By Sunil Vaidya
Who says grown men don’t cry? In the last few days, I have often had moist eyes. Most recently at the decision to end our 16-year-long bond with our Muscat home.
I blink away tears at the mere thought that I won’t get to stay in that penthouse surrounded by mountains again.
To add to the misery, news came in that our family home for the last 70 years, in Mumbai, might be bulldozed for redevelopment. I am proud of my Ganesh Baug address in Mumbai. Whenever the question where I am from is asked, my prompt reply is Mumbai. Although, I have spent most of my adulthood away from that house.
I lived a nomadic life when work compulsions moved me out of Mumbai about 40 years ago — to Ahmedabad, where I changed seven houses before leaving for Muscat. I have bought two houses since then in Ahmedabad but mentally, I am still not in that city on the banks of the Sabarmati River.
My children have spent most of their childhood in Oman, thus understandably, they call Muscat their ‘home’ like I call Mumbai my ‘home’. They like to return to Muscat for holidays. Why only my children? Given a choice, our entire family would opt for Muscat. It’s the place, apart from Mumbai, that has given us warmth and made us feel at home.
Four years ago, I was compelled to shift to Dubai. The other family members, however, decided to stay back in Muscat and would visit Dubai.
In the last four years, I visited our Muscat home only once. Let’s just call it visa issues. However, in the four years that I have lived away from my family — and seen them only in Dubai on long weekends and over the holidays — I have been able to visualise every corner of my old house. Where my wife and kids would be at any point, in which corner, and what our dogs would be up to.
When we moved back to Muscat in 2002 after over nine years in Dubai, my children demanded a puppy. So we got Sasha – a black Labrador. Sasha was so quiet initially that my children wanted me to consult a vet.
That, anyway, was not the case. Our gentle, loving Sasha left us after 14 years in that Muscat house.
Sasha was the best companion for every family member, especially in times of distress. When my daughter, 10-years-old, had a serious burn accident, poor Sasha was ill, and being administered a drip when one Diwali, my daughter’s flowing silk dress caught fire from a diya (earthen lamp), and she had to spend 40 days in hospital and undergo three surgeries. Thankfully, she returned to the Muscat home and grew up to be a lively, energetic young lady. Since that Diwali, however, lighting diyas is a strict no no in our house.
I remember when a large number of family members flew to our Muscat home to join my wife and I celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We boarded a traditional Arabian dhow and set off on the pristine blue waters off the coast of Oman.
Nothing compares to the social life back in Muscat. The theme parties and barbecues on terraces are evidenced in our photo albums. Now, we are only left with memories.
I know they say move on, so I will and I have. I chose JLT in anticipation of my family joining me here soon — and the fact that it is one of the most dog-friendly communities in Dubai. And I haven’t been wrong.
Sasha left us in 2015 but we still have Gypsy — our Cockeranian (a mix between the English Cocker Spaniel and the Pomeranian) baby is now here in Dubai — as is my wife! — to keep me upbeat. Gypsy came into our lives seven years ago. Smaller in size, she and Sasha got on well. One tiny but chirpy and jumpy and other big and gentle.
Gypsy now stands on her hind legs and wakes me early in the morning to make sure she’s taken on half an hour-long walks — regardless of the weather.
The Jumeirah Lake Towers is another house we have got fond of in last three years. I am making my peace with living in yet another house and having my family with me again.
Sunil is sports editor. He turned vegetarian 31 years ago because he loves animals