Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Leaving Bahrain

Well, it has been a very short visit, but enough to get a taste of a Gulf State. I am at the airport now and managed to talk my way into the Gulf Air first class lounge to kill some time using this computer. I am drinking Schweppes Tonic Water, thre being no beer served here, for obvious reasons. Well, silly me, if only I had looked around a bit more instead of going straight to the computer I would have found a selection of delicious wine, which I am NOW drinking (a French red), seeing as we have a delay on the flight to Bangkok - although not expected to be like the five hours we had yesterday!

I am using an Apple computer, after someone helped me find my way onto the internet and, I must say, the colours of the photos on flickr are far better than I have ever seen them on a PC. I am very impressed!

There is a flight waiting to go to neighbouring Saudi Arabia and there are loads of people looking very much like these lining the departure lounge, many in their very white cloth jalabahs, the old men with white or hennaed beards, looking nothing as if they have not stepped straight out of their bedouin tent in the desert. It is a terrific sight! How they keep their clothes so white, I have no idea.

The women here do not tend to be veiled although many are, as were many women on the streets of Manana earlier today, not that there were that many arab women out, as it happens.

I can't say I ever got the warm feeling I did when walking around the souks of Syria or Yemen last year, but the city here is a lot newer than, say, Aleppo or Sana'a and, of course, there were no donkeys! Bahrain obviously has its shopping malls, all centrally heated and so, so I imagine that most people do their shopping there.

The bulk of the shops were Cold Stores, which basically sell refrigerated food, Internet points, which are only internet to the extent that they have one computer feeding a number of skype accounts, for phoning places like India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia and The Philippines on the, and also barber shops. I badly need a haircut (and a shave) but I think I will wait for Bangkok, although I imagine that with Arabs being ahirier they are better at shaving here than they might be in Bangkok. Its the reason I travel.. haircuts being 22 euro in Amsterdam and about 2 in countries like these. There were also a number of fruit and vegetable shops selling delicious looking greens, lots of them being grown in Saudi Arabia, of all places! They looked very enticing in what was a very grey and dull sort of place.

Elections are due to take place, for the two-chamber parliament here, and it was good to see so many posters (small ones) for candidates, including women candidates... showing that it is all not so very backward here as the media would often have us believe.

Finally, I can't resist the temptation to say that I am thinking of spending my last Bahraini Dirhams on The Times, which has a large article by Richard Dawkins explaining his proposition that God is a Delusion!



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