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OCTOBER 2009 89

OCTOBER 2009 89




COVER DESIGN : Sandesh RANGNEKAR picture courtesy: RAMI AL ALI


Published by United Press & Publishing LLC A Renaissance Services Company

P.O. Box 3305, Ruwi, Postal Code 112, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. Tel: 00 968 24700896 Fax: 00 968 24707939 e-mail: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the express permission of the publishers. Copyright © 2009 United Press & Publishing LLC Printed in the Sultanate of Oman at Oman Printers & Stationers

NO FAD, THIS October is World Vegetarian Awareness Month and October 1, has been observed as World Vegetarian Day since 1977! Did you know that? We didn’t! The month aims to bring together vegetarians from all over the world for a common cause. It aims to bring awareness to the ethical, environmental, health and humanitarian benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. And guess that makes sense… for there are millions of people who are vegetarian, the world over. And that number is growing by the day. Did you also know that the word ‘vegetarian’ has been around since the 1850s? It was first used in England. In fact, they even had a ‘Vegetarian Society’ back then which had an in-house magazine too! And that magazine quite clearly defined the term as — ‘Vegetarian — one who lives on the products of the vegetable kingdom’. So one can safely say, it’s not a fad! While we are not judging anyone or ourselves, we have to admit, vegetarian food is just as delicious and as satisfying as meat of all kinds. But there are too many misunderstandings surrounding vegetarianism... We need to rid ourselves of the idea that vegetarians are Spartan folks who live on raw carrots, cabbage and bean sprouts! No-red-meat-but-chicken-and-fish do make you a non-vegetarian! No, vegetarians cannot eat ‘just a little’ or ‘taste’ a meat dish; they aren’t on a diet to cheat! Vegetarians aren’t malnourished or unhealthy; in fact statistics prove vegetarians have stronger immune systems! Today, the term means so much more. It means adopting a balanced, simpler way of life, based on a sustainable culture. It’s a lot more than just a diet of vegetables and fruits. And that, probably, is the best part. Our Cover Story tells you which celeb endorses vegetarianism and why… and that’s an interesting read! October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month; we hope you are up-to-date with your checkups and self-exams and doing your best to spread the awareness, no matter what your age. And last but not the least, October 10, is also World Mental Health Day. We have addressed it within, because your mental health is just as, if not more important, than your physical wellbeing. Do check out the whole issue; there’s tons of other good stuff to read... people, issues, travel, beauty, fashion and much more... We’ll see you next month, until then stay cool, stay healthy, stay safe people!



WORLD VEGETARIAN Awareness Month Special

All over the world, a large number of people are turning vegetarian. And celebs are leading by example…



34 It’s the NYT’s Luxury destination for

2009 — Thailand is where all the action is at!

Top Drive

60 Al Mar’a tests out the new Volkswagen Golf VI.

28 World Breast Cancer Awareness Month

With breast cancer awareness is the key; it’s never too early to be as aware as you can be. Four young women, all in their 20s, share their thoughts…

22 World Mental Health Day Special

00 A story of courage and the triumph of the human spirit; of fighting to overcome depression…

A few Tweeters share their thoughts on Twitter and the Twitosphere…


BankMuscat and the ‘Empowering Women through Beauty Courses’ programme.


SOLUTIONs Wellbeing

58 Dr Prema Seshadri on

living life healthily, realistically, meaningfully and completely…




Why Megan Fox is one of Hollywood’s fearless and spunkiest stars…



(World Mental Health Day Special)

Eye Candy

32 Meet Papri

42 He’s the hip,

Ghosh, Principal, the Indian School, Al Ghubra.

54 So how do you keep sane

at work? Here are a few ideas…

urban sensation! He’s Channing Tatum!

Fashion & Beauty

At Home

62 Practical ideas for your home and you.

Health Plus


64 A Q & A session with

Dr Smita Lulla, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist.


Autumn/Winter 2009 Collection - Splash

Fashion Plus 86 Rami Al Ali 2009/2010

Food Cuisine

74 Ranjani Ranaraja, wife of

In Every Issue

> Your Say > News, Etc. > Books, Movies and More… > Stargazing

HE D.M.M Ranaraja , the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Oman, tells us all about Sri Lankan cuisine and treats us to the perfect Sri Lankan culinary experience! Ranjani Ranaraja presents three authentic Sri Lankan recipes especially for you.

Autumn-Winter Couture Collection

Style 48 Geox, Parfois & Vincci:

Hot footwear and chic bags for the season…

Al Mar’a Recommends 16 We endorse: The Jasmine Breeze

Package at the Essence Spa We tried & tested: Oléo-Relax Slim from Kérastase

Beauty Buzz 56 Try the Thai Hammam at the Grand Spa, Muscat, for some effective R & R!

Beauty Zone 72 The beauty booty checklist…


Women on Top It was great to finally read about a successful woman in what is essentially considered a man’s job. I’ve had the pleasure of watching Zahra Santos at work and she can get a party going! Thanks for featuring the article, and reminding all young girls out there that their dreams are achievable! It’s a lesson I hope my girls will grow up with. I wish Zahra the best of luck with her future! She’s going to be an amazing Sound Engineer one day. Rekha Subramanian Darsait

Fashion Forward You guys do a wonderful job every month and I really loved the Fashion Fiesta pages in the last issue. It was a treat to see a collection of shoes, bags and accessories! I’ve always been a fan of Aldo, they have the best necklaces! Thanks for keeping us up to date on the latest fashion accessory trends but I do have one suggestion. Perhaps next time you could also include the prices? It would make things easier for budget conscious consumers like me who don’t like trips to the mall only to find that things are waaay too expensive! Margaret T. Darsait

Snappy Dressing Thanks for the article ‘Dressing for Success’. I’ve recently graduated and am now looking for jobs. The article really helped me out as I’m due to start job interviews really soon, and am nervous! Having to decide what to wear on top of having to worry about what to say is truly a nightmare, and you made my job, much easier. I’ll certainly avoid that bright orange, low-neckline top hanging in my closet for a while! Thanks for a brilliant issue (again) Al Mar’a! Sana Rahim Darsait

Eat Your Heart Out I’ve recently moved from India, and bought the magazine on a whim one day. This was my family’s first Ramadan and Eid away from home and my kids and husband were a bit homesick. I decided to remind them that we are living in a culturally-rich, country the old-fashioned way — through their stomachs! They simply lapped up the Arabic dishes recommended by Al Mar’a in



its September issue. Thanks Al Mar’a for making a potentially lonely time, a success for my family! Jane Belda Wadi Kabir

Happy Hubby My wife reads Al Mar’a every month, and I’m always on at her about reading women’s magazines. I had to eat my own words last month though when she showed me the section on Ramadan Promos not to be missed. I ended up buying a car all thanks to you! And I vow never to make fun of women’s magazines again. Rahul Sharma Seeb

Mind over Material I’ve been reading Al Mar’a for quite sometime now and I’d like to say that you’ve certainly come a long way. Last month’s issue however, finally prompted me to write this letter to you. ‘Wants > Needs?’ was probably one of the most topical articles that I’ve read in a long time. Today all of

us lead materialistic, consumer-driven lives. I hope your article makes all your readers give it some thought and think twice about spending mindlessly. After all, as Thoreau said, it is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, which prevents us from living freely and nobly. Salma Al Kindy Qurum

Super Style ‘Dressing for Success’ in last month’s issue was my favourite article! Not only did the writer give us some great tips but it was a fun read as well. I’ve just started working and consider myself pretty fashion savvy. Nonetheless, the article proved to be a godsend — and I’ve actually written down ‘The Office Essentials Checklist’ and kept it in my purse for ready reference when I go shopping next time! Thanks Al Mar’a! Justine Roberts Ghubra




Stunny & ing

Blazing tra Chevrole ils in the autom ob t East Pr Camaro! Mike ile arena is the n esident, ew 2010 Devereu an OTE B oard Ch d Sheikh Saad x, GM Middle airman, for the Suhail B ma all a Trading -new 2010 Ch rked the start hwan, evrolet o Establis f sales Ca h a Cama ro SS to ment by handin maro at Oman g over th Badar S the first ek au C showroo amaro custom d Hamed Al M eys of er, at th m. The aashari, e car for 2 the 21st 010 Camaro is OTE Wattayah a stunnin of a cla century; ss g it powerp ic design, all d ’s a modern tr sports lant for riven by eatment the for the C a amaro L Camaro SS an 462hp (gross) T. Boo d 323hp k a testdrive rig (gross) ht away!

Infiniti Info In more info on your favourite car, the Infiniti… a new luxury magazine ‘adeyeka’, from Infiniti Middle East is here. Available in English and Arabic versions, ‘adeyaka’ is published twice a year and is packed with more than 164 pages. The content is a unique mixture of lifestyle, design and car stories to entertain the most discerning readers. The electronic version of the magazine can be downloaded from www. If you are a car enthusiast and an Infiniti fan at that, do check it out!

Drive Green

Super Offer

The luxury car segment just gets better and better. Now, Zawawi Trading Co. L.L.C. has launched the Mercedes-Benz S 400, the first luxury hybrid sedan to be available in the Sultanate. The new S 400 Hybrid is the world’s first series production car to feature a hybrid drive system with a lithium-ion battery. With this new vehicle, Mercedes-Benz is emphatically underlining its claim to leadership in design, comfort, innovation and environmental compatibility. Check the beauty out at the Mercedes showroom.

The Mazda CX-9 is truly what you can call ‘a wow car’! And the best part is that you can still take advantage of Mazda’s exciting Ramadan offer to own this beauty, under Mazda’s exciting Ramadan offer — ‘Al Kul Fayez’ — which ends in November. The CX-9 comes with a host of free goodies. On the purchase of a CX-9, you can drive home with a free in-built car DVD entertainment system, free insurance and registration, 5 years free unlimited kms service, 5 years unlimited kms warranty and AAA, and for the first time ever — a fiveyear agency repair for accidents. The offer also includes a scratch and win coupon where special prizes await you. You also get to participate in the grand Ramadan raffle, to win a breathtaking new Mazda MX-5. Go on, get lucky!

Classic Car

The Nissan Sunny gets a new shape! The ‘people’s favourite car’ is now face-lifted into the Nissan Sunny Classic. The new Sunny Classic presents an experience in new age style and comfort at its finest. This new Nissan Sunny is now more determined, with added class, personality and style. With innovative changes in the exterior and interior, and added value in passenger comfort, it sure brings a new meaning to the word ‘classic’. Take a look; you’ll agree with us wholeheartedly!





The Right Cut Tech You’ve gotta have heard of Victorinox? The world leaders in Swiss army knives and kitchen knives? The brand is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. Yup, and now they are making a splash in Oman too! Recently, live product demonstrations that included vegetable carving, cutting and decoration with Victorinox attracted huge crowds at the Lulu Hypermarket in Bowsher. The range includes paring knives, tomato knives, carving knives, fish filleting knives, bread knives, kitchen knives, spatulas, sharpening steels, kitchen scissors, etc. They’re all available at Khimji Luxury & Lifestyle outlets and Lulu Hyper Market outlets across Oman.

The Height of Luxury

Luxury knows no boundaries and the Amouage brand exemplifies that in full measure! After its range of high-end fragrances, they’ve launched their first small leather goods collection. The ‘Jubilation Collection’ comprises an elegant and sophisticated range of small leather goods ranging from bill folds, credit card holders, business card and key cases, wallets, women’s cosmetic bags, men’s wash bags and photo frames. All products are hand-made, using the highest grade of calfskin, by Italian artisans whose skills have been passed down throughout many generations and are truly of top quality. Colours range from rich tones of chocolate and black to a delicate hue of ivory. The Jubilation Collection in the small leather goods category will be sold exclusively at Amouage stores and selected fine stores. Check it out…

10 OCTOBER 2009


Here’s a laptop from Samsung that spells class and displays a minimalistic attitude. We’re talking about the ultra-stylish Samsung N310 netbook for people on the move. Designed by Naoto Fukasawa, a leading international designer, the Samsung N310 is incorporated with cutting-edge technology and a stand-alone design complete with a soft-grip and unique tactile-feeling. Its durable casing also provides the maximum strength and reliability. Weighing just 1.23kg (with a 4 cell battery) the N310 is also the lightest in its class. Now that’s what we call a real ‘mover’!

Just Cruising

The countdown to the arrival of one of the world’s most luxurious cruise ships has begun. All of the Gulf region’s ports are gearing up for the arrival of the ‘Brilliance of the Seas’ from the Royal Caribbean International — the world’s largest global and most innovative cruise company. The ship is first scheduled to dock in its home port of Dubai on January 18th, 2010 followed by calls to Muscat, Fujairah, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, marking the company’s official entry into the Middle Eastern market.

Simply Scent


Here comes another whiff that will take this season by storm. ‘A Scent’ by Issey Miyake was launched at a grand event recently at the Chedi Muscat. Issey Miyake in collaboration with perfumer Daphne Bugey has packaged the scent created from fresh notes of Hyacinth and Galbanum setting the fragrance’s green, floral, delectable tone, enlivened by vivacious hints of Verbena and Jasmine inside a powerful, avant-garde concept explored by bottle designer Arik Levy. The bottles are sliced, depending on the desired size (50ml, 100ml, 150ml) from a single, continuous block of light-filled glass. Drop by at any of Capital Store’s outlets to pick up the new, irresistible scent of the season.



Food + Fun

With the special winter season starting off at Grand Hyatt Muscat, there’s a ton of stuff to delight in! The culinary season starts off with a tantalising menu at ‘Tuscany’, a new sushi menu at ‘Marjan’, family fun at the ‘Mokha Café’ and dining under the stars at the ‘Rooftop Grill House’. ‘Marjan’ re-opens this season with Southeast Asian cuisine and new sushi dishes. The new menu at ‘Tuscany’ will feature the Italian flavours of winter. The Friday brunch at the ‘Mokha Café’ is also back. Also check out special offers for children. It sure is one big culinary fest out there!

Brighten Up

Want to give your skin a perfect glow? Check out Nuxe who’s presenting a ‘Brightening Program’ especially for you! It helps restore clarity and translucency to your complexion and re-energises your skin with triple botanical effectiveness. Nuxe patented White Crocus and Daisy work to brighten the appearance of your skin, while Green tea provides protection and Mallow moisturises. It works in three steps with three products. The first is the Brightening Extreme Lotion, followed by the Brightening Concentrated Essence and ends with the Brightening Protective Fluid. Go get it!

Super Clean

Give your washing some enzyme power! That’s what Bahar Enzymatic, from National Detergents is offering. They say it has a unique formulation which combines the individual power of different enzymes to solve many garment washing problems. Bahar detergents contain the right proportions of Active Oxygen, optical brighteners and other functional ingredients that ensure the best whitening for whites, and a glowing wash for coloured garments. That apart, Bahar formulations are truly effective even at low wash temperatures and shorter wash cycles. Now, that’s what we call a super clean wash!

