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 the 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 its 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 a 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 shown 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 the 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.


2 thoughts on “Living in Bahrain, part 1

  1. Joel Sprechman says:

    You’re one gutsy girl mamma! You’re teachings are living on and making a huge impact in many. Let’s connect soon 🙂

    PS – My throat chakra is fully open a channel connected to the divine, and my gut, I’ve been pretty open, vulnerable, transparent on social media last few months…

    shawarma alley sounds amazing!

    much love, Joel


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