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69 things I will miss about Oman September 15, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Oman.
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10 comments

In no particular order of importance…

  1. My den.
  2. Calm, quiet and almost soporific pace of life.
  3. Star Cinema and their very friendly staff.
  4. And the box seats in Orchestra, Star Cinema, usually Seat #23 or #25. Seat #4, Row 1 at any of the Mini Cinemas.
  5. The madness at Wadi Adai Roundabout: Thank God a signal junction is replacing the roundabout.
  6. Parking woes at City Cinema Shatti.
  7. City Cinema Sohar.
  8. The drive from Muscat to Dubai and back.
  9. The official superhero of my building: TopCat Ramos.
  10. Moviestudio and his amazing collection of movies.
  11. Mom.
  12. The crazy airport flyover.
  13. Muscat International Airport. Small but convenient. Friendly immigration, e-gate, reasonable duty free selection and helpful staff. And the free WiFi at the airport that made this post possible.
  14. Annapoorna restaurant in CBD.
  15. Lunch Thaali at Saravana Bhavan.
  16. The service station at Wadi Kabir omanoil filling station. For giving my rides ‘Cleopatra Shower’.
  17. Green Clean at Qurum City Centre. For giving my rides such amazing shine.
  18. Early morning drives.
  19. The luxury coaches of Muscat. The Beasts of Al Khanjry, Comfortline, GTC, CTC, Salalah Line, ONTC, Happyline, Al Turki etc.
  20. My ride.
  21. Friendly locals everywhere. Oman is really one of the friendliest nations on Earth.
  22. Times of Oman.
  23. @4jijesh.
  24. My Laundrywallahs from Unnau, Uttar Pradesh and their chaste Hindi.
  25. Rajan’s Barber Shop at CBD for close shaves.
  26. Brands Elite and their casks of Stanley’s White and Red Lambrusco.
  27. The superb view of the hills from my den.
  28. The flowers at Al Fair Sarooj. They have made many a diva happy.
  29. Shell Filling Stations.
  30. National Bank of Oman Cash Deposit Machines.
  31. The Dodge Chargers that make my head turn.
  32. The crazy shop names.
  33. Beef Ularthiyathu at Divine. Also the lunch thaali at Divine.
  34. Salalah.
  35. Chilis at Muscat City Centre.
  36. Aldo at Muscat City Centre.
  37. When it rains.
  38. Uptown. The entire gang with a special mention to Nash.
  39. Split Chili at Uptown.
  40. Murgh Malai Tikka Masala and Garlic Rice at Uptown.
  41. The uber cool Oman tweeps.
  42. Marina Bander Al Rowdha.
  43. Dolphin Watching.
  44. Wahiba Sands.
  45. Bus stop at Thumrait.
  46. Counting the million stars at Haima desert.
  47. Landing and take off at Muscat International Airport.
  48. Amazing Shawarma at Muscat Bakery in Wadi Adai.
  49. Swami’s Hotel at Ruwi High Street.
  50. Happyline Transport.
  51. Woodland’s for the occasional takeaway.
  52. Nirvana. Because I love red and the ambience and the Corona is just spiffy.
  53. Khyber. For their excellent service and garlic pickle.
  54. UMS. For the memories.
  55. Wunderman Oman. For broadening my horizons.
  56. Bus Street at Ruwi, next to Sultan Qaboos mosque.
  57. The Grand Mosque at Bausher. For its grace and elegance.
  58. The Royal Oman Police. For being such stars in uniform.
  59. Ghazal at Grand Hyatt. For the great band.
  60. White Tiger Restaurant at Barka, next to omanoil. For the superb Beef masala.
  61. Al Bahja cinema.
  62. Plane spotting at Muscat International Airport. The Oman Air A330s make me beam.
  63. All the friends out here who are like family.
  64. How the roads go quiet during Ramadan. Lame.
  65. Shopping for Jeema water and 6-packs of Coke.
  66. Ranjan, Man Friday who cleans my den every Friday.
  67. White Chocolate at Starbucks.
  68. Nuts & Bolts. The newest pub in town. And themed on automobiles.
  69. Driving Chargelina around Muscat.
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Great value Eid holiday airfares from Muscat to 15 cities around the world August 26, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Aviation, Marketing, Oman, Travel.
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The Eid holidays are upon us and there is very much a chance that those in Oman will get a week off from Thursday, 9th of September 2010 to Wednesday, 15th of September 2010(?).

If that happens, happy long week holidays to all you.

And just in case, if you are planning to fly out of town, here’s a quick look at airfares in Muscat.

Understandably, most of you must have already booked your tickets, especially to India. If not, you can use this guide to snap up the last remaining deals.

From my research, Bangkok looks like the cheapest value long-haul destination to fly to. And towards India, Air India Express continues its reign as the best great value airline to fly to that part of the world. Flying out on Thursday, Wednesday, 15th of September 2010 will prove to be more expensive that any other day, as most people would want to start their holiday at the break of the weekend. If you can fly out on Friday, 10th of September or Saturday, 11th of September, you can save a couple of Rials. Lastly, flying on a low-cost airline such as Flydubai, Air India Express or Air Arabia can get you a better value than a full-service airline. And it goes without saying that the fares will rise as we get closer to Eid.

These airfares apply on a single adult, return journey from Muscat and are inclusive of all taxes and surcharges. They are valid as of 26 August 2010, 1pm – Oman time.

Journey dates: outbound – Thursday, 9th of September 2010 and inbound – Wednesday, 15th of September 2010, unless mentioned next to the itinerary. All journeys are non-stop, unless indicated.

