’t exactly remember who used to stay next to me there (I think it was Clayton or somebody.) But there are some beautiful memories of the time when I was staying there, although outside of our home. I used to go to the Al Safoor plaza (was it?)(it was on the Bayt Al Falaj street, that’s for sure), where Nikhil used to stay. He was a big fan of basketball, and me new to the sport. But I guess I did try my best to gather what I could do about the sports and used to play it along with him out there. Then there were the carom board sessions with the masters of the flick and fingers – some of the most awesome-st carom moves I have ever seen – and they were the local factory workers and the watchmen who used to amaze me with their skills. Nikhil too was really good at it. But I really did have good times out there.
But then it was another trip that I enjoyed quite much. Jonathan and I used to head out to Qurum with his Dad in the evenings on weekends. And we used to roam about the handful of malls that dotted the Qurum commercial centre. John’s Dad used to be at the SABCO centre, while ma Dad at the Wadi Commercial Centre. Our hang out place usually used to be at the electronics store on the ground floor. The Playstation (yes the first series) had just come out, and we had a chance to play it. But it came with a catch. We had to play Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (yes the PS game), and get to at least the fifth question to play one of the any games available with them. Since John liked quizzes, he got to play that, while I got to play the games part. It was a win-win situation. The weekends were real fun, and I also remember heading to John’s place to work on our computer project for the exhibition. John’s a genius I tell you. While in our eighth grade, he bought a Bible of sorts on the software Flash, and read the entire manuscript, and made his own animation for the start of our crude quizzing game (made on Microsoft Powerpoint!) So there I was working on the computer, even though the latest I had till the end of 2001 was a Window 3.1. Whatever I know about computers, is all thanks to Jonathan Prakash Kotker. Great guy. Great time. Great memories.
Tragedy struck us toward the end of August. Dad got involved in one of the worst car crashes. If you saw the sight of the Ssangyong Musso he was travelling in, you would be amazed to know that all three travelling in it survived. Dad was the most affected. We had to take him back home for rehabilitation. He was very badly injured and there were just too many stitches all around. So back to Kerala we headed. It was a sad end to a new start.
The usual lush greenery of Kerala greeted us once again. Dad spent a lot of time with the Ayurvedic doctors, and he made good progress. And we were staying at our Grandparents place. Again. But there was an eminent move on the way. But that is for another blog post. Another day.