MUSCAT: Resplendent in the crimson of the setting sun, the huge column right in front of this traditional souq facing the Arabian ocean stood as a mute spectator to bygone times of hustle and bustle that enlivened this area.
Today, the souq is totally shut keeping hundreds of workers and shop keepers indoors or their homes as part of protecting themselves and others from the pandemic.
The narrow walkways that were once lit by neon bulbs on either side and echoed with solicits of the salesmen are today silent to the core except for the feline friends that perambulate the covered, dark allies of the traditional souq.
The roads that once throbbed with vehicles and people are today longing to have rubber tyres to feel them. The sea road that once welcomed visitors is in slumber before it’s called dawn.
Yes, Muttrah is sleeping… but while it took a cat nap, it can wake up and come back with a bang. Nearly 75 days of lockdown will not make it fall into a permanent coma and before we know it, it will get up before the sun rises. This is quite evident from the hopeful murmurs of the people who live in Muttrah.
“Muttrah is my home and I cannot imagine a life without the hustle-bustle of the souq and the roaring vehicles on the corniche”, said Diesel al Balushi, one of those who popularised football among the past generation.
“Be positive even if you’re tested positive and all these dark days will be over and we will welcome brighter days ahead”, he added.
For the business communities in and around Muttrah, hopes are high well.
“I’ve not stepped out of home for last 2 months but now have a new lease of hope”, said Jignesh Surti, one who is running his business inside the Muttrah Souq.
“The hope that we can all go back to our shops and start our lives anew. We really appreciate the steps taken by the government in containing the pandemic and all the efforts of the government and other authorities aimed at bringing life back to normalcy are laudable”, adds Surti.
“I’m jobless since April 10 and was supported by the government food supplies and provisions given by some NGOs and friends. I’m looking forward to resuming work inside the Muttrah souq again”, an expat laborer said.