Moza Wa Khamis – A Burst of New Nostalgia

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Growing up, I was a HUGE fan of Arabic dubbed anime! It was a big thing in my generation and I bet that you won’t find a single person around my age who cant at recite the theme from “ra3d el 3imlaq” or “grandizer”. I bet some of you are humming to them right now!

This new place that opened up at the Best Western plays to the awesome nostalgic notes that just make me smile! Moza Wa Khamis is a new kind of Omani Restaurant….its not typical Omani food and its not a traditional atmosphere….its a new fun place that im really excited about!
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The restaurant revives a few old cartoons that have been forgotten for a while! the beauty about this place for me is just that……..you know whats even better? you know how I said that most of you that saw the cartoons will be humming the themes? well thats what I started doing there! the ambiance of the place will instantly kick you off to a happy place while playing the theme songs from your favorite 80’s / 90’s cartoons!
I even called my mom and got her to hear those themes!

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I got the opportunity to sneak in a meal before the place opens up on Monday (9th Feb) and im so happy to say that the theme isn’t the only thing that will pull me here! Some of the things are creative and ull have to trust the chef and just try em, and others are perfectly executed classics.
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So lets start with the first things that came! The Shuwa salad was one of those things that looked strange at first but was very unique and well balanced. The strange part for me when it came was that it had ‘Chips Oman’ in it! but it mixed in very well! the shuwa meat itself was well cooked and my friends who tried another shuwa dish loved it as well! (id plan ahead though as its only available on Thursday for now)DSC_9601

We also explored my love of cheese with the cheese platter, It was a pretty good selection but it needed crackers….the dates were a wonderful complement!DSC_9616

The mains came around and my partner ordered the Kebab….I had a bite and the meat was bursting with the flavors, and I dont mean that it was hidden with spices and herbs….This was proper meat that tasted exactly how it should! I’m surely going to order this one of the times im back here.

Oh and the sauce that it came with is a tomato sauce that was tangy and had just the amount of spices in it…..I haven’t had a chance to explore much of the menu yet but I sure hope that this sauce comes with more dishes!
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I see mushrooms and I order the dish that they come with 😛  So naturally my choice was a mushroom burger!
This came with the ‘Chips Oman’ twist and I really took a second to realize that after I bit into the burger…..I Absolutely loved it! the sauce was just the right consistency and the chips brought a nice zing to it……….again the big highlight for me was the meat itself! the burger patty was flavored very well and balanced between the taste of the meat and seasoning….the different elements mixed very well and it really did feel that this burger was engineered to perfection!
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Before I dive into the sweet stuff, id absolutely love to talk about the drinks here…….they have some really amazing coffee creations done with Omani touches.

The Rose frappe is something that ud love if you like rose water taste….you can really taste it and I wouldn’t mind ordering this to go when I spend a day on the beach because this drink is absolutely refreshing.

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My favorite thing though would be the qahwa frappe! I absolutely love coffee, especially Omani coffee so when the owner suggested this I was pretty excited!
When it came, I could immediately smell the strong flavorsome smell of Omani qahwa…..I actually wondered why wasnt this done before? if you had to order just one drink from the menu, id suggest this would be the one.

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By the time the desserts came, we were stuffed! We couldn’t finish our luqaimat (photo cred: Anna Chesalina) but they were divine! I was told that next time I should try the halwa spring rolls or the date pancakes! it would be good to see how they compare to silk route’s date pancakes (my favorite dessert) or shuwa expresses halwa spring rolls!
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The place itself has a very fun vibe and atmosphere…..the cartoon themes will just make you smile if not sing along and the food will bring you back for more!

Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to explore the menu much yet…..but fortunately I will come back to surely be pleasantly surprised with more awesome dishes…..and you know what? next time I go, ill bring my mom along for all the nostalgia overload!

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Omani Petrolheaditis – Fueled by @Redbulloman

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Omanis have a certain passion for the road…..growing up here, the open road stirs up some passionate emotions.
We didn’t have an outlet to let that passion out back then…and when the automobile association opened up the go kart track it was busy like nothing else…but then it closed down for a while…During that time I had left Oman to Australia and I fueled my petrolheaditis fairly well! Maybe a little too well…..I use to race V8 cars and it was just my thing!

Oman however has a little different kind of motor sport love….Omanis seem to love drifting!  When F&F: Tokyo drift came out, the cinema was full for weeks!!!…..almost a decade since I left Oman, and now that iv been back, petrolheaditis has taken a hold on young Omanis! From photographers to karters and racers!

RedBull seem to be very aware of that…..because their drift event hit the right spot! It brought in talented Omanis to do what they love most….burn rubber and be awesome!

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The afternoon started with a few games of guessing objects, horribly moving a ring through a wire (i didn’t event try cuz im horrible at it) and most importantly…..soothing sounds of fearsome cars!

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Red Bull were awesome to give us our Polaroid photo before the event kicked off!

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When the drivers got off to their sideways start I was really impressed……the accuracy of those drivers was just amazing! I have been exposed a little to the world of drifting as a spectator and I can tell you that this is just amazing!

