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Bahrain: A tenfold increase in population?!

This time the roundup from Bahrain covers three weeks. We have frustration on every front, unfortunately: frustration with being surrounded by apathy and ignorance, with being a teenager, and with a ludicrous criminal charge. One blogger is considering leaving the Gulf for a better life back in India, another admits he rarely reads, and a number of others are debating the merits of secularism.

Going ‘home’?
We start with Ashish Gorde, who is visiting India after a break of three years – and wondering if he should leave Bahrain:

There is an enormous energy resonating all across, and the enthusiasm is almost palpable wherever you go. Alright, now that sounds like a superlative but so far I've only been to Bombay and Poona and I've felt the same excitement in both the places. […] Another interesting thing I have learned is that salaries have shot up sky high in the past few years, and there is a lot of wealth and purchasing power in the hands of the middle-class. The prevalence of major brands and swanky malls is another clear indicator that the new religion of consumerism has managed to set up its massive temples here as well. As a lifelong expat Indian, these observations make one think twice about a lot of things. It is clear that India is headed towards greater economic strength, and when that happens, where does that place us — that is, Indians who have lived in the Gulf all their lives — in this present scenario. Do we still stay here in Bahrain and other countries in the Gulf with meagre salaries, and watch our compatriots earn lot more in India? Do we miss out on the excitement that's surely ours in an economy that is headed towards the ionosphere? Do we sacrifice promised vibrancy for safety, however, dubious it may seem?

Aaaaaaaagh…!
The Girl With No Face is tired of the apathy – and hypocrisy – she keeps encountering:

what happened to passion and courage?!?!? what happened to the hippies and the 70s where people would fight for what they thought was right?!?!?! Doesn’t a revolution start with ONE persons idea? Doesn’t a million dollars start with ONE dollar? why do we always have to give in? and why is it that US GIRLS must sacrifice the most? […] Define ‘good girl’!! If being a good girl means doing WRONG THINGS without people knowing, then i don’t want to be a ‘good girl’ because the way i see it, most girls in this country would rather go out with guys, get drunk, get high or just be plain @*&# up without anyone knowing and STILL be labeled as a ‘good girl’. i just want to live my life doing what i think is right and sometimes being a human being and wanting to do something wrong, and DOING it. i want to live in a place where i don’t have to abide by rules i don’t believe in.

Cookie is just fed up of being a teenager:

I hate this age ! being a teenager is hard ! I can’t stand it any more !!!!!!!!!!
why? hmm people deal with you as a kid BUT want you to act like an adult !
our life is a mess !
we know that we are drawing the pic of our future so we keep thinking about future and that is kind of scary cause any mistake could destroy every thing!
every teenager hate at least one thing on his/her face or body and keep thinking about it !
you could find us very religious one day and then change!
we could shout and say words we don’t mean and hurt people cause of stress!
we might sleep for more than 10 hrs to forget some issues (me)
20-17= 3
I’ll wait 3 more years ! hope that 18 is better!
p.s : the weather is so good for sleeping !!

The police and the pebble
Redbelt is in disbelief – at a suspicious charge of causing damage:

I have officially been cited to appear in front of the Sixth Minor Criminal Court. What is the charge? Allegedly, a pebble flew out from my tyre and hit another car's wind shield. […] I have been cited with the following charges:

1. Caused by mistake to cause damages in properties of others
2. Drove the vehicle while unregistered
3. Did not take utmost care due when driving

Are you laughing yet? […] I suspected that this might actually be a scam. Last May, several police officers called me several times, long phone calls may I add, to try to persuade me to pay BD 10 “for this poor poor man!”.

No beaches – and no sea
Khalid is frustrated about privately-owned beaches, and land ‘reclamation’:

فبالرغم من إننا نعيش في جزيرة صغيرة إلا إننا محرومون من الشواطئ فغالبية الشواطئ ملك خاص .. وان ما يقارب من 3% من شواطئ المملكة فقط ملك عام أو المتنفس الوحيد لعامة الشعب .. […] فنحن اليوم في بلد غريب و غريب جدا .. فنحن نعيش بوجه العموم في جزيرة بلا شواطئ وعلى وجه الخصوص يوجد في بلدنا كورنيش بلا بحر ..!!!

Even though we live on a small island we are deprived of beaches as the majority of them are private… Something like just 3% of the beaches of the kingdom are public property or the only breathing space for the general public. […] Today we live in a strange country, very strange… Basically we live on an island without beaches, and more to the point, in our country there is a seafront corniche – without any sea!

How many zeroes?!
Silly Bahraini Girl is frustrated by a surreal conversation:

I have single handedly managed to come across Wonderland's 7 millionth idiot! […] I was talking to a fellow Bahraini today and one thing led to the other and as I was typing and talking on the phone .. I wasn't really listening and just answering with a yes or an exaggerated ohhhh .. every time there was a lull in the conversation.

