A day before the Oman Indian Roadshow 2015 I got a call from their office. Dency, the lady at the other end told me, “I want you to see how much Oman has to offer, and change the perception that it is just a desert.” After attending the show yesterday night at the Hyatt Regency, I have to say they succeeded 100% in changing my opinion. In fact they have got me hooked.
Lubaina Sheerazi, the Oman Tourism representative gave a comprehensive presentation on Oman at the event. I found an old clip of hers on Youtube where she defines the vision of the ministry. Yesterday night she said, “Oman can offer you Arabian Nights in a modern context!” She also stressed that culture is an integral part of the experience and they cherish it. I got to experience a small part of the culture right here in India.
In the course of her presentation Lubaina mentioned frankincense and looking at the blank reaction of the audience she added, “people from the Christian fraternity would know about it.”
Today when I opened the information bag they gave to the attendees, I found a beautiful frankincense candle in the bag. Holding it in my hand made it so much more real. As I was one of those blank people, I went off to learn more about it.
*Frankincense finds a mention in the Bible as one of the three gifts given to baby Jesus by the three wise old men, the other two being gold and myrrh. I now understand the Christianity link mentioned by Lubaina. I read that is still burned inside the Vatican.
Made from the bark of Boswellia Sacra tree, it is said to have medicinal properties. BBC reports its use in cancer research as well. The tree is found in the region of Dohfar in Oman. The Oman Tourism website says for the people of Dohfar frankincense is life itself!
Humanity has known the frankincense tree since ancient times, and a special relationship has grown between the two. Frankincense is a symbol of life, or rather it is life itself, for the Dhofari people. It is not a mere tree, but an embodiment of culture, history, sociology and geography.
The history of frankincense trade makes for a fascinating to read as well. My introduction to frankincense has ignited my curiosity about Oman, the land of ‘The Empty Desert’, dunes, wadis, mountains, canyons, beaches and much more! I hope I get to go there one day.
* All the information about frankincense has been taken from the three sources (BBC, Oman Ministry of Tourism and Kew.org) linked in the post.
PS. I was invited to the roadshow by Oman Tourism.
Last week I did a one night trip to Pragpur in Himachal Pradesh which was on invitation from WelcomeHeritage Judge’s Court. And it was not them who wanted me to stay there for one night. The time constraint was from my side, a fact which I am already regretting. We went sightseeing around Pragpur on both the days, the day I arrived and the next day when we left. It was a hot day when we arrived. While visiting the temples at Chanaur and Dadasiba out cab driver and owner Mr Atul pointed out the Beas river to us as well. Along with Pragpur and Garli both Chanaur and Dadasiba are a delight for people interested in heritage, architecture and paintings. But that is a story for another day. This story is about the giant pipal tree near Dadasiba.
After the temple visits Atul stopped at a crossing and asked a villager how could we go closer to the river. He pointed out a narrow road, and there we were, close to the Beas river. The giant Pipal tree was an added bonus for me. I was willing to look at the hot sky only through its cool shade!
Try as I might, I could not capture the whole tree in one frame. It had a small chabutra (platform) around it. I too decided to sit in its shade while Pooja (from WelcomeHeritage) decided to take a walk up to the river. Everyone removed their footwear before going on the chabutra and I did the same. One of the menfolks asked me if we were locals? When I said no, he said hardly anyone else comes to this place. They came because it was a hot day and it was cooler under the tree close to the river.
I too would have walked by the river but the sun was way too hot. Also at that time of the day I did not see what would I gain photography wise by going close to the river. But in the end it was the sun that the magnificent tree that made me stay put.
Guess what? I was very tempted to write ‘sun rays were playing with the pipal leaves’. But was it the sun rays that were playing or was it I who was playing with my camera with aperture set at f22 so that I could capture this effect! I may have said it at least three times before in this short post by now, but let me say it once more, I was quite awestruck with this majestic pipal tree.
The kids were certainly curious about my camera but they were too shy to ask me anything about it. It was only when their elders talked to me that they timidly asked if I would take a picture of them! I was ever happy to oblige!
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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