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Bahrain: Halfway There!

From Bahrain this week: a mid-Ramadan celebration, great happiness to be at university, a description of some dating practices, and a packet of rice that just doesn't make sense!

Ramadan traditions
We start this week with some special mid-Ramadan festivities, called Girgaoun. Shaima Al Watani explains what Girgaoun is:

ربما تتسائلون هنا عن معنى هذه الكلمة الغريبة ؟؟!!
وسأجيبكم أن هذه الكلمة مرتبطة بالتراث الخليجي والتراث البحريني على وجه الخصوص …
ففي الليلة الخامسة عشرة أي ليلة منتصف شهر رمضان الكريم يخرج الأطفال في البحرين ، لزيارة منازل وبيوت الجيران للحصول على القرقاعون .
والقرقاعون عبارة عن حلويات ومكسرات يتم توزيعها من قبل الأهالي على الأطفال الذين يطوفون الحواري وهم يرتدون الملابس الشعبية والفلكلورية القديمة ، مرددين الأغاني التراثية القديمة والأهازيج.
Maybe you're asking what the meaning of this strange word is?
And I will answer that this word is connected to the cultural heritage of the Gulf, and of Bahrain in particular.
On the fifteenth night, that is the middle of the holy month of Ramadan, children go out in Bahrain, to visit their neighbours’ houses to get ‘Girgaoun’.
Girgaoun means the sweets and nuts distributed by people to the children who go round the streets dressed in traditional clothes, singing old songs.

Butterfly has posted a slideshow of the Girgaoun festivities in one area, which you can see here.

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Picture credit: Butterfly

Another much more recent tradition is that of watching the special Ramadan serials on television – but Matchless is not impressed:

What’s going on the TV.
I am fed up with their programs.
Yes all of them in addition of the NONSENSICAL.
I wish that western people care about RAMADAN and try to produce something worth watching.

Dating rituals
Ammar describes a scene of great anthropological interest:

His lane of traffic was at a standstill, but it was normal on a weekend night such as this. He glanced at the cars cruising slowly past him on the opposite lane; the fancy Benz with its triple-digit plate, the beaten down 80's Cressida, the shiny Cadillac with the polished wheels. “What are they all doing here?” he thought, as the car in front of him etched a few inches forward.


The traffic light turned red, and the cars came to a stand-still. A golden Honda passed by, and stopped in the traffic right next to him, two pretty ladies adorning its interior. He glanced with the corner of his eye, and although he didn't make it too obvious, they knew he was looking at them. “This is ridiculous” he thought; he wants to communicate with them, exchange a few words, maybe a number, but it wasn't possible. In the ‘rules’ of this engagement, he has to drive around a few times up and down this road, find his prey, follow her to a dark alleyway or somewhere unfilled with people, and then make a move. That's just the way it was done here.

The light turned green, and as she moved her car he forced the gas pedal down turning the steering wheel, twisting the car through the traffic; it was a scene of tire smoke and a thundering engine, landing himself directly behind the two girls. They watched in amusement through their rear-view and giggled, not so innocently, as they pondered making their way through a side street. They decided to, eventually, and drove into a dark alley, with him on their tail.

He smiled. Something to ease the stress for tonight, at least.

Different path
Layal posts about a change in direction:

استعد حاليا لبدء عام دراسي اقتحم معه المقاعد الاكاديميه من جديد بعد ان طلقتها وتزوجت عليها الدارسه التخصصيه (ماخذه الدور)
ولكن وجدت ان الدراسه التخصصيه لا تسمن ولا تغني من جوع, ان لم تكن معها دراسه اكاديميه فهي تعامل كطفل غير شرعي
مع العلم ان الاجانب يتخذونها سبيلا للوصول لارقي المناصب بدون الحاجه الي صك الغفران الاكاديمي
Right now I'm getting ready to start the new academic year, to jump onto an academic seat again after having divorced it, and having got married to professional studies (playing my role). But I found professional courses don't fill you with food or satisfy your hunger, unless accompanied by academic learning. They are treated as if they were an illegitimate child, even though foreigners take them in order to reach higher positions without needing to have academic forgiveness.

Another student, Al 7urra has just started at the University of Bahrain:

أحب هالجامعة..أحس اني اخيرا في المكان الصح… المكان الي يقدر يحتملني ! واتمنى انه ما يحكم علي !!
I love this university! I feel I am finally in the right place…a place that can handle me! And I hope it won't judge me!

A booklover disappointed
Butterfly has been to a well-known annual bookfair for the first time, but discovered she hasn't been missing anything:

بشكل عام يمكن للزائر ان يستكشف من خلال المرور امام دور النشر حتى بدون التوقف عندها معرفة نوعية الكتب المعروضة اذ يكفي ان تقرأ عنوان لافتة دور النشر لتعرف المضمون. وكما توقعت تماما فأن الكتب بشكل عام كانت تنحصر في الشئون الدينية ، السياسية ، الكتب المتخصصة ، كتب الاطفال والكتب المنوعة المتعلقة بالطبخ والتجميل والابراج. الكتب الادبية والروايات كانت حاضرة ولكن اما لمؤلفين غربيين تمت ترجمة مؤلفاتهم للغة العربية أو لكتّاب عرب غير معروفين نسبياً. عشرات بل الآف المؤلفين والكتّاب العرب لم يكن لهم وجود في المعرض والذي ذهبت خصيصاً للبحث عن كتبهم.
In general visitors can find out by passing by the publishing houses’ stands – without even stopping – the kinds of books on offer, just by reading the name on the company's sign. And exactly as I expected, the books were generally limited to religious or political subjects, specialist books, children's books, and miscellaneous books about cooking and beauty and horoscopes. There were some literary works and novels, but either ones by Western authors translated into Arabic, or ones by relatively unknown Arab authors. Dozens, in fact thousands of Arab authors and writers had no presence at this fair, the ones whose books I had gone especially to look for.

Stupid rice
We end with Redbelt, who has noticed something strange on a packet of rice:

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Picture credit: Redbelt

More from Bahrain next week…

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