“Yes, with the population of Bahrain hitting seven million now…” he was saying. I freeze.
Me: “Seven what?”
Him: “Seven million.”
Me: “Do you know what a million is?”
Him: “Yes, seven million.”
Me: “We are barely 700,000, counting the bastards and prostitutes.”
Him: “No. It is seven million. 700,000 was when we were in school.”

Even after this person was persuaded to check the figures online, he still wasn’t convinced:

Him: “Ok .. I see the figures but they are wrong. Governments lie about everything. Remember how when we were children? Our house used to be the only one in our neighbourhood. Now the place is full of people. We are seven million.”

Books…
Yagoob has a confession to make:

… اعترف بأن ثقافتي ضحلة و فقيرة و تحتاج إلى إعادة هيكلة و تأهيل
فأنا لا أعرف شيء في الثقافة العربية و لم أقرأ أي من روائع نجيب محفوظ و دوماً كنت أحسب بأن احسان عبدالقدوس أحد نجوم السينما المصرية في الثلاثينيات من القرن الماضي

I admit that that my cultural awareness is shallow and poor, and needs rehabilitating and reworking… I know nothing about Arab culture; I have not read any of Naguib Mahfouz's novels, and I always thought that Ihsan Abdel Qudoos [a writer] was one of the stars of Egyptian cinema in the 1930s.

…and notebooks
Hasan, a Bahraini student in Japan, has notebooks on his mind – and memories of his grandfather’s store:

Here in Tokyo I seem to have developed a habit of buying too many notebooks, usually at the beginning of something new. By ‘something new’, I mean moving to a new place, starting a new semester, travelling to a new destination or starting a new project of some kind. I don’t buy any notebook from any stationery store. There are a few particular places from which I particularly enjoy to buying my notebooks. I especially like to buy notebooks from a couple of stationery stores in Kunitachi (the town in which my university is located and in which I lived for most of my first two years in Japan) that seem to remind me of the book store/stationery store my grandfather ran for a long time in the old souq, or bazaar, in Manama. I must admit that I like browsing through dark, crowded shelves of stationery that reek of shadows and dust. My grandfather’s book store was not well-lit and I do associate it with cobwebs and dust for some odd reason.

Mosque and state
Some weeks ago we quoted a blogger who was calling for more Islamically-minded bloggers in Bahrain; now we hear from other bloggers who are debating the importance of secularism, and keeping religion out of government. Hayat gives her opinion:

فصل الدين عن الدولة خطوة مهمة لكي نضمن حرية و احترام الديانات و المعتقدات و الثقافات و لكي نمهد لنهضة الدولة في مختلف الميادين و المجالات في ظل دولة القانون التي فيها يكون المواطن متساوي مع المواطن الآخر بالحقوق و الواجبات دون اي تمييز او اقصاء..

The separation of religion from the state is an important step to ensure freedom and respect for different religions and beliefs and cultures. It also paves the way for the renaissance of the state in various spheres and areas covered by state jurisdiction, where every citizen is equal with regards to rights and duties, without any discrimination or exclusion…

For a recent university project, Haythoo undertook a survey of 300 people regarding their opinions on secularism, and here are some of the results:

هل تتفق مع الأراء العلمانية بشكل تام؟ نعم : 3% لا :97%
إذا كان جواب السؤال السابق لا, هل تتفق مع بعض أفكار العلمانية؟ نعم : 58% لا :42%
هل ترى إن العلمانية تتفق مع الدين لامي؟ نعم : 32% لا :68%
هل تعتقد إن العلمانية هي باب التقدم في الوقت الحاضر؟ نعم : 35% لا 65%
هل تظن إن الحكومات العلمانية هي الأفضل؟ نعم : 32% لا 68%

Do you agree with secular opinions completely? Yes: 3% No: 97%
If you answered ‘no’ to the last question, do you agree with some secular ideas? Yes 58% No: 42%
Do you think that secularism is compatible with Islam? Yes: 32% No: 68%
Do you consider secularism to be the gateway to progress in the present day? Yes: 35% No: 65%
Do you think secular governments are preferable? Yes: 32% No: 68%

The end
Bahraini Rants is shutting up shop (or just shutting up):

A chapter in my life has just shut and a new one is about to begin, if I may, with little writing and explanation: it’s gonna be intense and draining, and I am seriously looking forward to it. I think we can all fairly say that I’ve lost interest in this blog, but not because I don’t like writing my thoughts out anymore. I used to write with a purpose in mind, and to be honest, I’ve lost that purpose. Doesn’t mean I don’t think about you all the time, it just means that I can’t be bothered to write and write and rewrite and hope that you’ll catch the secret double entendres and so on and so forth.

So after these few and far between posts, emotional cries for help, and many years of reading: I hope I’ll be someone you’ll remember fondly.. Yeah him Bahraini Rants, he was good, I miss him.. I wonder what he’s up to now? Do you think I should search for him? Maybe I should go back and read some of his old posts…

We end with a picture from the Top 20 Bahrain group on flickr; this is the Bahraini flag, an appropriate image as 16 December is Bahrain's National Day (and if you look carefully, you can see the moon):

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.com

Photo credit: BALUCHI

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