Living in Bahrain, part 1

I’m titling this blog “part 1” because I’m sure in the next two years I will have so much more to add.  Having only been in country for 2 months and really living among the people for three and a half weeks (but feels like a year already) gives me lots of room for discovery, mishaps, and adventure.

So what is like actually living here?  Same, same but different.  I know I’ve used this phrase before in previous posts but it really is the only way to describe it.  I learned this phrase during my bachelorette, globe trotting days.  Essentially, life in Bahrain is life (same, same) with it’s own unique twist, taste, and punch (but different).

Bahrain is almost all urban, at least the areas that we are allowed to live, work, and play.  So moving from the white picket fence, cozy, suburban Stafford, Virginia to an urban, middle eastern country is like moving from any comfy confines of suburbia (same same) to any major city like NYC or Chicago (but different).  I had a short stint of living in Brooklyn to attend my graduate program in NYC when I first met Tad (the things we do for love) and I remember how grocery shopping was such a production.  I always felt so accomplished after grocery shopping.  It’s like that here too.  Sometimes the most mundane, day-to-day things, like grocery shopping, getting gas, finding someone’s house, feels like a HUGE accomplishment.  Other things, like getting gas, finding someone’s house, and grocery shopping, feel totally like no-big-deal.  So see, same same but different.  Haha, now I have you really confused.

Let me give you an example, one that really sticks out in my mind to this day.  The day I got our house keys duplicated I felt like a frickin’ queen!  I was so excited I even texted a friend about it, “Takes forever to do anything here.  The day I got keys duplicated, I felt like I deserved a top-shelf martini.”  Keys duplicated…yes, a huge accomplishment with two kids in 120+degree weather.   Then again, anything in 120+ degree weather is a huge accomplishment.  Oh, I also didn’t know where this place was located.  All I had to go on was someone’s description that said “the place is in shawarma alley, look for the key.”  My inner monologue, “Seriously?! Look for a key?  A big key?  Small key?  Ugh.”  So by the time I got home without getting into a car accident, without getting another parking ticket, no tantrums, and three sets of working keys duplicated…I felt amazing!  Now, jump ahead three more weeks I’d feel super comfortable doing this again but am so thankful I don’t have to and will enjoy a top-shelf martini just reminiscing that triumphant day.

Part of the challenge, and thus feeling of accomplishment doing the basic daily things, is the sense of time is not as concrete as my western, type-A, fiery, pitta (for all my Ayurveda yogi peeps) mind would like.  Think, island time + total lack of commitment to the time you said you’d be there = San Diego….ooops, I mean Bahrain.  Haha, just a little love to my San Diego friends.  I easily could have showed up at the place to duplicate keys and they would have been closed.  The added summer heat gives an extra excuse for some to close up shop especially if their AC breaks or the shop owner is smarter than their shoppers and realizes it’s too hot for any sane human to be out shopping.  While some businesses post their hours, a lot don’t.  And even if there are posted hours, it still doesn’t mean they’ll be open.  Granted, if I’m going to one of the major malls their hours are set and are followed.  But anything else–you just never know.  Thank goodness Trace is still fond of the song Hakuna Matata to remind me that life here means no worries, for the rest of your days. It’s a problem free philosophy…Hakuna matata.  Good luck getting that out of your head today.  You’re welcome 🙂

I happen to keep track of my first day I was living in our villa and Tad had gone to work.  Right off the bat I realized it was going to be one of those “welcome to Bahrain days” full of tests and initiations.  Because it started off so early and I was already laughing at life by 6:30am I actually kept a log of the day.  I figured one day I would look back and miss it.  Since so many of you continue to share with me, “keep writing, I love hearing what it’s like for you over there” I’m going to share this daily log.  I haven’t changed a thing:

