Talking about life in an Oasis – Al Hamra

Welcome shade in the coconut grove

At the foothills of the dusty, dry mountain range, presumably where the rare mountainous rainwater pools underground over millennia, lies an oasis. A small little village with modest mud two storey houses – now extended with modern buildings. a strange mix, seen from afar.

The falaj, the water system, the lifeblood of the village still runs through, still frequented by old men and dragonflies.

Walking up through the granite streets, I poked my head into some of the old houses, the inhabitants long gone. Spider webs and dust; these places now belong to the goats and cats. Soon they’ll belong to the earth again.

They left.

They left everything as it is – untouched, undisturbed. Spiders scurry into the corners when they hear and feel the doors creak. I thought about the life here: Undistracted by the rest of the world, stories must have been an important past-time – the soft walls almost indented the vibrations of the stories, hubbub and laughter.

After an hour of wandering through a previous era, I made my way to the bait safr and took qahwa.

I spoke to two fellas dressed in Omani attire. One clearly wasnt Omani. We spoke in Arabic.
And so, Where are you from I asked.
From Iraq.
Ah ok.
You look like British he told me.
Aye, thats strange: Rarely does the oriental man classify me as British / Celtic. Fee fi fo fum, what a time to look like an Englishman. Is that so? I say.
No, You look very much like British soldier, I saw.
Fee fi fo fum. No escaping this one.

Fee fi fo fum. No point me trying to explain that the British should never have been there.
But from him, I didn’t encounter any malice, you know. Almost a resignation in his remarks. What to do.

How goes the situation in Iraq, I asked from the bottom of my heart, wishing that this ancient civilsation will know peace again.
Ma zayn.
I sympathised with him as best i could. War hasnt affected Europe since my Grandfathers’ times, so I count myself very fortunate.

We carried on talking, drinking chai. We then took selfies with eachother, presumably to signal: this moment, here we are, sitting together. Historic in our little lives, perhaps.

I dreaded the extent of the damage in Iraq. The sudden fleeing, smashed up buildings, the lost memories. The looted museums.


I wondered about this place. I stood for the last time in the doorway, looking at the caved in roofs, the rubbish, rubble and dust. What invasion took place here, to make people flee – so suddenly and never look back.

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