Image by smilla4 via Flickr
A collection of coffee pots from Bahrain.
Mubkharra, for the burning of incense.
Random Memory #24 ~ Bahrain
The name Bahrain means two seas, although in ancient times this small archipelago was called Dilmun and legend supposes it might have been Eden, paradise on earth. Aquifers run from Saudi Arabia under the sea and across to Bahrain and in the old days, the island shimmered with the green haze of agriculture. Today, the skyline is that of a modern city.
This is not a political blog, but the week's news and escalating violence have made me sick with worry for the gentle people who live there and the friends we left behind. At home we say there are two Maines reflecting the economic differences between the southern and northern regions of our state. The same can be said of Bahrain, for beneath its tranquil surface there is another reality of discrimination and discontent which simmered for years until the explosive events at the Lulu (Pearl) roundabout.
The coffeepot and mubkharra, above, are symbols of the hospitality we experienced during the four years we lived in Bahrain. Our new home was a narrow bit of land just over thirty miles long. I remember, in those early days, how I used to open the thick curtains each morning out of habit. The sun, which rose at 4:00 a.m., was always the same, always shining down on the dun colored city of Manama. In time we adapted to the rhythm of a place most of the world never really thought about very much, in spite of its strategic value. Over the years we made excursions to beaches of shallow water that went on indefinitely, never seeming to reach our knees and hotter than a bath. We wandered through the souk, observed the date pickers climbing palms of dizzying heights and picniced in the sand desert exploring ruined castles left behind by the old sheikhs. There were trips on dhows, the captain unrolling his prayer rug, silhouetted against the setting sun as we made our way back to port. I loved the old city of Muharraq with its twisty lanes and traditional architecture with balconies of carved wood like lace....and our days punctuated by the beautiful call to prayer. I miss the ceremony of serving gawa, the cardamon scented pale coffee poured into small cups from pots with shapes that always made me think of pelicans. I miss our Bahraini friends and still remember the white rabbits that belonged to our neighbor's children. The wily rabbits continually escaped and, against all odds, cheerfully thrived in the vacant lot on the other side of our garden wall. I miss the sweet smell of oleander and jasmine that hung thickly around our front porch. I miss our friend Rahim who came and made vegetable soup for our children when they were sick with flu while we were away in Dubai. One more time, I would love to hear the joyful ululation of women at a wedding and I still carry the memory of Rahim's beautiful bride, Marziah, dressed in green and gold on their wedding day. They are all still there....and their children and grandchildren.
You can read other random memories of Bahrain here and here.