Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Travelling within Oman

Past two days I have been travelling in interiors of Oman as part of my induction and have already covered more than 1200 kilometers in two days! Travelling within any country is an experience and Oman is no different. It is very much similar to India though it has a few intricacies which can seem amusing on first notice

Roads in Oman are the best I have ever seen. In all the distance that I travelled there was not a single pothole visible with a smooth surface maintained all through. Also the roads have good signage on the sides, that too without any tearing. A peculiar feature here is the way given to animals, for killing animals on road is not acceptable and killing a camel can lead to life imprisonment! All cars here are equipped with hazard lights, which have to be flashed on any road blockages visible. However the smooth roads and tight discipline cannot be taken as an excuse for speeding, as there are radars on both sides of road which can detect speeding vehicles.

Going by the geographical spread Oman is a large country, largest after Saudi in this part of the world. I enjoyed most talking with Omanis, leaving away from Muscat in towns of Ibri, Nizwa, Humra, Sohar, Shinaz and Moussanna. Most of the Omanis are peace loving folks and revere you irrespective of religion or faith. However most of them lead a desultory existence removed from the hullaballoo of modern day living and are ignorant to the extent that net connections are not available in some of these towns.

This weekend I have to shift to my new apartment, which is near to my office though I am coughing out an unreasonable sum for it. It is inhabited by an old guy who will be my new flat mate and sincerely hope he is not an asshole. The only benefit perhaps coming is that I am getting a place furnished so will not have to look around for stuff in this new country. On work front there is lot to do though for now I am only sizing up everyone around. Seems I am in for interesting times…

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My first days in Muscat

It all seems a blur…the night before leaving for Muscat I was having all sorts of nightmares, and even wanted to drop out of the flight! But then I guess destiny has something else in store for me and I am simply following on. I vividly remember Sunday morning, getting up at crack of dawn, hurried taxi to airport, all my folks wishing their final good byes, custom and security clearance, the laborers on the adjacent seats on Oman Air, watching the sea in awe from my window seat, the Arabic announcements on flight, the small Muscat Airport... upon landing in Muscat the clearance from Airport did not take long and thankfully a pick-up was arranged, from where I proceeded to the arranged service apartment.

First impressions about Muscat is that it’s a very clean city, though its small in size and nothing near a modern cosmopolitan. However rule of the law is feared and respected with constant vigil maintained by authorities in all forms, Sultan is a God here. However the cleanliness of the city is remarkable, I can’t imagine this cleanliness and maintenance anywhere in India. Also the city is blessed with a very bright sunshine and there is no pollution, a stark difference from Delhi. Moreover there are a good number of Indians around, so one feels not very far away from dear motherland but the differences cannot be ignored also, all your blogger profiles except the blognames and Facebook appear in Arabic here

Perhaps the only couple of things one has to be careful about are never to get involved with the feared authorities and the killer traffic on the road. Apart from this, the people appear friendly and helpful, atleast till now. The city is not at all hard to settle in and first few days have been pleasant and hassle-free, though I guess the real test will start once I move out of the company accommodation. A good feature of this city is the proximity of residential apartments to the workplace, one can actually do without a conveyance! Also the cost of living is reasonable and essentials are available nearby. The only drawback is the entire city goes to sleep after 9, though there is a cabaret bar near my apartment

On workfront it is all very challenging for there is nothing in name of HR here. I have been meeting different employees past some days, but I doubt if I could have ever got anything more daunting and testing at this stage of my career. I am aware that I am in for interesting times but am not intimidated by the uphill task awaiting me. After all good money demands good work too

My weekend starts on Friday and work week commences on previously lazy Sundays. This weekend I plan to go house hunting, a major concern for me is to find good housemates and then look to find my feet in the city soon. Will keep all of you posted, though replying to comments may take sometime.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hope, fear, excitement…a new dawn awaits

The day I was waiting for is finally here. I will be flying to Muscat tomorrow morning and am already experiencing a myriad of emotions. For someone who has craved for a change for long this is indeed a welcome boon, but some where there is also an apprehension of stepping into the unknown and what the future actually holds for me. I am sure there will be no dearth of challenges in the new place moreso for a pampered kid like me, who has never lived away from home and has lived a life replete with splendor. But there is also an awareness that it is high time for me to step out of my comfort zone into the real world and make something of this damned life

