Friday, June 27, 2008

Sheesha's are for kids?

Since my sis is visiting, my best friend, her husband and I decided to take sis to a sheesha cafe. Personally I cant stand smoking in all forms but she was interested to see "genuine" sheeshas in off we went. 2 minutes in the door of Le Maison reminded me why I dont like going to them...the air is so thick with very heavy smoke...I find it incredibly hard to take a full breath...smells kind of nice though.
Anyhow...we arrived at around midnight after having dinner at the Chinese Garden in the Gulf Hotel...which I might add had very lousy slow service. Food was good though...when it evenually arrived well over an hour later. We contemplated having dessert but figured we might end up spending the night waiting for it.
Something that surprised me when we got seated and comfortable and the dim interior became easier to see through with the smoke etc...were the number of small children that were in there. Not only was the hour late but the air was thick with smoke. There were babies as well as toddlers and I was shocked to think parents would bring their children to such a place. I was wondering if its the policy of Le Maison to allow such underage "customers' within its doors? I also noticed that all the children were of Arab western children so to that speaks volumes from my point of view. If Arabs by and large cant be bothered to put seatbelts on their children....then whats a little sheesha smoke?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Information Wanted Dear Readers....!

So heres my problem...such as it is. My sis will be arriving tomorrow nite at midnight. This is her first visit to Bahrain and she is only staying for a week...I need some good ideas on what to do with her while she is here. Places to take...sites to see...clubs to visit...anything like that to make her one week stay something interesting.

My problem is that Ive been here 21 years...but 20 years of that was spent with a "man" that didnt allow me to go anywhere as everything was "haram"..and since Ive divorced Ive been too busy working and being a single mom to bother with exploring Bahrain and seeing what it has to offer...other than the museum, tree of life and Seef

For sure there is the Gold Souk...Al Fateh Mosque...Bab Al Bahrain etc...but are there any tucked away places of interest anyone can recommend...any nice place to eat or coffee shop with a great atmosphere etc...let me know...Im up for a little exploring myself. Thanks in advance.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Empowering the youth of Bahrain

One of the first things I noticed when I first came to Bahrain 21 years ago was the absence of teens working in positions commonly held by teens in America...such as fast food...newspaper deliveries...or maybe even yard work and car washing etc. All of these positions were taken up by foreign labor while Bahraini teens whiled away their days watching tv or ....or what else was there back in the day...not much. It was rather a shock to me since the work ethic in America is stressed so much from an early age...being responsible for yourself and for your own future is paramount in this economic disaster we call The American Dream. To arrive in a culture that doesnt even require its youth to lift a hand outside the home until they are maybe college age was something not easy to get use to. 21 years later...Im still not use to it.

I open the papers regularly to headlines shouting about the unemployment rate or Job Expos that dont get much attention from Bahrainis...or maybe letters complaining about Bahrainis being generally lazy and not caring enough about their jobs to dedicate themselves to doing a good job and maybe even having some loyalty to the employer. Its a common topic for debate and I must agree with the lazy view when it comes to my experience with Bahrainis in general...from what Ive seen they pretty much dont really care if they "get the job done" by any kind of deadline...or whether the customer is satisfied...or even if they get personal satisfaction for a "job well done". Bahrainis just want money...thats it. The easier it is to come by...the better...for them. Whether from parents...a bank loan...or a govt handout....its all the without work. Again...this doesnt mean all know if your one or not. I might also add that when your not busy with a part time job or something equally time consuming....then your more likely to be up to something Mom and Dad wouldnt approve of...not to mention considered culturally unacceptable.

Anyhow, knowing what I know about this culture etc I cant really blame Bahrainis for this "easy money" mentality they have. Its fostered from a young get money from family...and during Eid they will even get it from strangers. Teens...rather then be encouraged to go out and make some pocket money doing odd jobs or working a part time shift at McDonalds...are not allowed to work and must still rely on famly to give them money. This goes on for many of Bahrains teens well into their 20's since for some they are not required to be independent and responsible for themselves until they marry...for some...not even after that. So much does the culture spoon feed its youth throughout their lives...its almost as if Mom and Dad and society in general doesnt want the next generation to be self reliant and independent. Always relying on family and the govt to give you what you want can be very stunting and cripplying for the pysche...and is so dangerous and destructive to the future of any society.

