BAHRAIN

These women…. . They always bring color not just to men’s lives. On my flight to Bahrain I had an aisle seat, with a married couple sat next to me (yes, that woman is my hero). They had already taken their seats before me. The wife sat at the window, and her husband in the middle. She was a jealous woman (otherwise my story would be too boring). After seeing me coming, she

immediately ordered her husband to swap seats and sit at the window (maybe she had her reasons). Her husband seemed scared of women in general (maybe he had his reasons). All the flight she checked on me to make sure I was not looking at her ugly husband. Any tiny move was enough and her eyes were wide open looking at me. She was probably too shy to say me loud everything that got into her mind. I like the Arabic language, she could make my ears shiver. Yes sometimes I looked her husband way, because I was curious what was going on a little bit further away, the window! Even at the airport she was following me with her eyes and physically, as if I had tried to pull her husband and take him away. It seemed she, on purpose that she tried to be closer to me to get jealous later and angry at her husband who didn’t remember even about my existence. No drop of attention at me from his side (nope, it doesn’t rain often in Bahrain, no drops). I never gave any reason for jealousy. I just didn’t care about them but they were all the time around, they insisted. Such a tiny couple but damn, too intrusive. I got bored, but then finally my very handsome Bahraini friend came to pick me up. We hugged. It seemed that woman, this time, got jealous for another reason. I left that beauty walking proudly by my “husband”. These who think that women are more softer, don’t shed blood….. you are wrong. They make cruel, brutal, merciless, barbarous battles untill one stops breathing and gets all anger on her beloved while he tries to understand what’s wrong. ‘What woman?‘ Failed. A very wrong question, very. The woman gets even more pissed off – “seriously? I was fighting for my family all way long and he just went to buy a cola!!!!

First thing we did in the morning – we went to a clinic. Yep. My “husband”,in aim to stay with me and show around, pretended to be sick. As always, ate something bad so had stomach pains. What an actor but it worked. 1 day off! In Bahrain is possible easily to get 1 day off from a job if ‘something’ for example would come to Bahrain unexpectedly. Sadly, I didn’t see how local money looks like. My guy didn’t let me to pay so I was keeping being happy “wife”. Here locals are hospitable, as in every muslim country. Bahrain’s culture is similar to its Arab neighbors in the Persian Gulf and is known for being cosmopolitan and its citizens are very ethnically diverse. Not surprising, as this country is ranked as a top of satisfaction country – all nations, religions are mixed here and all feel good and satisfied living here. Saudis like to go there here for the weekend, and for shopping too. For visiting this country is enough 2-3 days.

Qal’at al-Bahrain – Ancient Harbor. One of the few remaining pieces of local heritage is an artificial mound, created by many different occupations. It’s the most important local site in Bahrain, an ancient trading port. This used to be capital of the Dilmun. It was one of the most important ancient civilizations of the region. At the fort there is a restaurant that serves traditional food for breakfast and lunch. It is really tasty! Bahrain was famous for pearls too. They used to export so many it became the country’s main income, until they discovered oil. Prices in general were similar to as they are in Western Europe.

The country is surrounded by the sea it but it’s complicated to swim here. The beaches are not suitable for it. They are dirty and hard to get too. There is one cool beach but you have to pay. The locals like to have beach parties, which are usually organized with a DJ. If you like a calm beach without any noise, then it’s better to swim in a neighborhood swimming pool.

The Locals seem to be tolerant and easy going, but still more conservative than Syrians, Jordanians and Egyptians….. Women wear Abayas, as it is traditional wear, black is the traditional color. Night time in town there are lots of well made up girls, wearing sexy, flashy mini dresses, high heels and Abayas as a coat. When inside, they remove Abayas and have nothing left from the traditional, modest black covered girls that we see during the day. I really looked like an outsider, dressed too modestly when taking a walk in the evening with my friends. In the old center they have local fashion, culture center where was possible to try on a local dress. Sure, I really liked its unique, authentic design. It seemed very simple but at the same time very creative. Sad that such clothes got out of a fashion and nobody wears them in daily life.

