Last week was the first time in my life I have visited Nizwa during Iftar time in Ramadan, so as I was making my way towards Oman’s old capital, I didn’t really know what I would find waiting for me.
I normally stop by in Nizwa when I am camping in the area, especially if I’m with friends who haven’t seen the fort before. This time around, it was just before sunset when I arrived, a little after 6pm.
Nizwa Souq is known to be quite active, occupying a sprawling area both inside and outside the walls of the fort complex. Artisans and craft makers dominate the majority of the shops inside the walls, selling silver items such as khanjars for which Nizwa is famous, as well as other little tourist trinkets. Venture beyond the restored walls, though, and you’ll find separate souqs housed in newer buildings for fruits and vegetables, spices, meat and fish, all of which are normally bustling with activity.
As soon as I parked my car, I realised that there was a very different feel in the air to normal. It wasn’t quite Iftar time yet and so there were still a few people out on the streets, but everyone seemed in a rush to get from here to there, tying up their last bits of business with souq traders before hurrying off with their contributions to the breaking of the fast.
I followed two people as they made their way from the fruit market and managed to capture my favourite image of the day. I saw an Omani gentleman carrying his purchases in a bag on his head, taking help from a friend, yet just a few paces behind was the lone figure of an elderly Omani woman doing exactly the same, although she required no help and was able to walk very elegantly, with enough confidence to hold her hand on her hip as she went along.
The predominant impression I got was one of exhaustion; we are getting towards the end of Ramadan now and I guess that the physical and mental effects of a month of fasting are beginning to make themselves known.
Amidst all this, I glimpsed the figure of an Omani in national dress through a gap in a wire fence serenely making his way through the crowds with a bag of samosas and a smile on his face. He looked incredibly chilled and definitely on my wavelength.
There were a couple of restaurants open, with people sitting around tables, all waiting expectantly for the call to prayer to sound across the city.
As the call to prayer neared, the souq went very quiet and the traffic disappeared from the road. That’s one thing I liked about this particular shoot – I was able to capture a different side to Nizwa; it almost reminded me of an abandoned town at times.
In several of the shots, I accidentally included the minaret of the nearby mosque and when I noticed this, I wandered closer to shoot it specifically. It was like I was being drawn towards it, the closer Iftar came.
As the call to prayer sounded, I ventured inside the mosque and joined dozens of others as I broke my own fast on laban and dates. After praying, I captured a few more shots of the surrounding scenes, but then headed home.
When I was travelling to Nizwa, the traffic was pretty hectic; it was a Thursday and people were understandably eager to get back home. In contrast, the drive back was a dream, with everyone spending time with his or her family, just as I was racing towards Amerat to do myself.