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Colourful contrasts

I arrived in Bahrain on Saturday with many, unfounded, preconceptions of what to expect from this country. I imagined a bit of a dust bowl and high tech buildings glimmering and shimmering in the night sky – these were some of the images I found on Google.

It’s good to prepare for a holiday by reading up a little of what’s on offer and so being able to have a structure to the days: sitting by a pool day in and day out just ain’t for me. I had read enough to know that I wanted to take a tour of Manama and Muharraq and hoped to arrange that on arrival. I needn’t have worried – a lovely friend of R’s offered to take me out on Tuesday and Thursday. I was also curious to see R’s school – a highly recommended International School, which I duly did on Wednesday. The weekend begins on Thursday evening and finishes on Saturday evening, so I am looking forward to spending time with R before heading home on Saturday.

On Tuesday J took me to Muharraq Souq for a Bahraini breakfast, at Saffron. I was a little apprehensive, not knowing what to expect, but I have come to trust the Bahrainis as a warm, friendly and generous people, by and large – and so it was with food: far too much of it but fresh, tasty and served with genuine warmth.

After this indulgence we went to the Al Fateh Grand Mosque and were given a guided tour by a charming woman who spoke with such passion about her Muslim faith that I could only feel sadness for the terrors that other Muslims have inflicted on the world. The image I had from H was of peace, love, gentleness, tolerance and understanding. That the Mosque welcomes visitors from all faiths and denominations without judgement seems again to be at odds with so many atrocities attributed to extremists.

From here we went to Reef Island – a new residential/business complex created on reclaimed land for coffee and chat. J is very easy company, originally from Newcastle area and the time flew by.

The heat is intense however and I fully understand why ex-pats and locals dive from the cover of an air-conditioned house/restaurant/office to an air-conditoned car and so on to another air-conditioned building. There are incidences of a deficiency in Vitamin D in some of the hotter places around the world – Middle East, Australia, parts of America, because rather than take in some sun every day, many residents and locals are staying out of it all together.

Talking of which it is fast approaching my favourite time of the day here when it is cool enough to wander over to the pool, for a swim and read (of the 3rd book since I’ve been here) and absorb some sun. Gotta pack that Vitamin D in before the long Scottish winter beckons.

More on my experience in school and the Muharraq old town later

Colourful Contrasts – a poem

green in the compounds and many years ago

grey dust swirls and settles obscuring pattern and shape

white cars blaring along the busy roads

a red and yellow sunset as we sipped on good red wine

a soft pink bed throw in a secret place in town

bright crystal and carved wood in Mosques and hidden doors

an artist captures a mood with blue and red and white

elaborate golden weaving and bright sunlight

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