Sunday, November 29, 2009

Weekend in Bahrain

Last week we returned from a short holiday in Bahrain to visit friends. It was so nice seeing old friends, one set of which also has a baby - an eight month old. Between their family and ours, the host family (a couple without kids) didn't stand a chance. They saw first hand that with little ones, you don't often get out of pajamas until noon unless forced, could go days without leaving the neighborhood (except for a trip or two the grocery store to get food...for the babies), and going to Starbucks can be as exciting as a night out used to be. They are probably either scared off having children permanently (nah, they loved it...I think) or are seasoned to the fact that vacations after kids will be quite different than what they're used to, however exotic - or not - the destination.

Despite our inability to conquer a new city with the gusto we once could, we did see enough of Bahrain to get a feel for it and had a lovely brunch at a restaurant that served famous, sweet, peach iced-teas the size of a wine carafe. Heavenly. Plus, Bahrain is just one of the bazillion places Richard has lived before, so I can claim to know more about the country than I do simply by association. From what I did see, Bahrain looks a lot like Doha, topographically, though you run across many more signs to Saudi Arabia than you do in Doha (simply because Doha is on the opposite side of Qatar that borders Saudi, not because they aren't there). It didn't stop being weird seeing next exit to "Saudi Arabia." Bahrain is apparently a more relaxed country, in terms of Muslim conservatism (ie: I think there are bars that serve alcohol and places you can buy pork). Perhaps on the next visit we can manage a trip to a museum or something...but I won't count on it unless said visit is at least when our children can walk, feed and dress themselves.

Interestingly though, on our way back to Qatar in the Bahrain airport I was surprised to see a man going through security in a white towel - over his shoulders and around his waist. (Think - a person exiting a sauna...except this person is dropping his bag on a conveyor belt in an airport). It was both comforting and alarming when I looked beyond and saw dozens of men dressed in white towels, until I realized they were on their holy trek to mecca - a journey called Hajj in the Muslim culture. Faithful Muslims are meant to take this journey at least once in their lifetime and it can be quite dangerous as millions arrive at one place, at one time, to live out what is the apex of their religious journey in life. It was interesting to see and I commend them for their bravery in doing this.

"What is this kid doing sharing my Mommy's lap? Not cool."

MY Mommy.  (This will be interesting come April...)

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