View from my window

Wherever I live or travel, I always revel in the comings and goings of life that I am lucky enough to observe from my window. I guess it is an act of voyeurism: cosy and safe in my home, the people I observe have no idea that they are watched. The view from my window here in Ras-Al-Khaimah is a particularly beautiful and active one. As I look towards the horizon, the haziness of the day every so often makes way for the starkness of the barren Hajar mountains. As age-old sentinels they stand guard and silently watch over the exposed landscape.

The sun drifting through the sky is not the same harsh sun that bakes the African landscape. This sun is softer. Maybe as a consolation to the merciless heat that seldom abates. Sunsets are quiet and serene. The dramatic, bold, and sometimes fiery colours of a setting African sun is nowhere to be found. Here the sun gently glides towards the horison, bathing the sky in a soft pink, before it gently sinks away: big, red, almost aloof.

The best part of my day, at the moment, is at sunrise. It is when I slowly wake up with a cup of coffee in my hand, sitting on my “balcony” and watching the slow stirrings of a new day. Life in this moment feels slow and contained. Filled with promise and hope. I’d love to bottle the energy of a sunrise, so that I can drink deeply from it every time life seems to be full of burdens and challenges. As the night slowly fades into the awaiting day, the mountains and creek are bathed in a soft light that belies the brightness of the sun the moment it sticks its head over the mountain.

The harshness of the landscape is softened by the constantly changing hues of the water in the creek and the constant green of the mangrove forests. The fishing boats dotting the creek are mostly deserted, but for the occasional activity of fishermen tending to their nets and fish traps or washing away the remnants of a night at sea. On a lazy afternoon one might spot a couple of fishermen playing cricket in an open field to while away the time or perhaps to quiet the longing for home in their hearts. Late afternoon, the sound of splashing oars and the enthusiastic barking of instructions from the coxswain, break the stillness of the surface of the water, as the local rowing teams congregate for their daily practice session.

Elsewhere on the promenade that runs for a couple of kilometres along the creek people are jogging, stretching, walking, or simply sitting talking. There is an ebb and flow of human activity throughout the day, but it is mostly in the relative coolness of the morning or at the end of the day that more people venture out to enjoy the winter months that is a welcome reprieve from the choking heat of the long summer. The carefully cared for and well-tended green grass and trees form an added layer of human activity, as gardeners toil during all hours of the day to water and care for the plants that find themselves in a foreign environment.

The skyline of the city is one that is quite modest, with only the occasional high-rise building. Some will call this a sleepy town, but it is big enough to excite all the senses, yet small enough not to over-burden them. The mosques that can be found on almost every corner, not only adds to the architectural interest of the skyline, but also provide an essential ambience and energy with every call to prayer that sounds five times a day, and that echoes and reverberates through the never-ending traffic noise; softening it for a moment or two.

Although this is only a glimpse of a city that holds many more treasures, it is what I experience from my vantage point that is constant and safe.

Alice Steinbach once asked: “Is it possible to change your outer geography without disrupting the inner geography?” It is a question that comes to mind as I sit watching the flow of life, while absorbing the incredible beauty of the landscape. It is a question I have no answer to yet. I guess I will have to first inhabit my new outer geography in order to measure the impact on my inner geography. Life needs to be lived first before it can be measured.

In yoga inner or emotional transformation (bhavana) refers to a process of awareness and acceptance that will allow our emotions that limit our experience of life, to be transformed. In the next couple of weeks I will explore these emotional states by looking at how my new physical environment is influencing, determining, aggravating or perhaps quieting them.

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