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Saturday, July 04, 2009

It sucked - Bahrain that is

I feel like enough time has passed since my last visit to Bahrain to write a fair description of what I thought of the country. The island has a way of mesmerising you while you're there and tempting you with its easiness and comfort. Add to that the emotional roller-coaster you go through when talking to family and long-lost friends and you may think that it's the best place in the world.

However, a couple of months later and having been to more than a couple of exciting new places down under, I feel like I'm able to see more clearly where Bahrain sits in my head. Basically, the place sucks.

Starting with the roads and traffic, the planning and condition of the roads are disasterous, and whether this is the reason why everyone drives like a maniac is yet to be investigated. Why two or three cars pass a red light every time one comes on is beyond me! This apparently happens so often that the cars at the front on the other side of the road who have the green light, stay put for longer to ensure that no one smashes into them. This in turn leads to all the cars behind the first car that has a green light to get frustrated and start going nuts with beeping and swearing. Watching people on the road in that country is really enough for any visitor to understand that entire underlying psych of the Bahrain society.

Did I forget to mention that after 30 minutes of constant rain, every road in the country was pretty much flooded?

When walking around malls (where else would you walk?), I couldn't help but notice that the majority of people strolling around were either over-weight or disturbingly under-weight. Whenever I spoke to someone about going to the gym or keeping fit, it wasn't the fitness that they seemed interested in. It was either about being thinner or bulking up (when it came to this, people freely discussed HGH, a growth hormone that is legal in Bahrain and illegal anywhere else). Anyway, the reason why people did what they did (i.e. slave away on a running machine, or pump iron) was to look good and not to feel good. Not once did I hear someone complaining about feeling unfit and unhealthy and wanting to improve their fitness level. I've always been one for feeling good first and then working on the looks, and I really think it doesn't work the other way around.

Now we come to the food, and this is the reason why many Bahrainis abroad love to fly back. The range of options when it comes to food is unlimited. You name it, those fat bastards have got it. Everything from taste and presentation, to service and pricing hits the right spot. Not once during my trip was I disappointed with the food. Except, I couldn't find a single place (apart from the traditional Gahwas in the Souq) that served traditional Bahraini food. But there was something suspicious about all the food in Bahrain, and it relates to the quality of the meats. I've been buying free-range meats and eggs for a while now, and maybe this explains why I felt the meats in Bahrain (particularly the chicken) felt 'empty' and 'rubbery'. Most chicken breasts have some level of fat in them and if you cook one yourself you'll find that you could pick out the meat in strands. But the chicken I had in Bahrain (apart from traditional roasts) felt like a 'block' that you couldn't really disintegrate and I don't understand why. Overall, I was very suspicious about the quality of underlying ingredients in meals I had at restaurants. And why on earth did I get hungry so soon after a massive meal?

Had my family and friends not been there, and had I not been invited to a lovely wedding by a lovely friend, I really wouldn't have bothered. Go to Turkey instead. I hear it's awesome fun.