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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mumbai vs. Muscat...


(Please note: This was written 2 weeks after I’d landed here)
I had my first stay-over pyjama party at a school friend’s place... I was around 10 years old when this happened... We three little girls spent the night at Akshata’s place and slept in her brother’s room... He had a bunk bed... Akshata and Aditi slept on the lower berth, while I made myself comfortable on the upper berth...


I hardly slept that night... Why? It was because I was in a bed which wasn’t mine... You always know the feel of your own bed and can tell it apart from any other beds that you sleep in... I say this with absolute confidence, because as a child I had the good fortune of staying only in one house; unlike some kids who have parents in the army or the navy, owing to which they spend their childhood years moving around a lot... (I’m sure they have lovely experiences of their own... Not meaning to demean anyone here)

I had only two mattresses on which I have spent the whole of my 22 years until now... I obviously know what my bed feels like... There are very few other beds in the world that I have gotten accustomed to...
But why am I talking about beds here, eh? I have a point that I am getting to...

Being a person who is so fussy about the bed she sleeps in; how much more fussy must I be about the country I live in!!!
My only prerogative being that, I need to live in a place that I can call ‘home’...

I am Tabitha Thomas... 22 years of age... Turning 23 this October... I am currently in Muscat which is the capital of the Sultanate of Oman...


This is my 2nd visit here... My first visit was when I was 18 years of age... In fact, I had celebrated my 18th birthday here, in Oman.

On my second visit here, I notice that things have hardly changed here... The roads are still the same... So is the Malayalee-Omani ratio...

So why is it that I feel the urge to write about things this time? May be because I realize that our memory has its’ own limitations to take into consideration... I may not remember the more intricate details of my current trip a year or so later...

The first thing that strikes you about this place is the fact that it is much more peaceful than the bustling Mumbai that I come from... (After spending 20 odd years in Mumbai, I guess any place in the world will seem peaceful.) The first thing that seems missing in the scene here is auto-rickshaws... They are what contribute to the maximum chaos in Mumbai...


There are very few two-wheelers on the road... (The high temperatures during the day are the main reason for the same.) There are hardly any honkers on the roads here... (The existent honkers are Indian; you can be assured of that...) People seem more cordial... I have had drivers stop their vehicles, so that pedestrians like us can cross the road... I have also noticed Dad stop the car for other pedestrians too... It’s a classic case of everyone following in each other’s footsteps...

People actually follow the rules here... You will very rarely see people jumping signals... The tough punishments and high fines that the offenders have to face act as a natural deterrent... Nonetheless, it seems like a joy ride, driving here in Oman...

However, getting a driver’s licence here is like hitting your head against a stone wall... You might get the wall to have cracks, but at the expense of a bleeding head... They have something they call the ‘drum test’ here to ascertain your driving skills... They place drums/barrels at equidistant positions... They are placed in such a manner that there is exactly enough space for your car to turn through them... They obviously take into consideration the dimensions of the car you will be using for the test...

The deal is this... You need to swivel through those drums without touching them... If you happen to touch the drums, regardless of whether they fall with the impact or not, your plea for a driving licence is rejected... The idea is that you have to make it through without touching the drums/barrels...

Sheesh.... Sounds like a pain in the posterior end, doesn’t it??? It’s so much easier to get a driving licence in Mumbai... If you are adept at placing your leg on the accelerator and the brake; and can rapidly manage to interchange between the clutch, accelerator and the brakes, you’re doing fine... Or you have the easy way out... Bribe the ‘kaka’ who is with you... Simple!!!

Who has to really drive in Mumbai anyways??? If you can keep your cool during a traffic jam, you’re the man!!! On that basis I shall go on to give the following vote...
Oman – 0
Mumbai – 1


I have been sitting at home, here in Muscat... I do not have much to keep myself occupied... Hence, I have been keeping myself occupied with cooking and some booking (reading books, I mean)...

The best thing that could have happened to a lost soul like me was an ‘internet connection’... We already had the laptop; so all we needed was a valid internet connection...

Little did I know that getting an internet connection here would be like a big head-ache... If you wanted to get a connection here, you would need to apply for a landline, then apply for a modem, and then get your precious connection...

The other option was that of getting a data card, which would be worked by your cell-phone service provider... This is the option we settled for because the earlier option (Landline-modem-internet) would take around 2-3 weeks to become active...

But things weren’t as easy as they sounded... If you take up the data card system, you had to choose between 2 options -
a) You could purchase 24 hours worth of internet access for 1 Omani Rial.
b) You could purchase 72 hours worth of internet access for 3 Omani Rials.
We chose option a) the first time... This meant we had to have at least 1 O.R. (Omani Rial) worth of charge left on the sim card... And then, once we sent a sms to our service provider, the internet service would be activated... And we could then use the internet service for the next 24 hours... But at the end of 24 hours, we would have to either renew the service, or it would expire... We could activate the service next when we needed it...
If you were to use the internet everyday with this service, it would mean you would have to shell out around 30 O.R. every month, which in Indian money would roughly come up to around Rs. 3600/-...

Expensive, eh??? And I used to complain about shelling out 1000 Indian rupees every month to get an unlimited usage connection from MTNL in Mumbai... Seems like a frivolous complaint now... At least I had access to the internet everyday... And I didn’t have to be tense about how long I was using it for...