Could somone please explain to me why Bahrains teens are not allowed to work until they are practically grown...18 I believe..yes? Many Bahrainis believe its better to marry prevent sexual its ok to marry young but not ok to work and provide for that wife etc? I know of some young couples that are married as teens and yet depend completely on his parents (or sometimes hers) to provide everything for them. What sort of beginning is this to a can anyone step into the responsible role of husband or wife...when they cant even be responsible for themselves? Why should a man work so hard to provide for his wife when he can just fall back on family, the bank, or the govt to support him? Why should a woman look to her husband for that sort of responsibility when she knows she can look somewhere else for it when he doesnt come through? Why should they even try, strive, work for themselves when...actually...they dont really have to?

I might add that this dependence on other sources for support and income also has other fallout of which is disrespect for those that do work in what is commonly viewed as menial labor. In America the youth are washing the cars...serving the burgers...bagging the groceries...and delivering the paper...not only are they learning to work hard for what they want...but they are learning to respect others that work alongside them or maybe even under them. Its rather hard to hold that "Im superior to you" mentality when you've done that job yourself and earned money for it...and maybe some callouses on your hands from it. When I see some of Bahrains teens completely disrespect non Bahrainis that might be laboring to wash their cars...iron their clothes...serve them french fries...or even clean up after them in their homes...I want to just shake them and open their closed minds to the damage they are doing to themselves and to their future and the future of Bahrain. How can a society prosper and move forward if they are always thinking backwards? To believe you are superior to someone just because they use a mop rather then a computer is destructive to your soul eventually....and a very lonely feeling as you might eventually feel superior to everyone around you....including the very family that didnt encourage you from the start.

Recently in Al Wasat newspaper there was an article encouraging the Bahrain govt to start some sort of work program in which Bahrains teens can work during the summer months and establish a work ethic and learn something along the way. This article mentioned that there is very little else for the teens of Bahrain to do other than hanging out at the malls and getting up to nothing good...cant argue with that. While I might agree with some sort of govt program that encourages fostering the work ethic among teens...I think it would be even more beneficial to lower the legal working age...for part time work at least. Also, since the foreign population seems to be getting out of control and if the teens of Bahrain, who are quite capable of doing many of the jobs these labourers do...were encourged to do so then why not lower the need for foreign workers by getting the youth into those works well enough in America...why shouldnt it work for Bahrain?

Bahrainis seem to have an inborn belief that they are only capable of doing certain jobs and that all those undesirable jobs are meant to be done by someone else...someone who apparently has less dignity and so less right to complain...not to mention...can be treated like shit because they are doing the shit jobs you wouldnt be caught dead doing.

This reminds me of my first week working at Kmart. I never gave it much thought when I went shopping for clothes...when you shop you might pick up a shirt and look at it...hold it up to you...then decide its not for you and throw it back on the shelf. One week trailing behind inconsiderate idiots masqurading as shoppers taught me one thing...(other than how to control my anger and not strangle customers)...that when I shop now I dont just throw the shirt back on the shelf....I fold it and place it there. In other words...I have developed empathy for the people that do a job I once did...I think its one of the more meaningful codes that governs society....Fold Unto Others as You Would Have them Fold Unto You...or something like that.

How better to foster the work ethic among the youth and to aid in the development of empathy etc not to mention lowering the foreign labor force by getting Bahrains teens doing the jobs that teens around the world have been doing for decades without a problem? Worth a try right?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Evil thoughts...we've all got them!