Style Essentials

It’s to get back to basics with timeless must-haves that complete any outfit, whatever the season. The Essentials collection presents Performance Polo — Giordano’s new and improved casual classic that offers even more vibrant colour and quality. Available in 12 colours, it fits in with any look for any occasion. So who among us doesn’t need a white top? Giordano has skinny polos, slip tops and ones with long sleeves to pick from! Then there are nine colours offer you a palette of hues to liven up their look. Casual or classy, the collection also includes straight fit or skinny fit jeans in two different colours. Check out your nearest Giordano store today... and keep up with the trends.

Simply beautiful

Style, shape and shine this October with Rimmel and Philips. Take advantage of the exclusive promotion Rimmel is running with Philips in select stores in the region. All you have to do is simply spend on Rimmel products and be eligible to scratch and win coupons for fantastic Philips and Rimmel products. In the process, also check out Rimmel’s Stay Glossy, a fantastic new formula and applicator combo, customdesigned for fabulously luscious lips that last, and last, and last. Stay Glossy comes in 10 covetable colours from pert pinks, brazen beiges, rich reds to lush purples.

White focus

It is subtle, unpretentious and uncomplicated. We are talking of the original New Cottage tableware series recently introduced by Villeroy & Boch. The New Cottage range of products includes fine china tableware in a pure white finish or decorated using the lithographic printing technique. A number of matching select tableware items in fine china on the theme of a ‘healthy diet’, focussing on salad, is also available. The tableware is microwave and dishwasher safe. The concept also offers cutlery made of forged 18/10 stainless steel and crystal glasses, both of which are also dishwasher safe.

12 OCTOBER 2009


Accolades, Achievements and Updates…

A Perfect Cause

As part of its ongoing campaign to develop skills in the young people of Oman, The Wave, Muscat, has donated RO 6,000 to the Outward Bound Oman/Tahaddi project. Outward Bound, a global leader in education through experience has a presence in more than thirty countries across Europe, the Americas, Asia, Australia and Africa. Outward Bound Oman is the first in the Arab world. Abdullah Al Shidi, Deputy CEO, The Wave, Muscat, presented the cheque to Mark Evans, General ManagerOutward Bound Oman/Tahaddi, at The Wave, Muscat, Sales Centre in the presence of senior officials. This is nice stuff for the right reasons.


In more news from the hotel industry… the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has announced the appointment of Martin van Kan as the new Director of Operations in Oman and General Manager for the iconic Al Bustan Palace InterContinental Muscat. Van Kan is a graduate of the Hotel and Tourism School, Les Roches, Switzerland. He officially assumed his new position in July 2009 and brings with him many years of experience in the hospitality industry. Van Kan held several managerial positions throughout his career across a variety of markets, namely in Asia, the Middle East and the United Kingdom. We wish him good luck.

Good Going!

Setting a new milestone in safe operations, the Oman Oil Marketing Company (omanoil) recently marked 17 years without Lost Time Injury (LTI) at the Mina Al Fahal (MAF) Terminal, its main operational site. With a relentless focus on the wellbeing of its staff and contractors, this achievement underscores the carefully planned policies and procedures that have spread an overlying culture of safety and the ingrained HSSE awareness that transcends the Company. Carry on the good work, people!

14 OCTOBER 2009

In Expansion


Here comes some very good news from the national carrier, Oman Air. It has moved a step closer to its fleet expansion target by taking delivery of its first Airbus A330-200. Powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines, the first A330-200 in Oman Air’s livery flew from Toulouse, France, arriving at the Seeb International Airport later same day. Configured in a very comfortable two-class layout, the aircraft provides space for 216 passengers, including 20 business class seats and 196 economy class seats. It just gets better and better…


on the Go

Here’s more to woman power! The Women’s Guild in Oman (WGO) welcomed returning members as well as new members to their 2009/10 season Registration Events recently. Membership to the Guild includes a discounted entry to the many, varied WGO events, e-newsletters on WGO and local events and varying discounts from the Guild’s generous business partners. Membership Secretary, Maggie Wilcockson, has welcomed more than 800 members to date, and has received indications of interest from a further 100 ladies. If you are interested, apply at www.womensguildoman. com or email womensguildinoman@gmail. com for further info.

All the Best!

Here is some news from the hospitality sector… The Park Inn Muscat has announced the appointment of Fahad Said Al Wahaibi as Director of Sales & Marketing. Al Wahaibi, a native Omani, brings with him over 10 years experience within the hospitality sector. Fluent in both Arabic and English, Al Wahaibi holds a Business Administration Diploma from the National Training Institute, Muscat, as well as a Hotel & Restaurant Diploma from the National Hospitality Institute Muscat. We wish him the very best!


Italian Elegance! Check out the sprawling, spanking-new Vabene showroom at the Markaz Al Bahja. It offers the best in Italian kitchens, bathroom fittings, tiles and mixers…

Kitchens — Vitali Cucine

Vitali Cucine Kitchens are designed to fit all lifestyles, needs, tastes and satisfy one’s vision of space. They are featured in a wide range of bright colour options in glossy and matt finishes. The straight cuts, illuminated glass doors, long and slender handles... give them a touch of modern art. The Italian Kitchens are designed with a range of stainless steel accessories, cutlery trays, plate racks with water drainer, hygiene arrangement for sink and dustbins, inbuilt electrical appliances and much more.

Bathrooms — BMT The wide variety of models made of ceramic allows maximum adaptability to any environment. The hightech equipment and BMT’s ancient handicraft tradition are the real reasons for its success.


The AeT Italia brand is synonymous with quality, design and innovation. In just a few years, the company has become a reputed leader in the world of ceramics. The AeT products are realized in GREMAR, a special ceramic material porcelainised and improved in their laboratories.

Bathroom Furnishing lines — Effepi

For Effepi, style, quality and effective ergonomics alone are not enough to enhance the personality of the bathroom. Modern technology has brought new designs and innovative forms that enhance the everyday feelings for our bathrooms.

Floor and Wall Tiles — Pastorelli - GAZZINI Founded in 1967, Pastorelli today boasts of experience of over 40 years in the design and manufacture of quality Italian tiles. It offers a range of indoor, outdoor and wall tile collection which includes porcelain and stone range with an array of decorative pieces in different colour options.

Drop by the Vabene showroom at Markaz Al Bahja and give your home a magical makeover! Tel: 24538723,


Total Wellness How it is done:

Where: Essence Spa, Al Inshirah Street, Madinat Al Alam What’s it all about: The Jasmine Breeze Package is a two-hour escape from the stress-filled world… All you have to do is to relax and surrender to an invigorating, refreshing and rejuvenating floral treatment. The jasmine flower is a vital part of the treatment. It is said to calm the nerves and help ease tension. It is widely used in aromatherapy to calm the emotions and to cure depression because it produces a feeling of confidence, optimism and euphoria. It revitalises and restores the balance of energy.

Your spa journey begins with a refreshing drink. A few sips of ‘Roselle’ (a drink made with hibiscus and also known as karkade) is known to lower high blood pressure. A cool foot bath then awaits you in the open garden area where an exfoliating jasmine foot scrub is used to polish your soles to make it soft and smooth. After this is done, you will be taken to the beautifully designed treatment room for the jasmine body scrub. The gentle scrub is rich in nutrients that replenish the skin with pure healing oils, making the body skin soft and radiant. Jasmine extracts are also known for treating dull and spotty skin… so this scrub works best. You can rinse off with the Spa’s indoor rain shower and following this, submit yourself to a soothing Balinese massage that uses a combination of mild stretches, acupressure and jasmine aromatherapy oil to boost blood circulation and bring relaxation and wellness. You can end the treatment with a delightful plate of dates and apricots with hot jasmine tea. Sheer bliss, don’t you think?

Our verdict: In this world where stress is an inherent part of our lifestyle, taking two hours off for this wonderful spa package is not a luxury, but a necessity. Go for it!

Cost Factor:

To get in touch: 24603225

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18 OCTOBER 2009

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ll over the world, a large number of people are turning vegetarian. And it’s not just a fad! Studies have shown that vegetarians (following a wellbalanced, low-fat, high-fibre, vegetarian diet) often have lower incidence of coronary artery disease, hypertension, obesity and some forms of cancer. A vegetarian diet tends to be lower in total fat, and vegetarians tend to eat proportionally more polyunsaturated fat as compared to saturated fat compared with non-vegetarians. (Animal products are the major sources of dietary saturated fat). Good enough reason, wouldn’t you say, to turn vegetarian as some of these celebrities did?

frozen food line) which had become a hit in the early 90s with his designer daughter, Stella, who is an animal-rights activist and yet another famous vegetarian. “If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That’s the single most important thing you could do. It’s staggering when you think about it. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty.”

Hayden Panettiere

The ‘Heroes’ star, Hayden Panettiere, is a hero in other ways, too! She’s one of the favourite vegetarians the public root for. Hayden together with her former boyfriend, Milo Ventimiglia, earned the respect and praise of PETA for their vegetarian lifestyle. However, she has been lately criticised for signing a contract with the brand, Dooney and Bourke. Let’s see how she will make up with her vegetarian fans! “A lot of people in this world will say they are involved in causes and organisations, but they don’t actually do something. It was a great feeling to be there physically (for the dolphins), making a difference.”

Alicia Silverstone

A well-known PETA activist, Alicia Silverstone is a nature and animal lover and has featured in many of their campaigns. She is a hardcore animal rights activist and vegan. The fitness freak also claims that her vegetarian diet has made her feel healthier than ever before and has given her a lot of self-control. She prefers tofutti (fake cream cheese), soy products, rice milk, tofu, vegetables, salads and fruits in her regular diet. She was also one of the first celebrities to go public about her vegan diet long

Paul McCartney

He is a long-time vegetarian and proud of it! He is also one of the many celebrities espousing the PETA cause. What made him turn vegetarian? The Beatle speaks of an experience when he and wife Linda were eating roast lamb for a Sunday lunch. It was the lambing season and the splendid outdoors was filled with lambs roaming about. “We just looked at the lamb on our plate and looked at them outside and thought, ‘we are eating one of those little things that is gaily running around outside. It just struck us that we may not want to do this.” He is also revamping his late wife Linda’s vegetarian food range (Linda McCartney’s


before it became a trend. “Being vegan truly is the secret to my life’s joy and peace. I feel physically and spiritually better than I could have ever imagined knowing that I am doing everything I can to reduce animal suffering with simple lifestyle choices like being vegan, never wearing any products made from animals (like wool and leather), and buying only from companies that never test their products or ingredients on animals.”

Carrie Underwood

Do you remember, country crooner and ‘American Idol’ winner Carrie Underwood wearing a ‘V is for Vegetarian’ T-shirt on ‘American Idol’? She became an instant hit with vegetarians worldwide. Though she grew up on a farm in Oklahoma, she was never a big meat-eater, saying rather jocularly that she would rather sing to cows than eat them. “Ever since I was little I loved animals. They depend on people to take care of them. If you told me I could never sing again, I’d say that was horrible, but it’s not my life. If you told me I could never be around animals again, I would just die.”

Tobey Maguire

Spider-Man is so into vegetarianism that he has actually banned all leather from his house. The star insists that everyone who visits his home must remove all leather garments — including shoes and belts before entering. Tobey has been a vegetarian for

20 OCTOBER 2009

the past 14 years and he is almost vegan too. After all, he needs those eggs and dairy products to bulk up for an ‘action role. It is claimed that he substituted tofu for meat for his ‘Spider-Man roles. He’s also a total teetotaller. Recently, he extended the cause to include school lunches as well. He has written letters to politicians urging them to get schools to serve more lunches with fruits, vegetables and low-fat vegetarian meals. “I had a really tough time eating chicken, because I would start imagining what I was eating and what kind of life the animal led.”

“I looked down and there was blood on my plate, and it was that realisation, that I can’t eat something that has been alive, I just can’t do it. So I stopped, and that was it. That was the last time.”n

Natalie Portman

Here’s a vegetarian who’s almost vegan… and has her own vegan shoe line. She has been a strict vegetarian since the age of eight, ‘reformed’ after seeing a demonstration of laser surgery on a chicken at a medical conference with her father. She does not eat meat of any kind and avoids all animal products. She has been trying to phase out eggs. She refuses to wear leather but does wear wool. Her stylish vegan shoe line is dazzling, playful, elegant and free of animal products, each pair exuding the actor’s own personal style “I am a very strict vegetarian. … I just really, really love animals, and I act on my values.”

Shania Twain

The crooner was the first ever star to be named the Sexiest Vegetarian Alive by PETA voters. She hasn’t eaten an animal since she married long-time vegetarian Mutt Lunge. She likes her veggies and a lot of pasta too. Though she has been generally described as a vegetarian, she has herself called herself a vegan in many magazines. “I eat a lot of tofu, and I drink soy shakes with fruit every morning. I always have soybeans, black beans or chickpeas for lunch or dinner.”

Christina Applegate

She is the spokesperson for the PETA’s campaign against fur titled, ‘Fur: Get Me Not.’ The turning point (when she became vegetarian) came when she saw blood on a plate on the sets of ‘Married with Children’ and was repelled by the whole idea of eating meat. While some say PETA does a lot of provocative things to grab attention, Christina doesn’t think so. She feels that with causes like this, one has to shout to get heard.

OCTOBER 2009 21


The Other Side and Back One in four people experience a period of mental illness at some stage in their lives, and by 2020 depression alone will be the second largest cause of disability in the world after heart disease. Mental illness doesn’t always elicit sympathy/concern; it’s hard to see, and even harder to understand. October 10 is World Mental Health Day. Here’s a story of abject misery and despair; it’s also a story of courage and the triumph of the human spirit. It’s a story that deserves a standing ovation. Team Al Mar’a salutes the immense courage it took this young lady to seek help, to fight for and accept each moment of truth. She tells her story so that other lives can be saved…

22 OCTOBER 2009


t took a long time in coming. But it came nevertheless. I don’t know what triggered it and why... but one day, I simply broke down. I couldn’t go on any further. It was as if I had lost control over myself. I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t want to die, but I wanted to run away from it all. I simply sat in a corner and cried... and cried... “I was a little stressed at work, but it was nothing I had not faced earlier. I was working for the past 10 years and hard work was a given. My personal life was okay but there were some insecurities gnawing at

the back of my mind often — plenty of unhappy childhood moments, sick parents, and a pretty much put-on facade through most of my life. Happy on the outside, lonely within... Life was a constant uphill task... of trying to prove to others that I could stick it out on my own. “As I grew older, I became fiercely independent, sometimes even to the point of rebellion. I thought being successful would override the feelings of emptiness. I had loads of friends, was an academic topper and glided smoothly into my career of choice. Everything was going well for me… or so I thought.

