Sunday, 28 December 2014

The New Year Resolution

Phew!! 2014 is over! What a great year it was, very close to my heart, many beautiful moments.

2015 is just around the corner and everyone is ready to make their resolution list, just like the previous years. How much of it is achieved, is a new debate all together.

So, here I am standing on the precipice of 2015, and strange things are going on in my mind. I m not sure about making new resolutions. But yes, I am thinking of giving more dimensions to my life.

The first thing I can think about myself is to be a more fun mother to my little one. In many ways I've just become comfortable in motherhood. My daughter has become a little girl. She started school this year. The early days of "being a new mother" haze has just worn off. Now, I am left wondering how fast time flew. I want to cherish every moment I am gifted with my child, let her enjoy her childhood and re-discover mine. Let her blow the bubbles, its okay the carpet can be cleaned later. The cake she helped making is much more precious than the extra 15 minutes of cleaning I would be doing. Unwind a little: This is my first mantra of 2015.

This pic says a lot to me : Play, Have fun, Focus, Do not Fear, Be a child

Life in this world is fast, we run from morning to night in a jiffy. I am going to be a little more mindful. Mindful of the beautiful world around me, mindful of the wonderful family I have, and mindful of all that God has blessed me with. Most of the best things in life are for free. You don't believe me? Your child's hug is free, Sunrise and sunset is free, the love of your mom is free. So less of fretting and more of gratitude!!

Buhairah corniche sharjah
A Beautiful sunrise every day : Buhairah corniche, Sharjah

I am my biggest critic. Seeing flaws in myself has been a habit. So the next thing I wish to accomplish is being "kinder to myself". Yes, its okay to be myself, I am good. Its okay if I weigh a few pounds more than what I want to be. Its okay if I did not have time to play that day with my daughter as I was caught up with work. Its okay, after all I am trying my best too.. And my loved ones don't see my flaws, they see my merits. So its high time I do too!!

Leaving my comfort zone. Yes, not in great big ways but in small little steps. Doing things I am scared of. Zain has promised to make me para glide, scary for me!! Taking the plunge in studies, at work, every where, where I have to face the world. I want to quieten the inner voice that plays on my fears and I want to be my biggest cheer leader. Somewhere along the way from childhood to adulthood, we dream less and believe less. Hoping to go back to dreaming and believing, without fear!

Time. Time is the most precious commodity of our lives. The earlier we realize it, the fuller our lives would be. I am going to put away with distractions and make time for my family, yes each one of them. I am going to take time out to re-connect with friends. Time for myself, for the hobbies I wanted to pursue, the book I wanted to read, the places I wanted see, the games I wanted to play with my daughter. I guess if I can fulfill few of the above, I'll be going good. All the other good things will fall in place :)

Time to admire: Up close

2014 has been eventful to many in my family and circle of friends, marriage, babies, a new places, new jobs. I wish every one a grand 2015, full of happiness and contentment!

By the way, this is a link for a live feed of how Dubai ushers in the new year... Watch it and have fun!
"Downtown Dubai New Year’s Eve Gala, by global developer Emaar Properties, will feature the world’s most advanced pyrotechnics and LED illumination technology, which will also be streamed live on YouTube and on all major international channels.
The event reached more than 2.5 billion people last year through live telecast, in addition to millions converging in Burj Park for a family carnival to usher in the New Year, and the same is expected to happen this year."
Excerpts from GULF NEWS 29 December, 2014, Online edition.

happy new year
Happy New Year

P.S. By the way the blog has a brand new look.  

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Our MUSANDAM experience

WARNING : The pictures do not do enough justice to the objects in it. The place was nothing short of spectacular.

DISCLAIMER : No amount of words or no number of pictures can describe our amazing experience.

We wanted to do something different before the year came to an end, so on a whim decided to travel to Musandam in the neighboring country of OMAN. After finalizing a tour operator we decided on a two-day trip, overnight camping, with a long drive through the border in our own car and an itinerary filled with exciting activities.

We have been used to the drive all the way on  E311 along the Hajjar mountains. And after Ras-al-khaimah in UAE we have the Dhara check point, shortly after which the entry point of Oman. As soon as the UAE exit and omani entry papers are stamped we enter the territory of OMAN.

Here is our picture story

---- Day 1 
Mountain Safari 

The moment you cross the border, the terrain changes almost immediately with long winding coastline roads with mountains on the right and the spectacular sea on the left. We spotted many small rural villages on our way to Khasab. Sharjah to Khasab (Musandam) is approximately a 3 hours drive.

