Thursday, 7 April 2011

Memories of orange

Going through some old emails from 2003, I stumbled across one I sent from my lovely island of Bahrain (which is much in the news these days, and mostly for very sad reasons). Those of you who know me will smile at the reference to colour

I have found, to my great amusement, that Bahrainis are very fond of the colour orange. Not only is my hair colour commented on, but also many of my clothes.

Today, I went to the port to clear my books through Customs. Being nervous of how the tomes might be treated, I decided to accompany the clearing agent.

First stop, 8am, was the Customs clearance hall. We arrived in an office still pre-occupied with breakfast. Samosas and Q’bs (pancake bread) were strewn amongst the papers, rubber stamps and glasses of tea on the desk.

I was offered a samosa. “No thank you” was my reply “If I eat those, I might turn orange” – the joke being, I was dressed from head to foot in it already. But I did steal some of the chief’s large Q’bs. “You like Q’bs?” He was surprised; not so many westerners do.

Thirty minutes later I was back in the office with 24 CDs of Classical music and a video of the “Aristocats” for him to either ignore or send to the Ministry of Information. Hardly contraband, but I suppose they have to be seen to be careful. By that time the Q’bs was rock solid and suitable only to mend warships with. The papers were duly stamped, and for the second time in 6 months, I got out of the port in record time.

The moral of the story: If you want to impress officialdom, wear orange and steal the boss’s breakfast.

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