“As I realised later, I failed to notice the signs. A defeatist attitude (the constant feeling that everything will go wrong even before it begins), acute paranoia (I always dreamt of something bad happening) and holding myself responsible for everything happening around me. I always worried about what people thought of me and also what they didn’t think of me. I weighed every pro and con till it ate into both my waking and sleeping hours. Even a positive remark seemed like a jab... and negative ones sent me deep into the abyss from which I thought there was no return... My heart thumped wildly all the time, I was irritable, impatient, always tired and ready to scream at the slightest pretext. “And when it happened... I felt myself being sucked into a vacuum. I questioned the very purpose of my existence... but thankfully I did not go over the edge. Not yet! “When a friend suggested a psychiatrist, I agreed immediately. I knew that there was something wrong with me, but I couldn’t pinpoint what. It took just a single session to diagnose chronic depression. “I was a voracious reader, but all my reading had not prepared me for this. I was not ‘mental’, was I!? I was a woman of the millennium, smart, confident and successful! And I needed a ‘shrink’ to help me!? “Well, that was the turning point. For it was also the beginning of many lessons; that

no amount of reading can teach you, and where self-help does not even come into the picture. “The most important lesson was that being diagnosed with depression does not mean that there is something ‘mentally’ wrong with you. In essence, you cannot be blamed for your state of mind. “The doctor put it very well. He said, “Feelings of depression are caused by a chemical change that affects how the brain functions. The brain is made up of billions of nerve cells called neurons. These neurons send and receive messages from the rest of your body, using brain chemicals called neuro-transmitters. You get depressed when these chemical messages aren’t delivered correctly between brain cells thus disrupting communication.” “To make it simpler, the doctor compared the functioning of the brain to that of a telephone. If your phone has a weak signal, you cannot hear the other person properly. Communication thus becomes unclear. “I was started off on anti-depressants and it took a while to get the right one to work for me. I still had my bouts of insecurity and crying fits. I continued to remain in my shell, reluctant towards any sort of company. I avoided all social contact, slept most of the time and lost all interest in household chores.

“Anti-depressants alone do not help with depression. Coupled with counselling, it does, however, provide tangible results. I made appointments with a counsellor, and shared all my deepest fears and concerns. She made me do some simple physical and meditative exercises, write a diary.... and taught me to take every day as it comes. Weighed under years of continuous selfpity, it took me some time to come to a routine. A long-awaited holiday helped along with some hard truths. I no longer allowed people to step all over me... and hurt me in the process. I ignored complaints, insults and decided that the time had come to take charge of myself. I am and therefore I am... I’d have it no other way! “A year has passed since that ‘turning point’ in my life. I have changed in many ways. I cannot say that I am ‘fully cured’ because depression is not a ‘disease’. But I know that if it dares to raise its head again, I would know what to do to quash it. I am very thankful that I listened to my friend and saw a psychiatrist. I am happy that I chose to listen to my inner self and seek help and not be ashamed of it. For it has definitely made me a better person than what people would generally classify as ‘normal’ in this world. “Today, I live life knowing how to tackle problems that might arise. I am content and am also happy to a large degree. I am getting there...” n (Name withheld to protect privacy)

• During pregnancy and after delivery, many women suffer from depression, but cannot access the necessary treatment. “Perinatal depression is associated with increased risk of obstetric complications and premature birth,” says Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UNFPA’s Executive Director. “And depressed women are less likely to seek and receive antenatal or postnatal care.”

• Many low-income countries have one or two psychiatrists for the entire population. Many developed countries have ‘carved out’ mental health services from primary care health systems — giving mental health and illness less attention, less money, reduced options and services and little or no connection to the individual’s total healthcare needs.

• “Mental health is of paramount importance for personal wellbeing, family relationships and an individual’s ability to contribute to society,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, WMH Day, 2008.

• The WHO, in 1948, defined ‘health’ as — ‘A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’.

• Major depression ranks fourth in terms of disability adjusted life years and will soon be the second leading cause of disability worldwide.

• The World Federation for Mental Health has designated the theme for WMH Day 2009 as ‘Mental Health in Primary Care: Enhancing Treatment and Promoting Mental Health’, and urges increased availability of appropriate and equitable mental health services through primary healthcare services and facilities for those experiencing serious mental health problems and disorders.

• Out of the estimated 450 million people globally who have a mental health disorder, fewer than half receive the help they need.

OCTOBER 2009 23


What’s up,

Tweeple! Women in Oman join the Twitter bandwagon... These tweeple are having fun and much, much more says Rekha Baala.


ll it takes is just 140 characters to let people know what you’re up to... And just a few seconds to post a link to an interesting titbit or breaking news... It’s something better than instant messaging and a lot less time consuming than blogging. We are talking of Twitter, the social networking website that has taken the world by storm.

you follow people and have followers. It’s a quick tool for quickly communicating a message to a group of people.

It’s simple. If you are not on Twitter, you are not ‘in’. Contrary to what most people think about social networking sites, Twitter is not about stoking your personal ego or getting in touch with old friends. It’s a social messaging tool where

In Oman, a vibrant community of tweeters tweet on every subject possible, from the heat to the holidays. And women are having their say too! Five women speak to Al Mar’a on what makes them tweet...

24 OCTOBER 2009

US President Barack Obama tweets often, so do most celebrities around the world. Lance Armstrong, Britney Spears, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Paulo Coelho, Michael Phelps, Al Gore... the list is honestly endless!

OCTOBER 2009 25

Feature one; just as with any other gadget or application. Over the years we learn to balance our lives such indulgence including Twitter, after the initial peak periods. Everyone starts slow, peaks to addiction and plateaus out eventually in a couple of months. I’m certainly not a Twitaddict!”

Erika Anggreini, Sangeetha Sridhar, Content Consultant Tweets At:


The Beginning: “My twitour began last year. This year, I’ve started tweeting my poems and musings, and I think this is the only Twittery (Twitter poetry) in Oman till date.” The Twitter Difference: “Few people have time to read lengthy stuff online and so the new format suits this inclination. Facebook is too intensive and less productive for my nature. I prefer to blog on technology, Flickr with travel pictures, Email with Gmail, Video on Youtube and tweet for all the rest.” The Following: “My twitscape is relatively small but full of Twitty (Tweeps who are witty). I follow about 80, and have around 150 followers.” Tweet Tweet: “I average around 10 in a day but more on some days and none on others; it depends on how relaxed I am.” Subjects of Interest: “Oh, it’s almost infinite — quiz, trivia, news, tech updates, books reviews, recipes, cartoon, music referrals, video links, VIP mantras, capsules of philosophy, poetry, stories, picturesque photographs, artworks, etc.” One Best Thing: “Twitter is brevity at its Best 4 Fun, Focus that’s Fit for purpose! Women on Twitter: “Very few women in Oman are active on Twitter. I observe tweep women to be up-to-date in current affairs and they regularly read referral tweeps and tweet comments. Purchase decisions get a lot easier with fellow tweeps sharing their experiences — like in the case of my Plasma TV bought very recently and the applications we load on to our phone.” The Addiction: “Well, it can become

26 OCTOBER 2009

Marketing Communications Manager Tweets At:


The Beginning: “Early January 2009. I was attracted by its simplicity.” The Twitter Difference: “Like Facebook, Twitter is all about social networking, yet it’s so simple. You simply connect to others by telling them what you are doing.” The Following: “I only follow friends, colleagues, family and those I have an interest in. I have 10 followers and I follow 18 people.” Tweet Tweet: “I try to tweet at least once a day.” Subjects of Interest: “It keeps me updated about pretty much everything... and to some extent, it gives me ideas.” Women on Twitter: “I think more and more women are becoming technologically savvy.” The Addiction: “I would not call it an addiction... it’s something I enjoy.”

Kifah Al Mahruqi Tweets At: Kifa7 The Beginning: “I started earlier this year but didn’t become active till after March or April.” The Twitter Difference: “With Facebook you are linked with family and friends you know previously in ‘real life’. With Twitter you ‘follow’ people of interest or in your geographical location that you don’t necessarily know in real life; those that are outside of your social circle.” The Following: “130 plus.” Tweet Tweet: “I normally tweet around 20-30 updates in a day.” The Addiction: “It can get addictive and you find yourself doing things or reading things where you say to yourself ‘Yeaaah, I’ve got to tweet this, cause X might be interested in this or X was asking about this earlier’. I was having Internet trouble and was tweeting my issues and an employee from Omantel saw my tweets and asked me to email my issues and forwarded my e-mail to senior managers at Omantel which speeded up the process. There are numerous other examples of situations where someone out of your social circle is of big help. I know someone that went on an informal job interview based on a recommendation from another tweeter. And they both have never met aside from their interaction on Twitter.”

Padmaja Menon Tweets At: www.twitter. com/padmajamenon The Beginning: “I first started tweeting in July as I had heard so much about it. I was into Facebook already, and so did not want to get into another social networking site. A good friend had recommended Twitter so I simply had to check it out.” The Twitter Difference: “Twitter’s much better when compared to Orkut and Facebook. I was never a fan of Orkut but am there as well. Am a regular on Facebook basically to keep in touch with family and friends. Twitter is a knowledge mine for me!” The Following: “Not many.... Since I’m new to this... I have 55 followers and follow 163 people.” Tweet Tweet: “Initially I was not tweeting much as I didn’t know much about this! But now that I have got the hang of it, I am quite regular! I clock around three times a day on an average. On holidays I am mostly tweeting!!” Subjects of Interest: “Oh plenty of them... India / Kerala Politics for one and the current happenings in and around the world! The best thing is one is updated instantly about the news from all over... and you also get to interact with a lot of intellectuals you’ve never known all your life but the interaction is highly effective!”  Women on Twitter: “There are just a handful of women tweeters in Oman. Am sure there are a lot more who can enter the tweetworld and help build a Twitter community!” The Addiction:  “It’s so gripping that one just doesn’t want to let go at any point but then we have to get on with other things, so one can’t let this addiction take over one’s life. One has to balance the good, bad and ugly, so it’s up to each individual as to how to interpret ‘addiction’.”

Twitter Terms Mistweet: Accidentally sending a tweet to the wrong person or wishing you didn’t send a particular tweet. Nudge: An action reminding a user to update their status. You can only do this to someone who follows you and who has a device registered with Twitter.

Pushkala Laxminarayan Tweets At: www.twitter. com/pushkala The Beginning: “I have been tweeting since 2007. My desire to keep up with the buzz even when I’m on the move, with few added micro-blogging options led me to Twitter.” The Twitter Difference: “I find it’s a good communication tool, perhaps more useful than we realise. It’s an amazingly powerful platform to spread the word and connect the dots at the speed of light. I love these short posts. And I gain a lot from it, through a carefully selected crowd I ardently follow.” The Following: “I am very choosy about followers. It never is a game of numbers with me.” Tweet Tweet: “I tweet maybe twice a day; at times even more. My tweets are always spontaneous and result from the daily events of life.” Subjects of Interest: “The best thing about Twitter is that it helps me widen my network. I find links to abundant reading materials, current affairs, technology, etc. Let us just say that Twitter links to innumerable articles that interest me!” Women on Twitter: “I think anyone, who loves micro-blogging and wants to expand their network qualitatively, should check out Twitter at least once. Life sans Twitter is not fun!” The Addiction: “Yes, it very well becomes an addiction when you learn how to use it to the best. As they say: ‘To blog is human; to tweet is divine!’ ”

Retweet (RT): A Retweet is a repeated tweet. It’s sometimes used in a reply to allow everyone to see the original tweet. It is also used to forward a message onto one’s own followers. Twaffic: The traffic on Twitter. Tweeple: Twitter users. Tweeps: Twitter followers who are your friends on multiple social networks. They are your social network peeps or posse. Tweet: A message sent via Twitter. Tweet Back: Bringing an older tweet back into the conversation. Tweeter: A person who tweets. Twitosphere: Twitter users or the community of tweeters.

OCTOBER 2009 27

BC Awareness Feature


Not Just a

Colour October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. However, breast cancer is a hard reality every month, every day and even every minute of the day. For that minute / day or month can save your life or someone else’s, if you dedicate it to being aware or spreading the awareness. Since a lot of myths and misinformation also surround the dreaded disease, we thought we’d ask four young women we know what they know and think. Their answers are heartwarming to say the least! Those the same age could learn by example; for those older — let the young ones teach you something…


areers, friends, networking, partying, fashion — one could generalise and say these are just some of the things that are on the minds of young women today (and not necessarily in that order). But contrary to popular belief, underneath the blissfully carefree lives of the 20-somethings, there do sometimes lie certain bleak uncertainties and the awareness within, that certain diseases can affect them too, directly or indirectly. Stark statistics say that one in eight of us will be diagnosed with breast cancer. And young people know statistics don’t lie… What might be not up to scratch however is the acceptance that anything can happen to anyone, at any time, even breast cancer! But this is true for all of us, irrespective of age, isn’t it? Unless we are confronted with the dreaded disease ourselves or see how it destroys the lives of people we’re close to, we don’t really get it, do we?

28 OCTOBER 2009

Young people are not necessarily less aware of the disease, but they may not be completely informed, especially of the risk factors and most importantly, what you can do to pre-empt it. Accepting and learning that survival is possible, is the ultimate step, that’s the battle half-won, but at 20, is that how you feel? When you see someone suffer or know that you could be genetically inclined yourself? Like we said earlier, awareness is the key and it’s never too early to be as aware as you can get… These four young women, all in their 20s (with one still getting there), share their thoughts on breast cancer. They’re fearful, but they’re also aware…

Awareness is Everything I’m 21 years old and I didn’t really know much about breast cancer. I should have.

robust woman I used to know, frail and broken, questioning her womanhood after having had to consider the option of a mastectomy. The effect the cancer had on my friend’s family was also terrifying. My grandmother had also passed away from breast cancer. This was before I was born, and truthfully, I was not really bothered by the illness of a person I never really got to know. But as I watched my friend go through what my father must have gone through decades ago, I felt compassion for my father; there was sympathy for and a sense of loss about the woman I never got to know because of the disease. This year, I am resolved to reach for the phone book and set up an appointment with my doctor. It is a small price to pay for a healthy life. And no one should have to go through the torment of watching a loved one die slowly and painfully. I am 21 years old and I resolve to make myself aware about breast cancer. Mahreen Sohail, 21

I am, after all, a woman of the 21st century and we’re supposed to know these things. But aside from having cried over ‘Stepmom’ a couple of times (was that breast cancer or leukaemia?), and having a vague idea that chemotherapy is not for the faint-hearted, there was little I knew about the disease. I did tout a Pink Ribbon on my handbag to raise awareness, but as I write this, it seems hypocritical in hindsight. I myself was unaware. Why should others my age be different? When you’re young, immortality seems like a reality. We are youthful and fresh; too busy gossiping animatedly to really care. The advent of October heralds Breast Cancer Awareness and I am being bombarded with information about the disease, that till now, I had managed to ignore quite successfully.

