Sunday, October 31, 2004

No tickling taste buds in Ramadan

I look around me, I look at the Ramadan banquets and opulent feasts every evening at fatoor time and a wishful thought crosses my mind: I miss the days I used to break my fast on a snickers bar and watery coffee from the vending machine in the library basement. Or going to the university’s Islamic society and eating grubby food and feeling like I was in a homeless shelter. Those were the times, when I actually APPRECIATED food, and each mouthful of soggy rice seemed exquisite. Now, it is exquisite food with no taste as your stomach gets overloaded and screams for mercy and the subconscious burdens you with the guilt of the sight of tonnes of wasted untouched food.

Posted by Bahrania @ 10/31/2004 05:27:00 PM :: (0) comments

3 people, 3 videos, 3 messages

First up is Sami Yusuf. This guy is the same age as me and boy is he talented. He has given birth to the concept of an ‘Islamic pop video’, although highly idealistic, it’s a refreshing change and it is in English. Its now showing on Melody hits pop channel, squeezed in between Nancy 3ajram and Rouby. But why not? At least its reaching a different kind of audience in this holy month. The song is called ‘Al’muallim’, click on the second clap board icon to watch the video.

Second up, is Eminem and his anti-Bush video Mosh. The message here: get angry, go out vote and boot Bush. Not really my kinda music but at least the guy is trying to get the Black Americans to vote.

Finally, you’ve probably seen it, but I thought this anti-victimization video was great. Cinnamon Girl by Prince. Although its hardly true that every bullied muslim girl will want to blow up her local airport, I do appreciate his sympathy with American Muslims.

Posted by Bahrania @ 10/31/2004 04:28:00 PM :: (0) comments

Female emancipation symbolized in a Marlboro?

Is there a distinct correlation between teenage girls smoking habits and female liberation? Or is it the misconception that in order to prove your from a ‘liberal’ background, to show how cool and modern you are, then a fag hanging off your fingers is a must have fashion accessory? Girls in Bahrain are trying to prove a point. They are not smoking for tobacco’s sake, hell, deep inside they know that breathing in the shit is vile, the smell is vile, the health effects are vile, but its all about the image. Its more than just rebelling, its about showing that you are free from social and parental control.

Gradually it has become a social trend- you started as a teenager but then you just couldn’t stop. I know endless women who smoke in their homes and with their husbands, sometimes the husbands themselves are non-smokers. But I still have a strange sensation of disbelief when I see a Bahraini woman or girl spark up in public. I see it as a very vulgar habit and pity the person who has become a slave to an addiction which is polluting their blood stream. Its just not good karma.

Smoking isn’t really that much worse than the ‘gadoo’ (the hubble-bubble with extra strong tobacco leaves) that old women customarily smoke which is not just socially acceptable but in fact if you dont see a permanent crew of gadoo smoking old ladies greeting you at the entrance of the local matam then something is wrong. Most likely one of them is in Salmanya's oncology ward (ouch). I often have to battle through this troop of old ladies amidst the suffocating clouds of smoke and strong intoxicating smell in search of my grandmother. They must have lungs made out of tyres. But then again these women are waaaaaaaay past it. They’ve had their 10 kids, and they’ve struggled through life, this is a form of therapy for them now. The gadoo is bahrain's very own WMD.

Young girls are myopic. Its only when they get married and have trouble conceiving or when they do conceive hate the idea of smoking in front of their kids that they start to hate the habit and hate themselves but realise giving up is harder than they thought. Yet what bugs me is the insistance that this is somehow a 'progressive' habit and epitomises modernity.

Posted by Bahrania @ 10/31/2004 03:38:00 PM :: (0) comments

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Happy Gerga3oon

Not quite the Ramadan we expected

In the middle day of Ramadan, it is general custom for kids to go out in the streets to celebrate and go 'trick or treating' around the neighbourhoods. The kids on the street today were protestors calling for the release of Abdulhadi Khawaja. They decided to knock on the Kings door:

Trick or treat?
Treat: Release Abdul Hadi Khawaja
Trick: Tear gas and rubber bullets, 21 people arrested and 2 seriously injured

Thanks King Hamad for choosing the trick.

Posted by Bahrania @ 10/30/2004 07:28:00 PM :: (2) comments

What is 7alaylia?

الباحة. القرية: حلايل

7alayli is a derogatory word used to describe people who come from the villages of Bahrain, and implies that villagers are backward, uncivilised and uneducated. People still find this term offensive nowadays even though the distinction between city and village is not so clear. But I chose it, to try and prove otherwise. I feel the nicest place to be is in the village where traditional values and social customs are preserved, and to some extent where urban decadence is still at bay.

My preamble goes like this. Years of political sidelining, economic impoverishment and lack of infrastructure have all served to marginalise the villages of Bahrain, but with massive population growth rates, the voice of the village is growing louder.
Historically, the village was a hub of cultural unity, self-sufficient in social welfare and charity, organised its own social and religious activities. Central to this is the local mosque or ma'atam (generally translated into a funeral house-more on this another time). One argument goes, that this self-sufficiency reduced the need for the welfare state/government to help out. Indeed, this may explain the survival of the village to date. The role of the family and community reduced the financial burden on the individual and low incomes sufficed for the basic needs of the village. But with the technological revolution, the oil boom, rising land prices, high unemployment, the village has been sentenced to the lower end of the income inequality curve. Some villages havent seen infrastructure projects for over 20 years and the small amount assigned to them is just a drop in the ocean. Obviously, there are political repercussions to this.

I'll leave you with some images from around the villages of Bahrain:

Nabeh Saleh Village


Muharraq Souq

Karraneh Village

Dair Village, Local Road

Courtesy of : Ebrahim Al Baqer

Posted by Bahrania @ 10/30/2004 06:19:00 PM :: (5) comments