Sorry to any of my regular readers(all 4 of you) for not posting something sooner. Ive had a very hectic week getting ready for my annual holiday(yay me) and preparing for my sis to come visit for the first time in the 21 years Ive lived here(yay me again). This is going to just be a brief rundown of things that bugged me to no end recently that I felt merited a mention. Complaining about something doesnt really help the situation...but its better then going out and doing bodily damage to the offender...right?
Well lets see...where to start...well there are the ever constant smokers in Seef Mall who never fail in managing to stand right next to a prominently displayed No Smoking sign...while smoking. They have one of two facial expressions Ive noticed. If your a smoker in Seef Mall then this is you.
1. Im smoking...what you gonna do about it?
2. Im stupid...what you gonna do about it?
It would be nice if the security that pretend to work there would actually confront these law breakers and advise them to take it outside....wishful thinking I know. Im wondering if smokers would object to walking around with a bubble on their head...that way they can enjoy all the smoking they want...and I can enjoy not hating them.
I know that the standard of driving in Bahrain is an ongoing rant on this blog...but just when I think Ive seen it all...stupidity makes a new and impressive showing. In fear of always having a my jaw hanging open...Ive decided to wear an elastic band around my head to keep my mouth shut...helps keep the flies out....
I realize the running a red light cannot be helped sometimes...just when you get too close to slow down properly the light turns so you speed through to make it...ok ok you could slow down ahead of time but whose willing to do that...right Anyhow, the number of drivers making it seem like normal driving now to run a red light seems to be increasing by the minute...and these are people that had plenty of time to slow down...just chose not to. The constant squeal of brakes followed by a sigh of relief when everyone makes it through safely is wearing me out. I do not wish to be a witness to a horrific traffic accident...but I know its only a matter of time. Having said that...some people just seem to have a death wish...and wish to be generous and include others in it. Take the Idiot Shmuck from two nights ago....he was weaving in and out of traffic like he had a hot girl waiting at home for him...and then ended up third in line at the traffic light. What did Idiot Shmuck do....instead of waiting for the 2 or 3 minutes for the light to change...apparently mindful that hot girl might cool down if he delayed too long...he pulled out of the queue and roared across the say my jaw was hanging open is and understatement...can people be that completely obnoxious and selfish to pull such a dangerous stunt just because their patience is measured in nanseconds? I swear that Im starting to think twice about even leaving my house these days for fear of crossing the path of some driver who in his haste to reach the coffeeshop to meet up with mates...forgot to include his brain among things to take with him.
I have to make a confession here human we cannot always control the thoughts that ping around in our brains...we can be quite evil at times and its pretty fair assessment to say that its a good thing that some of these thoughts remain just that...thoughts....for if the evil little whisper that sneaked through my mind the other night ever manifested itself solely because I thought it...I dare say there would be a fair number of Idiot Shmucks out there seriously in need of a clean pair of underwear. My thought went something like this...wouldnt it be nice(relatively speaking) if these brainless idiots experienced a close know... to sort of enlighten them as to the dangerous life they are leading and taking others along with them? What I was thinking is that maybe a fender bender (preferrably with something stationary...not another car of course)or something equally fairly harmless was to least there is a chance it would scare them into slowing down and spending a few minutes deliberating over the rash manuever they are about to think? Nah! me either. True stupidity never learns.
Ive been cruising around the blogosphere of late...keeping tabs on several Muslim sites I like. Generally speaking while there are some good ones out there...most of them seem content to focus on Muslim women and their place in Islam and society...which boils down to...assuming Muslim women have no place in society outside the home as they should focus primarily on submitting to God and their husband...not necessarily in that order. I also noticed that when any other Muslim contradicted that belief with wisdom from the Quran or other of two things happened. Either that person is verbally(is it verbal when its harrassed and words such as kafir, murtad...and the always favorite....Western Influence...get slung around. Soon as all thats done...then that poster is usually blocked from further comment. I know this because Ive been blocked too many times to count. Havent yet figured out why so many Muslims cant stand an opinion contrary to their own...and seem unable to discuss anything without resorting to harrasment and then child like shunning....says quite a lot about the state of the Ummah today...either you believe just like us...or confess that your a Zionist spy trying to split the Caliphate right down the middle with your kafir talk and ideas...sheesh. Id laugh if it didnt hurt so much. I could go on as thats a book by itself...but if your a Muslim you know what Im talking about...nuff said. My evil thought regarding this is...wouldnt it be nice if the proverbial Hand of God came down from the clouds and flicked em upside the head...maybe that would get their attention...mind your Muslim manners and all....sigh!

My 4 regular readers can tell you that I have little love and even less patience for my fellow Hidd residents at the best of times...I liken this little blip on the map to a melting pot of hot heads, empty heads, and just plain pain in the asses. I find that this little town is full of Holier Than Thous that generally have nothing better to do then spy on their neighbors and critisize with every other word spoken. Its like a demented game of Neighborhood Watch for Extremists. I feel that the level of manure that gets spread around here can be rather life threatening at times...suffocation is a real danger...self preservation is a constant worry. So I found it rather justified and somewhat poetic the other day when upon returning to Hidd I was greeted with a foot of sewage water filling the streets. We are talking about the chunky sort of sewage water that makes you gag and wonder just what everyones been eating other words disgusting and stomach churning. One of those evil little thoughts flitted through my mind again...hey I cant help brain has a mind of its Anyhow, heres the thought....Hidd is full of shit! Figuratively....and now literally. Pardon me while I chuckle over that one...sometimes evil thoughts are just too delicious to keep to yourself.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Just when you gotta "go" in the worst way....!