Be Positive

This year is different though. Perhaps now I am more receptive to knowledge about the disease because last year a best friend’s mum was diagnosed with it. She has, since, thankfully recovered, but I have been left with an image of the

I was jolted even further when another friend’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo a mastectomy. I know that it is difficult to predict what the future has in store for us, but awareness goes a long way in mitigating

We always hear about breast cancer (it’s supposed to be the commonest forms of cancer in women) but do we really care to do anything about it? They say a little knowledge is dangerous… and that is exactly my case. As a kid, I used to watch advertisements on breast cancer with terrifying effects. I was always scared that I actually had it. Little did I know that breast cancer is ‘not mere pain in the breasts’ which I often experienced just before my periods? What added to the fear was the suffering my friend’s mother had to undergo because of breast cancer. She passed away leaving behind her husband and two little children.

the fear of the disease and to some extent, even prevents it from affecting us. Worried by my fears, a close friend of mine gave me a few books on health and directed me to a few websites that had helpful information on breast cancer. I learnt that only five to 10 per cent of breast cancer is genetic, leaving the rest to environmental and lifestyle factors. So prevention, as I understood, was very much possible. A balanced diet and exercise is largely helpful in preventing most diseases. I took this into account and am now trying to lead a sensible lifestyle. This coupled with a positive attitude that I can face life and its vagaries as they come, I am sure, will hold me in good stead in the future. Abigail Lobo, 19

Don’t be Shy

It is true that the main factor that causes breast cancer is family history, but that doesn’t mean that others are 100 per cent safe. Of course, there are different myths surrounding the target groups but what is of utmost importance is awareness. A common myth is that the cancer is more common among women in the 30-40 age group only which we now know is not that case. Men too need to be aware because a little known fact is that breast cancer could affect them as well. We often ignore the little things that would help us to diagnose the disease in its early stages, if it were to happen to us. For example, how many young women take time to check their breasts from time to time to see if everything is normal? In our society, I feel women are too shy to look at their breasts in the mirror. And even if they notice any abnormality, they are too embarrassed to talk about it, even with their mothers or older sisters. Also, another factor contributing to an

OCTOBER 2009 29

BC Awareness Feature increase in cases of breast cancer is that the new generation of women is having kids late and some of them do not even breastfeed their babies. They do not realise that that having kids at an early age and breast-feeding them can actually protect you from breast cancer. Fatma, 23

The Power of Pink I learnt about breast cancer in detail in my Genetics class at University. But at the time, it was like any ‘rare’ disease — an ‘aberration’ in Gene Expression. That’s what our text books said. And the statistics said I’d have to have a family history of breast cancer, belong to a certain race, and be above a certain age to fall into the ‘high risk group’. In 2007, I met a 26-year-old who was diagnosed with breast cancer — and she had no family history and was a perfectly healthy individual before she found that dreaded lump. That’s when it hit me – breast cancer is real. It could happen to anyone — you, me — even men aren’t in the clear (although the odds are slim). Scary as that thought might be, if detected at an early stage, like most cancers, breast cancer too, can be cured, all the more reason to conduct regular breast selfexams (BSE). My advice to all women out there would be to talk about it; talk to your friends about breast cancer, spread the awareness, share your concerns, and your fears. Instead of going alone for checkups, pair up with a close friend — not only does that ensure you actually do visit the doctor but also makes the whole task a lot less overwhelming. I guess denial’s better than facing the thought that you might be at a risk of getting breast cancer. But I strongly believe that all women, irrespective of age, should educate themselves about breast cancer and get themselves checked at least every two years. Spread the power of pink! Sushmita Sarkhel, 24

30 OCTOBER 2009

When Pink Is Just A Colour Again by Kal Hourd (Pink Ribbon Song 2009)

Seems like the whole town’s here, Friends and ribbons fill the park, She knows she’s not alone, it makes her smile, and it breaks her heart, Her daughter is holding her hand, a balloon tied on her wrist, She says, “Mommy, everyone’s dressed in pink, look how pretty it is.” And It reminds her, of comin’ here, When she was, just a little girl, Holding her own mother’s hand, It was an innocent world, When pink was just a colour and ribbons tied back hair, Every race was just for fun and she ran without a care, Today is one step closer, to being like back then, When pink, is just a colour again, Now her daughter’s on grandpa’s shoulders, waving above the crowd, She steps up to the starting line, and takes a, long look around, She sees posters held up high, white candles being lit, For mothers and daughters, sisters and wives, That are being missed, But her mother, is still with her, As a, picture on her shirt, And she wipes away, bitter sweet tears, As she, runs in memory of her, And of when pink is just a colour and Ribbons tied back hair, Every race was just for fun and she ran without a care Today, is one step closer, To being like back then, When pink is just a colour again... When pink is just a colour and ribbons tie back hair, Every race is just for fun, and we run without a care, Today, is one step closer, To being like back then, Every step is one step further, In this, race we’re gonna win, When pink is just a colour again.. When pink is just a colour again...


A Principal’s Principles “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains.  The superior teacher demonstrates.  The great teacher inspires.” — William Arthur Ward Rekha Baala met Papri Ghosh, the Principal of the Indian School, Al Ghubra who is a great inspiration to her students and much, much more…


e first met Papri Ghosh, the Principal of the Indian School, Al Ghubra at a function organised by the South African Embassy on the occasion of National Women’s Day. In an awe-inspiring speech, the Educationist spoke about women empowerment in a way that touched our hearts… and souls. She was articulate, forceful and so full of positivity. We felt we simply had to meet her. When we approached her for an interview, she was surprised. “Why me, what will I talk about?” she asked. We assured her that there was plenty to discuss and we would never have enough of her words of wisdom. Slightly embarrassed, she acquiesced. And it turned out to be exactly that… plenty of food for thought! An hour of conversation was simply not enough. But with parents and staff waiting patiently outside her door, we had to stop. With promises of other informal chats… and endless conversations! If I were a student, the first word I would use to describe Papri would be ‘cool’. The lady loves Acid Rock, watches ‘Rock on’ on MTV and if I may go a little further is a totally ‘chilled out’ character. She is not the strict disciplinarian, but gently firm. She moves with the times… And that’s why her students simply love her! Interestingly, Papri’s foray into teaching

32 OCTOBER 2009

began only after marriage. After her schooling and college in Kolkata, India, she was married pretty early into a traditional Indian joint family. But she had an ally in her husband’s grandmother who encouraged her to pursue an M.A. and B.Ed. “These were the old days and it was strange because this was a lady who had got married at the age of nine and had studied only until Class Four,” says Papri of her grandmother-in-law. Soon after, the nuns at Carmel School, located near her ancestral house came knocking at the door. They had found out that the family had a trained Teacher and wanted her to join the school. “I joined the school on a leave vacancy. And that’s how it all started. I realised at that point of time, that I was the happiest in the classroom.” Papri came to Oman in 1990 and joined the Indian School, Al Ghubra a year later. So what did she think of the transition? “To be honest, teaching in India was different… in the sense that the type of students in Kolkata in that particular school was different. Here, however, we get a huge mix of children and have to approach a more diverse group. It has been challenging.” She started off as a Primary School Teacher as the school had only upto Class Six at that time. “I literally grew with the children. And that’s probably why we remember each and every child,” she says.

Papri explains that her ‘major training as a teacher was at the Indian School, Al Ghubra’. “The then Principal, Mr. Bhatnagar was a perfectionist. He was like a mentor to all the teachers. It was here I learnt how things have to be done and he would never accept anything that was not perfect. So we developed what is called the critical eye.” Though Papri has majored in English, she mostly taught Social Science, especially Geography, to the higher classes. “I am passionate about teaching Geography. I think at heart, I will always remain a Teacher,” she says. After taking over as Principal in February 2008, (she had a taken a break the year before), Papri has revived the Mentorship Programme, where each Teacher is assigned a set of children whom they will be Mentors to. They have Mentor meetings twice a month and students can approach their Mentors at any time. There is also the Student Exchange Programme, the Photography Club and much more. What are the changes she has seen in students over the years? “They are definitely sharper. Their awareness levels are high and they are more techno-savvy. They know what to do with their lives even before they enter Class Ten. However, on the flip side, I feel that students don’t read much nowadays.”

Does she feel that there is less of respect for Teachers among the present generation? Papri disagrees, “It’s not so much that they don’t have respect. Earlier on you would expect a child to come and say, ‘Good Morning’ to you. Today, they say, ‘Hi! Ma’am!’. That’s okay with me because times have changed. We have to be more a friend than a Teacher. However, there are certain rules that need to be followed. And if you can deliver the goods in class, they respect you. Remember, you cannot con children.” It is clear that she is very proud of all her students’ success. She points out to the numerous wedding and greeting cards on her table. “They invite me for their weddings, come to show us their babies. The comfort level is so high because I have been associated with the school for a long time.” Papri has many interests that she indulges in after school hours. She loves to cook and read… and collecting masks. “I have a collection of about 55-60 masks. That’s a hobby I enjoy!” An inspiring Teacher is sure to have her own inspirations as well? Papri fondly speaks of her grandmother-in-law and her mother. “My mother is a very strong individual who has taught me the importance of discipline and how to adjust in all situations.” And what is the one motto she lives by? “I believe in ‘live and let live’. I never plan for the future. I take things as they come because I’ve realised that no matter how much you plan it’s never going to happen the way you want it to. Even in the most trying circumstances, you have to allow things to fall into place because they eventually do. Life is a huge jigsaw puzzle that someone up there is putting into place and I can’t see just one piece and worry about it. If something doesn’t work out, there is always Plan A, B, C or even D!” She sure says it like it is and as we said earlier that sure is substantial food for thought. Until we meet again…n

OCTOBER 2009 33


Land of Smiles It’s the New York Times’ Luxury destination for 2009! Sun-kissed paddy fields, pristine beaches, glorious temples and adrenalinepumping adventures, Thailand is the perfect destination for the discerning traveller’s soul says Deepa Rajan


he erstwhile Siam, now the Kingdom of Thailand lies in the heart of South-East Asia. It’s bordered to the north by Laos and Burma, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and Burma. Perfectly located, wouldn’t you say? Often referred to as a golden land, not just because there is precious metal buried underground but because the country gives off a certain lustre, be it the fertile rice fields of the central plains, white sandy beaches or the warm hospitality of its citizenry, it’s said to be the world’s 50th largest country in terms of total area.

34 OCTOBER 2009

OCTOBER 2009 35


Be it Bangkok, a modern city co-existing with devout Buddhism or Chiang Mai, the country’s bohemian centre, where the unique and precise elements of Thai culture become a classroom, each place has a lot to offer for the tourist in you. You can climb the mountain ranges around Mae Hong Son and you’ll find stupa-studded peaks and villages of post-Stone Age cultures. Sliding down the coastal tail are the evergreen limestone islands of Ko Tao and Kho Phi Phi Don, filled with tall palms angling over pearlescent sand. Thailand’s beaches are, simply put, stunning and almost possessing a mythical charm.

Getting there…

Thailand has more than one international airport. While most international flights arrive in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport (airport code BKK), you can also fly directly to Phuket, Koh Samui, and Chiang Mai from certain regional destinations like Singapore or Hong Kong.

Also if you’re in the region, you can travel by bus. Private buses link Singapore and Malaysia with Had Yai in southern Thailand, but be aware that violent insurgencies in south Thailand are becoming a real cause for concern. (In Singapore, call the Singapore Tourism Board and in Malaysia, contact the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board for more information). Tuk-tuks (threewheeled, motorised, open vehicles, also called Jumbos) connect travellers to most places. Thailand is also accessible via train from Singapore and peninsular Malaysia. The Eastern & Oriental Express operates a two-night/three-day journey between Singapore and Bangkok that makes getting there almost better than being there. For those who want to take the water route, you can also try the various cruise packages available.

When to go…

The best time to visit most of Thailand is between November and February,

because it rains the least and it’s not too hot. This period is also Thailand’s main season for festivals, like Loi Krathong and Songkran. If you plan to focus on the northern provinces, the hot season (March to May) and early rainy season (June to July) are not bad. North-eastern and central Thailand, on the other hand, are best avoided from March to May, when temperatures may climb over 40°C. Because temperatures are more even yearround in the south (because it’s closer to the equator), the beaches and islands of southern Thailand are a good choice for respite when the rest of Thailand is hot. Thailand’s peak tourist season runs from November to late March, with secondary peaks in July and August. If you want to avoid crowds and take advantage of discounted room rates, consider travelling during the least crowded months (typically April to June, September and October). Although the rainy season (roughly July to October) gets a bad reputation, there

are some bonuses: temperatures tend to be cooler, tourists are fewer and the landscape is lush and green. Depending on the region and the month, the rains might be hour-long downpours in the afternoon. October, however, tends to be the wettest month.

What to do…

When in Thailand, the must-visit and oft-visited places in a tourist’s guidebook are Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin and Cha-Am, Pattaya and Phuket. But, apart from the usual tourist spots for everyone ranging from pensioners to honeymooners, Thailand is also a haven for the young at heart: Those who believe in adventure vacations. You can go rock climbing at Railay Beach in Krabi, Scuba Diving at Phuket, Koh Samui, and Koh Tao – all these places are popular and have a large concentration of beautiful coral and abundant marine life. The best time of year for visibility is between December and February. You can also go ballooning. From November to March, Thailand’s cool north offers one of the few places in Asia to try hot-air ballooning. Or you can take a white-water rafting tour down Pai. Perhaps, the best of all is trekking it out to explore the country’s great outdoors; it’s definitely one of the best ways to get out and up into lush jungle terrain.

