Wednesday, October 25, 2023


OPINION : All things familiar…yet so unfamiliar 

It is not only the years in between our birth and the present day that mark our age, it is also the ‘unfamiliarity’ of things that were once seemingly common, which speeds up the passage of time.

By Suzy Fontes

Friday, October 13, 2023

Of all the familiar things I grew up with, the one I miss the most is ‘petrichor’. I knew not the word for the bliss that accompanied the loud pitter-patter of first drain drops on sun parched ground; all that I knew was that it was a divine treat for all my senses, more so for my nose and the mouth that learnt to taste that smell with equal delight. 

There is a drought now in that sensorial experience. 

Not that Muscat sees no rain to charm the heat-hardened ground. It may have its mood swings and temperaments, but rain it does – sometimes. The first drops are lost on paved roads and interlocked pathways; they are smothered behind closed doors of apartments, where windows are (mostly) sealed shut to keep the heat away and the air-conditioner on optimal.

Another is the handwritten (even typed) letter that came via the now (almost) defunct postal system. ‘Post’ today shares synonymy with content/images shared on social media platforms, an unfamiliar terrain for many (including me) who are content to be bystanders. But then, even the snail-mail post is an unfamiliar territory now. The romance of waiting for a letter, the sublime act of cutting through the glued envelop top to open and pull out the letter with whiffs of the writer’s scents emanating through its folds – divine. Where have all the letter writers gone…?

And those corner stores that were fairly bigger than the goodangadis (small shop) back home. Not so long ago, they were a part of life in Muscat too; almost every street had one to cater to the neighbourhood. For a quick treat, a cold soft drink or even unplanned cooking ventures that required handy groceries. These stores were answers to every car-less working person. Now lost in the milieu of big supermarkets and hypermarkets.

In hot stove. Element of design.

Let me also add to the list sigdis or iron stoves that have vanished from homes that relied on it in the days of yore – before cooking gas and induction stoves took over the kitchen chores. I miss not the long drawn cooking process or the sooty walls that the sawdust from the sigdi and the burning wood imbued; what I miss is the process of pounding sawdust into the stove to aid the logs of wood placed in the slot in between. Once an everyday feature, it has lost its familiarity to time and its inherent changes.

The list, as they say, is endless. 

The familiar things of today stubbornly obliterating even those fading memories of earlier familiar settings… 

Suzy Fontes is a qualified journalist and a content writer/creator