#bahrained is a common hashtag used in conversations among my American friends living in Bahrain. It’s hard to describe #bahrained unless you live here. It’s kind of like an inside joke but the joke is on you. Bahrained is typically an unfavorable outcome or describes a situation that only seems plausible and acceptable in a place like Bahrain. In addition to #bahrained there are also the regularly used #bahrainproblems and #inshallahtiming. Let me use my week to shed light on insiders’ terms and give you a glimpse of what life can be like living in Bahrain. Note to reader: I did not make up any of this.
I pick up my car, the Island Beater, from the mechanic on Sunday night. I don’t drive it at all on Monday. On Tuesday, as I’m driving to teach my first class at a new yoga studio, my Island Beater overheats because the water tank decides to fall apart. I’m stuck turning the AC off and turning the heat on in 118F/48C degrees hoping it will help cool the engine off. Simultaneously I pray to God, and every remover of obstacle deity I know, that I can make it over the one stretch of highway that is a bridge with no shoulder and no exits. #bahrained
I make it across the bridge and even further than I had anticipated. Eventually, my car finally dies in the middle lane and everyone honks at me and gives me the Bahraini hand swat in mid-air as if I’ve purposely let my car die in the middle of the road trying to ruin their day. #bahrained
#Luck: My car turns back on. I go back into prayer mode, “please car, please car just get me to the studio. please.” I’m giggling with how ridiculous my morning is. It’s only 7:48am. At snail’s pace, pleaful chanting, and reassuring car talk like my car is trying to have a baby, I putter my way to the yoga studio. The car dies as I turn into the parking lot. BUT I MADE IT!!! I think, “it’s not a bad day after all.”
I’m dripping sweat because I’ve been driving with the heat on in 118F/48C degrees. I run into the yoga studio for a sweet surrender and cold escape only to discover the studio’s AC and electricity are not working. Not joking. Seriously #bahrained!
I pull my phone out of my bag only to be reminded my phone died the night before (not joking) and I’m using a backup phone with no contact information for any of my “guys”–not the car/mechanic guy, not the tow truck guy, not even my Bahrain friends. The only number I have is Tad’s because it’s his old phone but then I realize he isn’t allowed to have his phone with him at work so I’m texting all my updates to a turned off phone sitting in a locker. #bahrained
#smartphonesforthewin: I go to open Facebook to start my search for phone numbers, tow trucks, mechanics, etc. and discover the FB app is not loaded on the phone and there isn’t enough memory to download it. Thank god for plain old internet on a phone. I think, “I love you Steve Jobs.”
I have to choose where to rectify my situation: inside the studio with no AC but a roof to cover me from the blazing sun OR outside with a slight breeze. It’s now a feel temperature of 122F/50C degrees and the iPhone6 is beginning to get hotter and hotter with every search and phone call I make and the battery is draining like crazy. #bahrainproblems
#LifeisGood: It’s now Wednesday…I go 24 hours without anything “exciting” happening. My car actually got towed to the right mechanic. My kids are sort-of listening and not draining my soul with whining. It’s a good day. I’m also headed to a sunset SUP yoga paddle session with a Bahrain bestie.
I’m being a good global citizen by picking up the trash in the water as I paddle around only to pick up a bag of ground beef and half of it is still filled with flesh (semi-cooked because the water is so warm) and it flies across my legs, arm, and board. Beef?! Who finds ground beef in the ocean?! #bahrained.
It’s still Wednesday, the sunset was beautiful and I’m relaxed knowing I got all my #bahrainproblems out of the way for the week. I was wrong. Just as I’m finishing up I receive a text from our nanny that there is no running water at the house. Surprise, I just got #bahrained…again.
On the way home (my friend is driving) the mechanic calls to say he thinks he’s fixed the car but he can’t be 100% sure. Furthermore, I can come to pick up the car tonight and hopefully, it doesn’t overheat again or I can leave it with him until tomorrow and he’ll double check the engine in the morning. I decide to go another day without a car and now start to realize I may have to cancel work because I don’t have a car and possibly running water. #bahrainproblems #bahrained
It’s evening prayer time and close to dinner so my landlord and his brothers are not checking their phones and receiving my calls. I need the plumber guy ASAP but I don’t have his number because remember, I still don’t have any phone numbers because my phone is dead. #bahrained
My landlord comes over and realizes he can’t fix the water, he’ll send someone over in the morning…Inshallah. I don’t hold my breath because that literally translates to, “someone will come to check out the water situation in the next week.” Let me introduce you to #inshallahtiming.
