One hears as much Hindi as Arabic in the only island nation in the Middle East
By Rupali Dean
I land in Bahrain without numerous expectations; the only island nation in the Middle East that translates into ‘two seas’ which are said to mean individually the saltwater oceans and the fresh water springs that occur under them.
At the airport, I hear as much Hindi as Arabic, and soon I realize I am being received as much into the hearts, homes, and lives of the Bahraini people, as I was into the borders of the most liberal country in the Gulf region.
The four days at Bahrain merge into a blur of long, relaxing yet fun days. I quickly adjust to the interesting lifestyle and simple pleasures. It is sheer delight to unwind in such fashion.
Personally, they have me with the amazing culture blended in everything so beautifully! What a time to be alive!
Breakfast fit for kings
We are headed for a local Bahraini breakfast to Haji’s café, located at the edge of the Manama Souq. I am absolutely mesmerized by the atmosphere and after a few minutes of waiting manage a table in the alleyway.
We go for traditional items like baydh tomat which is scrambled eggs with tomatoes, special omelette with cheese as well as never-ending khuboos, salads, beans, dips and jams and Kadak, quite like the Indian style masala tea….this is an experience I will never forget in a hurry.
The Grand Mosque
Dressed in a graceful black abaya, my head concealed in a black hijab, I arrive at the amiable dome of the Grand Mosque of Bahrain. A visit here is different from any other.
We collect in a circle, around a scholar of Islam, to learn and ask questions related to the religion that we have sheltered since placing foot in Bahrain and even before. I walk out learning so much and also that all religions have one teaching in common aka being human.
Formula 1 Racetrack
The Al Sakhir Tower of the Formula 1 Racetrack upsurges above the desert like a beacon. Since we are here out of season we get to see what a state of the art track looks like and even are lucky to get a lap around the circuit.
Of course we have booked the tour online. Needles to add I also go in for the exhilarating 4 wheel Land Rover drive and it’s so much fun!
An approximately forty minute boat ride from the Marina gets us to Jarada Island where I find peace and tranquillity and the ultimate Robinson Crusoe experience.
The bounds of civilization no longer exist and a deserted island is ours for an afternoon. We unload our picnic basket have fun and leave just in time before the island disappears….yes it does every evening owing to the high tide.
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Must Do’s in Bahrain
• The National Museum is an exceptional overview to Bahrain’s history.
• Overlooking the northern coast and standing guard on an antique tell Unesco World Heritage–listed Bahrain Fort was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century as part of a thread of fortifications beside the Gulf.
• For local art and craft and souvenirs head to Manama Souq in the labyrinth streets.
• Spend a day at Dar Island.
• For a most local breakfast experience Alrayyan café is the place to go and do not miss a dinner at Alabraaj for the best in Bahraini cuisine.
. Check out the Dragon Mall, City Centre and Seef Mall.
(Rupali Dean is a food and travel writer based out of India)
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