Monday, June 4, 2012

Bahrain Musings!

I must confess, I came to Bahrain imagining the worst. Youtube, BBC and the international press didnt help comfort me when I saw only pictures of violence on the streets of the Kingdom nation. And yet somehow here I am now, having a ball.. loving the people we've met and COMPLETELY tripping on the Bahrain City Centre, the biggest mall in the country.

I'm not sure if a mall is the best way to experience the culture of an unfamiliar nation, yet somehow the mall was the one thing that shattered most of my pre-concieved notions.  I should know, I came with plenty!

One of my fellow shoppaholick friends was the first to point out mannequins with what can only be described as regular western clothing. "If they are selling it, I'm guessing they wear it also," she said. And rightly so. The only dress code directive we might be complying with is "wear pants to the ministry". In all fairness, I'd have settled for a lot less, given what I had read online. It's an easy country, with breezy people and dust storms that might give you a sore throat. Travel advisory: Carry Allegra

If you're someone who is a fan of jogging around in a new country, you might wanna keep your running shoes on hold. Pedestrians, and here I testify, are usually stared at from moving vehicles. Its probably the heat that makes indoors a preferred zone, or perhaps its the fact that fuel is mind numbbingly cheap that lets people yank air conditioners even if they drive to a destination that is one minute away! If you're walking, you must be an alien!

One of the most fascinatng things about being here though, is my belief in the fact that the media projects what it chooses to. I dont think I can pick sides in this clash between the two muslim sects in this country. It's a conflict that I dont' understand. What I do understand however is the projection of what a day in Bahrain is like, and what it's made to look like. Images of little boys burning tyres in sheer rebellion of the monarchy are what seem to dominate the international perspective on Bahrain. Clearly images that seem orchastrated for broadcast. We've driven around the country several times now, it's size making travel very easy...and we're yet to see a |fight" as youtube videos has me believe.

I'm not sure which side of the story might be true. Then again, everyone believes their version is the right one. I've been told that little boys earn as much as twenty Bahraini Dinar ( roughly $2.5) for every staged tyre burning. Some insists its agenda that comes from neighnbouring Iran, others are convinced the fight is a legit plee for equal status to different sects of the religion. From an outsiders perspecrtive, it's something that doesnt come in the way of daily life if you're visinting the country. The murmurs of violence fade when you're enjoying a quiet evening in the beautiful setting of Amwaj, and the country's political issue shows no trace when you're shopping at the many 24 hour stores and diners all across the Bahrainian landscape.

While it's tempting to pick sides and take a moral high ground on who's right and who isnt, its important to realise its a fight that isn't mine. Like I said, It's one that I don't understand either. I'm here to enjoy a beautiful county, and nothing has come in the way of that intention what so ever!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

That's not my name!

If cliches are anything to go by, a guy who addresses another guy with a "dude" or "man" or "mate" or "dawg" is in theory wearing low slung jeans, visible boxer shorts in a contrasting color, dr. dre headphones and sports a few tattoos on his arms. And yet somehow, here i am... not your everyday guy from the hood, finding it increasingly difficult to have a conversation with another guy without using "dude" and "man". When did I becomes one of those guys?!

I've never really understood the "mate" bit..and thats still a word that remains unused in my vocabulary. Is it supposed to somehow imply that the other person is your, well mate?! And while some of the above mentioned words come in handy when you a) don't know the person's name b) don't remember it c) dont want to say a name that's either too long, too complicated or too....well whatever the reason maybe.... "dude" comes in handy and usually never goes out of style. Well not until a new friend from the gym says his own name repeatedly in a conversation and clearly says "Paras, my friend..don't call me dude!"

# paras is stumped.

I blame the street talk on one of my recent best friends who not only introduced the "brodaaaaa" talk to me but also made it a very part of my DNA. My usual way of addressing just about all my friends was either too formal or very personal. There really was nothing between Mr... and adressing someone by their first name. The "dude" however, is something i've fallen so in love with that I find myself even addressing some of my more adventurous female friends with the same word. They only laugh.

Ghetto, street, fun..slightly impersonal it may be..but some part of it is me. I might even have gone to the extent of calling it "wannabe" a few years ago.. although now that i think about it... if something is you, it's just you..even if it means NEVER saying your friends names in a conversation..which I'm increasingly noticing!