Facebook ‘friends’ are one thing but nothing tops becoming pals with people who share a hobby. Swati Basu Das finds some community groups helping people bond over a pastime.
Social media has led to the blossoming of virtual friends who are just a click away.
But there is a still another social network that just refuses to go away – the community groups, and the newsletters they use to help keep members in touch.
Providing the most valuable information on topics people are passionate about, the community pages motivate members to share views and make new friends.
These communities have an integral part to play in everyday life, even when best buddies who justify the term “friends forever” fail to turn up.
The interest-based groups of Oman embrace hobbyists from different parts of the world.
Members fondly share their expertise, and actively take part in discussions.
Both residents and locals, irrespective of their distinct culture, are active members and connect with a motto – ‘being together to convey adept views and fathom sentiments’.
These groups in Oman go beyond the virtual world. They form an extended family, promising regular get-togethers and common shares, likes and comments on a variety
Nasser al Kindi, a wildlife photographer and documentarian, says: “It is like an institution where hobbyists impart views, take part in discussion forums as well as raise awareness. These platforms subsequently bring people closer. Every hobby builds confidence among us, which is considered the key to any successful community.”
The groups’ engaging community pages tackle virtual friendship, which is a little trickier to master. A post can foster a cordial bond, and meeting up keeps the group active.
Monalisa, a hobbyist photographer based in Oman, says: “I am a member of several community groups in Oman. They all add a pinch of happiness in my life. I feel a strong connection with all members of the group. Social media is important for the existence of virtual friendship to feel that no one is alone even if we don’t meet daily.”
No matter how trivial or vital it seems – these community pages are bringing people closer.
Chaotic and stressful schedules often mean there is little time for people to nurture new friendships.
But those de-stressing hobbies certainly do wonders when it bonds a group of people together, who then become friends.
An active member of the Wildlife of Oman Facebook page, Nasser al Kindi’s motto is to encourage wildlife enthusiasts to share information, photographs and videos as well as relevant documents and scientific studies in the group. He says: “Wildlife of Oman was founded in 2013, and based a workshop on Oman’s wildlife. It welcomes all wildlife lovers and experts to spread awareness of Oman’s rich and diverse flora and fauna. The group focuses on possible challenges and threats these species might encounter.”
Friday Shoot Out Muscat was established in November 2012 to promote photography as a hobby.
Libin KP, the founder, says: “We believe in ‘let’s learn together’. Our members capture through the lens and showcase their work. Every work is highly appraised within the group. We are all hobbyists who love to capture the beauty of Oman every Friday.”
The breathtaking terrains of the country draw all adventure lovers off the beaten track. A highly active group since April 2013, AO is a team of adventurers who organise weekly programmes. Arun D’Souza, the founder of AO Facebook community , says: “We welcome all young and old to join the fun and the thrill of rock climbing, trekking, camping, and desert crossing. We are an extended family and wish to continue the zeal for adventure forever.”
The What’s Cooking Oman community believes that food is a language that everybody speaks and understands. Oneza Tabish, founder of the What’s Cooking Oman Facebook page, says: “This Community page is a platform for home chefs in Oman to showcase their culinary talent. We unite foodies in Oman. It also features happy food product experiences, recipes, health corner, kids’ corner, fun diaries highlighting Oman’s restaurant experiences, food related travel diary. It’s all about food!” Founded in August 2014, WCO also nurtures and instils courage in-home chefs to participate in culinary competitions.
The OSLians find the group cohesive and comforting. They share life experiences, while supporting each other as and when required. OSL was created by five friends; Devina Sharma, Nabeela Aslam, Meenu Manzar, Shahdab Zaheer and Khadija Ali Khan in August 2015.
Khadija Ali Khan, the founder, says:
“The sole purpose of this group was the socialisation of Oman-based ladies from all walks of life. We regularly arrange get-togethers for all ladies in the group. We spend quality time together, and solve problems through discussions.”
Founded in 1999, the Laughter Yoga group celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Govind Negi, its founder, believes yoga relieves stress from our body and mind. He says: “Yoga is stimulating for those who lead a sedentary life. Laughter Yoga is highly recommended to remove depression anxiety and, most importantly, provides instant relaxation.”