Pure R&R

Now what vacation is complete without proper R&R that includes the famous Thai massages? And, after all that sweating-it-out outdoor activities, it comes well deserved. You get to choose from some of the best resort and spas such as The Banyan Tree, Phuket, The Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi and the JW Marriott Resort & Spa just to name a few. Or you can simply step into one of the many quaint little massage shops across the length and breadth of this breath-taking land called Thailand. Sound tempting enough? Get your bags packed and let the adventure begin…n

OCTOBER 2009 37

Megan Fox


She is Hollywood’s next action heroine. Presenting fearless, spunky Megan Fox, whose no-holdsbarred attitude and occasional foot-in-the-mouth outbursts that have made her a darling with fans and the media alike. By Rekha Baala


Star S ummer star, that’s Megan Fox for you. The 23-year-old starred in one of this season’s most successful movies — ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ — that has taken her to dizzying heights! Any other star would be content with basking in the glory of the movie’s super success but Fox is happily garnering attention and courting controversy of a different kind too. She’s been engaged in a war of words of sorts with the movie’s director, Michael Bay. She fired the first salvo by telling Entertainment Weekly “working with Michael Bay is not about an acting experience”. Wow! That was hard. Bay, not one to take things lying down, responded with — “She says some very ridiculous things because she’s 23 years old and she still has a lot of growing to do. Nobody in the world knew about Megan Fox until I found her and put her in ‘Transformers’. I like to think that I have had some luck in building actors’ careers with my films.” Wow again! Guess it’s round one to Bay. But wait and watch out for the spunky actors’ rejoinder! In fact, it’s this very spunk, verve, no-holdsbarred attitude and occasional foot-in-the-mouth

38 OCTOBER 2009

outbursts that have made Fox a darling with fans and the media alike. Today she’s the most sought-after actress under 30, and seems to be taking her life and career seriously. The star claims to have had a tumultuous childhood; nothing related to abuse and violence though. Born in Oak Ridge, Tennessee on May 16, 1986, she and her older sister had to go through the agony of their parents’ divorce and thereafter a strict upbringing by the mum and a stepfather which found her grounded at home most of the time. As a kid, Fox also had a hard time at school where she was bullied and picked on by other students and even “pelted with ketchup packets”! She recollected this period in one of her interviews saying, “Everyone hated me and I was a total outcast, I had a very aggressive personality and girls didn’t like me for that. I hated school.” At 13, the aspiring starlet enrolled in modelling and acting classes. It didn’t take long for all of her hard work to pay off, with a role in ‘Holiday in The Sun’, a film that was released direct-to-DVD. What followed was a minor television series called ‘Ocean Star’. But it was in 2004 that Fox landed her first major

OCTOBER 2009 39


Fox was ranked #1 on Moviefone’s ‘The 25 Hottest Actors Under 25’ in 2008, and was ranked #2 on the Maxim magazine Hot 100 of 2009 list in 2009. FHM readers voted her the ‘Sexiest Woman in the World’ in 2008. movie role opposite Lindsay Lohan in ‘Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen’ where her spats with her co-star got her more attention than the actual role. She was then cast in the failed television comedy ‘The Help’, and appeared only in three episodes. She also joined the cast of the ABC sitcom ‘Hope & Faith’ in the recurring role of ‘Sydney Shanowski’. These roles however did not make as much of an impact like the ones that were to follow. It was in 2007 that Fox got her big break that also sustained, thanks to the live-action film series — ‘Transformer’ based on the toy and cartoon saga of the same name. She won the lead female role of ‘Mikaela Banes’ in the series. She was nominated for an MTV Movie Award and was also nominated for three Teen Choice Awards. Fox reprised her role as ‘Mikaela Banes’ in the ‘Transformers’ sequel — ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ — that released worldwide on June 24, 2009. She also performed her own stunts in the film; the producers couldn’t believe how much pain she could take! “I prefer to do as many stunts as possible. I’ll do as many as my insurance will allow me to do. People are constantly shocked at the

40 OCTOBER 2009


Megan Fox beatings I can take. It’s because once you have done ‘Transformers’ you feel like you can do anything. It’s easy after going through that,” she said. Fox has often been compared to Angelina Jolie — the similarities are that both are light-eyed brunettes and have an assortment of tattoos. But Fox has reiterated ‘that’s as far as the similarities extend’. A miffed Fox told interviewers, “I think it’s a lack of creativity on the media’s part. Because I have tattoos and dark hair and I was in an action movie?” It was rumoured that she was cast as the replacement for Jolie in the third ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’ franchise movie, but Fox has denied that she was taking the role. Her personal life has not been with controversies as well. Fox has openly admitted to trying drugs though she “doesn’t like them.” There was also a controversial interview with ‘GQ’ Magazine on relationships and the recent comments on ‘how she would stop ‘Megatron’ from demolishing the world’.

Her response was panned severely by the media. Then after dating for nearly five years, Fox and fiancé Brian Austin Green called it quits early this year. Was it a pre-‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ publicity stunt? May be, we dunno. All that she has said on the matter is, “I’m currently what you would call single, I guess” at the UK premiere of the film. But Fox was spotted on a date with Green in Las Vegas and it seems this on-again, off-again twosome are totally switched on again. Would you believe that when it comes to fashion, Fox says she’s entirely clueless! “I don’t follow fashion. I’m not that girl. I need people to style me because I’m pretty clueless about it and I don’t care,” she’s said famously. But looking at some of her recent appearances, we think, Fox is just being modest or wants the attention off her looks. She was all togged out in two very cool numbers for the ‘Transformers:

Revenge of The Fallen’ premieres — one a Donna Karan purple dress with a thigh-high slit for the Tokyo premiere and a maroon Roberto Cavalli gown with a thigh-slit again for the premiere in Germany. The drop-dead gorgeous star normally chooses dresses that are bodyhugging to show off her great figure. She prefers a clean hairstyle and is often seen sporting a style that has been pulled back, sometimes even into a ponytail. Beyond the red carpet and glittering events, she likes to dress in jeans and tees and normally carries a heavy bag that would fit in almost anything. The latest buzz says she will very soon be seen in a lead role as a demonpossessed high-school cheerleader in ‘Jennifer’s Body’, the next film from screenwriter Diablo Cody (of ‘Juno’ fame). “I start eating the boys in my high school. It’s one of the best scripts I have ever read,” she said. Like we said, she has a mouth and she’s not afraid to use it. n

In April 2009, Fox began filming ‘Jonah Hex’. Fox plays ‘Leila’, a gun-wielding beauty and Jonah Hex’s (Josh Brolin) love interest. The film will be released in August, 2010. Fox has also signed on for the lead female role in the film ‘The Crossing’ which will be released in 2011. The plot centres around a young couple who get caught up in a drug trafficking scheme during their vacation to Mexico. And then there’s ‘Fathom’, which she is set to help develop, co-produce, and star in, is the story of a raven-haired, turquoise-eyed champion swimmer who discovers she’s a lost member of an aquatic super race. 

42 OCTOBER 2009


He is a hunk who has enchanted all with his incredible looks, simplicity, good manners and boyish charm. Hollywood’s ‘G.I. Joe’ is naturally, in great demand insists Sushmita Sarkhel

Rise of a Star


ith an image that represents the new generation of hip and urban sensations and a face that has graced many a magazine cover the world over, Channing Tatum has taken the world by storm. And what’s amply clear is that he’s going places — fast!

his hopes became centred on earning an athletic college scholarship. Tatum’s goal was finally met, and in his senior year in high school, he was recruited and earned a full athletic college scholarship to a school in West Virginia. Tatum is also skilled in Kung Fu and in Gor-Chor Kung Fu, a form of martial arts, and has earned belts in both.

Early Life: Channing Tatum was born on April 26, 1980, in a small town called Cullman, outside of Birmingham, Alabama. But when he was six his family moved to Mississippi. Growing up at the bayou, Tatum mainly enjoyed a rural existence, far from the glitz of Hollywood.

Hello World: Tatum’s first tryst with showbiz began when he was cast in Ricky Martin’s video for ‘She Bangs’, where he was paid US $400 for a seven-day shoot. From there he moved on to work as a fashion model for Armani, Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, Dolce&Gabbana, and American Eagle Outfitters. He has since been seen on the pages of Vogue Magazine, the cover of Out magazine, Citizen K, Contents, Elegance Magazine, and NY Times Fashion insert, and he was one of the Tear Sheet Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful Faces (October 2001).

As a child, he was full of energy and quite a handful, so his parents decided to enrol him in different sports such as track and field, baseball and football to keep him out of trouble. When in grade nine, he was given the option of either military school or a private school — Tatum chose the military school. It was there that he discovered his passion for football and

He soon moved into television commercials, landing national spots

OCTOBER 2009 43


I’ve been able to explore life, and through exploring it I’ve found that ,I love , I love , I love all the things that make sense to me. And I’ve been given the chance to go

I love art writing acting

out and see the world, and to see all the things out there. Not everyone gets that chance.

for Mountain Dew and Pepsi in 2002. In 2004, Tatum began his acting career, appearing in an episode of the television series ‘CSI: Miami’. His first feature film role was in 2005’s high school drama, ‘Coach Carter’, playing Jason Lyle, a basketball player opposite Samuel L. Jackson. He was eventually cast in the film, ‘She’s the Man’, where he played the love interest of Amanda Bynes’ character. The film opened on March 2006, and it was a modest success at the box office. However, it was, ‘Step Up’, a dancethemed romance that earned this droolworthy hunk a huge female fan following. Later that year, Tatum played in the 1980s-set drama, ‘A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints’, starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Shia LaBeouf, in which he plays Antonio, a violent street youth in Astoria, Queens. His performance received positive notices at the 2006 Sundance

44 OCTOBER 2009

Film Festival, where the film premiered. The acclaim continued when he received an Independent Spirit Award nomination as well as the Gotham Award Nomination for ‘Best Supporting Actor’. Tatum Today: The success of ‘G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra’, where Tatum plays ‘Duke’, has certainly put him on the map — and sent his fan base skyrocketing! He’ll also be starring in the upcoming movie ‘Public Enemies’, starring opposite Johnny Depp. In the pipeline are ‘Dear John’, ‘The Brotherhood of the Rose’, and ‘Pinkville’. And BTW, Tatum also married his longtime girlfriend, model and actor, Jenna

Dewan, in July (heartbreak!). A few short years ago, Tatum was a young man who was unsure about what he wanted to do with his life. Now, thanks to the portal of a seemingly innocent dance film and an all-American action figure, he is on the cusp of stardom. Besides his incredible hotness, Tatum’s innocence, endearing courtesy, polite manners and charisma has won hearts all over. It’s no wonder why he is in such demand in Hollywood. We sure aren’t complaining!


In a world that is increasingly characterised by deteriorating environmental conditions, Poggenpohl, headquartered in Germany, is spearheading the movement behind environmental responsibility in the manufacture of kitchen cabinets and eco friendly furniture.



Green the Poggenpohl Way Going


oggenpohl has been a pioneer in kitchen innovation for the past 114 years. The company is aware of its responsibility to the ecological environment and has implemented various eco friendly initiatives.

standards set by the German Furniture Goods Association. In 1996 Poggenpohl was the first kitchen manufacturer to be awarded with the certification of the European Environmental Audit for careful use of energy resources and raw materials.

Poggenpohl has developed a waterbased lacquer for furniture that is to be used in lieu of solvent based lacquers, paints and stains. As of 2005 this new lacquer has been implemented in all the company’s production processes. The company also does not use any rainforest and/or protected wood in it’s product line. It only uses wood from certified sustainable forests and has also developed an engineered zebrano wood finish that features the same qualities as the real thing.

Poggenpohl has certainly taken the initiative when it comes to environmentally friendly business practices. On a planet that is increasingly paranoid about its depleting resources this is commendable in itself, but perhaps what is most astonishing is that the company has done so without sacrificing style or quality.

Further the company also has the lowest formaldehyde emissions in the industry, its levels reaching five points below the level requested by the U.S government. Poggenpohl also uses PET foil to laminate surfaces. PET foil is thermoplastic and is renowned for its recycling properties. It is durable, scratch resistant and easily cleansed. All Poggenpohl furniture meets with the

46 OCTOBER 2009

The company’s furniture designs are chic, innovative and elegant. Further more, the green design trend is becoming ever more popular with architects, designers, developers and construction firms. Other manufacturers are now attempting to follow the example set by Poggenpohl. The company is proud of its efforts to save the planet and encourages other manufacturers to follow its lead. Poggenpohl is hopeful that the company’s efforts to immerse

its production processes completely in the green concept coupled with it’s elegant and chic designs of kitchen furniture and cabinets will encourage replication of it’s efforts to save the planet by other companies which will create even more cost efficient, eye appealing and environmentally friendly furniture options. Poggenpohl is rewarded for its efforts in promoting a greener future by creating a greener today. Poggenpohl kitchens are on the display at Quality Furnitures LLC (SFO) showroom in Ruwi. To know the Poggenpohl better you may contact David Kimber: GSM (968) 97190156 or Redha: GSM (968) 92800749. Or e-mail:

Old Kitchen

style Geox


Season’s Best! Get a load of the hottest footwear and arm candy of the season...

Geox Autumn/Winter Shoe Collection: Equilibrium, rigour and class are the moods and style, balance and ‘wearability’ are the factors that have inspired the A/W 09-10 Geox collection. The shoes on offer feature sharp lines and are rich in details that are simple, delicate and almost just hinted at; they’re well constructed and breathe a quiet elegance. This is a collection that can be worn comfortably and fashionably, regardless of age.


48 OCTOBER 2009



Parfois: This special collection introduced specially during Ramadan has a selection of delicately patterned scarves, clutches, watches, cuffs and eye catching earrings. Along with a mix of leather and denim bag combinations. Key colours are tan, blue, purple and silver.

Vincci Autumn & Winter 2009: Vincci kicks off the new season with a collection that is bold, rich and extravagant. Aptly named ‘Opulence’, it’s a tapestry of luxury inspired by glamorous soirées and fashion forward styles. The collection is divided into four categories each offering a different interpretation of the look of opulence.



OCTOBER 2009 49


Better Tomorrows... G

andhi once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” When you make an effort to be a part of the larger picture and give something back to your community, you make change happen. And CSR is probably one of the best ways of doing this effectively.

The people at BankMuscat recognised this and initiated a programme — ‘BankMuscat Empowering Women through Beauty Courses’ — with the aim of empowering women. This programme provides training to 30 women from lowincome families. Fifteen of these women are from Samail and the rest are from Barka. All the ladies are provided with special training courses lasting up to six weeks in beauty, hair styling, direct selling and customer service. So far the initiative has seen a 100 per cent success rate, with all women involved in the programme earning more than RO 50 per week. Recently, the BankMuscat CSR team comprising Shaima Al Lawati (Head of the CSR Department) and Manasik Al Moosawi, Officer in the department, set off on what turned out to be a heart-warming visit to the graduates of the programme. Here’s a report of the follow-up field visits which truly cheers the heart.