I was in an antiques shop with my local friend, where we were asked if we were married. It seems like strangers need to know your personal life. But then I understood that if we had been married, then the seller would talk just to my husband. As we were not, he felt free to talk to me. Generally shop workers are Pakistanis and Indians and guess, in such shops is hard to find authentic Bahraini souvenirs unfortunately.

Later we met my friend’s cousins. Two crazy, very active girls who love to travel (even solo abroad) and look for adventure. It was such a nice surprise to meet such energetic, easy going girls. They took the time to show me around all hidden gems, explained, advised….

Yes, in Manama there is an old town too! It’s fully renovated and arranged. Here you can find many examples of authentic local architecture, museums, houses of culture, books, press, handcrafts, newspapers, and the house of a writer. The house museum has a hotel which is normally reserved just for special guests, mainly ministers. It’s easy to visit all these places. Entrance is free and you can take as many pictures as you like. All of the old heritage is connected by cute streets and squares. In some visited places I was welcomed with a coffee. It is traditional when visiting someone (includes visits to shops or offices) to be served coffee or tea. Failure to make such an offer or to accept it is considered rude. They have delicious coffee which is often served with dates! I’m not a gourmand but in Bahrain I ate the tastiest food ever. Each restaurant has a unique, beautiful interior design and different type of international food. As this is a multicultural country the food is too. I got the impression that Bahrain brought in the best chefs from each country. The best food I ever ate was in a Thai restaurant called HASH. The prices are OK too (one huge delicious plate was 9-10euros). Locals take responsibility of their guests and try to make their stay as enjoyable as possible. If they can’t be free or provide help, they ask their friends to help. 

Greetings in Bahrain are generally lengthy and involve asking about each other’s health and family. it’s not in a traditional that a man asks about another man’s wife. My local companions were joking saying that at weddings men shake hands and talk a lot, and that they leave finishing their congratulations until they are 50 meters away from the door. While women are busier dancing and taking lots pictures. Everyone stands when someone enters the room, and that person then makes the rounds, shaking hands. After shaking, one touches the hand to the heart in a gesture of affection. Women and men can shake hands, but only if it is initiated by the woman. 

They still have arranged marriages where the bride and groom often have a chance to meet before they marry but lots of locals choose their life partner by themselves and are not in a hurry to marry. I heard that sometimes they marry for a day, for sex and then divorce so all is legal and according to the traditions that sex is just after the married. Nobody said how long that marriage should last :). 

They even have night clubs too, but it’s mostly expats that make parties, dance, sing and stage concerts. Practicing muslims come here too. They have fun like others but without drinking alcohol. Want to sing? Go, the scene is yours!

Drivers are not the best there. The locals say this is mainly the Indian drivers. So you need to be very attentive on the roads. The most unusual sign I saw was one written in Hindi, indicating not to spit on the streets. As unfortunately they travel to and spread not always the most welcomed habits :). On some streets there are organized places for feeding birds. Such care of a city’s birds I haven’t seen anywhere else… so far. They take care of stray cats too. Ah yes, they take care of poor people too. Outside each house they have a fridge where they keep food leftovers so those in need can come and take it. Sometimes in a district there is just one huge fridge where all neighbours leave food. Wonderful idea. They have places where everyone leaves used cloths so later they would be distributed to the poor. They have even society to help divorced, widowed women which  monthly provides them food, supplies, pay rent.

I didn’t see any homeless. The Sultan takes care of all orphans in the country. He takes care of their education too until they get a diploma. From that moment on they become independent. Isn’t it a great country for living?

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Diana Vaneta

Just another wonderful day. In my stories you won't find lots of descriptions of visited and seen beauties. Usually such information is easy to find on the internet. For me, the most important is how visiting places and meeting people made me feel. The real beauty of a country can hardly be described by words. In order to preserve privacy, all the names of persons in my stories are changed. And unfortunately my destinations are not intended for lazy, comfort-searching tourists. My priority is to explore countries which are considered ‘dangerous', complicated or out of the average lists of tourist destinations and mainly involve places, which there is little or no information about. You would ask, why? My answer is, because usually in those countries people tend to be the most incredibly welcoming, friendly, respectful, helpful. Every time I leave them, I leave a piece of me with my newfound family.

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