First day in our villa with Tad going to work:
Wake at 5:20am because the garbage truck comes.  Sounds like we have no walls.  
6:30am Roosters crowing.  De jas vous to living in Kenya.  Part nostalgia, part ready to ring its neck.
Doves and other birds waking. I like it. Love it actually.
I know at 7:30 the “workers” are coming to fix up the house since the weekends (Friday and Saturday) are truly no work days. I make sure the kids are up and breakfast at least on the table.
7:45 no one. The kids are now destroying the house and covering it with their toys making any worker crew thrilled at best…if they ever show up.
7:50 right on time. Workers? It ‘s the same two guys who have been stopping by all weekend to ask how we are doing.  I wonder if Bahrain time is like Hawaiian time. We are on an island after all.
The stench of the workers makes me gag. Not like I smell like roses anymore after months of fast food, eating out, curries, and new spices.
Make new reading nook for Trace in his room. So cool.
11:00 ish.  Gets too hot and everyone hibernates.  Seriously, where did everyone go?  Disappeared. Are they going to come back and finish up?
Nap time.  First hot yoga class. Me, myself and I by the pool. Sweaty. Very sweaty.
Break the curtains they worked so hard to put up this morning. Ugh.
Find Olympics on TV. Internet not working. Sad face.
Take a walk around the block. Ferrel cats everywhere.  Fun.   Masala Village-Yes! Cold store guy waved. Aaah, I’m a local.
Get home to guys standing in front of house who’s only words are “curtains. Now? Is ok?” Charades helps a lot. I let the kids run around trying to keep them out of curtains guys way only to discover water everywhere. A mini lake and trickling water feature down stairs. Oh no. 2″ standing water in the laundry room. Trace and Izzy think it’s the coolest thing ever and immediately start playing in the soapy water (booyah, bath time!). Leave the 2″ standing water for later.  I have to make dinner and keep kids away from curtain guys.
Dinner time.  Made it.  No wine or beer.  Ugh.  
101 degrees at 6:50pm, sun has set and I’m sweating worst than a Bikram yoga class as I squeegee standing water to garage area where I hope it evaporates.

Take aways from the day: nothing is going to be as easy. Do not plan around a working crew’s schedule.  Always have wine.

So there you have it.  A day-in-the-life.  I’d like to say that was a rare day.  But as I reread it and compare it to life now, it’s not.  It’s the norm.  While that first day felt like a huge mess, test of patience, and composure, I realize that’s what life is like here.  Really, that’s what life is like anywhere  you live.  Life is messy.  The test is, can you make lemonade out of lemons?  Not all days are that packed with testing my sense of humor and patience, but many of them are.  People not showing up, or arriving five hours late, is not surprising anymore.  In fact, anticipated.  We’re going on an extra week of trying to have a piece of furniture delivered.  It was going to be delivered last week.  Tad and I looked at each other and said, “yeah, right.”  We are still waiting.

This blog feels like it’s coming to an end but I realize I have barely scratched the surface of the title “Living in Bahrain.”  I also am realizing that I could write for days about the “same same but different” aspects of life in Bahrain.  I guess I have a few more blogs ahead of me to write.   Stay tuned.

Before I go, I want to just THANK YOU for all the support you’ve sent via email, texts, or care packages.  Although we are on the other side of the globe, for some of you, I feel closer than ever.  You know who you are, so thank you for reaching out, keeping me in the loop and just being YOU!  It already feels like “home” here.  Living like this is truly what my Soul thrives on.  I love it.  I do miss home, friends, and family a lot, A LOT, A LOT but it only makes me more grateful for the time we live in where I can live in Bahrain and Facebook and Instagram stalk you at all hours of the day.  I love you all.  Keep smiling and spreading the Aloha that lives within all of us!  Smooooch.

 

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My wish for the World

Many of you know I meditate, practice yoga, and think about the World and situations slightly different than the average gal.  Right when we moved to Bahrain, in fact the same week we moved here, there was a slew of suicide bombings and mass shootings.  Reading the news was depressing, sad, frustrating, and for me, motivating.  Motivating because it made me really sit and meditate more, dig deep into my own fears, pray, send out more love, contemplate life, and question why we are all here together at this time.