50 OCTOBER 2009

From the follow-up at Samail Maryam Ali Salim Al Rawahi: This cheerful young girl greeted them with a beaming smile and her happiness was infectious. She led them to a tiny room explaining, “It was a store, I cleaned it and got it ready for my home business”. The young girl is already well-known throughout the area for her ‘henna’ and make-up skills, word-of-mouth being the main source of her ever-increasing business. She’s also planning on imparting her skills to other young girls in the neighbourhood. Fatma and Shamsa Nasser Mohd Al Rahbi: They were warmly welcomed by the duo who work from home, and the arrangement suits them as they generate most of their business from families and friends living nearby. Zahra Khamis Al Rahbi: The team was amazed by her creativity. Being the only make-up artist in town, she also provides natural oil massages that are quite trendy amongst new brides now. She now has customers coming in from as far as Jabal Al Akhdhar. “I’m being called to Jabal Al Akhadhar sometimes,” says Zahra with confidence as she explained the special offers she was preparing for Eid. “I prepare the natural oils myself, here at

High on BankMuscat’s agenda is its commitment towards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Here is a report by the Bank’s CSR team of a field visit to the graduates of the BankMuscat ‘Empowering Women through Beauty Courses’ programme.

home, adding some traditional perfumes that relax the body and provide a glow to the bride,” she added.   At the time, she was busy preparing special offers for Eid and the team left her working, the aroma of traditional perfumes following them out the door. Some bride-to-be out there is about to be very happy! Huda Khamis Al Rawahi: This young pretty girl has a head full of dreams but her feet are firmly planted on the ground. She currently works from home and provides hair blow drying and make-up services for ladies. She is also finalising her move to her very own beauty salon. Huda has also added her own skills to the training. She designs and decorates pots for indoor home décor.

From the follow-up at Barka Azza Salih Mohd Al Sareeri: Immensely grateful for the training received through the programme, she says, “My skills in make-up developed tremendously during the beauty course.” She also rents out dresses which augments her income. Azza is also passionate about having her own workplace one day and saves all she earns . Amina Ali Zaid Al Auwaisi and Najya Said Salim Al Auwaisi: The two girls are cousins, working from home as ‘henna’ and make-up artists. The girls are both very talented and have reached the stage where potential customers have to reserve appointments ahead of time in order to have their make-up done by them!

girls also work from home and have faced some obstacles in the past two months while setting up and starting their business. But the girls’ strength of and willpower shines through as they speak, starry-eyed, of a successful future. Their older sister supports them fully. Needless to say, the visits left the team very happy! They realised that the true reward of BankMuscat’s CSR efforts lie not in added profits or a better image for the company. It is seeing the girls’ faces light up after they realise that their dreams of a stable future are not so far out of reach. More power to initiatives such as these and more power to you girls!n

Muzna and Muneera Salim Al Siyabi: Both

OCTOBER 2009 51


The Joy of Giving Were you there at the ‘3 Days - You and Ramadan Festival’. Al Mar’a was there, as part of the wonderful experience. It was a noble cause indeed. Suza, a fashion designing and event management company, recently organised the ‘3 Days - You and Ramadan Festival’ at the Omani Women’s Association hall.

Welfare House that comes under the protective wings of the Ministry of Social Development. A large number of children from the Childhood Welfare House took part in the event, which raised funds for the House.

One of the main aims behind the festival was to lend a hand to the Childhood

There was plenty to see and so much to do in the three days! In a ‘souq’-like

52 OCTOBER 2009

ambience, there were different corners/ stalls dedicated to beauty, Omani crafts, women’s wear, electronics, jewellery and more. The beauty corner and special corner for traditional wear like ‘jalabiyas’ and ‘abayas’ also attracted huge crowds. Children had a blast too what with the face painting, fabric painting and a sweetmaking session!

On the third day, there was loads of fun and entertainment too. The traditional, folk performances, games and raffles especially enthralled the crowds. All in all, it was a wonderful three days‌ and the cause made it all even more heartwarming and special. (Al Mar’a was proud to be the media partner)

Sanity @ Work Are you overwhelmed at your workplace and the responsibilities that come with the job? Rekha Baala tells you how to keep sane at work...


his is the age of instant demand and instant supply, of onthe-spot deadlines and multitasking. If you don’t enter the rat race, it’s possible you’ll be left far, far behind...for there’s always someone else to do your job. An opportunity missed or a meeting put off can mar your career. You need to be on your toes and be alert all the time... lest you miss the bus. In between all of this, things can tend to go a little crazy. After all, trying to fit into many different roles is not a

54 OCTOBER 2009

cakewalk. Overbearing bosses, politicking colleagues, huge workloads and tough policies do make for an unhealthy working environment. If you have a load of stress too it just adds to the woes. What you thought was a promising career becomes nothing else but a job; and a difficult one at that. For women, the job becomes tougher because we still have to go home after work and be responsible for a lot of other things, including family. Most often, we take our ‘work fatigue’ back with us and


unconsciously transfer our worries onto our children. So how do you keep sane at work? It is not easy, but is not impossible either. Practicality, planning, time management and a sense of responsibility are of essence here. It may take a while, but you are certainly better off dealing with pressures in the long run. Here are a few tips that will help you along the way...

Cut the clutter

Begin by organising your workspace effectively. Lighting, seating, and the noise level can affect your physical response. Keep things neat and organised and at hand. An untidy desk can stress you out further. If there is more noise than you can bear, plug your ears with some ear phones. If you are in a creative field, listening to soft and meditative music (if allowed) helps calm your nerves. Rearrange your desk once in a while and decorate it with photos of your loved ones. In the end, you will be investing in your own creativity and productivity.

Clear off the clique

Every organisation has its own little groups and cliques. Most of these cliques comprise employees in senior positions who feel that they are far above the junior ones. It is better not to attach yourself to any. Also, don’t let these groups define what you are as individual. If a senior manager prefers to dress flamboyantly and in expensive clothes, it does not mean that you should follow the same pattern. Stick to a lifestyle you can afford on your salary. Do not spend money to impress your colleagues or co-workers.

Leave your work at the office

As far as possible, avoid taking your work home. Don’t call colleagues after office hours to gossip about people at work or to crib about work. Invest quality time in your friends and family.

Be sure of yourself

Stick by your principles at all times. Do not waver in response to a majority. Your strength of resolve will earn you only more respect. Be sure of what to say and when to say it. It is not necessary to always agree with your co-workers, especially when they are in the wrong. When you communicate, do so in a clear and confident manner. So mean what you say!

Steer clear of office politics

Remember that what you say within closed quarters may damage you in public. Keep your private opinion and thoughts to yourself. Never offer or add information that will damage anyone personally. If you have to say something to someone, say it to their face instead of gossiping to other colleagues.

spend most of our waking hours at work and making friends at work is a given. If you need to keep a friend at work, make sure that he/she is entirely trustworthy and dependable.

Be professional

Follow all protocol and policies laid out by your organisation. Remember, that you are responsible and accountable for everything that comes under your list of responsibilities. Practice documenting, writing letters and keep clear the lines of communication with your superiors. You are what you do at the workplace and your job performance defines your career. So carry yourself in a professional manner. Also it is important to dress the part! You cannot come to office in a dirty pair of jeans and a T-shirt and expect you and your work to be respected!

Make time for yourself

Hard work and stress can really get to you at times! So make a little time for yourself at the end of the day for some exercise. Another way is to begin a new hobby or rediscover an old one. Shift your energy out of work-related activities to something totally unrelated. It will make a big difference to your attitude.

Seek that lifework balance

Leave your personal life at home Don’t bring your personal troubles to the office or share them with colleagues unless absolutely necessary. Let your colleagues remain what they are... professional work partners and nothing more. This may not seem too easy as we

There is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ work-life balance. But you have to decide on what an ideal balance means to you. Write down what you expect and then strive to achieve it. Some organisations even offer flexi-timings which you can take advantage of. Take short holidays whenever possible. Or even a sabbatical when you can afford it. Keeping your sanity at work is definitely a challenge. But it is a challenge you can face with some careful planning and being clear about what you want from your personal and professional life. You can either be a master juggler or a perfect gymnast. The choice is yours!n

OCTOBER 2009 55

Beauty Buzz

From the


Rejuvenate body, mind and spirit with the Thai Hammam at the Grand Spa, Muscat.

56 OCTOBER 2009


tress does not escape anyone. In the modern multi-tasking world, stress is a given. It is upto to us to find ways to beat stress by looking at different forms of rejuvenation and relaxation. A visit to a spa is therefore, a good idea. A little pampering of both body and mind is necessary to get back into the thick of things with a renewed spirit. We have a good suggestion on how to do this... A visit to a spa would be helpful but no ordinary massage will do the trick. You need something that will refresh the body and soothe the mind, all in one package. The Grand Spa outlets in Muscat offer you just the right option to beat stress of all kinds! And specifically, the Thai Hammam package beats your blues like no other... in a natural and effective way. It combines the advantages of Thai natural ingredients with the benefits of a traditional oriental steam bath. The ‘hammam’ is a traditional oriental steam bath based on the philosophy of physical and emotional purification, offering complete relaxation and detoxification of the entire body. The treatment is based entirely on natural ingredients right from the peeling to

the final massage. And it is all done by professionals in the field, with years of solid experience in helping people get rid of muscular spasms, shoulder, foot and body stress. The service begins with smile... as you are welcomed to the Spa. If you have any health problems, please don’t hesitate to speak to the experts before starting the treatment. Once the discussion is over, you are taken to the Thai Spa Room where the treatment begins. Your body is first exposed to steam in a small room for 10 minutes to prepare your body for the peeling stage. Natural ingredients derived from yoghurt and jojoba oil are now applied onto your body following which the expert will proceed to massage your body in a circular movement from top to bottom for about 45 minutes. The massage begins from the upper back and proceeds downwards. This mixture helps remove dead cells and refreshes the skin. Your face then undergoes the peeling process after which a mask made of grass essence is applied and kept on for 10 minutes. This mask cleans the skin, removes acne and wrinkles and leaves the skin soft and clear. After a shower, you are taken to the

massage room where special Thai oils are massaged onto your body for about 15-20 minutes. The therapist will work on certain areas between the shoulders or ankles to help your body get rid of stress and strain. A multi-vitamin serum is then used to massage face skin. A cream is then rubbed all over the body. The therapist will also massage your scalp, concentrating on your forehead to activate blood circulation. In the end, what you have achieved, apart from a general sense of warmth and wellbeing are multi-fold. The Thai Hammam treatment helps remove dead cells and open pores. The massage on concentrated areas acts as a great stress reliever too! The entire treatment takes about 75 minutes and an additional 30 minutes is spent on nail care. It’s priced at RO32. For more information contact the Grand Spa at Ghubra # 24613453, Qurum Beach # 24695766, Bareeq Al Shatti # 24603801. You may also contact # 24603801 for further details and reservation.

Go ahead, indulge!

OCTOBER 2009 57

A State of

Equanimity When we panic, we lose clarity of thought and rational thinking, leading to extreme stress, leading to all kinds of problems. Living life healthily, realistically, meaningfully and completely is the only way to live says Dr Prema Seshadri

58 OCTOBER 2009



othing fascinates more than the human mind. Its ability to create images and believe it to be true far outwits its ability to translate them into reality. It’s this law of the fragile human mind that provides answers to the many dilemmas that we see manifest into behaviour which can only be described as worrying. An old wives’ story that often continues to make the rounds is the dream that you have early in the morning portends a near-future occurrence. In my decades of research on Freudian thought, I don’t quite recollect him saying anything as colourful or profound as this soothsaying. But the turbulence that such mindless predictions create is serious enough to cause major dysfunction. A common example that afflicts many of us is when we are sitting behind the wheel and are jolted out of our senses by a near-miss. While the incident in itself would have occupied just a fraction of a second, the mind has already galloped a million steps ahead and envisaged a mangled mess, sobbing relatives and unpaid debts. The confusion created in the mind then triggers off a whole range of complex physiological and emotional fallouts. The frailty of the human mind continues. It constantly churns out expectations almost at every corner. While some corners bring in the result that live up to expectations, most don’t. That sets off those alarms again. Panic. There is something very interesting that goes on within us and outside us. There is a set rhythm, whether it’s in the flight of the birds or the chirping of the crickets, the blooming of flowers or the flow of seasons; or, whether in the beat of the heart or the digesting of the food. Everywhere there is a rhythm. There is an innate existing equanimity. An introduction of any alien element will inevitably disturb this rhythm, this fragile balance. Just as much as deforestation causes landslides and flooding, an unexpected event can cause something as simple as a shiver to something as complex as a severe mental meltdown. We see it happening in our eco-system just as much as we see it within our bodies and most definitely in our minds. The inability to prevent ourselves from panicking is almost instantly evinced in the form

of disrupted decision-making ability. In a state of panic, we lose clarity of thought and rational thinking and are unable to see even the simplest processes of solving a problem and available options. At the more subtle emotional level, we lose our self-confidence and self-esteem and, sadly, tend to lose hope. Depression is known to hit people who have succumbed to panic and have descended to different degrees of paranoia. The resultant stress is again known to lead to mild to severe physiological degeneration. Cases of allergies, hypertension, diabetes, ulcers, and cardiac conditions have been steadily rising over the years due to the stresses that have insidiously crept into our lives. One of the greatest requirements as an evolved being in the animal kingdom is the need to interact. There is no escaping this fundamental obligation. But when the system is stressed, it affects our basic ability to interact and communicate. This is the primary reason behind the breakdown of relationships whether at work or in the family or in society. The emphasis from the very early stages of life has always been on learning the alphabets, numbers and basic speech. But there is a skill, a skill of greater importance than any other, which is not imparted during those early formative years — the skill to keep stress away. Not to handle or manage stress but to literally keep that stress away; specially the kind of stress that is debilitating and destructive. Being realistic in expectations and taking measures to stay grounded is the first step. I tend to redefine the word ‘competition’ for myself; compete against yourself, raise your own bar and competition will not be stressful. It’s important to constantly look for opportunities that are going to help us stay grounded. Keeping the body-mind complex in a state of equanimity is fundamental for a healthy life. Yoga, meditation, breathing techniques, and regular physical exercise are a must-do. Laziness and lack of self-discipline only increases the lack of self-worth. Following an interest or a hobby with passion does wonders to one’s psyche. Add to it all a liberal dose of enthusiasm, and that too an enthusiasm without a reason, and you have the best recipe for a happy and healthy life. Living life healthily, realistically, meaningfully and completely is the only way to live.n

OCTOBER 2009 59

Top Drive


Fun Factor!

60 OCTOBER 2009

What women want, women get!

Al Mar’a gets behind the wheel of the new Volkswagen Golf VI. On city roads or far away from the madding crowd, it’s just perfect!

