First 30 days in Bahrain

Booom! Just like that, we’ve been here for 30 days.  So here is what I’ve learned.

Time flies. Duh, we’ve all heard this. Let’s get to something better. Moving on.

You pronounce the H in Bahrain. It’s a small guttural sound. Ba-hrain.

Tall ceiling houses are awesome and why don’t we do that in States?  Can any architect enlighten me and answer my question?

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My version of an abaya.

Abaya, the Bahrain name for their version of the burqa. Click here for some middle eastern education on women’s thobes.  While they make my independent American woman privileged feminist shreeeeek, there are many reasons why they rock: 1. I wouldn’t have to do my hair or dress nicely, in fact, I’ve thought many a time, how many of these women are naked under their abaya. I doubt any of them are but that’s my nudist independent American privileged feminist making sense of it. I’d go naked. 2: It hides the sweat marks that will inevitably show up in 106 degrees, 80% humidity weather. Think about it. Crotch sweat. No problem, I’m wearing an abaya. Armpit sweat that blends with your boob sweat. No problem. Abaya. Butt sweat because I had to drive somewhere and my car seat absorbed the 106 degrees and holds it like an oven, therefore, cooking my muscle and flesh like a turkey in a deep fryer. No problem. Abaya. 3: It’s true that it cools you down. I know it sounds counter-intuitive and while I haven’t tested the full head to toe thing, I am learning through my own melatonin prone skin that a tank top (yes, I can wear one here on Base and at the International resort where we are staying) is way hotter than if I wear a light cover-up, like my fun Wrightsville SUP hoodie (no, Jarrod didn’t pay me. I really just love my hoodie). The cover provides your own shade. Yes, I sweat like crazy (see #2) but my body temperature immediately drops. So YEAH for abayas. No, I won’t be buying one anytime soon.  Never say never.

Women are women are women anywhere. I don’t speak Arabic, or Hindi, or any other language I’ve heard here well enough to understand it. However, I have spent enough time traveling and a lot of time in nail salons to know when someone, meaning the lady next to you, is gossiping. While I haven’t spent a ton of time hanging outside the hotel (shameful head drop), breakfast time is when everyone in the hotel comes together in the Noor breakfast tent (jump two paragraphs). What I do know from being a woman is, all the ladies who sit together and are close enough to my table to hear…talk in the same intonations, giggles, laughs, gasps, and tisking that you would hear if you were overhearing a gaggle of my friends at a hotel all-you-can-eat buffet on vacation.  Women talk. We talk about everything and anything.  And for some reason food makes us dive into the best conversations. Yes, I realize we could be part of the topic of conversation, especially since I confuse the hell out of the guests with my half Asian looks with kids calling me “mommy.” Read on…

Moms are moms are moms…unless they think you’re the nanny. Ugh. I will probably write more on this because it’s really a brain teaser and lesson for me. In short, Filipina and South East Asian women make up the majority of the service staff here in the Kingdom of Bahrain. [Note: Yes, it’s the official name. I live in a Kingdom! Ha. Except read on because I’m the nanny here.] Housemaids and nannies are almost a given. Every family I’ve seen stay here at the hotel so far, mostly coming from other Persian Gulf states, mainly Saudi Arabia, bring their nannies, mainly Filipina, with them on vacation. So, if you’ve never seen me, click to see my Instagram feed, or just know I’m half Asian half Caucasian. For an untrained eye, I can EASILY pass as Filipina. Even for a trained eye, I pass as a Filipina. The 2nd week here one of the Filipina nannies whom I’d seen a few times at the pool with a gaggle of kids asked me if the two kids I was with were my own. When I said YES, she told me she was surprised. She then asked where I was from. When I told her USA, she laughed and giggled, leaned over to the other Filipina nanny sitting next to her (yes, this particular family had two nannies with them. I think I counted 7 children they were watching) giggled, chatted quickly in their own language (see paragraph before this on women) and then turned to me and told me she thought I was the Filipina nanny. I was not surprised but at the same time, my heart ached a little. I mean, I guess I am a nanny too but “EXCUSE ME?!!! I’M THEIR MOM” is what I really wanted to say. I have a feeling this is going to be an ongoing conversation with every Bahraini and Saudi I meet. “NO, I’m not their nanny.  They’re mine,” immediately giving me the mommy street cred I deserve. Moving on…