Eventually, the big move, suicide bombings, missing my family, friends, and dogs, and trying to find a new home got to me and I lost it.  I just downright lost it.  Balling.  Crying.  And so sad for the World we live in.  Why?  How?  WTF? Can’t we all just get along?  I know it sounds so cliche but I know I was sobbing those words out loud.  Through years of a committed yoga sadhana practice, I now know when I start to feel like the external (environment, situation, reactions) is affecting my internal peace, it’s time for a little reflection exercise*.  With puffy eyes and little sob to my breath, I got paper and pen and wrote at the top “What I wish for the World.”  Then, I wrote.

I want people to wake up. To take responsibility for their life and footprint on this planet in this infinitesimal amount of time we are here. To realize they do make a difference and every action, word, though creates a ripple. To take responsibility for their physical health. Mental health. Emotional health. Spiritual health. To not fear but live. To stand tall in their physical body and be able to say in the mirror, “I love you.” To not get attached to the thoughts and monkey mind. To see others and other situations as a reflection of themselves. To not be beat down by challenge but to rise up and see it as an opportunity to learn, grow, and become wiser. To be okay with not knowing. To be okay with stillness. To love more than hate. To be aware. To stand up for your beliefs while being flexible enough to learn new things and change your beliefs. To create more smiles than frowns. To leave a place in a better mood than when you arrived. To not take anything for granted. To thank God for everything in your life. To let go of what people told you to think and believe and to think and believe for yourself. To share your passions with the World. To apologize when needed but to not give up your personal power. That’s it. My wish for the World.

I was so mad and angry when I first started writing but by the end I felt like I had gotten something out.  My breath had calmed down and I felt more at peace.

Recently, while I was unpacking and settling into our new villa, I found this piece of paper.  I read it again.  I was both embarrassed and totally inspired.  Embarrassed because it reads as if I have this all figured out myself, which I don’t.  Inspired because it sounds like a calling from within, a call to action to step up my own game as a member of this human tribe and to really live this way too.  By theory, I totally 100% believe in everything I wrote.  In action, life is not always 100% of what I believe.  So, when I read this, I feel inspired to make my actions align with my beliefs.

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So why share this?  Because if you look at the external–the news, world politics, race relations–it’s easy to point the finger, to get upset, and feel helpless.  But remember, when you point the finger, there are three fingers pointing back at you.  It’s also the 15th anniversary memorial of 9/11.  For many people, this day represents a turning point in perspective.  The ripple affects of September 11, 2001 are still felt worldwide.  Indeed, it’s a day of reflection.   There are many ways to reflect.  I’m not biased to one way or another.  I do believe it’s beneficial for people to do self-reflection often though.  So if you’ve never done this type of self-reflection exercise, I encourage you to do it.  It is powerful.  Get a piece of paper, write “What I wish for the World” and just start writing without judgement or holding back.  Put it aside for a few hours or weeks.  Then read it and see how what you wrote reflects your own current life.  Are the theories and daily actions aligned?  In this reflection, hopefully you will glean insight into how your external environment and internal beliefs are aligned or not.  Some of you may even be inspired to be your own change you wish to see in the World.

Life is messy and confusing sometimes.  It can seem like life can be happening to us and we have no control.  However, it’s an even playing field when it comes to how we respond to life.  We all have the same chance to live in accordance with how and what you truly believe.  What’s your wish for the World?

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Quote by Courtney A. Walsh

*In yoga, the personal practices toward uncovering one’s true nature, self inquiry (svadhyaya) is a very powerful tool for releasing anything that disturbs the mind, especially feelings of fear, frustration, worry, jealousy, hate, and attachment to name a few.  The practice of self inquiry and self reflection have been very powerful tools in my own life and have played a major role in my own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing.