Middle East

Mutrah souq entrance oman 2
I had grown up in Oman. But had left the country back in 1996. And after 20 years, I often felt the urge to visit it again.   I came everywhere around Oman in the GCC region. First UAE relaxed its visa policy, then Qatar did. And even Bahrain followed suit. But visiting Oman was turning out to be difficult – simply because of the Visa policy. Oman had a policy of issuing ‘Sponsored visas’ for Indians even if they wanted to visit the country for touristy purposes. A ‘Sponsored Visa’ meant that I had to find a local sponsor, […]

Electronic Visa for Indians in Oman: My Experience

bahrain fort arches 2
After I was done with the experience of the amazing Eid-morning drive from Manama, my days in Bahrain just got a loooooottt more better!   My friend – the same guy who almost drove me to Saudi Arabia and then to a camel farm – was free now, and was raring to show me more sights around Bahrain. I could get a hint of expat pride in him for the country. “Bahrain is much more than the camels and the liberal culture”, he kept saying. And I did believe him. So, in the span of one day, he took it […]

A Fort and a Mosque: Exploring Manama, Bahrain

Goodbye camels
Over the years, it has almost become a yearly tradition for me to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan in a Muslim country. I am not a Muslim – hell, I am not even religious –  but hailing from the secular, South-Indian state of Kerala has made me a keen observer of other religions, and perhaps even appreciate them much better. And if I have to learn about the culture and nuances of Islam, what better time to do that then during Ramadan, and in a Muslim country, right?   This quirk of mine has taken me in the past […]

An Eid Morning Drive for Causeways and Camels: Manama, Bahrain

lamp bear qatar doha airport 2
It has been an annual tradition for me to take atleast one or 2 trips to Europe every year. And from Singapore, the cheapest way to do that, is through the many middle-eastern airlines that make cheap connections possible with transit in their respective countries. Qatar Airways, Saudia airlines, Oman Air and Turkish airlines compete among each other to offer the cheapest fares from Asia to Europe. The price is usually very cheap, but the only problem with these airlines, is the long transit time. And one is often forced to spend a few hours (some unfortunate transit situations could go […]

8 Totally FREE things to do during a transit at Qatar’s Hamad International Airport

masjid at katara cultural village
The Doha Tribeca Film Festival, was one of the largest Arab film festivals in the world until 2012, and has mysteriously not been running from 2012. The DTFF for 2011, was held in a place that no one had heard of before. The Katara cultural village, is not exactly a village. Located on the east coast of Qatar, and spread over 1,000,000 square meters, it is anything but a village. India’s largest museum is….. an airport!? Click here to check it out! Opened by the Emir of Qatar, HH Sheikh Hamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, the Katara cultural village is a large […]

Katara cultural village : Doha, Qatar

mosque, islam, denizli, turkey, travel, photography, travel photography
2nd March 2015 – Denizli, Turkey I will miss them all: The Turkish food with the sugar cubes. The food. Oh, all those delightful things that melt in my mouth! All all those fairytale mosques, with their outstretched minarets. But it will be the people I miss the most, when I leave the south. I should be somehow thankful to Georgia. I would not have stayed so long in Turkey, if they had given me a visa. They didn’t, and I ended up staying nearly 6 weeks in Turkey. I wasn’t the typical vacationer here, shuttling from point to point to see all the […]

Project 365: Day 244 – Elveda Denizli! Tesekkurler Turkiye!

denizli, turkey, rooster, travel, photography
1st March 2015 – Denizli, Turkey I have seen them all my life, but never clicked Those beautiful black-bodied sleuths walking on the grass. But when I finally had to click a red-plumed rooster, They were enigmatically made of sheer glass. Denizli is not a touristy place, and is commonly known only for its proximity to Pamukkale. (which also explains why they dropped by bags at Pamukkale yesterday). But I had made some friends here, and so decided to stay here for my last couple of days in Turkey, and just party it up a little. But because I had to […]

Project 365: Day 243 – The roosters of Denizli

Denizli, Turkey, travel, photography, travel photography
28th February 2015 – Denizli, Turkey I travel too fast, I am often judgingly told By other travellers who live ages in one place. Maybe it is true. Maybe I should take it more slow.. But my backpack. Well, thats at an entirely different pace. After I took the bus last night to Denizli, I managed to sleep soundly on the metro lines bus (metro lines is the name of a bus company in Turkey), that reached Denizli by 6.30 AM. I went out of the bus to take my backpack from the luggage hatch, only to find out, that it […]

Project 365: Day 242 – Otogar days

goreme, turkey, travel, photography, travel photography
27th February 2015 – Goreme, Turkey Through the first rays of the sun, I saw a city, Still lost in old-world charm, lies the magical Uchisar. But first, I have to deal with a potter and his jars. And through them, a different perspective from afar. After a long while, I woke up really early today. I am talking 5 AM early. All to see the sunrise at Goreme. And it was gorgeous, made more awesome by the fact that I was the only one I could see for miles and miles, all the way till Uchisar, when the sun came […]

Project 365: Day 241 – Through pots and chimneys

goreme, turkey, travel, photography
26th February 2015 – Goreme, Turkey I said my goodbyes to mosques. Atleast for now. I am now in the land of churches, but not the normal kind. Dug deep into rocks, like a scene from Cameron’s Avatar. Sometimes reality trumps the hollywood fantasy grind. After a ridiculously long journey, involving 2 buses and a minibus, I was finally in Goreme. Cappadocia is a region of magical beauty, as I noticed during my minibus ride from Nevsehir to Goreme. Almost resembling a lunar setting, the whole region has been a refuge for Christianity, from the Ottoman period itself. There are churches in chimney-shaped […]

Project 365: Day 240 – The lunarscape of Cappadocia

Bursa, Turkey, Mosque, travel, photography
25th February 2015 – Bursa, Turkey From Istanbul to Antalya, Turkey is full of mosques. And make no mistake, I love them all. They are so scenic. But after weeks of seeing the same minarets and domes, I wish I also had some other options to pick. Most of the day went doing domestic stuff, like finishing my laundry and some more work which involved me warming up my crotch with my laptop. In the evening, I was to meet Ibrahim in Bursa to help me buy a new jacket, since my current jacket is already bursting in the seams pretty […]

Project 365: Day 239 – More mosques. What else.

Istanbul, turkey, travel, photography, travel photography
24rd February 2015 – Istanbul, Turkey One more day in Istanbul. One more mosque, this one new. But the mosques have charmed me enough. I am done. The snow had spat on my plans the last few weeks, But I still have a little bit more of Turkey to see in the sun.  I finally managed to leave Istanbul today, after being stuck here for a week. The snow had thwarted most of my plans already. I had planned to go to Trabzon, Sanliurfa, Mardin and Van, but I don’t think I have enough time for that on this trip. So, I […]

Project 365: Day 238 – A new mosque, for the last day.

Turkey, Istanbul, fountain, travel, photography, travel photography
23rd February 2015 – Istanbul, Turkey The erstwhile Constantinople, had seen me loitering around For a few days already. I think it’s hight time I said bye. But before I leave, there is one last thing I needed to click. A timeless fountain, built by the Germans, yet still remains shy. I think I have been spending a lot of time in Istanbul lately, and I decided to get out by the next day. The day was spent booking a bus ticket to go to Bursa, where I plan to meet my friend Ibrahim for a short while. And then proceed […]

Project 365: Day 237 – The German fountain and the hippodrome

balata tower, istanbul, turkey
22nd February 2015 – Istanbul, Turkey Friends had come, and friends had gone. Its me and my backpack again, battling one more day. The morning light is beautiful, and tickles my senses. But its the night, and a distant tower, that I fancy today. So, I am back to travelling alone again, since my friends for the last few days have moved on to other travel plans. The day was spent being lazy, and just eating a whole lot of durums (wraps) from street side shops. I tried to click the vendors, but the pictures didn’t come out too satisfactory. At […]

Project 365: Day 236 – The Galata tower

sema, whirling dervishes, istanbul, turkey, travel, photography
21st February 2015 – Istanbul, Turkey Like the moons around the sun, they whirl in their prayers. With one hand touching the heaven, and the other, the ground. The Semazens in white gowns and tall sikke hats, show us. That even in outlawed religious groups, a rare gem is found. I have mentioned before on this blog, that Baraka is one of my all-time favourite movies, and one of the movies that have inspired me to travel. And one of the epic scenes in Baraka, was the sema ceremony of the Mevlevis.  Or as we know it, the whirling dervishes. I […]

Project 365: Day 235 – The whirling dervishes of the Sema ceremony

blue mosque, istanbul, turkey, travel, photography, travel photography
20th February 2015 – Istanbul, Turkey I feel like a jetsetter, as I cross from Europe to Asia, And back. All in the matter of a single day. And stopped by on the way back, for a little quiet, when the blue mosque was still blue, and in my way. And after 2 days of hell, the snow finally stopped today. I also managed to find some other friends of mine who were stuck in Istanbul in the snow. Aurelia has already been with me from the last day, but today we were also joined by Isa, my friend from Bursa. […]

Project 365: Day 234 – Ok. I see the blue now!

