Monday, 26 April 2010


I get to Calicut airport at 10h00 for my flight at 12h20, only to find that Oman Air have changed the time of the flight again. It's now at 15h20, so I have a really long wait. Timetables don't seem to figure in that company's modus operandi. There is no real food at the airport, only packets of snacks so I go without and get very hungry. I'm the only non Indian (can I say white, is that politically correct?) (there are some Omanis too) in the whole airport, and until I leave I don't see another tourist. I get stared at a good deal, but at least this time it's not because of scanty clothing. The advantage is that when things do get moving and we start luggage checks and so on, which are free for alls at this airport, I am waved through and go first, a very unfair advantage but one I take with pleasure. So I go through first, and get my bags registered right through to Paris, and also get a boarding pass for the next day, a distinct advantage, I shan't have to queue again. I go through emigration in the first class line, which is empty and have a whole system all to myself. I am the only white person on the plane again, but there are quite a few women this time. We get quite a good lunch on board.

When I arrive in Muscat, I'm apprehensive about being taken in charge for the night. I go to the desk that was indicated to me when passing through a month ago. The young man looks doubtful and scans his lists for several painful minutes before finding my name. There is another young Indian waiting, he's on his way back to work in London. We are taken into town by two very nice, talkative Omanis in a luxury vehicle. I have been told that Oman is not difficult for women tourists. But I don't see many women about. The men are very elegant. I don't know the name for the costume their wear, is it a djellaba? White robes, and either long white head-dresses secured with a black band, or little embroidered hats. The place is impeccable, not a bit of litter in sight, the motorway into town is bordered by lawns with sprinklers sprinkling and palm trees and lots of flowers. The temperature is meciless. The cars are all new and gleaming. They drive slowly and carefully. A different country altogether.

We pass the Sultan's mosque which is quite beautiful. I don't have my camera available. Just before our hotel is the Suntan's father's mosque, which is impressive too but much smaller than the new one.

As we landed, we got a good view of the countryside, which apart from a band along the coast is barren and lunar. Enormous dry bare mountains. The two men who take us into town say what a lovely country Oman is to visit and recommend a longer stay. They confirm that women can circulate freely and that dress is not much of a problem.                                                                                                                        

The hotel is smallish, but really quite nice. My room is in fact an apartment, a bedroom with a large bed and TV, a sitting room with kitchenette and TV, a bathroom with - oh joy, at last - a bath.  It is early evening. I take a bath and go down to a buffet supper. The hotel seems full of people who have not managed their connection. The buffet is rather Lebanese in style, rather good. Unfortunately the hotel is not situated in the heart of anything very interesting. Looks more like a business sector. So there is no change to get out and see anything. And it's dark now anyway. So I go to bed and watch television and revel in the comfort of a large bed with lovely bedding.

Breakfast is another buffet. After which we are collected and taken back to the airport. I board uneventfully and have a comfortable and uneventful journey back to Paris. It's quite a good idea to break the journey, it seems much easier. I get to Paris too late to take the TGV back to Quimper and have to spend the night at the airport Ibis hotel. The next day's journey back up to Quimper takes all day, it's a 6 hour ride even in a TGV with a change at Rennes and three quarters of an hour's wait. I struggle with my extra bag, difficult to carry three. There is a bomb alert at the TGV station in Roissy airport, the army and police are there blocking everything and waving machine guns around.

So there we are, my Indian holiday is over, I've lost so much weight that my jeans are falling down, I have just one day to turn myself round and leave for England to celebrate Easter and, a little late, Grama's 93rd birthday.

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