Thursday, April 5: This week I came across yet another photo challenge. It’s created by Sherene at PRINT-SENSE photography & design. One of the interesting rules to this photo challenge is the following: “Each image must be taken during the theme week. No scrounging back through last year’s photos for “a good one”. That would be cheating and the challenge is about taking new photos with new inspiration!”
Here’s the quote about this week’s challenge: “There is nothing better than that feeling of anticipation! The fluttery heart for something we truly desire. Our challenge this week is to capture anticipation. Anticipation for an event, trip or just a special treat. This may be something you are patiently, or maybe not so patiently waiting for, or even the very emotion of anticipation.”
It was really a challenge for me to think what I could photograph in Oman during this week for this theme, without cheating and looking back at my archives. Finally, I came up with an idea to drive to Bahla this morning and take photos of Bahla Fort. This is one of Oman’s biggest forts with huge walls and irregular towers, bastions and crenelated walls. The fort is believed to be pre-Islamic, although the present structure was mostly rebuilt during the 17th century. The fort fell into disrepair during the 20th century and was actually near total collapse when it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. At this time, it was closed for a huge renovation project, which continues to this day, 25 years on.
My Omani friend Moo tells me the jinn are at fault. Jinn are apparently ghosts or spirits, maybe even witches (?), which are part of the local legend of Bahla. Omanis believe that black magic or alchemy abound in this area. Legend has it that in Bahla’s past, people were turned into cows or goats, or they simply vanished into thin air when they leaned on certain fence posts. I ask a shopkeeper in Nizwa souq about this today, and his eyes sparkle when I bring it up. He shakes his hand, “in the past, in the past!” I say, you mean the jinns are in the past? They’re gone now? “No, we think that in the past, but no more! We don’t think this any more!”
According to Moo, every time part of the fort is renovated, the jinn come in during the night and undo whatever repairs have been done. Another legend has it that Indian laborers went in to do repair work and disappeared. Of course I’m skeptical about the truth of these tales.
So, I guess it’s been 25 years and people are still anticipating the completion of Bahla Fort’s renovation. I personally anticipate it will not be completed during my time in Oman. 🙂