Winding roads

The drive

Down the mountain
Fishing villages

First on our itinerary was the mountain safari to JABAL HARIM (mountains of the women). It is strictly possible only in a 4x4. Narrow unpaved rocky roads lead to the tallest peak in the region.  The steep mountains dropping directly into the sea, knowns as FJORDS of arabia. 

Steep mountainous roads

Inlets of water

An ancient dwelling : Bayt-ul-Qufl (the house with the lock)

Entrance to Bayt-ul-Qufl

Ancient dwelling

Fish fossils: This entire mountain range was once upon a time under water. We can see 250-million year old fossils of marine life preserved even at around 1600 meters above sea level at present.

Fish fossils

Perfectly preserved skin and eye of fish fossil

Rock carvings: Pictographs as signs of communication in the ages long ago.

Ancient language

Mountain dwellings: At present the mountains are still inhabited by the locals, with all amenities of electricity and water provided by the Omani government. Children from here study at boarding schools in the mainland of Oman. Tallest peak reachable before a check point is at around 1800 meters.

Present mountain locality

Pin-drop silence and pure air with mountains all below us and the setting sun above.

At the top

----Night -1
Overnight camping

There are many places to stay in Musandam (refer to fact sheet below), we saw a few hotels on our way too. But we decided to camp overnight in a secluded beach on an island off the coast of Musandam. The entire camping was arranged by the tour operator. We had the beach and the mountains all to ourselves till next morning. A wonderful family from Italy were our companions and we had a great time with them.

The camping was the activity we were looking forward to more. We had never camped before and had no idea how to. So this was a beautiful experience for us. We are doing this definitely again with our own camping gear soon.

Once the generator was off and the campfire was lit, we sat around the fire, warming our hands against the chilly night, under the moonlight and the sounds of the waves, sipping a warm cup of omani tea, and the conversation flowed among the adults. Our little daughter had by now warmed up to her newly-made friends and was playing about with them.

Warmth of the camp fire

We were thoroughly enjoying the the entire situation, but Hubby dearest was a bit nervous with the safety of sleeping in an open space and stories of foxes in the mountains. He scared up our little brave daughter too. Finally reassured, we went to sleep hearing only the rhythmic music of the waves. It was amazing to go to sleep with that beautiful sound.

Woke up early morning long before the sunrise and took a stroll along the beach, it was so quiet, the campfire had died out.We sat up in the beach rocks, looking at the play of light on the sky, by the rising sun. 

Stunning sunrise

But after a walk down the beach , we spotted a set of animal prints, not far from our tent. So as our daughter woke up she had a new story to keep her gushing and excited.

Our four-legged friend- the fox

After a filling breakfast we were on our way to the dhow cruise. We cannot recommend the good hotels there, because we did not stay in them. But we vouch for this camping experience. Very good hospitality by the crew, good dinner and breakfast, fresh grilled food and unlimited supply of Omani tea. We enjoyed it more especially because it was not crowded and there was just one more family apart from us.

Our campsite

A perfect morning

----Day -2
Omani dhow cruise

There was a guide who gave us a short history of the region, and the things we would be seeing and doing for the day. And off we went cruising along the coast-land and in between the inlets (or Khwars) of Musandam.

The harbor, the fishermen

Omani Dhow

Cruising along the fjords

The captain of the ship was very experienced and he stopped the boat at the right places.Within few minutes of leaving the shore we spotted many dolphins , playing and swimming along our boat, But they dissappeared before we caught them on camera.

Disappearing dolphins

We had our fill of the omani tea, and fruits and soaked up the scenery. The attended was pleasing and friendly, continuously kept offering us tea and fruits. The dhow stopped at a beautiful inlet for snorkelling, the shallow waters and the mountains nearby were a great backdrop. Many on the boat changed and dived into the water. We were so jealous, both of us did not know a bit of swimming. But our brave daughter went with her friends for a swim in the sea. We were so proud, and once again we vowed to learn to swim!!

Shortly after this was lunch.

Then the dhow docked near the telegraph island, which was a telegraph relaying station put up by the British in the 1850's to relay telegrams from Bombay to London. The captain of the ship had a good knowledge of the place and we got to see the most important stops.

Telegraph island

We zig-zaged around the Fjords and were dropped back to the harbor in the afternoon. What a ride it was. And then the beautiful drive afterward back to Sharjah.

Mesmerizing sunset

There were a few things that we missed, like fishing, visiting the Khasab castle etc. which we are definitely returning for .