I smell like dying flesh because I haven’t showered all day but have sweat like crazy teaching yoga both on land and in water and had to walk to and from the yoga studio in 110F/43C degrees (because my car is still at the mechanic’s), and I still have remnants of semi-cooked beef juice on my arms and legs. HOWEVER, Tad tells me there is water in the upstairs bathroom. YES!!! So I squat under the trickling stream of water, lather up and scrub the beef juice areas extra hard, turn the water on to finally wash off and THERE IS NO MORE WATER. NONE. NOT EVEN A DROP. I’m forced to wipe off the soap with drinking water, a washcloth, and baby wipes. #bahrained.
#Luck: It’s now Thursday morning, less than 48 hours after my car died and about 60 hours since my phone died, and the plumber guy actually shows up. It’s the first time in a full year someone has shown up when they said they would. Inshallah THAT! It’s going to be a good day.
Thank goodness I took the day off because not only can the plumber not figure out why our water isn’t working (and I’m now wondering if I need to move us into a hotel), I now also have the Civil Defense Department at my front door. What? Where did they come from? Why are a bunch of very official looking men standing at my front door. Oh wait, the landlord this morning saw a beehive in our yard and is having it taken care of. #bahrained This is a good time to insert a joke: “How many men does it take to remove a beehive?” Apparently in Bahrain, about 10. No surprise though for anyone who lives here and constantly sees one man working and 3-8 on-lookers…I mean helpers. We’ve finally arrived to the title…
Even bees get #bahrained. The Civil Defense’s solution for a beehive is to blast it with water. No joke. The very official men all arrived on a fluorescent yellow fire truck. They drug a fire hose into our entryway and blasted the poor hive to pieces. I didn’t want them to do it but the order was called in by my landlord out of wanting our family (mostly the kids) to be safe. When I saw they were honey bees I lost it. Honeybees are like GOLD!!! I thought I was doing so well this week given the onslaught of #bahrained moments but it was the bees that broke me. I started crying for the thousands of bees dying and drowning in my entryway while the Civil Defense crew picked dates off my tree. Even bees get #bahrained.
#Life: So there you have it. It’s now 2pm on Thursday [deep breath of relief]. I’m still using a backup phone because the phone plan we use (Google’s Project Fi) only has a few specific phones that work with its plan and NONE of those phones are sold in Bahrain. Surprise. And YES, if you just silently said to yourself “Bahrained,” you get it. You got it. By noon I got to bring my Island Beater back home and our water was turned on while I was getting the car (it’s a miracle). Life is good.
Honestly, I’m not really surprised by this week. About one week ago I heard that voice within warn me, “Are you ready?” I knew what it was talking about. I hear this voice and have glimpses of what-might-come-to-be in the most random times, doing dishes, opening a car door, brushing my teeth. Life’s been really smooth lately—no major bumps, a few house issues (but what’s new), and overall we’re all in a really good Bahrain groove. The voice was letting me know the pot was about to be stirred.
The old me, the version of me I still have memories of in college and even in my 20’s, would have cried, lost it, complained, and even though the world was out to get me. Now, I know these weeks are here to test me. I see weeks like this as a check-in to see if I’m really walking my talk. They are also a good reminder that life is good. I mean really, the truth is if I’m texting my Bahrain besties #bahrained or #bahrainproblems, it means we’re making light out of an annoying situation. No one is hurt. No one is in serious danger. I’m overly grateful to have the means to take care of each situation as well. We’re turning our complaints into jokes and trying to just do the best we can given our western upbringing in a same same but different country .
During weeks like this, I can’t help but think about all the people who move to the United States and have to adjust to life there. Do they have a term with their friends that helps them get through their adjustments? Like ‘Merica’d, or “RWB’d“? That culture shock and adjustment just seems unfathomable to me. Like all things, living in Bahrain is another great test of letting go of the things I can’t change and learning how to be more adaptable, open-minded, and even accepting of the things I don’t want to accept. I know not everyone moves as much as we do but maybe my week, my #bahrained vignette will help you to be more compassionate to people in your neighborhood, city, office, or school. Please, next time you meet someone who has moved to the United States, might I suggest you think of Tad, Trace, Izzy, and I. They are likely going through a similar adjustment period but uniquely their own in a foreign land. Rather than see them as different or not fitting in, maybe just realize they are a son or daughter making the most out of their given situation and likely getting there version of #bahrained.
From my heart to yours…
Aloha & Namaste