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Here’s the thing with drifting, its not what hooligans on the streets think they are doing……..no, drifting is actually very controlled. If you call your self a drifter you better know how to control your car through an obstacle course sideways, otherwise you are just someone who like burning rubber.

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But why use words when I have photos of sideway action!

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Photogra-foodie

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Iv been taking photos for a while now, I actually started my love of photography with Macro / floral photography and its still something I love doing.
In the past while however…..iv been investing into a new kind of passion, Food Photography!

(photo cred: Anna Chesalina)

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Iv written here before that it wont take you long from the time you meet me till you get to realize that im a foodie….I love trying out new places and I dont mean just the fancy ones, I really enjoy finding the ‘hole in the wall’
So as a photographer, when the opportunity of doing a professional shoot for a restaurant came, I jumped at it!

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Many of you have seen YouTube clips of how photographers stage shots by making plastic versions of their food or doing insane things to take photos of them in a way they wouldn’t look naturally. Well ill tell you a thing or two about that…..
1. Sometimes its unavoidable….We shoot using lights that get quite warm, taking photos of ice cream can prove to be difficult (not impossible, just very difficult)
2. Restaurants and businesses here in Oman generally can’t afford that.

So now that’s out of the way, I absolutely hate faking shots……My idea of food photography is that it should show the food in its best way, not its unnaturally perfect form! so until now I haven’t had the need to hire a food stylist, rather…I work with the chef’s to bring the dishes out in the best way they should look. (here is a shot of me during the shoot and of the shot I took, photo cred: Anna Chesalina)
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One of the fun things that I love about food photography is that you have to be precise….and hungry.
Im not kidding! you end up looking at food in a really different way when you are hungry so I try to skip a meal before my shoots.
Downside….you starve while being confronted with great smells and beautifully plated food
Upside……you get to eat it when you are done!!

Yes….. that’s the question I mostly get when I say that I do food photography…..although I must confess, I usually shoot up-to 15 dishes a shoot so I do bring along friends for ‘support’.

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Here is one thing that iv noticed though…..restaurateurs don’t really understand the business of new media, they don’t get that a good photo can make a customer come to you no matter where you are.
Most restaurants say that they can’t afford a food photographer or that they are fine with their phone-camera photos for social media.
To those who could identify with the above, do this….check the instagram account of a café called ‘passion café’…..these guys have brilliant photos and have create a buzz well before they opened just because of those photos!! (and no I didn’t take those beautiful shots).
Similarly….check out restaurants that have one dish highlighted with a professional photo in a menu, ull notice that particular dish selling more (The people who told me that wish to remain anonymous).

My last bit to add about that just happened last week.
We were at a restaurant that I had done the photography for (Anar at the Wave Muscat) and I had the photos on my phone. When my friends were looking at the menu and were confused, I pulled out my phone…that was the last time I saw the phone before all orders were done. Actually, the waiters noticed this so when new people joined our party (it was a birthday,so it was a whole bunch of people) the waiters just referred them to my phone! (which was just being passed around)

Food plays not only with your taste buds, but with your sight…..there are many studies done in the field of psychology that showed the huge difference in opinions in the perceived taste when the same dish was presented differently (don’t worry, I wont get all nerdy on you).

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So next time you see a great photo of a dish in a menu, take a moment to appreciate that you, and particularly the way you like to look at beautiful food made someone’s job possible 🙂

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A TALE OF PHOTOS – PART 2

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I wanted to revisit some old photos for this post but for some reason, only one place has been on my mind….. The 7th continent,

Its been 492 days since I stepped onto Antarctica the day that I wrote this post, my journey was a year before that and it was long and difficult. I faced issues with funding, training, acceptance and failed friendships…..kinda shows you who your real friends are. And it shaped my life, in more ways than the obvious.

One of the unexpected ways is that before Antarctica, I was stuck in a dead end job that I hated and I lost my eye for photography….when I was doing my research for getting myself there, something happened….. I started to grab my camera after it having collected dust on my shelf, I started buying books and reading things, I was becoming a photographer again!

I practiced so that I could get it right in Antarctica…and when I got there, it paid off!! It started with Argentina! My camera was always an arms length (photo cred, Ameer Abdulhussein, my edit)

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A Chair With a View

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This was a beautiful day, the first day meeting our teams! I had just met a group of people who would be my life long Antarctic companions. The amazing thing was, during my time in Oman I thought I was an alien with this hard mission ahead…..but when I met Alice, Swati, Oli, Arriane, Subash, Omar, Millie and everyone else…..it felt like we knew each other for years, and we all knew what it took to get there. we instantly bonded and became a family in the strangest most natural way…all in a few minutes.

We all hung around the hotel lobby looking at the gorgeous beagle channel in awe….you know, places like this are so beautiful that you really get blown away and that’s what happened to me! I just had to capture that view! That lobby was a perfect excuse for me…..I sat in that chair sending my photos to the media in Oman and updating my blog, but it was much more than that…..the lobby was the place where everyone came out of their hiding spots rooms and was the perfect place to get to know the people who had to really work hard to get here.

