November 29, 2011

Barka Photo Essay: Doors and Broken Mirrors

Oman has been receiving unusual amounts of rain, lately and the good weather, as we find ourselves describing it in this part of the world, has happened to coincide with the Eid and Oman's National Day holidays, leading to spontaneous day-trips.

A day following a rather energetic rain-shower, we decided to visit the coastal town of Barka, which is about an hour's drive from Muscat, and located on the Batinah coast. Apart from the requisite picturesque beach, it also has a quirky small Omani town personality of its own and which I lately both enjoy experiencing and photographing.

Strangely enough, even though I walked for quite a while on the beach, I neglected to take any photos of the sea; what I instead chose to photograph were vignette-shots of life in Barka. However, if someone were to attempt to make some sense of Barka from my images alone, they would be forgiven for assuming that it is not in the vicinity of the sea as I seem to have entirely discounted it altogether from the narrative of my images.

Returning to my Barka explorations, I seem to have an affinity for abandoned houses for I discovered yet another one, its turquoise blue walls still glimmering amid the ruin and decline, shattered mirrors, discarded purple sofas, and indulged in door-spotting: the ancient, grand, portal of Barka Fort, which had closed by the time I arrived there, and doors of the non-descript homes dotting the beach. Incidentally, while I was photographing the latter, an Omani youth wandered by and curiously asked as to what I was photographing. When I gestured towards the door, his shrug eloquently articulated one word: 'why?' I couldn't answer then - and if you ask me now, here, I would still be hard-pressed to precisely pinpoint what it is that fascinates me about doors. It's probably due to the fact that doors are interesting intersection points of contact: they welcome...and yet, they simultaneously forbid entry into that intimate, interior space that lies beyond. In a sense, the doors are reflectors of those interiors, acting as visual windows of sorts into that world.

As we had visited Barka on a Friday, the fish and vegetable market had wound up by the afternoon but we found a cheerful Omani gentleman standing in the shadow of the fort, selling Yemeni pomegrenates, pears, and newly grown tomatoes, bits of mud still clinging to their naturally glossy red skin. The tomatoes retained their lustre and freshness even after days...and even if for nothing else, a trip to Barka is certainly due to partake of those tomatoes once again!

Here are some images of the visit - the one thing that strikes me is the abundance of blue in most of the photographs, whether its the walls or the brilliant sky.

An abandoned house finds me once again: what are the endings to these unfinished stories?


Death of a mirror: is it the sky that lives in whatever remains of the mirror's once shiny skin?

Winter tree: growing in the compound of the abandoned house, its stark branches reminded me of denuded winter trees and their skeletal shadows

Gutted sofa: loved no more, discarded and now bearing the wrath of the natural elements

Age: the grand Barka fort portal bids us farewell

Domestic door: unassuming...and yet, filled with so much character


  1. my fav is the mirror... and its caption.!!! you said it so well.. :):):)

  2. Great pics and love your thought-provoking comments!


  3. @create-me, thank you so much! And yes, I quite liked the mirror image (pun unintended;)too! I took several shots of the mirror and this was my favorite one. Btw, I always find it so difficult to caption and title...but not so much over here, guess the subjects were so inspirational in this case!

    @Leia, truly appreciate your words, as always:)


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