Is the job of a homemaker a challenging career? Are the round-the-clock jobs at home as tiresome as it is brooding over the office files? Homemaking to date is more gender-specific, i.e. a woman’s duty and it is more demanding than any average 9-5 jobs. And when it comes to expatriate homemakers living in Oman, some of them deserve an extra pat on their backs for relinquishing their working status either to bring up their children or owing to lack of job opportunities. But instead of wallowing in self pity they grabbed every opportunity that came their way. From making new friends and investing in family time to going hiking and soaking up in the scenic beauty of Oman, they left no stones unturned to rediscover themselves in their ‘new’ home called Oman.
When Akshara Bachkheti moved to Oman in September 2019 little did she know that in a few months’ time pandemic would hit the world and she would not be able to see her family and friends soon. “But lockdowns were also a blessing in disguise – we grew closer as a unit bonding in ways that may not have happened in ‘normal’ times – studying, playing, cooking and cleaning together,” remembers Akshara. After working for almost two decades with breaks only for further education and pregnancies, for Akshara, Muscat chapter was to reset and rediscover herself. “The plan was always to go back to work somehow but the sheer lack of job opportunities hit the most vulnerable part of my self-esteem, ” she adds. But that did not deter Akshara by any means. “I’m lucky in that I have a full life and causes that are dear to me like improving access to books via CareShare Books, a free library movement,” she says.
For Priti Chauhan the opportunity of exploring a new culture, and country came with the uncertainty of quitting a 9–5 corporate job. Uprooting from a “settled” life around friends and family is never an easy choice, more so, when you are used to a comfortable routine of daily life. Priti moved to Muscat, Oman in January 2020, just a month before the pandemic brought the world to a standstill.
“I spent a good part of my time baking banana bread which became the recipe of the pandemic,” reminisces Priti.
As the world slowly moved past the pandemic and the COVID restrictions started lifting, Priti grasped at every opportunity to explore Oman and get acquainted with its people and culture. “I have been in Oman for three years now, and I feel completely at home. The closest friends I have in Muscat are Omanis — they opened their homes to us and gave us a sense of belonging in a new country.”
Swati Bhide came to Muscat in 1998. She landed in Muscat with some assumptions of not getting many things like Mumbai but on the first day her husband took her to an Indian restaurant where she could savour her favourite snack, Pani Puri. Since then Muscat became her home.
“Initially, I loved the silence but after a few days, I realized that there is only silence if you don’t have any activities. I started missing my family, friends, and freedom to move around as I had to depend on my husband to go anywhere,” remembers Swati. Soon they started having their group of friends. “We used to go to the health club with our friends and we learnt so many things from each other. Muscat is my home now. We have lived here in Oman for so many years just because of the respect, safety, and warmth we got from the local Omani community,” Swati said
Like Swati Bhide, Oman has been a second home for Gayathri C from the word go! Having relocated from Saudi Arabia she did not know what to expect here in Oman. “I experienced freedom of a different kind. The friendly people, pristine beaches, and the natural beauty of Oman took my breath away. 16 years have flown past and it has still captured my soul. Settling down in Oman in a community was probably the easiest thing for me. I went ahead to make friendships for a lifetime, says Gayathri.
Oman opened up many opportunities for her which she hadn’t imagined before. Gayathri started hiking in Oman. “I never thought I would, but the mountains were calling,” she adds.
The day Samina Namoji landed in Oman 17 years ago it was hot and humid. As she walked out of Muscat International Airport with three suitcases, her older one in tow she wasn’t sure what to expect, but slowly and steadily the charm of this country grew onto her and managed to capture her heart.
“The hustle and bustle of India, the crowded streets, festive occasions, and friends dropping into my house now and then was what made me miss it the most. Coming from a joint family I did have my moments of outbursts and felt homesick whenever I heard the familiar voices of friends and family. To make matters worse I was alone at home with a little child and had nothing to do. There were times when I would cry myself to sleep and would pine to go back. But over time, I saw the beauty this country had to offer, remembers Samina.
Samina made friends who encouraged her to follow her passions and this helped her to ultimately find her goal in life. “Within no time there was a really strong network of friends on whom I could rely, and together we explored scenic places and made memories on the sunny beaches and parks. But the thing that truly stands out for me is the hospitality and warmth of the local Omani people, be it my first neighbour who welcomed me with open arms and divine food into her home or those young men who helped us when we were stuck in a wadi. Oman is now my home away from home and I shall carry a little bit of it no matter where I go,” says Samina.