Mussanah Race Week Oman. I have so much to say. This week went faster than any week I have had in a long time. We had a troubled start to our journey. Our first time experience carrying sailing equipment coupled with a late evening flight time when office hours end and roads are jammed with commuters heading home. Took us long to get to to the understaffed and over used Karachi airport which was servicing 5 flights to the Gulf at almost the same time.
It was a nightmare getting in to airport with our weird sized luggage. The sailing equipment was very broad making manoeuvring it on the luggage trolley quite challenging especially since the airport was packed with people. The sails were rolled and they were 7 foot in height making getting in through the doors a frightening experience.
It is very sad to see that we as a nation have so far to go in civil behaviour and discipline. There were no lines on the airport. The men traveling alone and dragging their bags pushed against us and came in front of us. Nobody offered to help and not that I was expecting it. But being pushed was just too much. Alone females with kids I had felt very vulnerable.
It took 60 minutes to get in and make way to the airline check in counter. Something that usually takes a few minutes on normal days. The kids were pushed around and I screamed at few passengers when it just became too much to handle. All this international traveling has really spoiled me. Being pushed was something I thought didn’t happen any more on airports.
Made it to the airline counter finally after an hour – already tired, angry and agitated. The ordeal was not over yet. The counter staff insisted that sails were too long to be put in luggage haul of the airplane. I asked to speak to the manager as the team had traveled to Bahrain just recently and carried the sail with them.
The manager asked for the man in charge of cargo. This gentleman confirmed that the sails will fit in the plane and will be placed diagonally. However the counter staff had to confirm if they could manually carry the sails to the luggage compartment. The counter staff just refused. After arguing, reasoning, pleading and finally praying to God for some help they agreed to take the sails.
Many of you have asked me as to why the airline wouldn’t take the sails? I seriously don’t know I can only conjecture that they wanted to be offered money as they knew I was desperate and needed the sails. However, they didn’t ask for money and I didn’t offer any. They did spend close to an hour telling me that the sails would not be placed on board the plane.
I was freaked; the stress of having to leave the sails behind had given me nasty scare. The whole team was depending on me and what do you do in a sailing competition without sails?
We then got into another long line at the immigration counter. We waited and waited till we finally made it to the lounge. The boarding had been announced and we were rushed into the plane. Despite the staff rushing us my kids stopped to buy donuts. They needed sugar to keep them going. I was too tired to argue with the kids. The staff wasn’t happy. The flight was 30 minutes late as other passengers hadn’t made it to the plane.
We checked in the hotel barely got any sleep and were up for the registration and coaching session for the kids. At the time of registration to my utmost dismay we discovered that the we had been handed over the wrong roll of sails. These sails had no numbers on them.
You cannot enter a competition if your sail cannot be identified with a number. I was sure this was a jinxed day.
The day hadn’t ended yet. To add to my troubles I slipped (in all this stress I had forgotten to change into joggers and was still wearing my nice sandals). I fell down badly while helping Yousuf bring his sail boat up the ramp. Now I had scratched elbows, grazed knees and a badly pulled neck muscle. This day was not coming to an end I thought to myself. Running back and forth still sorting things I just dreaded if any worse was coming my way. I prayed. Day 1 was crazy!
The team lead spent the remaining day arranging for the right sails to be delivered to Oman. The sails arrived on the next morning on a flight to Muscat with a family that was very generous and had agreed to carry them for us. The courier service would have taken 3 days making us miss the Race event. I felt relieved.
The day 1-3 kids trained with the coaches on water and in the classroom. I thought I would be able to get some rest but helping the kids in to the water and bring them back out took most of my time.
Day 4 the Races started. I admit very candidly that open sea frightens me. I am scared to the core. It is fear that I am unable to explain and unable to address. With my small sailor my 8 year old and my Daughter in the sea I want to be on the water to keep an eye on them.
Hence I had volunteered to help the Race Committee (a team which gives instructions for the start of the race). I was placed with the team handling the Laser, Radial and wind surfers. This way I was able to see Sakina start her races.
The coach was with the optimist team where my Son Yousuf was. I knew he was in good hands. Our local coach and foreign coach were both helping the boys.
2 days the sea behaved well with gentle rolling and waves. Day 3 the sea got angry. The boat was being lashed around. It went up with the wave and then fell down. I was sea sick . But did I leave. No. I stayed my ground the whole day starting at 930 am coming back at 5 pm.
I did ponder a lot on why I did this? What is it that being a mom that makes us moms do these exhausting things for the love of our kids?
I couldn’t eat anything that evening and I was badly dehydrated. I almost decided not to go back on the boat on day 4.
But you guessed correctly I went back. I am still sea sick my appetite is gone and I am exhausted and dehydrated.
Sailing is a good sport. The children are independent in water. They calculate the wind direction and manoeuvre the boat to get to the target in the least possible time.
Our sailing week ended with a good surprise. Yousuf my Son was awarded the youngest sailor award in Optimist class.
Yousuf was sitting next to me as I was taking pictures of the winners and his name was called out. I told him to go to front and he said
“Mama I haven’t done anything”
“I know Yousuf they just want to give you an award”
“Mama I didn’t win any race why are they calling me?”
“Yousuf go” said a very excited mama.
A very reluctant Yousuf walked to the front shook hands and gave a very nervous smile.
He came back to his team mates who now teased him. Yousuf you got the baby award. Yousuf hugged his award and cried. “Mama they are calling me a baby.”
There we had Yousuf crying over his award and Mama trying to tell him it’s ok they are just teasing you.
Yousuf had pleasantly surprised me with his performance in the races. He had managed to make it to 60th position in some of the races from among 78 competitors. This was an accomplishment. Like an sport the skill improves with age and the winners were much older boys with much longer experience in sailing.
Mussanah Race Week has come to an end. I write this as I sit in the plane heading home.
Exhausted but happy. Kids tired with the lack of sleep due the very early morning flight. They have been up since 3 in the morning. Mama has been up earlier packing bags.
Looking forward to some peace and quiet time now.