Istanbul, Turkey, travel, blue mosque, mosque, photography
19th February 2015 – Istanbul, Turkey The snow has begun its onslaught, and I am stuck on a precipice A wicked ledge, from which I can see, but can’t feel. But a mosque, that had its name in blue, spread a red carpet. I had a prayer on my lips. I think I did kneel. The snow showed no signs of waning today, as it kept piling and piling. Fortunately, I met an old French friend from Singapore, who was also travelling in Istanbul, and we managed to go out for a little bit, against the blinding snow. The sultanahmet area has a […]

Project 365: Day 233 – The blue mosque, is red inside.

Istanbul, Turkey, little hagia sophia
18th February 2015 – Istanbul, Turkey Seasons came and left, and what is left of a great view of a little mosque with an enchanting history, is just the snow. There are many wonders to be seen in this intercontinental city, But I guess the script is written. Today, we go a little slow. The snow started last night. And it has no mind to stop! I am staying near the little Hagia Sophia for few days, and the morning view from the window was both sad and uplifting at the same time. There was the glorious little Hagia Sophia, also […]

Project 365: Day 232 – A snowy Istanbul, indeed.

hagia sophia, museum, istanbul, turkey, travel, photography
17th February 2015 – Istanbul, Turkey At first, there was the great church of Constantinople,  And then came the ottomans, and made it a mosque. As we now stare at what Ataturk secularised into a museum. We better stare quick. Tomorrow, the snow will put it to task. After all the portrait attempts yesterday, I took the late night bus to Istanbul. I had some friends visiting Istanbul, and I changed my plans a little bit to see Istanbul with them. I found a rather cheap place near the Sultanahmet area. I had stayed around here just a few days ago, […]

Project 365: Day 231 – A church! A mosque! A museum!

Denizli, turkey, travel, photography
16th February 2015 – Denizli, Turkey Narcissist! I jeered at myself. Then I smiled. At the prospect of being on the other end of the click. Between the slave and master in a studio setup, I almost felt like I was shooting a chick flick! I have taken all kinds of photographs on this trip. Ranging from portraits, panning shots, monochrome shots, HDRs, mobile phone shots, long exposure shots, lens flares etc. But one think I have never taken – and which many people keep asking me – is a self-portrait. But well, when I am travelling, there are so many interesting […]

Project 365: Day 230 – Not selfie! Self-portrait!

Pamukkale, turkey, travel, photography
15th February 2015 – Pamukkale, Turkey From the hustle and bustle of the big Bul, I am off to the cotton castles up in the air. Snow is never my favourite element, but limestone? Oh, for that kind of white, I have a totally different flair. I reached Denizli in the morning, around 7 AM. I am couchsurfing with a guy named Taskin here, and his Facebook chat showed that he was awake till 4 or 5 am. I had no intention of waking him up so early on a sunday morning, so just hung around the otogar (bus station) in Denizli […]

Project 365: Day 229 – Pamukkale, the cotton castle

bosphorus, istanbul, turkey, travel, photography
14th February 2015 – Istanbul, Turkey Love is in the air! But I am breathing none of it today. Either I have a blocked nose, or the city has hidden it deep. I looked around on both sides of two massive continents. No, there is nothing for me. I will find a bus, and silently weep. I stayed in the Sultanahmet region last night, and found another friend from Singapore Couchsurfing, who was travelling to Istanbul. Might be a good thing, because I didn’t want to be alone for valentine’s day! Today, we did the lesser known ways to spend V-day, like […]

Project 365: Day 228 – Valentines on the Bosphorus

simit, pretzel, turkish, turkey, travel, photography
13th February 2015 – Istanbul, Turkey I ran away from a cauldron of lust, and found myself In an unexpected vessel of hidden gluttony. In a hollow pretzel, I placed all my beliefs. But what the heck. It costs so little money! I booked myself a place in the Sultanahmet region of Istanbul yesterday, on the European side. While the decision was majorly influenced by the hookers last night, it was also chosen due to its proximity to all the major architecture in Istanbul. I ended up walking again, which I have been doing quite a bit lately. Only thing is, I […]

Project 365: Day 227 – Surviving Istanbul on Simit