Let’s roll with the fares.

1.    Cochin: MCT-COK-MCT: 194 Rials on Jet Airways.

2.    Mumbai: MCT-MUM-MCT: 131 Rials on Air India.

3.    Trivandrum: MCT-TRV-MCT: 196 Rials on Jet Airways. 176 Rials on Air India Express if outbound: Friday, 10th of September 2010 and inbound: Thursday, 16th of September 2010.

4.    Calicut/Kozhikode: MCT-CCJ-MCT: 142 Rials on Air India Express.

5.   Delhi: MCT-DEL-MCT: 140 Rials on Air India Express. 134 Rials on Gulf Air with layover and change of aircraft at Bahrain.

6.    Mangalore: MCY-IXE-MCT: 184.5 Rials on Air India Express, if outbound: Friday, 10th of September 2010 and inbound: Thursday, 16th of September 2010.

7.    Dubai: MCT-DXB-MCT: 38 Rials on Flydubai.

8.    Bangkok: MCT-BKK-MCT: 153 Rials on Qatar Airways with a layover in Doha & change of aircraft in Doha.

9.   Kuala Lumpur: MCT-KUL-MCT: 241 Rials on Qatar Airways with a layover & change of aircraft in Doha.

10.   London Heathrow: MCT-LHR-MCT: 259 Rials on British Airways with stopover at Abu Dhabi, no aircraft change.

11.    Amman: MCT-AMM-MCT: 209.860 Rials on Flydubai with layover and change of aircraft at Dubai.

12.    Cairo: MCT-CAI-MCT: 232 Rials on Emirates with layover and change of aircraft at Dubai.

13.    Frankfurt: MCT-FRA-MCT: 225 Rials on Gulf Air with layover and change of aircraft at Bahrain.

14.    Colombo: MCT-CMB-MCT: 192 Rials on Emirates with layover and change of aircraft at Dubai.

15.    Kathmandu: MCT-KTM-MCT: 123.700 Rials on Oman Air, if outbound: Thursday, 9th of September 2010 and inbound: Thursday, 16th of September 2010.

To get these offers, visit the respective airline website, check with your travel agent or head to Expedia.  Please note that air fares of Oman Air, Air India Express &  Flydubai are not listed on Expedia.

The Reds are coming to Muscat November 10, 2007

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Oman, Pot Pourri.
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Crank up your speakers and check out this video.

Now imagine all this action happening a few kilometers away from where we live, right here in Muscat.

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The action is just a few days away. The world-renowned UK Red Arrows are performing a breathtaking aerobatic display in Muscat on Monday, 19 November. They look forward to paint the town red, by all means.

The Reds have dedicated their show as a tribute to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, the ruler of Oman and the people of Oman on the occasion of the country’s National Day (the Sultan’s Birthday).

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The Reds last performed in Muscat in May 2006 – a stunning display of aerial maneuvers that had thousands of people throng the beaches and rooftops along Qurum.

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The Red Arrows commence their 23 minute act at sharp 4pm along the Shatti Al Qurum beach. The air show will be followed by a reception for 1000 guests hosted by British Ambassador Dr Noel Guckian, OBE.

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The Red Arrows are currently on a six-week goodwill tour of 13 countries in the Middle East and the Far East, where they will perform their famous display a total of 18 times.

Since their formation in 1965, the Red Arrows have flown over 4000 displays in 53 countries. The Reds consider Oman to be one of their favorite destinations. They are in fact unveiling a brand new aircraft livery this year, considered to be the first major permanent alteration in their fleet since 1979.

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The Red Arrows fleet comprises 9 BAE Systems Hawks, with a top speed exceeding Mach 1.2 and are equipped with Roll Royce Adour engines producing 5,200 lb of thrust. During the Red Arrows’ 23-minute display, pilots pull up to eight times the force of gravity, showing off the aircraft’s power and maneuverability.

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Wing Commander Jas Hawker aka Red 1 is the team leader of Red Arrows.
“We are proud to represent the UK overseas.” says Wing Commander Hawker, “We hope to demonstrate the very best of British to millions of people in the countries we will visit, both in terms of the skill of our people and of the quality of the Hawk aircraft that we fly.”

Click here to visit the Red Arrows website.

I’ll soon be back with another post where I will talk about some Red Arrows trivia, the BAE Hawk aircraft and a few of their breathtaking maneuvers.

Enjoy this Red Arrows slide show.

It’s Om Shanti Om in Oman November 8, 2007

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Movies.
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2 comments

Om Shanti Om

I just saw ‘Om Shanti Om’ at Al Nasr Cinema a little while ago. Yeah, the movie released in Muscat a day before its release in India. That’s one of the best things I love about being in Muscat – we sometimes get to see movies before anyone else does. For example MI:3 which hit screens in Muscat a day or two before its worldwide release. And now ‘Om Shanti Om’.

This post is not a review on the movie. To find out if it is worth all the hype, you better head to Ruwi Cinema, Al Nasr or your nearest screen. With its theme of reincarnation, ultimate star Shah Rukh Khan, his 6-packs and bevvy of 30 plus Bollywood stars, OSO will not disappoint hardcore SRK fans. SRK looks gorgeous and so does debutante Deepika Padukone. Om Shanti Om is totally filmi and is best described as movie within a movie. Have a riot. Go ‘Om Shanti Om’!

Here’s an exclusive movie trailer:

Click here to download music of ‘Om Shanti Om’.
Visit the official website.
Still better, check out the OSO blog.