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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Marking 7 years today --When Oman reeled under Cyclone Gonu, 6/6/07

Cyclone Gonu leaves behind a trail of destruction at Al Amerat, and Wadi Adai areas. 

(My report  in the Oman Observer-7/6/07 )

Looking down at the flooded Hatat  Complex tennis courts

Residents of Al Amerat and Wadi Adai areas will never forget Wednesday, the 6th of June 2007. A whole day and night, when many of them found the world completely turned around, and in some cases, were left with complete destruction and heartache. 

Thanks to all the warnings that had been issued by the DGCAM, however prepared people were for the cyclone, what they were certainly not prepared for was the force and quantum of water brought in by the Wadi Adai. As the accompanying photos will testify to, the water in the Wadi rose steadily, and menacingly, and for many hours on Wednesday, it resembled a raging river. 

Coming from India, we were used to the sight of many swollen rivers, but this was truly frightening to watch. From our safe lookout in Hatat House, we were able to see how the lower lying areas around, were getting submerged, and we saw people move out of their houses, on to the roofs, and then, realizing that this would also probably not help them in the long run, moved away to the shelters that had been to advised by the government authorities. 

At about 1600 hours on Wednesday,the Wadi Adai roundabout was overrun by muddy waters, with floating debris, comprising broken pieces of wood, and other miscellaneous items, and this continued for many hours after that. People from the nearby shops, were seen quickly carrying out items like sofa sets, tables, and chairs, so that they could be shifted to more secure areas. Compounding the situation was the fact of the total breakdown of power at about 1830 hours, which continued right upto 0630 hrs on Thursday morning. 

The Wadi raged all through the night, and the road to Al Amerat was badly damaged, with some sections of it completely washed way. On Thursday morning, we were able to see people coming out to check out the extent of damage, and removing some trucks, and cars which had been tossed about overnight. 

Once the rain stopped, it was a matter of time, the Wadi’s water slowly receded, and by about 6am. it had been reduced to a controlled, semi dry area. The trauma of the previous day and night, was over, leaving behind some completely changed topography ...

All photos courtesy - Avi Ahluwalia

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The determination to " do something" for the Desh- Dr Navtej Serna's take on Narendra Modi

With his mother (Pic courtesy- PM's Official FB Page) 
"It is precisely because of this Kleptocracy ( Govt for, of and by the Corrupt), that a simple 'Chaiwallah', from a very ordinary background ....whose father was a tea vendor in a small village and who himself was a tea vendor at a railway station, now finds himself in the avatar of the most powerful man in the third largest economy on the planet. 

No Oxford/ Cambridge education , no elite /Public School education, no aristocracy in his blood , no magnificent pedigree/ lineage, no grasp of the so called elitist culture and mannerisms, no real understanding of International Relations etc etc, no real command over the English language either yet  with a sound , almost rustic and agrarian , down to earth simplicity , frankness, clarity and even brutality, an RSS preacher and activist from the age of 9 yrs,a non consummated childhood marriage at the age of 17, no real clique of sycophants or courtiers yet full of the deepest of determination  "to do something for the Desh"as his fundamental goal and ambition in life, has managed to romp home to victory on a 'Modi' wave that has guaranteed success to at least a hundred BJP  candidates solely by the sheer mesmeric spell that he has managed to cast on this very India , which is neither a Democracy,  nor an aristocracy ,nor a theocracy.  etc , etc , etc..

Just shows the world and mainly India, that despite a tainted reputation,   a record of good/ very good governance in only one state,  despite being a hugely divisive and polarizing  figure , even in his own party, ULTIMATELY what the 'aam aadmi' looks for is leadership material, strength of character, good communication skills, focus, determination and of course in this 2ist century of technology,  good presentation , marketing and packaging( all of which were found in the persona of Narendra Bhai Modi).

Now,  of course people are expecting miracles, just as they did of President  Obama, people are expecting India to top China and maybe even the US, in the next 5 years ! Of course, none of this is going to happen. But what  I can  confidently predict is , that the Hindu Muslim Civil war, that the Congress etc were so alarmingly predicting , wont happen. Minorities won't suddenly become the flavour of the month either, but they'll be left alone and may even prosper.Pakistan will be handled a little tougher and some breakthrough on Kashmir may even come about.China too will be kept on a slightly tighter leash.The economy is bound to improve , but there won't be any miracles.

All these things will come about not because a great genius of a man, with a great understanding of International Forces etc is now at the helm. They'll happen because a simple, rustic , clear headed , determined, ruthlessly efficient man is now at the helm and with such a huge mandate, that all the bickering, dillydallying, infighting , stalling of Parliament etc
( what's been happening in the last 5 yrs) will suddenly and swiftly be gotten rid of and forgotten about..

In fact, these guys could be around for quite some time to come. A second term is definitely on the cards and with the kind of ruthlessness that Mr Modi possesses, the Congress, the AAP etc, could virtually be wiped off the radar.....

Let's just hope he keeps his head on his shoulders and doesn't get drowned by his own 'wave'. "

Monday, June 2, 2014

Looking forward to a new season at the magnificent Royal Opera House Muscat

The Royal Opera House Muscat( ROHM)

The Royal Opera House, Muscat (ROHM) was inaugurated by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Al Said three  years ago and in his inaugural speech, he outlined his vision for it. The essence of what he said was that since Oman had played a significant role in various cultural fields in the past, it was now time for it to cap that rich march by adopting the concepts of international culture and add to it by effective contribution to its promotion. To that end, the ROHM that will showcase Oman’s creative and cultural heritage and provide Oman with a gateway to the international arena.

Performances on Open Day 

We've been lucky enough to visit the Royal Opera House a few times during this period and the first time was unforgettable,  a wonderful show featuring the Whirling Dervishes. More recently, an  'Open House', the State Ballet from Vienna and a concert by Diana Krall the jazz singer.

On each of these occasions, we've been struck by the excellence and detailing that has gone into making this place the superb piece of architectural  and cultural hub that its meant to be.Then there was that fantastic opportunity to walk through the ROHM on a private tour, asking all possible questions that I could think of and clicking way to my heart's content!

Here's a very real recommendation- do check out the Programmes for the new Season starting on September 18 at the very next opportunity you get.  It starts with Verdi's superb  opera MacBeth and continues till May 2015 with  a range of fabulous performances, symposiums, family concerts and educational activities.

Book your tickets too as that's the best way to ensure that you actually get to see what you really want to.

The stunning interiors

Fascinating art

Its truly one of those places that will stay in your mind and heart forever...

(NB- All pics used here are clicked by me)