April 12, 2012

Notes from Al Khod Wadi: When the Djinns Come Out to Play

Twilight at Al Khod Wadi
For me, I cherish solitude as much as the presence of company;  rather, it is absolutely essential for me to carve out chunks of time for myself to think and reflect upon life and its contours and trajectories..and if I am able to do so, I particularly appreciate experiencing solitude outdoors in nature. I wouldn't call myself outdoorsy in the sense that I need to hike or trek or play sports in open air - rather, I appreciate being out in nature, soaking in its sights and scents and sounds and savoring the present for once, rather than constantly flash-backing or fast-forwarding into the past and future respectively. I must admit though that such moments come by but rarely, making them all the more precious.

Yesterday, what with April being a moody month here in Oman and currently undecided whether it wishes to transit into summer or not, it briefly rained - and instead of hotfooting it to the beach as I usually do when it rains, I instead preferred to visit the Al Khod wadi.

Over-hanging rock formation at the Wadi

This wadi is located at the foot of the mountains and almost immediately following a heavy downpour, the water gushes down the slopes and rapidly streams into the wadis; within a day or so, the dormant wadi-beds are gurgling with sounds of flowing water. Numerous tiny stone-colored fish dart beneath the rippled water surface; otherwise dusty and seemingly unremarkable pebbles and boulders metamorphose into objects of speculation and interest when seen beneath the water, reasserting their original colors and textures and becoming worthy of admiration. While some wadis in Oman contain water all year around, Al Khod wadi becomes rejuvenated only post rain-fall though, subsequently attracting visitors by the droves.

However, the rainfall yesterday was too scanty to have awakened the slumbering wadi from its stupor; the wadi beds were baldly dry and empty, the jagged, striated water-eroded rocks and boulders appearing more like displaced museum stone sculptures. There were hardly any people around, apart from a couple of solitary walkers; it was so purely silent that the sudden keening call of the Indian roller bird rudely jolted me out of my reverie, rather like a pebble disrupting a pond's mirror-smooth surface. The wadi's starkness, absence of people, and the dwindling purplish light all collectively combined to invest an austere, ancient  and a dream-like quality upon the wadi: I in fact could not help thinking that we had somehow stumbled upon ruins of a building or a place, rather than a natural location. It seemed not as much as uninhabited as temporarily empty. 

Moody sky...and air

It was why I felt that we had encroached upon that time of the day when an invisible world awaited our departure to emerge from the shadows; it seemed that there were djinns* lurking in the wadi bends, the luxuriant green huddle of the water-rushes, the tightly fisted acacia tree branches, and the over-hanging rocks. When will you leave? the gusty breeze seemed to whisper on the djinns' behalf. When will you leave so we can come out to play? 

Having come to the wadi to cultivate solitude, it seemed that we had somehow poached upon others' solitude instead. Even though I wished to linger longer to appreciate the sheer quality of the tranquility and silence at the wadi, I knew that it was time to leave. And so I did, without turning around...

Bidding adieu to the wadi...

The wadi, it seemed, was not asleep, after all...

*Djinns popularly feature in many Omani folk-stories and tales; if you are so inclined, you can read up more about djinn encounters here


  1. A very interesting piece. Solitude is indeed necessary on occasion.

    1. Thank you for your comments and stopping by! Hope to see you here again:)

  2. Jinn stories are part of the cosmology I was raised with! Remind me to talk to you about that when we meet next! :)

    1. Ooooh, can't wait to hear the (d)jinn stories!


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