It’s your first time on high seas and you are impressed by the mightiness of the ocean. The water in the Gulf of Oman is a deep shade of aqua marine and we are on a glass bottom boat (Oman’s only such boat, informs our guide Rashad Al Wahabi) on a ride to see the dolphins. The boat, powered by twin Yamaha 225 engines that purr sweetly, moves fast cutting a foamy path in the water that slowly dissolves into blue stillness. You are fascinated by the vastness of the ocean and left gazing at its enormity. It has a meditative affect on the mind and listening to the drone of the engines and the rhythmic movement of the boat, one feels it’s kind of erotic.
Leaning out of the side of the boat, you notice the splash being raised by the boat’s nose, scything the water. The Sun is behind your back and you see a rainbow in the white splash of water. Mesmerized you keep staring at the rainbow and notice that that rainbow is always in the same place, though only visible when the splash forms the backdrop. The boat turns a bit, the angle of the Sun changes and voila! The rainbow is now visible in the ocean water away from the splash. You point it out to Jas, sitting next to you, and you both watch in amazement. It’s the first time you are seeing the rainbow in the water and not in the sky. A sense of awe overwhelms you as you watch in amazement at Nature’s beauteous handiwork.
Then you notice the hills in the distance, lining the Omani landscape. From far off they look like a herd of elephants crowding the shores. The movement of the boat creates the illusion that they are also moving.
You near the Muscat harbour which lies in the centre of a crescent with flatland in the centre but hills on the edge. You also see two magnificent looking forts on both ends of the crescent, relics of the past dominating the present. As the boat closes in Rashad points to a smaller fort-like structure at the edge of the hill and says that’s where the registry is, that the staff there is responsible for taking down the name of every ship that enters or leaves the port, along with the date and time of its entry and exit. The fort on the right is now headquarters of the Royal Oman Navy. In the centre stands the massive gold topped palace of HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Rashad informs the Sultan doesn’t live in this palace which is reserved for His Majesty’s meetings with foreign guests visiting Oman.
As you head back out of the harbour and head for high seas where the dolphins are supposed to be, you notice the hills, sheared by water, their sides inscribed by cuts and niches that look like Arabic writings. Amazing!
Out in the seas, you see no dolphins although a couple of times Rashad says “Look there” but by the time you turn your head it is the same old peaceful sea, moving rhythmically. And all of a sudden you come across two giant sea turtles, one on top of the other and realize you have disturbed two lovers playing the most ancient of all sports. In a jiffy they vanish underwater. The image of their startled faces stays with you for some time.
Then you enter a lagoon and its time for snorkeling – your first such experience. You put on the gear and dive into the water. The sea floor is about ten feet below and you can clearly see the rocks and the numerous fishes amongst them but they are all grey unlike the ones you see on National Geographic in bright technicolour of the Tropics. And then you get salty sea water in your mouth and eyes and as you frantically try to pull the snorkel away you rub against the boat’s sides and the blades of the propeller.
Coming up on the deck you find your legs badly scratched and bleeding from several places. Captain Yahya takes out a first aid box and soon alls well. After 45 minutes when every one is back on boat we move again back to the base. It’s a 30 minute ride and we pass spectacular scenes, the Shangri La Beach resort and new buildings coming up on the sea shore. We also pass another construction site where a JCB is pouring big rocks into the sea, filling it to create land where a huge new hotel is to come up. The arm of the JCB looks eerily like a giant human hand busy playing God. You wonder whether you feel good or bad.So much like life’s mysteries, one is left wondering whether to judge or leave judgement in suspended animation, till the Almighty gives us more knowledge and wisdom to judge properly.