So...had to spend some time at the American Embassy today....havent been there in awhile and I couldnt help notice a few changes had been made.

1. A very long list of things not allowed inside...which means for those of us not aware of this long list...a long walk back to the carpark to leave all the forbidden contraband behind. Now I can understand the reasoning behind making visitors park half a mile away from the entrance(America is not high on the list of the worlds favorite neighbors)...but does anyone who comes up with these parking guidelines ever consider that Bahrain practically combusts during the hot summer months...and scheduling passport hours from 1 pm to 3 pm just sounds like pre meditated homicide. By the time I managed to stumble my way back to the blessed cool interior of the Big Square Box aka American Embassy...I was hallucinating and babbling incoherently....and of course the water dispensor cups were all finished. Which leads to point 2...

2. There is one long really wide couch running alongside the wall in the waiting room...not sure why its that big...I realize that American butts are growing at an alarming rate these days...but lets get real. When you sit on the thing...your feet barely touch the floor and, for us shorter legged people...the backs of your knees dont hit the edge just your left with your legs sort of splayed out in front of you. I figure its to keep you uncomfortable and unable to form a plot to rush the windows or something like that....but after walking for a century in the hot burning sun...I was happy to just sit...splayed legged and all...but no water to keep my poor tongue from sticking to the roof of my mouth...which leads to point 3...

3. My desire for some water was quickly replaced by my desire to recycle some water I had all ready drank earlier in the day...I remembered from earlier visits that a bathroom was just outside the waiting room area...but was rather caught off guard when I was informed that bathrooms were no longer open for public use......Okay!

So lets get this straight....after hiking through the hot blazing sun and losing at least a marathons worth of sweat...not once but twice...and not even getting to quench my parched tongue before collapsing on a couch designed for the Jolly Green Giant...and being informed that the wait for my turn and subsequent action would no doubt take awhile(over 2 hours)...I was now informed that should I feel the need to "go"...I would be shit out of luck...nice! all know what happens the moment you realize you cant have something...of want it more. dilemma....wait out my turn and try not to think of water or any form of liquid there of...but feeling dehydrated from the trek was forcing me to think of nothing else...and ignoring all desire to "go" even though I would have given my little pinky toe to fullfill that one urgently needed desire asap...or trek back to the parkinglot and possibly induce heat exhaustion and the death of some much needed brain cells not to mention suffer the strict security procedures all over again...twice all ready you know...just to find relief...but would result in my turn no doubt being passed up and being made to wait it out longer...or be forced to come back another day....hmmm lets see...choices choices...whats a girl to do...?

I must admit though that the people working in the passport and visa section of the embassy were efficient and charming. They had smiles on their faces(well they werent treking back and forth to the parkinglot were they) and took time to chat with each customer...making the wait a little less boring hearing the stories and whatnot. So I waited out my turn...kept my legs crossed(rather difficult when your legs are splayed as well) slurped some water from my hands...and eventually got my business sorted out...and left the place feeling better then when I arrived...not an easy thing to do when conducting govt business at the best of times.

I did have a few complaints though...other than the obvious ones above. There have been throw carpets on the floor since the first time I stepped through the doors. They are always bunched up and people are always tripping on them. It doesnt take much in observational skills to realize its an accident waiting to happen...if it hasnt all ready. Also, considering they have either confiscated or just out right refused to allow us to bring anything extra with us while we wait...we are forced to endure each passing minute with nothing to distract us. No magazines...not even the helpful Most Wanted posters on the walls that I use to spend time persuing veryclosely. Never know when I might recognize one of those "bad guys" as the guy at the petrol station...or my next door neighbor(to tell the truth Im suspicious on him all ready...he doesnt like dogs...sure sign of anti social and possibly subversive activity). Day dreaming of collecting a cool million or so for doing my patriotic duty and locking up some poor unfortunate all based on mere suspicion is the least this American can do. I might also add that there was nothing in that whole waiting area that even suggested I was on "sacred hallowed ground"(American soil to u and me) except for a few posters inviting potential visa applicants to stay awhile at one of Americas less hospitable locals if they choose to forge any false information on their documents. The guy behind bars in the pic obviously thought he was smarter then the US govt...obviously he didnt truly understand the scale of our abilities to search out and find deviants, forgers and all around "evil doers"...just ask ...!..ok I wont go there....but we know who Im talking about.

