Thursday, 15 October 2015

In between The Mountains

A Trip to Bilad sayt in The Sultanate Of Oman

The road lay in front of us like a slithering slate-coloured snake. It was a one way road that went straight into the mountains and got lost. We were finding it with every move. The small brown hills at the sides made the road look thinner. The speedometer clocked 100 as we drove past the brown hills. The picture was brown, dark brown hills with greyish barren terrain in between. Very few houses were seen at the sides.

The trip from “Hayy a Thurath” towards” bilad sayt” was long .The distance was less but the one-way road that went winding with elevations across the hills at places meant that we couldn’t keep a constant speed. This road led to the village of Al Hamra. Al Hamra is a picturesque green village that has a history of more than 400 years.

The sky was dark. It was blue with creamy clouds here and there. We saw The Al Hajar ranges in front of us. This great range of mountain lay in front of us in glory. The road is seen narrow and thin and gets lost in this grey boulder of mountains. It had long black cracks on it which were actually deep cliffs and narrow gorges. White spots were seen on top of some of them. Some beautiful villages were studded on them and the houses looked like sugar spread.

The mountain was grey and inclined deeply towards the peak. The range laid there as a was a natural border for the place as it cut of the central Oman from the north. As we approached a roundabout we saw a board showing ‘Bilad Sayt’ at 45km towards the right. We now entered the hills. We were surrounded by shades of brown.

The mountains were above us. Now there were layers of hills and mountains playing shades of colour. From brown to grey to blue, the colour differed at different ranges and was a stunning overshadowed each other and came back in waves. Slowly we reached the foot of the range. The road was a winding one. We started uphill. It was a hot day and the temperature was at 38c. The uphill climb was as though we were cutting through a large cake.  We could see the surrounding hills get smaller and smaller. The view was simply breath-taking. The brown hills lay below the large grey mountains and the road that we climbed looked like a slithering black snake at the bottom with crumbs of cars moving. Towards the west lay the large village of Al Hamra. The white houses and the numerous date palms now formed a dense tone. The village laid there like a sheet of velvet spread. Across it, the sun shone. The sky was blue but as though waiting for the sun to splash its setting colours.

The uphill journey continued. It was time for sunset.  With a peaceful flow it started splashing crimson and pink all over the blue sky. Now the sky was crimson with shades of pink and a little bit of blue. The mountain lay below holding on to the sky with a grey and a tinge of violet. It looked bold and felt pride booming from it. The mountain sometimes looked like a curtain, a curtain of dark shade that separated the landscape and at times like a solid bolder standing high.

The village grew even smaller and the houses looked tinier. The mountain turned grey-blue and the sky above had spectacular shades of violet and pink mixed with each other. The sun had set and the last rays had beamed yellow before ending a day. It was peace in physical form.
As we drove again the weather became pleasant. The windows were open and there was a cool breeze blowing serenity. I heard a shout. It echoed throughout and I halted and looked around. The shout repeated several times and it sounded like a bleat. A young boy was seen climbing down the cliff in great pace and skill and he was barefooted. He jumped down the rocks with ease. He wore a dark coloured Dishdasha and in front of him was a flock of sheep. It looked beautiful across the grey rocks. The entire flock was climbing down. Some were walking down briskly while others were clambering down the rocks. The shepherd shouted and the flock moved as instructed. There were brown, black, white and cream coloured ones that were climbing down the grey and brown rocks.
The violet sky at the background made it mystical and tranquil. For a moment I became a Sufi, a Sufi like the shepherd who had no worldly desires in between him and the creator. The Rumi in me was awakened and I was lost in eternal reality. The shepherd was the real Sufi since he was closer to god with this near-heaven abode of life.

Soon we reached a viewpoint. The cliff reached deep at the bottom and like beauty in a bowl the village lay studded in the valley. The mountain shades, cliffs and the weather made it more memorable. It was cold but the gentle breeze that was blowing brought tranquillity across our faces. It was dark now and Al Hamra lit up with the street lights looked magnificent. An ornamental jewellery work lay below us and it was the village at night. We started our descent. With every turn the temperature rose until we were back at the bottom of the range.

We looked back and saw the huge mountains, dark and proud. No one thought there was life on top but life existed only there.