Capt Jamal al Balushi, a hobby fishing veteran, who has organised as well as topped many a fishing competition in Oman and turned in some stunning catches into ordinary dinghies over the past few decades, is currently spending his extra time with household troubleshooting and culinary experiments in his kitchen. And, in doing so, Capt Jamal has derived immense satisfaction and believes that he now understands his family better and has the right attitude towards work, too.
Capt Jamal, who works as a Control and Automation lead in Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), is also chairman of the fishing section of PDO's Ras Al Hamra Recreation Club (RAHRC) which regularly organises hobby fishing competitions for budding and seasoned hobby fishermen every year. He is not just an integral part of this section but also an inspiration for many young fishermen who look up to his expertise out at sea, even sans professional fishing equipment.
Reflecting on the recent lockdown, Capt Jamal said, “The whole thing started when we were asked to work from home. For us, as PDO employees, it wasn’t that difficult as we had started few years agp piloting working from home, and it was successful. Therefore, for us, it was easy to switch going to office with work from home. In the beginning, it was quite difficult with the kids around, to work quietly, especially when you are in a meeting via Skype.”
He further said, “ I have two hobbies which I used todo on weekends - on Fridays, I use to play tennis early in the morning and on Saturday I go fishing almost the whole day. With the closure of the club, I found myself spending more time at home; so, I learnt new hobbies like cooking and found it very interesting. I learnt to cook a variety of dishes, from seafood, Thai food, and Indian biryani, to BBQ items, and so on.”
Capt Jamal also said that he started to function as a handyman at home by fixing few things in plumbing and replacing bulbs around the house. “To spend the whole day and the whole week at home made me understand my kids better and know their hobbies. To support them, I bought a new smart television to access the internet and to watch movies together,” he said, adding, “The situation has changed our life and, in my opinion, it will take a very long time to return to our normal life.”
Pointing out that many people have lost their jobs and that some big companies are struggling to survive as the economy of the country went down, he said, COVID-19 has affected almost everyone, every country and the whole world. The good thing, however, is that after COVID-19 many things will change, new jobs will be created, and many companies will support working remotely. Most probably, educational will become cheaper and easier, as it has proven that students can learn and work remotely, he said, adding “I'm looking forward to go back to our mini normal life.”
With regard to fishing activities organised by RAHRC, Capt Jamal said the management is reviewing the situation and considering to reopen the club partially.
“As fishing section head, I, along with other fishermen, have put together a list of controls (12) in order to resume fishing activity. This includes restricting the number of fishermen in each boat, cleaning and sanitising equipment after each use, and maintaining safe social distance. Due to the recent announcement from the Supreme Committee (about the total lockdown in Oman), it might take a few more weeks to reopen the club,” he disclosed.