Breakfast in a Noor tent tastes TEN times better. OH wait, maybe it just tastes better because it’s an all-you-can-eat international buffet that I DID NOT COOK. Woot woot! A Noor tent, at least at the Elite resort looks like this:

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Breakfast tent at the Elite Resort & Spa

Now tell me breakfast doesn’t taste 10 times better?!

Buying food here will break the budget. God bless the families who have teenagers. $8 blackberries, $7 raspberries. I was so shocked, I pulled a very Asian move and took a picture.  Proof.   IMG_20160720_171255.jpg“OMG” is f&cking right. I hear you can get cheaper produce on the island and you better believe I’ll be looking soon. Until then, please eat all the berries you can for me and my children and enjoy every little bite and seed stuck in your teeth. I refuse to pay $1/blackberry. Yes, there were 8 blackberries in that container. I counted.

Just days before our one month mark I got my first parking ticket. Actually, I got it the first full day as a new car owner in Bahrain (did you pronounce the “H”? Just checking). I got the ticket right near Base. The ironic thing is, I was going to base (yes, with Trace and Izzy on a nice balmy 101 degree morning) to get my Base parking pass for my new car. The extra dirt lot the only place to park if you don’t have your Base pass (yes it’s name is perfect description) was full so I parked where other cars were near sidewalks. Something inside warned me I may end up with a ticket but there were cars parked ON the sidewalk. “Clearly the locals know something I don’t, I’ll be good” and marched off to get our pass. No pass (printer was broken) and two very upset kids later, we arrive at our car and the parking ticket. I wish I had taken a picture. All the cars parked ON the sidewalk had no tickets. My car, nicely parallel-parked 6″ from the curb had the parking ticket. Because I knew it was a possibility I wasn’t too upset but bummed nonetheless. Having registered the vehicle the day before and witnessing firsthand the organized chaos and lack of logistics at the Traffic Department, I am glad I know what I’m in for to pay my ticket and laughing thinking about the reality I’ve created for myself. I will make sure to stop at the wine store today just for the post-paying off a parking ticket with two kids on a weekend in 100-degree weather extravaganza. #Bahrainorbust

I’m not sure where this blog site will take me. It used to be devoted to yoga, Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine and mostly holistic health topics.  I thought about starting a whole new blog, but why?  I do love writing. I’ve been encouraged to write for a long time and have been asked to write several books by clients and students. Who knows. Maybe my time in Bahrain will be more focused on writing. If you support this idea, want me to write more, have topics or questions for me, please let me know. And please share the blog if you feel like you know someone who’d appreciate the insightful shenanigans of an aloha hearted yogi military wife mommy. And please always feel free to start a mindful dialogue in the comments section below.

Aloha & Namaste

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6 thoughts on “First 30 days in Bahrain

  1. Ken says:

    So great to read your story. I would love to see more pictures of the family. We miss you dearly. Hopefully we will be able to get there before you leave. love you all very much.

    Like

    • J. Haunani Chong Drake, L.Ac., Dipl. O.M., E-RYT says:

      I’ll definitely write more about the family and add more pictures. Of course, as family, you’ll get emails too. Sending the love back.

      Like

  2. Dani Thomas says:

    Love reading about your adventures! I learn something new each time I read. Thank you so much for sharing!! Dani Thomas

    Like

    • J. Haunani Chong Drake, L.Ac., Dipl. O.M., E-RYT says:

      Stay tuned…I’m getting really good feedback and great ideas for upcoming articles, blogs.

      Like

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