mcgillianaire: (Changing Guard London)
...I arrived in London to settle here permanently. The photos below were taken on the night and subsequent morning of that memorable journey. It was my first flight to Blighty in three years - and I only stayed a night on that occasion - so this was actually my first proper visit in nearly four years. I was over the moon, making childhood dreams come true and all that jazz.


With mum at check-in in Muscat (then Seeb) International Airport. Dad had a separate flight that night to attend a conference in Italy. I think my sis was still in India. You can see bits of my Liverpool jersey that I was wearing in honour of the Champions League Final that was taking place as we were flying towards the Continent. The Mighty Reds were taking on The Rossoneri (AC Milan) in Athens. The pilot was kind enough to give us two score updates along the way. Unfortunately, we lost 2-1.

Read more... )
mcgillianaire: (Hooka Pipe)
There's no doubt the highlight of my trip to Oman was spending time with dad's 7-month old pooch. He's grown quite a bit since dad brought him home three months ago. I grew very attached to him and it took me at least a week to get over him after flying back to London. Even though dad, sis and I loved dogs, mum never let us keep one. She used to say we'd all go off to work/school, leaving her to look after the dog. Then years later our best friends left their Japanese spitz with us for one weekend. I remember mum telling me that looking after the dog wasn't such a terrible experience. She was never fond of dogs but I'm sure she would've grown to love Nero. He's such an adorable puppy, even if he refused to obey me most of the time! But like dogs in general, he never failed to follow my every movement. That's one thing everybody loves about dogs, loyalty. Wish I'd smuggled Nero out with me!



3 More Pics of Nero )
mcgillianaire: (Hooka Pipe)

A photostitch of the exquisite interior of Muscat's new Royal Opera House.

Best buddies from high school.
Beach-side shisha cafes.
Football.
Gorgeous weather.
Home-cooked food.
New "family" members.
Indian satellite TV.
Dinner parties.
Chilled-out badminton sessions.
Bargain-priced new clothes.
Cheap nights out.
Swan Lake by the Mariinsky Ballet in Muscat's new Royal Opera House.

Remind me, what is it about London that trumps all of that?!
mcgillianaire: (Hooka Pipe)

My sister arrived in Oman a few days ago and is having lots of fun with our puppy. I can't wait to join them at the end of the week!
mcgillianaire: (Hooka Pipe)

A recent picture from Al Madina Plaza in Madinat Qaboos where some cheeky chappy re-arranged the letters of the shopping centre entrance sign. Apparently it went unnoticed for a week! (via Muscat Mutterings blog)

Rex

Apr. 21st, 2011 02:00 pm
mcgillianaire: (Default)


Dad's given him away to another family because he was too aggressive. It's been a steep but eye-opening learning curve. Ultimately, we've decided to go back to Plan A and settle on a pure breed black labrador or boxer.

Rex

Mar. 16th, 2011 01:35 pm
mcgillianaire: (Hooka Pipe)
We never found Leila and the dog shelter where my dad and sister picked him up from didn't contact us back. My dad really wanted to get a dog so he bought a two month old puppy a few weeks ago. Unlike Leila, there's no labrador in him. He's just a wadi dog (rescued stray). As the pictures make clear, his original name was Patch but my sister and I wanted to name him Hugo. However our maid couldn't pronounce it properly so we settled on Rex instead. He's so cute but oh so very naughty. My dad is loving every moment with him and they've already formed a pretty tight bond. So far he's only been taught to sit. He's still being toilet trained, not easy apparently. Do the dog owners amongst you have any tips? I wish my dad had bought a dog during the time I spent nearly 5 months in Oman! Puppies grow up too quickly and I'd love to see him before he does grow up.