The engineers of the new Volkswagen Golf sure know what we women want in a car. Practicality, ease of driving, enhanced safety features, plenty of room, reasonable prices and low running costs. Furthermore, and absolutely necessary — a high fun factor! The perfect balance you’re looking for is finally here. With the Volkswagen Golf VI, you really have a family car that is also fun to drive. So, there you go, asking for too much was not really that much. And it was easy! The car is a beauty as is visible from its clear design styling. Its appearance is dominated by perfect build quality and precise lines. The front has an impressively sporty, athletic and taut look. Once inside, be ready to be bowled over by the sophisticated interior design. It’s classy with fine chrome trims around the air outlets, the instrument cluster and the electric windows and the ‘Titanium’ decor. The seats are plush and there’s enough room for passengers to relax in comfort. The interior is uncluttered and functional in every way. Drinks holders in the front and rear are perfect for when kids are around... and the adjustable front centre armrest has a roomy integral storage box so that important, small items needed during each journey are within easy reach. Everything is exactly where you want it! We decided that the best way to test the Golf VI was to drive it through all kinds of situations. As we left the office and ventured into the busy city traffic, the

first thing we noticed was that the car was eerily quiet. It was a smooth cruise as we meandered through different roads on the way to the road further from Barr Al Jissah flanked by huge mountains on both sides. It has a soft and smooth steering wheel and is easy to drive on both slow and fast tracks. Now for the technical bits… The engine is a powerful 1.4l TSI with a seven-speed DSG. Volkswagen explains the new innovation thus, “Our bodies react to even the finest movement. That is why we have revolutionised the automatic gear shift.” Simply put, the dual clutch DSG gearbox combines the sporty qualities of a manual gearbox with the easy handling of an automatic. Step on the gas and you will never tire of that amazing exhaust note. This, in combination with the excellent refinement and extremely quiet ride (except of course for when you step on the gas) make for a very enticing daily-drive prospect. This is precisely what we tested when we moved from safe on to higher speeds, up on a long winding road; enjoying the ride completely. When it comes to safety, the Golf VI ranks high. You will be pleased to know that the new Golf VI has been awarded a maximum five-star rating by the Euro NCAP. It’s one of the safest vehicles around! A seven airbag package, Electronic Stabilisation Programme, Brake Assist, ABS all add to your safety inside the vehicle. After three hours of putting the car through its paces, our impressions did not waver one bit. Our verdict? The Volkswagen Golf VI is just perfect as it can get; a beauty that oozes practicality and fun... all the way!■

OCTOBER 2009 61


Home remedies for everyday troubles… STOMACH THIS: •If you are suffering from indigestion, eat some ‘ajwain’ (thymol seeds). •Another good remedy is to mix a little cumin seed, fresh ginger and curry leaves in hot water. Allow the mixture to brew for a while, add a cup of water and drink it. Heena K Al Khuwair

COLD CUT: To get rid of the heaviness in the head due to a cold, put a teaspoon of turmeric powder into a panful of steaming hot water. Inhale this for a few minutes to relieve congestion. For a blocked nose at night you can try rubbing the outside of the nose with a few drops of mustard oil. It greatly eases breathing. Keerti Panicker Ruwi

wardrobes and rooms to curb silverfish. You can also cut cloves of garlic on shelves to deter them. Cloves or a lavender bag among clothes also help deter them. Make a trap with one part molasses to two parts vinegar; leave in corners. Ruth Adams Madinat Qaboos

LINT DIDN’T: Did you know that cellophane tape rolled (sticky side up) around a long bottle or rolled-up magazine is ideal for removing lint and dust from dark woolen material? It works like magic; roll it along the garment lightly and watch it happen. Ruksana Dutt Qurum

while. It will draw out the inflammation and by the next day there will be no discomfort. Sheela Das Al Hail

NAPPY HAPPY: To minimise the possibility of nappy rash occurring, change your baby’s nappy regularly. Put a one-way disposable nappy liner next to your baby’s skin. This allows the urine to pass straight through to be absorbed by the nappy below, and so keeps the skin dry. At the first sign of broken skin start using a special cream for the prevention of nappy rash. One which includes titanium salt is especially good. Shanon Thomas Qurum

MANE POINT: Want long lustrous hair? Extract the milk of a coconut without using any water. Boil this liquid till the oil floats on top. Carefully remove the oil and keep in a jar. Use it to massage into the hair roots regularly. Do not make this oil in large quantities as it is best used within a week. Always massage the hair the night before you wash it, giving the oil time to soak into the hair roots and nourish them. For thin or falling hair, warm olive or almond oil is also extremely beneficial. Alia Kharusi Darsait

PEST CONTROL: Sprinkle Epsom salts or coarse salt in corners or drawers,

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CUT PROOF: For paper cuts use iodine directly on the cut and about 4 or 5 times after that for the first day. This will reduce the pain and help it heal. This remedy is good for all types of small cuts and scrapes. You can also rub a chapstick on any paper cut or sore. Hold a slice of raw potato on a paper cut for a

Do share your fine housekeeping and personal grooming skills with other Al Mar’a readers. Write in to Al Mar’a, At Home, United Media Services, P.O. Box: 3305, Ruwi 112, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman or email us at almara@, Subject: At Home or fax us at 24707939. Do give us your name, address and GSM number.


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ave all your gynaecological queries answered by Dr. Smita Lulla — MBBS, M.D, D.G.O. (Gold Medallist), Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at Qurum Clinic, Muscat. The veteran doctor has had advanced training in the UK in Obstetric & Gynaecological Ultra-sonography & Infertility.

I got married in 2005, from May 2005 to December 2007 I used contraceptive pills and I stopped those in December 2007. But from Jan 2008, my periods are not regular. I consulted the doctor in May 2008, who suggested Deviry 10mg and Letrozol 2.5mg. After using these I got my periods up to December 2008. After that I didn’t get the periods and there is no pregnancy. I have taken an ultrasound scan and everything is normal according to the doctor. What could be my problem? Relax! Did you have irregular periods prior to taking the pills? If yes, that is your normal cycle pattern, so you have got that again after stopping the pill. Let me know the result of the scan done on day 12 of the period. This will inform us regarding the size of your follicle (egg) and your fertile period. Also, let me know your husband’s semen report and whether your tubes are patent or not. Even if you did ovulate with Letrezole, you might require 2-3 cycles of treatment before you conceive.

at 20 weeks gestation. At first I was told that I had an incompetent cervix but I had a Cerclage with the 4th and 5th pregnancy and with the 4th the water bag came bulging through the cerclage and with the 5th the water bag just broke so my doc said it probably isn’t an incompetent cervix. My pregnancies consisted of morning sickness up until the day of delivery with each pregnancy even with the use of nausea medicine. Can you tell me why I keep miscarrying often? Sorry to hear about your miscarriages. Let me know which city you are in, so I can advise regarding further medication during pregnancy accordingly, which you should take even after the Cerclage. What are the results of toxoplasmosis and anticardiolipin antibodies? Regarding nausea, that is not the cause of miscarriage, anyway. You should eat something every two to three hours like crackers, rusk and toast and take an antacid like Maalox or Moxal and you should be fine. Let me know the results and I can advise you further.

I am 29 yrs old and have been pregnant five times but unfortunately could not carry any pregnancy to full term. My first was born at 22 1/2 weeks gestation. The second was a miscarriage at six weeks, third at 16 weeks gestation and 4th and 5th

I am 27 and I have fibroids and my period only comes for two days and it is not heavy. I am still breastfeeding my baby who will be two in November. I am wondering if breastfeeding is responsible for the scanty periods?

64 OCTOBER 2009

Breastfeding can cause scanty and irregular periods. However, check your thyroid hormones as an abnormality in these can also cause scanty periods. Also have a scan done as an ovarian cyst can also cause scanty periods sometimes. I am 25 years of age. I have a 4.5mm cyst in my left ovary. My therapist told me that if I get pregnant now, I may lose my child. Is that true? First of all, a cyst of this size would require treatment. So consult your doctor regarding which medicines you should take to reduce the size of the cyst. A large cyst can cause an increased risk of miscarriage in some cases. If the cyst twists (undergoes torsion) at any time, you would require an emergency surgery, and that would increase the risk of miscarriage during a pregnancy. Once you have taken the treatment for the cyst, do a scan on day four or five of the period and let me know the result, so I can advise you further.


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OCTOBER 2009 67


Books, movies & more… A


After the best-selling ‘Stone Cold’, Oliver Stone and the Camel Club return in this gripping thriller. Known by his alias ‘Oliver Stone’, John Carr is the most wanted man in America. With two pulls of the trigger, he silences the men who destroyed his life. But the problem does not end there. Someone wants Stone dead. Find out who and why...



[BOOK] This is an epic adventure that began with a simple question: ‘Why does my foot hurt?’ Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science and pure inspiration, ‘Born To Run’ is a story of amazing adventure. McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners to learn their secrets, and shows us that everything we knew about running is wrong...



ZOMBIE, CHASE WRIGHT VANEK [MOVIE] The film picks up right where the last one left off with Laurie Strode dealing with the aftermath of the previous year’s events. Dr. Loomis is trying to capitalise on those events by publishing a new book that chronicles everything that happened and Michael Myers continues his search for Laurie. Riveting!





[MUSIC] This much anticipated fourth studio album from Guetta is the best party hit of the year! It’s a unique fusion of European dance music with contemporary American hiphop and R&B vocals. ‘When Love Takes Over’, the leading track featuring Kelly Rowland on vocals is a clear favourite. “I Wanna Go Crazy”, featuring Will.I.AM is a perfect close to the album, a full realisation of Guetta’s vision. Great songs… a must-buy!



CARTER JENKINS, AUSTIN ROBERT BUTLER [MOVIE] This is an adventure/comedy about kids on a family vacation who must fight off an attack by knee-high alien invaders with world-destroying ambitions. It’s the Pearsons versus the aliens who ‘came from upstairs’. Who will win the all-out battle? Watch the movie to find out.

68 OCTOBER 2009

Get your hands on this one! If you go by this lead single, you know the rest of it’s gonna be a real blast! Shakira is back after three years and the first single ‘She Wolf’ is a great dance-pop track. The retro disco sound, wrapped in scratchy 70s dance guitars, is arresting and the song is masterful. We can’t wait for the album to be out!



[WEBSITE] Want to learn how to take great pictures? This website offers you photo tips and techniques from master photographers and also includes columns on digital photography and how best to take digital pictures. It aims to inspire, inform and educate those with an interest of photography regardless of their skill levels in photography.



[WEBSITE] Want to learn new crafts at home? Check out this website which has more than 1100 crafts, free craft projects and easy homemade gift ideas. They have photos and D-I-Y instructions so that you can learn them easily. Choose from crafts for kids, nature crafts, easy home-made gift ideas and much more.

OCTOBER 2009 67



FIRM UP Yes, your skin needs proper care and pampering all the time. Precision Chanel presents a special Ultra Firming Night Cream that is part of its exclusive Ultra Correction Lift range. The firming and protective ingredients of the day cream are enriched with an extract taken from the ‘Parijata’ flower that is used in traditional ‘Ayurvedic’ medicine. This precious ingredient restores your skin’s density during the night by stimulating collagen synthesis. AM says: Sooo soft, sooo nourishing and sooo comfortable!

SCENT STORY You simply must check out the new fragrance pair from Victoria and David Beckham — Signature Story. In the fragrance for women, Beckham Signature Story for Her, you’ll find peach aromas, bitter orange, rose petals, white peony, orange blossom, musk, patchouli and moss. The collection is complete with a range of body care products. AM says: Go on indulge in a fresh whiff, celeb style!

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MEDITERRANEAN MAGIC PLUMP IT UP Did you know that all lash follicles go through three stages in their life cycle? The growth phase, the transitional phase and the rest phase? With ageing, the rest phase increases gradually with your eyelashes losing their youthful shine. Cargo LashActivator from Sephora offers a nourishing boost to your lashes. Formulated with a unique multi-facet lash-enhancing complex, it has been proven to stimulate the growth of lash follicles, promote lash vitality and reduce lash loss. And you can see the effect in just a month! AM says: Gets you gorgeous lashes in just 30 days.

This is the tale of a fragrant odyssey. We are talking of the Voyage En Méditerranée, the 2009 Eaux De Parfum Collection from L’ Occitane. Get swept away on a magical journey through the Mediterranean, and discover the richness of natural Mediterranean treasures. Check out Mimosa from Esterel, a sweet and powdery scent and Labdanum from Seville, a warm, enveloping and sensual scent. AM says: Try both, they are ‘scent’sational!


SMOOTH OPERATOR Who says you can’t fight the signs of ageing? Here’s a way to plump up wrinkles from the inside with fresh, new collagen. And this treatment comes from Sensai Cellular Performance Wrinkle Repair Series Autumn-Winter 2009 from Kanebo. The Wrinkle Repair Cream is a rich formulation that melts into your skin, providing a protective veil and day-long treatment with no stickiness. The Wrinkle Repair Essence is a soft-textured essence with a smooth, powdery finish. And the Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream is a rich, dense yet exquisitely soft-textured cream with a powerful sealing effect and is non-sticky. AM says: Apply mornings and evenings and see how it’s possible to reverse time!

Here comes not one, but a trio of fabulous fragrances to entice you! Benefit introduces Crescent Row, a set of three unique fragrances, each embodying three different feminine characters, each with a unique personality! So welcome Gina, Lee Lee and Sofia. Laugh With Me LeeLee is a woody floral designed to be fun and feminine, There’s Something About Sofia, is oriental created to be a bit more free-spirited and My Place or Yours Gina has notes of pink pepper, bergamot, wild raspberry, tonka bean and vanilla. AM says: Bring it on, people!

SUPER SKIN While your body sleeps, let your skin undergo a night-time repair process. Estee Lauder has once again revolutionised night-time repair with the new Advanced Night Repair Synchronised Recovery Complex. Using it every night will help to continuously repair the appearance of past damage, and help prevent future damage to skin cells and their DNA. All you have to do is to apply a few drops of serum evenly onto cleansed skin every night. Follow with moisturiser as needed by your skin type. And voila! AM says: Forget ageing skin, let your skin glow.

OCTOBER 2009 73





SRI LANKA Sri Lankan cuisine is all about variety and vibrancy! Ranjani Ranaraja, wife of HE D.M.M Ranaraja , the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Oman, tells Rekha Baala all about it...


little information goes a long way... This was a food shoot very much within my comfort zone. Sri Lanka’s close proximity to India, especially to the Southern coast where I hail from, ensured that I had enough ground to start off on. There were the hoppers, string hoppers, coconut milk based dishes — enough topics to begin any conversation on Sri Lankan food. But surprisingly enough, it was here that the similarities ended. For, there was more to Sri Lankan cuisine than its small but significant influences from India. There was a vibrancy and variety that we had not yet explored. And who better to lead us into the perfect Sri Lankan culinary experience than the wife of the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman herself?

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Ranjani Ranaraja welcomed us with typical Sri Lankan hospitality. Dressed in a simple, yet striking Sri Lankan ‘saree’, she proceeded to answer all our queries with a little help from her daughter Dineli Ranaraja who seemed to be as resourceful as her mother on information regarding the cuisine of her country. Ranjani has been in Oman only since June (her husband was posted here last year) and is yet to explore the vast country Oman is. “I was born in Kandy and studied there. I got married 25 years ago in 1984. After my husband joined the Foreign Service, and since then we have been travelling to different parts of the world.” The Ranarajas have been in India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Kuwait and Myanmar before coming to Oman.

