Happy May, y’all. Nothing like starting this blog entry with a weather update. We’re in the 100 degree stretch until September, and according to the uber-reliable news source Bahrain Confidential, it was the hottest April since weather was first recorded in 1902. Wahoo! I’ve taken to mooching off friends with pools, and while I was still walking home from work (it’s a health concern now – seriously!), I *might* have changed before leaving to avoid trying to suit up sweaty after arriving at home to my building’s rooftop pool (think the 1990s “wet jean shorts after a water ride” debacle). As I’m floating after my water aerobics (reason 57 why I continue to act 20 years older than my age), I often think about how much my life is like a vacation in Florida – without Mickey.
Since I don’t have much to report other than my 3 B’s lifestyle (bunko, book club, and bingo), there are a few quirky common experiences that many report experiencing in Bahrain. Most of them have to do with driving – are you surprised?
- The Bahraini Left – So…they’re not the best of drivers in this neck of the woods (neither am I), and many streets are technically “boulevards” with cement islands in the middle that trail off into left turn lanes. Well, here in Bahrain, you can actually turn left from ANY lane. So, yes, the left turn lane goes left. Middle lane? What the heck? There’s room. Right hand turn lane? Meh, they won’t hit me. See the diagram below.
- The Talabat Twenty- There’s this thing called Talabat that has destroyed my waistline, as well as many others who have come before me. It’s a food delivery service app that delivers any food, any time. McD’s Egg McMuffin at 7 a.m.? Cupcakes from Lola’s at midnight? Done and done! The saving grace is that the only pay options are “cash” and “benefit,” and I don’t know what benefit means….so no cash = microwave popcorn for dinner! By the way, the scores of food delivery motor bikes further complicate the Bahraini Left issue above.
- Service Surprise! – So, language can be an issue when trying to explain service requests. I’ll save my Moroccan bath fiasco for later. Anyhow, I just paid 16 BD ($42) for an oil filter – JUST THE FILTER! NOT THE OIL! OR THE CHANGE! Luckily, it was an interactive process where, since my car has US Specs, I got to hold the various filter sizes for the mechanic while he figured out which fit (and I held the discards – in 100 degree heat). With this, I was also there when they tried to pour an unidentified murky liquid from an unmarked bottle somewhere under the hood (why didn’t I take auto shop in school?!?), assuring me with, “madam, it is fine!” The receipt is in Arabic, so still not sure what “service” this was. On an exciting note, I got to climb down into the “pit” underneath the car that the mechanic works from. It reminded me of a tiny tiled swimming pool!
- TV Troubles – A massive topic plaguing expats abroad is how to stream current American TV shows…and if you’ve followed my blog, I’ve been tinkering with this since October. Well, we’ve gotten to a workable point, folks… Through setting up multiple VPNs, then virtual VPN routers, and obsessively testing internet speed (after an internet search, I’ve found that mine is the strength typical of 2004 technology), I’ve figured out how to catch up on my Real Housewives – thank you, Roku (and my former student who sold it to me at Best Buy)! I’m ready to FaceTime with anyone caught up on Southern Charm, RHONY, or Vanderpump Rules. Thank goodness I’ve figured all this out before the real stuff (Game of Thrones) in the fall. I plan on setting my alarm for 2 a.m. and watching in “real time.”
Finally – thank you, Congress, for working things out (at least until September) so I GET TO GO HOME! I got my papers early this week, and I hope to have tickets soon. Time is winding down here, though not as fast as for y’all in the states. In the words of one of my favourite fellow teachers, we have 5 more [Sunday] “get ups,” but also unlike most of you in the states, we’ll be celebrating Ramadan through the end of the year. While the religious practices might not directly connect to me, there are a number of guidelines all citizens of Bahrain must follow regarding consumption of food, liquids, and dress, regardless of religion. I’ll leave that one for my final post of the year – Ramadan Days.
Keeping my fingers crossed for warmer days for you, Chicago!