So any ways about a week ago our maid noticed an ad in the newspaper looking for a safe home for a dog called Delilah. The picture had an uncanny resemblance to Leila, complete with the red collar my dad had bought for her the day before she ran away. We're pretty certain Leila/Delilah was found, taken back by the dog shelter and they decided we were not fit owners having lost her less than a day after bringing her home! Fair dos?

mcgillianaire: (Golden Gate Bridge)

The last time we celebrated my mum's birthday as a family, and a special occasion it was - her 50th! (10 June 2008, Muscat)

On the night of 9th April, my sister and her team of volunteers will camp overnight and take turns walking around the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life track to raise money, awareness and save more lives from cancer. It would be nice if you could make a donation towards their cause and the still larger cause of a cancer-free world! Thanks a lot for all your support, both before and after her death. :)
mcgillianaire: (Bedouin in Desert)

Eating breakfast, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper before heading to work. (August 2009)

The difference between Dubai and Muscat is ambition. Yet so much has changed since my last visit in June 2008, that there are parts of Muscat which are barely recognisable. There are a lot of new roads, and changes to existing ones. Most, if not all the flyover roundabouts have been replaced with traffic signal intersections. Two new freeways are under construction. A second CityCentre (the Dubai-based shopping mall) has opened in Qurum. A new Royal Opera House, the Sultan's pet project, is under construction next to the Intercon. A huge new building is coming up by LuLu Shopping Centre in Baushar. My school of twelve years has a new High School block and a new Multi Purpose Hall that is connected to the Sports Hall. Inside the Multi Purpose Hall is a collection of photos displaying the school's early history. My parents put it together. And then there's the two big buildings coming up outside the school. Congestion alert!

But unlike Dubai, there are no skyscrapers because strict Omani planning laws only permit buildings of modest height. Not so long ago, these laws were relaxed ever so slightly, and in the midst of the construction boom, several landlords/developers exploited the situation. Except the global economy went tits up and construction came to a halt. Several buildings remain embarrassingly bald at the top.

I'm not sure how I feel about the changes. Part of the charm about coming back was to reconnect with a place that seemed to take pride in ignoring Dubai's lightning growth. Almost nothing ever changed and it was easy to feel at ease and at home. Not anymore...
mcgillianaire: (Geetopadesham)


It's that time of the year when Hindus all over the world celebrate their version of the harvest festival. For Tamils, Pongal (lit: boils over or spillover) is their most important festival and this year more than 60 million of us will be celebrating our version of thanksgiving all over the world. Pongal is a celebration of the prosperity associated with the end of the harvest season and is celebrated for four days from the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi (Dec/Jan) to the third day of Thai (Jan/Feb). [Tamil Calendar]

Unfortunately, it is more than twenty years since I last had the pleasure of actually being in Tamil Nadu during the festivities, but even while growing up in Oman I would look forward to it for two main reasons: my sister and I would always get a new pair of clothes and my mum would cook us all my favourite Tamil sweets and savouries.

In fact the 'boiling over' that takes place and gives us the name of the festival comes from the sweet boiling rice that is made by mixing it with milk and jaggery in pots topped with brown sugar, cashew nuts and raisins. The contents are then allowed to boil over and as soon as that happens, the tradition is to shout "Ponggalo Pongal" (see Subject above) while blowing a conch. It is considered good luck to watch the pot boiling over and that's how the festival gets its name and fame.

In the absence of my mum and lack of skills in boiling my own sweet rice dish, I will have to stay content with merely heating up a ready-to-eat packet of a different Tamil sweet dish. In years gone by, my mum would send a packet of pongal with me on my way back to university from Oman after the Christmas break and I would open it on Pongal. Oh well, maybe next year! Happy Pongal!


Sugarcane branches are used as decoration for the prayer-offering set up. We grew sugar cane in our house in Oman!


The traditional plates used in southern India are banana leaves upon which you can find the items used for the prayer (coconut shells, bananas and the Pongal dish itself - the yellow blob in the bottom-center of the leaf). The patterns on the ground are called kolam.
mcgillianaire: (Curry Dialysis)


Today is the most important day in the Tamil calendar: it's Thai Pongal, or just Pongal (lit: boils over or spillover) as it is more commonly referred to. The harvest day festival is our version of thanksgiving and is being celebrated by more than 70 million Tamils worldwide.

But not everybody can celebrate it in traditional ishtyle (Link 2)

What I Wrote About The Festival Last Year )

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