On Sri Lankan cuisine and Ranjani’s interests, she tells us she started cooking ‘seriously’ only after marriage. “While growing up in Candy, it was my mother and the cooks at home who did all the cooking. So I really did not learn much in my earlier years,” she explains. And though she’s travelled to different countries, Ranjani does not like to be too experimental when it comes to cooking. “I did try to learn the dishes of the countries we lived in. But I didn’t do a lot of it. I like Indonesian food, though. Plus, there are a lot of cookbooks to help me in the kitchen,” she says with a laugh. And what’s special about Sri Lankan cuisine? “Plenty!” says Ranjani as she proceeds to explain in detail, the mindboggling variety it offers. “Rice is of course the staple food of the country, so much so that people in the villages have rice thrice a day. Sri Lankan cuisine abounds in its curries with lots of coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut and spices though the type of dishes vary from region to region. And there is no typical set menu; it is basically the main courses with a lot of curries as side dishes.”

We begin with the most important meal of the day, breakfast. Here too, rice is very much in evidence. “Hoppers, string hoppers, ‘pitu’, rice porridge with herbs and leaves, milk rice (rice in coconut milk), are the common breakfast dishes. Hoppers and string hoppers are had with ‘lunu muris’ (see recipe) that adds spice to it.” Lunch is a hearty affair with rice and plenty of curries made of fish, meat and vegetables. “There is the red curry (white meat) that is spicy and the white curry that tames the spiciness of the meat. Besides, we have fish curry, and curries with eggplant, beans, bottle gourd, etc.” Dinner is normally light with string hoppers and honey. “Basically, breakfast dishes are steam-based and lunch is mostly fried and spice-based items,” she says. Sri Lankan cuisine also gets its influences from the Portuguese, Dutch, Malays, the English and South Indians who have left their culinary characteristic on the island country. ‘Lamprais’ (rice boiled in stock with a special curry), accompanied by ‘frikkadels’ (meatballs), all of which is then wrapped in a banana leaf and baked — is a Dutch-

influenced Sri Lankan dish. Dutch and Portuguese sweets also continue to be popular. British influences include roast beef and roast chicken. Ranjani supervises the everyday cooking at home and helps the cook choose what goes on the menu. The food is mostly Sri Lankan though she admits a fondness for some Indian dishes like ‘dosa’ and ‘idli’. Certainly, our experience would not be complete without sampling the food and Ranjani had laid out an elaborate and sumptuous lunch for us, just so we could savour every little nuance. Now that’s what we call a scrumptious taste of Sri Lanka! ■

“Ayubowan” (May You Live Long)

Besides the amazing beaches, awesome landscapes, impressive ruins, a vibrant culture and a charming people, the gorgeous island of Sri Lanka enjoys a varied and select cuisine. Sri Lankan cuisine is considered one of the finest and perhaps most distinctive cuisines in the world. Ranjani Ranaraja, wife of HE D.M.M Ranaraja, the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Oman, presents some authentic recipes especially for you.

Hoppers with Lunu Miris (This starter serves five-six) For the hoppers: 500 gm raw rice 1 egg 2tsp sugar Salt to taste ½ cup lukewarm water 1 tsp dried yeast ½ cup Coconut water Approx. 2 ½ cups of thick coconut milk To prepare the hoppers: Soak rice in water and leave overnight. Drain the rice in a colander. Spread rice on a towel and let it dry for a few minutes. Then grind the rice to a fine powder in a blender. Mix the yeast and sugar in warm water and leave aside for five minutes, until it starts to froth. Place the rice flour in a large bowl. Add the coconut water. Add the mixture of yeast to make the dough soft. Cover and set aside for 3-4 hours to let the dough rise. When the dough doubles in size, add thick coconut milk and an egg to make a thick batter. Add salt to taste and leave aside for three hours. The batter is then ready to use. Add some water to make the batter sufficiently watery allowing it to spread across the pan. To make the hoppers take a non-stick hopper pan. Wait until the pan is hot and pour a ladle of the batter. Turn the pan around so that the batter forms a circular shape with the middle a little thick and the sides very thin. Cover and cook on low heat until the top edge begins to turn golden. Remove the hopper with a wooden spatula. For the Lunu Miris: 1 tbsp of flaked Maldive fish A pinch of sugar Salt and lime juice to taste 8 red onions 12 dried red chillies To prepare the Lunu Miris: Mix all the above ingredients and grind them to a paste on a grinding stone. Serve hot with hoppers.

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Yellow Rice with Batu Moju (Eggplant curry), Ambul Thiyal (Sour Fish Curry) and Cashew Curry (This main course dish serves eight) For the Yellow Rice: 1 kg Samba rice 4 cups coconut milk 6 tbsp margarine 10 small red onions, sliced 8 cardamoms, bruised 5 cloves 3” stick of cinnamon ½ tsp turmeric 12 curry leaves, 4” rampe (long leaf special to Sri Lanka) 1 lemongrass 2 tsp salt To prepare the Yellow Rice: Wash the rice and drain in a colander. Heat the margarine in a saucepan. Then add the onions and fry till golden brown. Add turmeric, rampe, curry leaves, lemon grass, cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon. Add the drained rice and fry turning continuously for 2-3 minutes. When the grains become transparent in colour, add the salt and coconut milk. The level of the liquid should be 1½” above the level of the rice. Bring to boil. When the rice is half-cooked, cover the saucepan with a lid and leave it on a low flame for 15 minutes.

Finally, add fried eggplants, vinegar, salt and sugar. Mix together and simmer on very low heat for 10 minutes.

For the Batu Moju: (Eggplant curry) 1 kg eggplant Oil for frying 2 tbsp chopped onion 1 ½ inches of ginger, chopped 5 cloves of garlic, chopped 1 tbsp flaked Maldive fish 2 cloves 2 cardamoms 3” rampe 1” lemongrass 10 curry leaves ½ tsp turmeric powder 1 tsp salt 1 tsp unroasted curry powder 2 tbsp vinegar 1 tsp sugar 1 tsp chilli flakes To prepare the Batu Moju: Wash the eggplants and cut into 2” thick fingers. Rub with salt and turmeric and leave for 15 minutes. Wipe the pieces of eggplant to remove excess liquid. Heat oil in a pan and add the eggplants a little at a time and deep fry till golden brown. Drain the eggplants. Heat two teaspoons of oil in a pan and add the onions, rampe leaves, lemongrass, curry leaves, ginger, garlic, cloves and cardamoms. Then add the Maldive fish, chilli flakes and curry powder.

For the Cashew Curry: 250 gm fresh cashews 1 ½ tbsp chopped onions 2 cups thick coconut milk 1 cup thin coconut milk ½ tsp turmeric power 1 ½ tsp unroasted curry powder 2 tsp flaked Maldive fish ½ tsp of ground mustard 3” cinnamon stick 10 curry leaves 2” rampe Salt to taste To prepare the Cashew Curry: Soak the cashews overnight in cold water. Put all the ingredients except the salt, thick coconut milk and mustard into a pan. Simmer uncovered for 7-10 minutes until the cashews are tender. Then add the thick coconut milk, salt and ground mustard and simmer for a further five minutes stirring occasionally. Serve with any kind of rice.

For the Ambul Thiyal: (Sour Fish Curry) 500 gm Redfish 12 pieces Goraka 4 green chillies 2 ½ tbsp pepper powder 2” ginger 4” cinnamon 5 cloves garlic 10 curry leaves Salt to taste To prepare the Ambul Thiyal: Cut and wash the fish and allow it to dry. Boil the Goraka. Use the Goraka stock water to grind the Goraka, pepper, ginger, and garlic. Add salt to taste and mix. The end result should be a paste. Add green chillies, cinnamon, curry leaves to the paste. Smear the paste on the pieces of fish. Add a little water to the fish if it is very dry. Place the fish in a saucepan, cover and cook on a low flame until the paste has been absorbed by the fish. (The use of a clay pot instead of a saucepan is recommended)

Wattalapam Serves: 4 500 gm grated jaggery 200 ml thick coconut milk 10 eggs, beaten ½ tsp salt ½ tsp powdered nutmeg seeds ½ tsp powdered cardamom seeds ¼ cup of sliced cashew nuts Mix the jaggery, coconut milk and eggs and beat well. Strain the mixture into a bowl. Add salt, nutmeg and cardamom. Cover the bowl with aluminium foil and place the bowl in a steamer. Steam on a medium flame for an hour. Take the bowl out of the steamer and allow the mixture to set at room temperature. Add sliced cashew nuts on top to garnish. Serve chilled.

Co-ordinated by: Rekha Baala Photographs: Rajesh Burman

78 OCTOBER 2009

If you have an eye for fashion, then we have designs on you! Are you looking for an opportunity to showcase your original ‘Abaya’ and ‘Jalabiya’ designs?

is offering you the ideal eal opportunity pp p p to be noticed! Get going and ssign up for

THE Fashion Design Contest

Deadline for submission of designs is 15th November 2009

To qualify for the competition, you simply need to submit an original design for either an ‘Abaya’ or a ‘Jalabiya’ or both. The works of six candidates will be selected and showcased on the fashion pages of Al Mar’a. The final winners will be announced later.

For more information on terms and conditions and how to apply, please log onto to download the application form. You may also pick up the form from the Reception at the Head Office of the Al Mar’a magazine. The office address is: United Media Services, Ground Floor, Renaissance Building, Ruwi. For further queries, please call Benu on 92855030.


Full Fashion Alert! The Splash Autumn Winter ‘09 Collection is a shot of power and energy that has the potential to jolt you out of recession fatigue with the most fashion forward line ever! In line with Splash’s brand statement ‘Eye on Design’, the collection adapts key designer trends across international catwalks for pocket-friendly, high-street styles. Dress for success in power ensembles from the ‘80s Power Dressing’ collection; other key lines include ‘The Warrior Goddess’ and ‘Country Grunge’. The men’s line consists of varied themes allowing you to choose from simple, futuristic and traditional dressing. Sharp, accentuated styles pronounce urbane glamour. ‘Sartorial Man’, ‘Futuristic Dressing’ and ‘Country Romeo’ are the collections making a ‘splash’ this season.

80 OCTOBER 2009

Left:Vest top - Zync Jacket - Ms Pants - Ms Below: Dress shirt - Friday Kinyobi Skirt - Nexus Bag - Jaded Right:Neckpiece - Jaded Opera sleeve top - Nexus Tulip skirt - Nexus Tights - Jaded

Necklace - Jaded Playsuit - Ms Tights - Jaded

Jacket - Nexus Harem pants - Nexus

Jacket - Lee Cooper Waist Coat - Friday Kinyobi Jeans - Friday Kinyobi

Jacket - Lee Cooper Jeans - Lee Cooper


Rami Al Ali 2009/10 Autumn-Winter Couture Collection Rami Al Ali has chosen the peacock, the heavenly, flamboyant bird to be the subject of his 2009/ 2010 Autumn-Winter couture collection. Inspired by its elegance, splendour and brilliant colours, the collection reflects the charming and astounding presence of this heavenly creature. The motion of the Peacock feathers has provoked the vigorous imagination of Rami to work on integrating colours and hues, stressing the gradient colour change seen each time from a different angle. He portrays the pieces of his collection in dark colours in shades of deep blue, emerald green, along touches of profound dark purple, with a combination of gold and silver hues. 86 OCTOBER 2009


What the STARS foretell this month… ARIES March 21 - April 20 This is a sociable month for you, dear Aries. October finds you animated, excited and selfexpressive. An opportunity for friendship from a surprising source is likely. Work improves, and your career seems to be heading in the right direction. But be aware of a building tension between you and a close friend.

TAURUS April 21 - May 20 It’s work, work and more work for you in October! You will also be a little concerned about your health and so consider stepping up your fitness routine. Routine matters in life take precedence and you need to move beyond the ordinary and the mundane. You will have renewed energy for home improvement in the middle of the month.

GEMINI May 21 - June 21 A very sociable, lighthearted, and playful period in your life begins this month. This is the time to come out of the comfortable cocoon and have some fun. Ironically, even as you focus lesser on it, home life seems to be improving, The last week of the month is busy and perhaps demanding when it comes to work and communications.

CANCER June 22 - July 23 The first two weeks of October remain strong for pushing personal projects ahead, after which you begin to wind down and efforts to make yourself feel comfortable and secure are emphasised. Tension is building between domestic matters and one-to-one relationships, and finding a balance is something you’ll be striving for. Impulse buys are something to watch for.

88 OCTOBER 2009

LEO July 24 - August 23 This may be an especially busy and hectic month for you. At work, you need to work at improving your work output or value but finding the time to do so may be an issue. Commitments are many, whether at work or home and finding a balance is essential. This is a strong period for romantic relationships and creative projects.

VIRGO August 24 - September 23 There have been many changes in your life and October brings many new priorities as well. One of these is attention to your finances and cutting down frivolous and unnecessary expenses in order to save more. By the end of the month, you begin to feel re-energised and considerably more lighthearted.

LIBRA September 24 - October 22 You’ll take a stronger, more assertive and more independent stance this month. You’ll be aware of challenges and responsibilities. Family dynamics come into strong focus and possible relationship tests will bring rich rewards. Towards the end of the month, the focus shifts to security, finances and comfort matters.

SCORPIO October 23 - November 22 Your professional life is going great guns and things are dynamic, busy and strong at the workplace. You are feeling more ambitious than before. The last week of the month brings a strengthening of personal spirit as well as increased focus, energy, and confidence. New responsibilities and commitments are presenting themselves, and you feel confident about taking them on.

SAGITTARIUS November 23 - December 22 October is a powerful month for you, dear Sagittarius. After the past few trying months, you are bound to feel more confidence, energy and conviction now. Romantic connections and friendships tend to be supportive. Relationships work better this month.

CAPRICORN December 23 - January 20 It is a very busy month for career and professional matters, public exposure and attention to business. Your voice will be heard and will have significant impact. It’s time to prove your worth. Domestic matters need special attention and improved relationships are the goal.

AQUARIUS January 21 - February 19 This is a mostly happy and energetic month for you. The month is a strong time for pushing forward with your personal plans, particularly for presenting your ideas and matters. Your career and close personal relationships will matter a lot. You will be more equipped, mentally, to face all responsibilities.

PISCES February 20 - March 20 Money matters, especially regarding money owed or shared are the big themes for Pisceans this month. Support from others, from friends, and business loans are in focus. Career matters begin to move forward after a period of stagnation.

OCTOBER 2009 89

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Your essential autu umn wardrobe

OCTOBER 2009 89 Sultanate of Oman, Markaz Al Bahja, Seeb. Tel: 24536035

Almara - October 09  

Almara - October 09

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