Anyhow, at least the pens on the table were nice...but chained up....hmmm I think someone doesnt trust the average citizen...even with a govt issued pen. Nice....!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Mind your manners...a lesson in Net Etiquette

I will be the first to admit that I know next to nothing about finding my way around the net and getting what I need from it. I jealously watch my kids click themselves into a net coma while getting, what appear to be, very complex objectives completed. Whenever Im watching movies that have anything at all do to with the net and I see fingers flashing and screen info whizzing by(no loading hangups in movie land I guess) I want to pull my hair out in frustration. How the heck do they get what they need so fast and how do they find it in the first place?

While cruising the superhighway I marvel at other peoples blogs and how interesting and eye catching they have designed their pages...mine is a cemetary by comparison...not much happening. It took me the better part of a weekend to figure out how to put the visitor counter on my page....and Im somewhat concerned whether its counting right...I think I have it programmed to count every time "I" visit the blog...that would explain the "high" count.....hmmm? As for putting ads...little cartoony running up and down and around it...gimme a break....I feel like I need a Phd in Cut and Pasting HTML or an MBA in Link Clicking and RS Feedback...something anyhow that Im obviously sorely missing.

I entered the book store last month hoping to find some sort of help in my rise from net ignorane and lo and behold I found the "Bible" for all us poor souls ignorant about "all things blogger" and left scratching our heads while everyone else are making blog sites that win awards that keep the crowds coming back time and again....I found "Blogging for Idiots" Phd was just around the corner...I nearly sustained some serious paper cuts in my frenzy to devour the pages and experience that little "light bulb moment" that means I 'got it" at last...if only.

First thing and only thing I have learned to do was put a pic in my post....spiced up my post a little for sure...eye catching and colorful....lets the reader know fairly quickly what they are most likely going to be reading pics are are are apparently owned by other people and cant just be used however you want...something I didnt read in the book(better check again...might have skimmed that part in my haste to enduce a blood draining paper cut) blunder caught the eye of one pic owner whose pic I filched while learning all about google images and how to find one for my post(oops...that was something I learned to do a pic) and came here to let me know just how irritated he/she was and how inconsiderate I was for daring to do such a thing. Im still wondering how he/she knew how to find me...something else I need to learn...sigh! Anyhow...I was rightly kicked in my backside for "stealing" something that wasnt mine by rights and for that I sincerely apologize for my ignorance and for my theft...but its left me thinking very deeply about the net and what it is exactly.

For myself Ive always viewed it as a library at my fingertips...a smorgasboard of information just waiting to be clicked on and assimilated to my hearts content...the only limit being my need to sleep and do various other activities that are part and parcel of daily work and pay bills. Other than that...its all free...the only thing I figured that wasnt free was anything that required a credit card number to acquire(ok copyright laws I knew about...but reading something doesnt infringe on that....and I dont make a habit of downloading things from the net anyhow...dont believe me...ask my kids...they had to show me how to wasnt a pretty hour spent...I gave up after several colorful words were whispered through clenched teeth...and it wasnt by me)...yes...I simple can one get? Live and learn...and occasionally get burned by your ignorance(Im pretty sure I can hear some giggles out there...dont be so quick to all werent born with a Net gene in your DNA mix you know...we all have to learn eventually).

So my forays onto the net have been interesting...enlightening...and educational and Ive made lots of friends that help make life bearable...but Ive also stepped on some toes along the way and left at least one person fairly miffed at my audacity to take what wasnt I need to tread lightly and learn the rules as well as all the tricks...I would kindly request that someone direct me to a "rules and regulations concerning the net and its content"...if there is such a site...Im sure there is...there is a site on just about anything you can imagine...and somethings you cant...its a big wide world out there on the information superhighway...but no matter how far from home(your blog/site) you might can always find your way back...and apparently leave a fairly obvious trail while your at it so others can find you! I gotta figure out how thats done...anyone?

p.s. Im rather hesitant to put a pic on my post now...feel somewhat like a "Three Strikes and Your Out" more filched pic and Im locked up and the password thrown away...sheesh...guilt sure has a way of making sleep a restless affair indeed.