Thanks for the nuggets, Bahrain

15 01 2011

A few things I have learned while biding my time in the Kingdom of Bahrain. When I arrived I was intrigued by the fact it is one of the few countries that still has a dynasty. An actual King, Prince, and Prime Minister (King’s bro). No Queen. Women are considered 2nd class citizens. We’re lucky they let women drive here –They can’t in the more traditional Muslim countries. I have never actually met the royal family. I have driven by their house in an attempt to get pics on the off chance that at that exact moment I drove by the guards were not armed, security was sleeping, and the gate was wiiiide open. None the luck. So I have pictures of a very nice, very long wall surrounding the compound. There are several houses on the compound, the King has at least 3 to 4 wives. Probably many more. Servants homes, etc. Each wife gets her own home and property on the compound. Each in a dirty off-white colored house. The main wife gets a white house, to denote that she is the purest, she is the first of his wives, and that she is in charge. It’s not necessarily nicer or more spacious, but I guess the white means you are a big deal here.

1. If you are a white person, you will get stared at. If you are a white female with blond hair, blue eyes, and tattoos, you will get stared at more.

2. Car horns are used more than brakes.

3. If you wear spaghetti strap tank tops, you are either British, a prostitute, or you didn’t read the Navy’s country uniform regulations.

4. Tattoos are illegal, but everyone does it. Drinking is illegal, but everyone does it. Zero tolerance. You can get a DUI/DWI for blowing a 0.001.

5. Stop lights are always optional. Police do not enforce much here.

6. No Bahraini works. They own shit. Buildings, highrises, businesses, flats. The workers are people from the Philippines, India, or Africa. They make about $300 USD/mo. for housekeeping, nannying, picking up trash, running shops/cold stores, etc. The ones that do hard labor may get a tad more.

7. The women wear regular clothes under their thobes/abayas. The men wear nothing…..at all.

8. “Okay, Boss”, “Yes, Boss”. The first foreigner to ever visit Bahrain must have conveyed the fact that these two phrases are appropriate responses to any question or statement. American: “Is the McDonalds down this way please?” Local: “Okay, Boss.” Now, what did we accomplish in this conversation. Absolutely nothing. I can say, they are very polite and willing to do anything you ask. You just have to figure out how to ask it in their language, or use your hands.

9. Muslims are serious about their religion. From what I can hear, they pray about five times a day. They get up at 4, go to the mosques, and pray. They also pray in the afternoon. They close up their shops from 2-6pm to “observe” and pray.

10. Americans pay an outrageous amount for rent. Mind you I live in a 2 bdrm hotel room basically. It has 2 bathrooms, a kitchen, and a living room. But very tiny. Back in the day when we were thinking about putting a base here, a deal was made with the ministry that each service member would have to pay their own rent, and thus inflating the economy to justify placing a U.S. Navy base here.

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