After 40 years, CT Thomas is bidding adieu to Oman, his second home. He is leaving Oman with unforgettable images and sweet memories.
Thomas, who hails from the South Indian state of Kerala, has been capturing many moments and his camera bears witness to the growth of Oman as a modern nation.
Thomas also known as Achayan (elder brother in Malayalam) arrived in Oman in early 1980s following his brother CT James, who came in 1978. He joined his brother's studio in Wadi Kabir.
"It feels like yesterday when I arrived in Oman in the 1980s and it has been a truly remarkable journey. This nation is an oasis of peace and the people are very hospitable with no prejudice," says the 65-year-old photographer.
Hailing from a very humble family in the district of Pathanamthitta of Kerala, he has been running a studio at Star Cinema Complex, Ruwi, since 1989 and has always been a familiar face among both citizens and expatriates. Over the past 40 years, Thomas has clicked events from first Asian Beach Games to trade fairs and international conferences and Muscat Festivals.
"Living in Oman itself is a bliss and I have enjoyed life in Oman with my wife and three daughters. Along with the blessings, I faced several adversities in life, but I withstood them all as I have been honoured to live in Oman," smiles Thomas.
For him, photography has always been a passion but never imagined that the same hobby would become his bread and butter one day. He said he was fortunate to meet leaders, top company officials and most of the who's who in the country," says Thomas, who is also involved in many humanitarian initiatives.
As a photographer, what gives him a unique sense of contentment and purpose is the National Day celebrations held every year.
"National Day celebrations are festivals of celebrations as several countries and cultures come together in Oman and it becomes a mélange of celebrations."
Since 1985, he recalls that he has clicked more than 100,000 pictures in Oman. Nothing seems as bright and as lively as the sunrise and sunset in Muscat which are the most spectacular moments to behold. In his own words, "They present a glorious blend of colours indeed."
"When I click, I forget all my sorrows because only calmness and peace can create the best photo out of what you see in the front. My interest in photography grew in my childhood and a love for nature took me to this profession," a photographer by chance but a dedicated professional by perseverance, said.
According to him, it needs years of hard work and patience to learn photography. Thomas was also a signboard artist for a while before he opened his own studio in Ruwi.
The personality that inspired Thomas as a photographer has been His Majesty the Sultan and he would often stand for hours in front of the inspiring pictures of HM, which were taken by veteran national photographers.
Having begun his career with Mamiya and Pentax cameras nearly four decades ago, he feels that photography has undergone a drastic change from films to digital ones. He says only the smartest can survive in the industry.
Thomas feels he had a highly successful life in Oman and wants to lead the rest of his life in his home town in Kerala. For all achievements in life, he feels he is indebted to God almighty, to the country, to the rulers and to his family which comprises wife Jolly Thomas and three daughters.
Recently, Thomas was honoured by St Thomas Marthoma Church, Ruwi, for his contributions as a longstanding member for the last 25 years. As the Sultanate of Oman celebrates its 53rd National Day, Thomas celebrates his 40th year of life in Oman.
"Oman is my second home and I will always be holding the great, colourful and unforgetful images of the country and people that formed me, my thoughts and my life. Ma'assalama Oman," Thomas shared his feelings with the Observer with a tearful smile.