Oman – 0
Mumbai – 2

If you need to shop here, you have a zillion places to go... This is the hometown of every shopping centre in the world... In Mumbai how you find a pan-tapri at every corner or nukkad as we call it; that’s how you find supermarkets and malls here... They are scattered all over...

This is the only place to pick up your weekly quota of veggies and groceries... You do get a large variety of veggies here... They come for pretty reasonable prices as well... (The section with the chocolates seems the most tempting, for obvious reasons... I doubt I have ever been this tempted by chocolates while I was in Mumbai.)

On the over all, the things seem cheaper here... But are they that cheap when you convert it into Indian rupees... Not really!!! I am doing these calculations because at the end of the day, the savings made here are going to be converted into Indian rupees when we return to Mumbai... So the more we can save, the better it is for us...

Oman – 0
Mumbai – 3


Here, when you get out of the house, you have to ensure that you are modestly dressed... And you do not owe this only to the Omani men who are used to seeing their women covered from head to toe... You have to do so to protect yourself from the million or zillion Indian and Pakistani men as well; who belong to the worker class... They are here in a foreign land, away from their families and especially their wives... They are sexually starved beings who might probably pounce on the first unassuming female creature that walks their way...

To add to this, they can freely view soft porn on their television sets, with some channels being aired only with this purpose... How then can they keep their animal sides under control? The poor people... It’s not their fault... It’s the fault of Omani Television...

Given the complexity of this, it’s better to not provoke any of them and keep yourself as covered as you can... Like they say, ‘While in Rome, do as the Romans do...’ So all my skirts and shorts have taken a toss for kurtas and longer tops...ALAS... You can’t afford to be yourself here...

Oman – 0
Mumbai – 4


There is one thing that majorly goes against Oman, or any other place in the world, other than India for that matter...

NO OTHER PLACE CAN BE CALLED HOME... Regardless of how many years I spend in any foreign land, that’s what it will always remain to me... ‘A foreign land’... I can never call it HOME... To it, I will always be an OUTSIDER... Cause I will never truly be a child of that soil... Will I??

Oman – 0
Mumbai – 5


I hope to be back in Mumbai by the end of April or the beginning of May... I am going to be missing Mumbai until then... Every aspect of it... The chaos... The skirt wearing days... The friends... The freedom to walk out of the house to catch a rickshaw even at 12 in the night... The freedom to give gaalis to the guy driving the car, because he pushed on the brakes at the last minute... The freedom to walk around with a friend of the opposite sex without people questioning your ‘intentions’... The freedom to eat yummy, butter-laden pav bhaji from the neighbourhood thela-wala... The freedom to have house parties and harass the sweet neighbour... The freedom to sweet-talk the cop who caught you jumping the signal... The freedom to say ‘namaste’ to any aunty or uncle from your building who you bump into at the mall... The freedom to call the place you live in YOUR HOME...
Missing Mumbai... They’re right when they say, distance does make the heart fonder...

9 comments:

Rohan said...

WHAT ABOUT THE DIFFICULTY IN BUYING DAARU ?

Mumbai - + 10 X 10 raised to 100000
Oman - Center of the earth

Truely, Mumbai is the best, i ve been in UK since 6 months plus now and I have never valued India and Mumbai so much in my life. I am at a stage now that I would kill a million people to just smell the smoke from a rickshaw, drink the 'Indian' beer, smoke classic milds, feel that sweat on my forehead and check out Indian girls.

Everything in UK is so cold and white.

People are all fair fair minus any naak, naksha, Climate is shit..Man i can go on and on

I am commin back in May too :P

India Aha, Nothing 'official about it' :P

Cheers

Tabitha said...

Crackpot!!! I love ur comments... I guess am only bloggin these days to read ur comments...
:P :P :P

So where in Mumbai do u put up btw???

Rohan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rohan said...

Rofl @ only bloggin to read my comments..:P *eyes in tears after getting this honour*:P:P

I live in ghatkopar, yeah yeah not as fancy as your Cuffe parade dude and not as rich as the CRV babe that you are..but WTH i have an id which reads as humyum20 which neither of you have \m/ :P:P!!

Where are you from in mumbai ?

Tabitha said...

If you're from Ghatkoper, I'm from lower down!!! LOL

MULUND!!!

Ke baat hai... Baaju baaju mein...

We both r hardcore burbies!!!

When do u return to aamchi mumbai???

Rohan said...

Oh mulund, I used to come mulund a lot of times, R mall, life style, pop tates bla bla !!!

I am getting back on the 23rd may !! what about u ?

Rohan said...

Btw your yahoo id is khatarnaak man !! alimentazione_femminile, I almost twisted my tonque into a tyre pronouncing that :P:P

Tabitha said...

I havent been usin that id too much these days... If you're a yahoo user- u may wanna try addin me on tabstar@ymail.com..

I louuuuuuuuuu POP TATES... It's my 2nd home!!! Cant wait to get back and get drunk *hic hic*....

U can get drunk wid me once ur back... I land in Mumbai b4 u (somewhere around May 8th or 9th)....

And am dead-serious bout the gettin drunk together bit!!!

Abhinav Sharma said...

so finally???you both are in bbay..........LOL
hows was it....gettin drunk together??:D