I am not very sure of what I am getting into, for I am a greenhorn at handling domesticity. I don’t know cooking, have never washed my clothes, never even changed bedsheets and am going to live all alone in a far-off land all by myself! But admittedly this has not deterred me one bit and am sure down the line somewhere I will find my feet in the city, though it may take sometime

However there is also hope and an undeniable tinge of excitement. Anything new does bring some freshness along and it becomes all the more sweet if it is long sought. I sincerely wish that this new and a very major turn of life does turn out to be good and rewarding; and all the wait and perseverance does pay off somewhere. For the past many years I had been on look-out for a good international assignment, which was seen by me as a panacea for all the ills dogging me. One I would have been away from home and secondly, it never hurts to rake in the moolah. Now that it is finally happening, its only upon me to make it successful.

This is my last post from India and am not sure when I will be able to post next. Also I will not be able to comment on other blogs for sometime, but be assured that I will seize any opportunity to access WWW at the first instance. Till then alvida…

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Online air booking: lessons to learn

Day before yesterday I got a sudden brain wave that before embarking for Muscat I should visit Vaishno Devi once; it’s always good to pay obeisance that too before perhaps one of the crucial junctures of my life. Adding fuel to the thoughts were the facts that my previous trips had been successful and if I can make it then should try for another trip. However one quick look at the airfares over the weekend and my plans went on the backburner, a to and fro trip costing 12 grand, which is more expensive than even visiting Bangalore and Hyderabad! But the bug had already caught me by then and I could not stop exploring the option of other travel dates, totally unaware that online pricing of air tickets uses logic similar to casino gambling. My ordeal with online booking websites was less than pleasing and not at all pocket friendly, as depicted below

Day before yesterday morning
Quick check on fares: 12 grand to and fro drop the idea!!

Day before yesterday afternoon
Let’s tweak the dates and look at weekdays: hmm fares drop a little wait for some time for fares to drop

Day before yesterday evening
Fares for Monday and Tuesday is less than 7 grand!!! Yeah (jumping) wait for more time for fares to drop even more

Yesterday morning
Fares are still low…hit ‘book’ immediately. Now whats this…seats not available!! Doesn’t matter, wait

Yesterday afternoon
Low fares are still visible for different days combination, but perhaps all seats have been booked with only few left. A seat on Spicejet now costs 13 grand!! Quick realization that if I do not act left seats will also go soon

Immediately book available option, but one leg of journey unconfirmed. Call up the toll free number of website and book. Pay charges of 400 bucks more but thankfully I get my tickets for a princely 9 grand (a normal fare should be less than 7 grand)

Moral: if planning travel plan in advance and whenever see a good bargain never forego

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

End of a chapter

Today is my last day in my present firm and I cannot help being overwhelmed by the gamut of emotions enveloping me. I vividly remember my first day at this place four years back, how different people looked, the old-fashioned look of the place, those unanswered questions and yes I had forgotten my purse that day so had to borrow money for lunch! So much has changed and so much has remained same but it is all coming to an end. No longer will I have to get up early, no longer will the same morning drive to office happen and no longer will I blog from this computer

But to be candid I am indeed relieved to be leaving, after all don’t we all always crave for greener pastures. While clearing my exit formalities someone asked me how I am feeling and I started humming jeeska mujhe that intezaar wo ghadi aa gayee… There were days in the past when I was so frustrated and looking desperately for something good but then I guess I was destined to wait. 2007 and 2008 were especially bugging as there were many openings around but the elixir always eluded me. And then the recession came calling dashing all my hopes though I am grateful that I did not lose my job during those horrible days. Now that the world is coming back I am getting ready to enter the real world and face it head on

However the last few days have not been short of anxiety. If you read my last post my edginess will not be hidden. I again spoke to both the offices yesterday and learnt my Oman visa application has hit a roadblock but thankfully my future employers have taken it upon themselves to fly me there. I have been asked to be ready with my packing which I am, I doubt if I have done so many purchases ever, all funded by generous Mom. My nephew’s surgery is scheduled for tomorrow marking another critical day and event – the kid is so sweet and small it is truly heart wrenching to see him go through all this

Back to today I am being pestered with calls and farewell messages since morning. My official farewell is scheduled to start in sometime which will include all saying some good words about me and me rounding off with a final thank you. Thankfully I finished all my exit papers on time and should be off soon, more shopping slated for later in the day

I will end here though still can’t fathom will not have to come to this place any more…