First Sight

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Now, this isn’t a particularly impressive photo on its own right….but by far one of my all time favorites!

After a year of preparations and difficulties, it didn’t seem real….not even when I got on to the Sea Spirit. actually…..I talked to many people, and the feeling was the same, Antarctica still seemed like it was a world away but when ‘Jumper‘s’ voice popped on the PA telling us all that there is an iceberg ahead, it really hit me……Im really there….

So I took my big lens out and rushed with the others to see my first iceberg, it was amazing…..seeing a block of ice float on water may not sound that magical but when you see it….you feel an immense passion and your mind starts thinking….is this real?

That feeling lasted my whole time there and this photo, whenever I look at it, reminds me of the first time in my life that I felt that shock and awe…..

The grandness beyond your mind’s comprehension that a floating block of ice could inspire so much beauty ……

A Tale of Photos – Part 1

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For those who know me, you would know that photography is something that I really love to do! I started taking photos when I was really young, around 7 actually…..my dad bought me a ninja turtles film camera when I was 7, it use to imprint one of the characters of the show on each photo, so I use to take photos just so that I could get Michael Angelo in different places!

When I was about 14 my dad got me my first film SLR on the condition that I would have to work to buy the lens! and that’s why I got my first job….putting lids on yogurt tubs! at the end of that summer, I had my Nikon F60 film camera and I kept clicking away!

It wasn’t until I went to Australia that I actually started doing photography….before I was just taking photos!

 

Any photographer will tell you that the photos that you see aren’t the whole story, photos are a moment of a story!

That’s why I thought, every once in a while, ill explore some of my journeys through the photos that I took!

The Lonely Flower

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This would be the most appropriate photo to start with, since its the photo that started so much in my life as a photographer!

I lived in Australia for a long time and during my time there, I met an aspiring photographer like myself, Michelle. Mish and I met randomly at uni and one day, while looking at the camera she brought to uni, I suggested that we should go a trek and do some photography together so we learn each other’s techniques!

We left that day to the botanical gardens just outside Perth and we had so many interesting conversations on our trek…..at the end of the day however, as we were turning back, I saw a single flower facing the other way. When I turned around to face it, I saw a beautiful view of the flower standing with the backdrop of a waterfall!! I knew that this would be my best photo of the day!

Back then, we used film and I was a student on a budget! so I couldn’t waste photos like you would today….you can’t just delete a film photo and you can’t see how it will turn out until you got home and developed the photos….if you didn’t get the shot right the first time, you missed it.

so I waited for that flower to line up but it was windy and cold…..so my hand was a little shaky and the flower moved because of the wind…..I waited for the wind to die down but it didn’t for a while, so I waited some more…I must have waited for 30 minutes or so for that shot…. when I took it, I was as nervous as ever! I didn’t know how it would turn out and I really didn’t want all that effort to go to waste…but I had my rule, get it right from the first shot!

I got back home and I had a few shots in the film so I looked for things to take photos of! it took me another week to finish that film as I didn’t want to waste a single shot on something that I wasn’t going to frame or keep in my photography album!

When I finally got it, I was so happy!!! I went around all my friends showing them….I even created a DevientArt page and scanned the photo because I was that happy!

Whats even more, I donated that photo for a charity auction and it sold for 400$ (160 OMR)

This was the photo that made me love photography and specifically the love of macro photography, its always going to be that thing that started me off 🙂

First Post! Sands of Summer

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Well…….its been a crazy year for me with so many things happening, I started blogging with the Freezing Omanis page and it was a great start! but now I feel that I need a new outlet….the current and future Freezing Omanis should carry that torch, its their story now 🙂

For my life now…..well, its so different from what it was a year ago! im much more addicted to the outdoors and well……..why not start my first post with that?

I just got my new 4×4 so I thought, why not break it in with a camping trip in the desert! its the last bit of the season before the desert turns to a open space oven!!!

We gathered and left off…not many of us, just the 3 cars……but the second we got to the sands we had some real fun!!!

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We set up the camp and it was nice, a bit warm so it was lazy to start with but once the sun got down the view got amazing!

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The main reason why I love camping an the outdoors is the night sky…..the stars and the quiet isolation is just so calming! its always essential for me to get out and wind down and what better way than being disconnected while looking at an amazing campsite with a bunch of great friends!

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The food and company were great but that view of the sands and the stars is amazing…..I don’t like to camp at campsites or anywhere near them for that reason, the light there just takes away from what you can see! …..well…..writing this makes me want to go back!

I even set up my sleeping bag on the car roof and slept under the stars, that’s the look I got from Breki in the morning….the “dude ur mad” look

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Alas…..back to reality, but we had the best person to give us the desert send off! …..camel selfie anyone?

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On our way back we found a man selling honey and fruit on the way…..the freshest things you could find!

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It was just a simple weekend getaway and this is the perfect way to figure out how i’m going to start writing this blog 🙂