Saturday, 19 March 2011

Bahrain al Kabeer

Image Credit: Reuters

Image: © by Sparrowchatter 2011
I have been watching the news about Bahrain with growing alarm and sadness. I still think of it is as "my" island. Overnight I heard that the government had destroyed the Pearl Roundabout where all the protesters have been gathering. I have been trying to come up with an emotional equivalent for this landmark, but have failed. The pearl memorialised the island's history of pearl diving - which was its lifeblood prior to the discovery of oil in the region. So in many ways it was an anchor to the past - honouring a way of life which vanished.

I wrote many letters home in the time I lived on the island. In one of them, I wanted to describe the street where I worked to my friends. Those of you who live in Bahrain will be able to picture it.

Each evening I pass a small café, patronized by the elderly gents of the town. It resembles a dilapidated conservatory; floor to ceiling glass windows and old formica tables surrounded by odd wooden chairs and benches. After evening prayers, the place fills up with the domino/card and backgammon brigade. They huddle together with glasses of sweet tea, headcloths piled untidily on their heads, sleeves rolled up, ready for business. Four plastic chairs are parked outside the door on the narrow pavement, all the better to inhale the exhaust fumes from the stationary traffic at those “oh so clean” traffic lights.

Next door there is a bakery. Well, that’s a bit grandiose. It’s a hole in the wall with an iron gate and bars covering the hole. Inside there is a traditional stone kiln like oven, similar to a conical beehive on its side. The baker slaps the round flat bread on the inside of the kiln wall, and peels it off seconds later to serve. Today I saw a similar one in Isa Town, close by where I live – same iron grill, same small hole to purchase the bread through. The question I have is, what are those iron grills stopping you stealing? A 500 cwt oven?

Back to the street. In my haste to drop off an item at the tailors a week ago, I didn’t really check the name of the establishment. As it is close to where I work, I knew I would find it again easily. Only when I drove past a day later did I notice the shop sign.

Al Qaeda Tailor.

I’ll let you imagine the details. Just be assured, a turban is not part of my new ensemble.

© by Sparrowchatter 2011

1 comment:

Dianne said...

A wonderful glimpse into a different culture - a different world.