29 December 2007

Bahrain Through Different Eyes

It's always interesting to see the reactions of foreign visitors to our country and culture, especially to people who have never experienced this region before. A friend from Amsterdam is over in Bahrain for a week or so, and we're showing him around the island; a few comments actually gave me a few things to think about:

- After a walk in Seef Mall:

"It's wierd to see fully covered up women walking right next to women in short skirts and tight jeans"

"That's funny how you have totally traditional clothes shops right opposite westernised fashion shops"

Makes you think about how cosmopolitan Bahrain really is; I mean, true, we know have a varied mix of people here, but seeing it through the eyes of a foreigner is always thought provoking. Also, me and my wife decided to do a little experiment, so I whispered to her that after eating we should just leave our food trays on the table and walk away, just to see his reaction. Honestly, that was one of the funniest things i've seen this year; he was totally confused and didn't know what to do, and looked a little nervous. After I explained that most people here don't usually take their own trays as there are people hired to do that, he calmed down a little :)

Other funny things; "How come you don't have a red cross symbol for first aid?" Then we figured it was the whole islamic/christian thing. Honestly I never actually noticed that; I always figured the symbol for first aid was a red cross.

After Seef, we went for a drive and I introduced him to the whole "cruising" culture of Adliya and Exhibition Road and so on, which he found very odd. Of course, they pay around 8 or 9 times more for gas than we do, so it doesn't make much sense to him to drive up and down a small road for no reason :p I asked him if he wanted to try some fresh juice, and he said ok, so we stopped by a cafeteria and he opened the door to get down from the car. I looked at him and laughed "ok, you don't really need to do that, someone will come to take your order", which sort of suprised him. The driving style here also freaked him out a little, but that I sort of predicted :p

It's always funny to see people's reactions to our lifestyle. Overall, a fun experience, and as he learned things, we discovered things we previously took for granted. He's going to be here for a week, so we'll be going around to all the traditional sites (Arad Fort, museums, Jasra, Seyadi House and so on), and i'll be posting photos of everything over the next few days. Stay Tuned!


Re.Loaded Soul said...

Yeah, whenever we have a visitor here, we find how awkward is our life style or the other way sometimes!!!

I remember once, an Australian fellow whole lived in Juffair asked me : "Why you people should bend when you want to cross a road while you are driving?". Soon, he realized that because we have a very funny inconsistence buildings distributed in a silly way with some norrow roads, where someimes a tree or a sign is put to make the visibility just more complicated!

-mate said...

Many odd things here you don't think about it, it's usual to u. You got used to it. But you realized how paradoxical sometimes we are when a foreigner visited you. Nice experinces man, lookin' forward his visit next week ;p

Mrs Dynamite aka Lorena +Wonder Women... said...

I love bahrain ammaro ... and we (sara and me ) really miss it !

taqo said...

Haha, culture shock. How cute =p

Woozie said...

I looked up the Red Crescent thing, and it turns out the symbol was first used by Int'l Red Cross volunteers in some was between Russia and the Ottoman Empire. Later on when the RC tried to establish itself there, the cross reminded everyone of the Crusades, so they settled on the Red Crescent instead.

Anonymous said...

Bahrain is cooool .. I never been there since 1995 .. but I hear so many compliments about the island from friends.

Redbelt said...

That's great Ammar. Reminds me of the time I invited my Japanese teacher home and gave him Machboos Hamour. :)

Anonymous said...

yeah.. we're very lazy! :) we dont pump our own gas, don't remove our trays, and we honk for juice/ food/ and now even the cold store!

have fun..

Zhu said...

I liked this post so much I stumbled it!

Yes, I guess I'd have the same reactions as your friend... okay, maybe not for the food tray, cause in Canada some people are paid to do that too, even though most of us clean our table as well.

I can totally see him surprised by traditional/ westernized clothes... I felt the same in Tunisia or Algeria. And I didn't know about the Red Cross not being a Red Cross!

Very interesting!

Nora-Cassandra said...

so if i ever visit with my husband you'll give us a tour too? :P

about the post now!! i never noticed myself the red cross and hillal thing! i am surprised that your friend did! and i do remember foreigners visting Kuwait when i was living there were very surprised of such stuff as not getting out of the car to order, or drive up and down the road for few times! but about the trays, i always pick them up, if there is a place for them! i do not agree giving extra work for workers that could something better and faster with out my try in their way! even if some say that's their job!

palo-girl said...

sounds like the guy had a memorable experience ;p

its true, we've just gotten used to all of this havent we?

CG said...

Oh...I just love honking to be served. Makes driving so much more meaningful, just knowing that I don't have to move off my drivers seat encourages me to go out.