Monday, 3 November 2008

Life in Muscat

A recent bout of browsing through a number of Muscat centered blogs has encouraged me to write this post. I’ve noted down snippets, from my memory, of the first 17 years of my life that I happened to spend in Muscat (1983 – 2000), to remind me of what a great place it was.

Life in General

Living in air conditioned splendour 24/7. Air conditioning everywhere I went.

Looking out from a window in my air conditioned room at the land around me getting baked in the afternoon sun and p
utting my hand up against the window to get a sense of the heat outside while being grateful that I didn’t have to worry about it.

Travelling everywhere by car. Walking was rare. I think I only learned the joys of walking in Mumbai.

Travelling to any place by car in just a few minutes with no traffic jams. A far cry from the 1 hr 30 min average it takes to travel from one point in Mumbai to another.

Visiting the malls. They were the best places to meet up with friends, though I had to be driven there by my Father. Ditto for the cinema or any other place.

Reading 'Young Times', a youth magazine, whose subscribers used to constantly request posters of Michael Jackson, WWE superstars, and SRK.



Gorging on Pofac cheese bites and Chips Oman. We didn't like them all that much but everyone else was having them, and there weren't that many other options.

Vimto, Ribena and Tang.

Buying Suntop juice packs, Nabil wafers, etc. just for the stickers.


Watching cartoons, T.V series and late night movies on the one channel we had – Oman T.V.

Waking up in time to catch the morning cartoons during our summer holidays. This was usually in Arabic but we didn’t care.

Watching Takeshi’s Castle in Arabic during late mornings in the summer. These were the full episodes and not the heavily edited ones they show on Pogo.

Trying not to fall asleep in the afternoon so we could catch the afternoon cartoon or show, which was either in English (Tiger Sharks, Popeye, Sesame Street, Crystal Maze, etc.) or Arabic (Voltron, Captain Planet, The Smurfs, etc.). I’m probably one of the few people to see Captain Planet in 3 languages – English, Hindi and Arabic.

Being frustrated every time the afternoon English cartoon was abruptly cut off so that the next show on Oman T.V could begin at its designated time slot. We often missed the endings of the English cartoons this way, but it didn’t stop us from partaking in the same will it-won’t it agony every day as it was all we had.

Going to my friend's homes once a week to watch shows like Small Wonder, G.I Joe, etc. on Star T.V. because my parents chose not to subscribe to cable. As time went on, Star T.V turned desi.

Rushing in from my games in the evenings so I could catch the sole evening cartoon, then going outside to continue playing hoping my friends were still there.

Watching the evening English serial. I saw shows like That's Incredible, Guiness World Records, The Cosby Show, Perfect Strangers, Who’s the Boss, Charles in Charge, Misfits of Science, Open House, Night Court, Alf, Valerie, Bustin’ Loose, Benson, He’s the Mayor, Step by Step, Good Morning Miss Bliss, Adam 12, Dragnet, Empty Nest, Uncle Buck, Generations, Mission Impossible, Our House, Sidekicks, Road to Avonlea, You Bet Your Life, Webster, etc. In our case the best of the 80’s was broadcast during the 90’s.

Finally getting cable when I was in the 8th or 9th Standard. Being addicted to TNT (later TCM) and watching almost every old Hollywood movie they showed.

Watching the channels taking the digital and more expensive route one by one when I came back to Muscat for a holiday in 2001.

Using the VCR to record shows when we were away from home.


Going for Catechism classes and Mass every Friday Morning, carrying a crinkly noisy little plastic bag with a Bible, notebook and pencil or pen.

Feeling a tinge of pride walking into catechism class, the class levels being marked 4 grades higher than our school grades, so we could attend the 7th grade at school and the 11th grade at Catechism in the same year.

Getting a new Catechism teacher every year, some of whom also doubled up as teachers at our school.

Always being told interesting stories during catechism class and the children’s mass with a moral at the end.

Attending Youth Mass and Catechism on Thursday evening instead of Friday morning as we got older.

Being driven back home from church in stupendous heat every Friday late morning in a car with no air conditioning and wishing we could dive into the fountain roundabout that we drove around each time we left the church.

Always scoring well on a Catechism test…always, and wishing my school test scores were that good.


Feeling a tinge of pride at being part of the CBSE syllabus.

Seeing the same faces year upon year for 11 years of school.

Having my classmates faces imprinted in my mind, so that I still see them as little kids rather than the adults they are now.

Wrapping new books in brown paper at the start of every academic year.

Getting older student’s old textbooks before the start of a new academic year so we could save money by not buying new ones.

Excitedly leafing through at the upcoming academic year’s textbooks, reading all the stories in the English Reader and looking at all the pictures in the science books during the summer holidays before the new year began.

Pencil boxes that transformed into robots.

Making that switch from pencils to pens during the 5th standard. Cheap 'Hero' Chinese fountain pens.

Putting the ACs on full blast after coming in from PT.

Do you have any Gulf memories that you'd like to share? 



Bobby said...

Thanks for your visit!
It seems the life hasn't changed much - there are still those same things which go around here! except that many have DishTV.
nice reading your post.

B said...

'reading all the stories in the English Reader'

I used to do that too-the english reader always had very good stories from around the world

ALso watching the TNT movies(not in dubia,in india), they used to show a good number of classic oldies

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