This trip is going to be in our minds for a long time. Just awesome.

Here are some Information that may help future travelers.



P.S: Could not cut short the post. Hope you enjoy the pictures.

Zain & Farz

This post is linked to
The Weekly Story-Wk-11

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Why I love winters in UAE!!

I am a bit restless these days, waiting for the weekend, hyper excited about the onset of winter here.

12 to 20 degrees centigrade, hardly counts for winters in the rest of the world, I know. But for the 45+ degree centigrade that scorches us for at least 8 months in a year, I have all rights to be a little crazy for the rest of the four months.

These are some things that I love about the cooler climate here...

The beaches in UAE in winter
The beaches!!

The sun, yes !! The same sun which scorches up the summer is so very soothing in the chilly mornings. The sun when teemed with sand and water, is the best place to be in. This must be the only place where beaches are more frequented in the winters. A perfect weekend morning for us is waking up late, packing a simple brunch, having a picnic at the beach, dipping our toes in the cool water and making sand castles.

Pretty blooms in UAE
Pretty blooms

Flowers and more flowers
Flowers, flowers everywhere!!
The pretty little flowers all over the parks. Another reason not to miss my morning walk.

Fun little abra rides UAE
The abra rides
I love these abra(tiny wooden boat) rides in Dubai. Not only can I look at Dubai's shiny buildings without squinting, but I also can enjoy a cool breeze even if its noon.

Sharjah corniche fogged up
Foggy morning walk

Sharjah Corniche
The same place in the evenings

The blinding fog, that sets in often early in the morn, it reminds me of hill stations. I may be the only weird one to enjoy this,  may be because I don't drive to work:-).

Jebel Hafiet
Picnics in the hills
The little hiking trips we take to the mountains on the outskirts of the city. Just to breathe the fresh air, and walk about barefoot in the grass.

Life in the city
Sitting outdoors, in our favorite restaurants, watching little bits of life in the city.

Everything about winter excites me, the snow man in the malls, the huge Christmas trees, the odd splashes of rain..
Oh so much fun...

Paper Snowman
Paper Snowman
By the way this is the snowman my little one made for school.. on paper though. :-(
Now let me just wish for some snow ;-) Sipping my 1 dhirham CHAI sitting on the beach..

Will get back to be you with so much we have planned for this winter..
Till then enjoy life's little pleasures..

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Sharjah Book Fair - For the love of the written word!

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.
–Oscar Wilde

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.
– Marcel Proust

This week the love of books took us to a place which we have been frequenting for the past two years, 'The Sharjah Book fair - 33rd edition- 4th biggest book fair' in the world, being held at the Sharjah Expo Centre. Over this weekend, the place was jam-packed with the book-lover crowd, especially the Indian pavilion at Hall 5. So many publishers and so many authors.

Sharjah book fair 2014
Sharjah Book fair 2014... The roads to the venue were choked

Sharjah book fair 2014
Indian pavilion... Huge collection of books

Sharjah book fair 2014
Books, books and more books... everything from cooking, kids, medical, technical and novels.

Sharjah book fair 2014

Navigating ourselves through the crowd, we managed to catch glimpses of some activities that were held. Lakshmi Nair, a famous Malayali cook and TV host had a cookery show on. She has authored a book of recipes too. Among many other notable books, I found the recent Chetan Bhagat's HALF-GIRLFRIEND and SACHIN TENDULKAR's biography.

Sharjah book fair 2014
A glimpse of Lakshmi Nair's cookery show

The event runs from 5- 15 th of November and has many activities. DAN BROWN, SHASHI THAROOR and MANJU WARRIER were many of the authors that are going to grace the fair along with so many others from the arab world.

The children have loads to do, see and of course buy too. The collection of books for the children was so huge, and many of the stalls had educational toys and much more. Plenty of fun to keep the little ones happy - bouncy castle, caricature, arts workshops, face painting and so much more. We went around the heavily crowded place looking for books that would catch our imagination and bought a few stuff. The little one had her own choice of what she wanted and picked up so many herself. Now these books might keep us busy for some time:).

Educational toys

Live caricature

Wood craft

What our daughter picked up!!

We are definitely going back on a week day , to escape the crowds and savor the place once more. Sometimes books can just amaze you without you even turning a page. We found a book titled on Farz's name. How cool is that:)

Delighted !!

Here's the link to the Sharjah Book Fair Official website.

Be ready to brave the crowds for the love of the written word.