12.13.2014

Treasure Chest


Every day might be a Hollyday for me, but not every day is Christmas!  No, it's not here yet but it's definitely feeling festive over here in the Middle East Sandbox.  There are holiday lights everywhere. Surely you must be able to view all this from space.  Of course, Bahrain's National Day is coming up on December 16th.  We also have the 17th off as well so it certainly seems like the holiday season.  I know many of you are looking at the above picture and have already decided what my early present is, but you will never guess what it actually is!  First off, Angie-baby and Sami found it in the souk and immediately thought of me.  It's not like I was naughty and unwrapped my present early as they simply handed it to me...

What it actually is folks... is an electric incense burner that works in the cigarette lighter of a car!  Amazing that there is a market for this here!  I mean, incense is burned everywhere and I have many incense burners, but who would have thought you need one in your car as well!  This is so brilliant and makes me smile.  I can't wait to try it out tomorrow morning driving to work! 

Incense is a way of life here in the Gulf countries.  I have made a regular habit of visiting 'my' incense guy, Bacim, down in the Manama Souk.  He always educates me on the various ouds.  He is always giving me mixtures of things he makes so I can sample it at home.  One thing he has, and I never saw the need for, until now, is a great selection of electric incense burners...  Because I burn so much incense, it has become increasingly cumbersome for me to continue lighting charcoal coils... Oh the burden of scent satisfaction.  So, my next step in this big game of oud appreciation is to purchase a burner.  And I think I know the one I want... It is a camel.  It is so cheesy-cool that I MUST have it.

There are many good things about burning incense.  Angie-baby made me smile one day when she came over and picked up Sami-Bey (which is no easy task as he isn't exactly 'lithe'). She said, "Oh, Sami Bey smells like incense- nice."  Hee hee.  Yes, the kitties have no fear of incense anymore.  On one of our many adventures into abaya shopping, one time a store owner told us that women regularly smoke out their abayas with incense so they smell nice.  Makes total sense to me.  I would want to smoke out my abaya as well.  Some ouds are so intoxicating that they make me swoon, and of course one would want people around them to swoon and bask in exotic smells. 

I'm currently looking for another Arabian perfume.  This is also a great shopping adventure: going to the souks and smelling perfumes.  It is great fun and I have a guy who knows 'my smell' that I can consult now.  He even offers to lure us in his shop with fresh Arabic coffee!  There is a store I've been wanting to go into since last year at A`ali Mall that sells super expensive scents, but I'm thinking is likely worth it.  After all, there is no pricetag too high for a 'swoon' effect...

In other news, it's been a pretty great weekend.  I started going to Bikrim Yoga (gasp)!  I guess out of necessity (it's the closest yoga studio to my house) it started, but am finally starting to enjoy it.  For those that don't know, Bikrim Yoga ("hot" yoga) is with heaters so it's super hot in class and everybody is dripping with sweat.  It's a 90-minute class with a prescribed set of postures that work the largest muscles first to the smallest.  It's a complete way to warm up your muscle groups properly- as the story goes.  As my story goes, it is grueling and sweaty and slippery.  But, it works for my schedule.  It's a bit pricy, but isn't all yoga these days.  I guess it's comparable to Hawaii prices. 

Friday night our gang went down south into the desert- where most all Bahrainis camp out in fall and winter.  Families rent camps for the entire season, and it is a big event.  We were headquartered at what I termed, 'young male camp' because it was all dudes on 3-wheelers and motorcycles popping wheeling up/down the strip where food was being sold. Nary a female was to be seen.  So, we were quite the attraction- especially being escorted by a local dude... It was great entertainment though.  We took out our camp chairs next to the car, and ate food and drank tea and Arabic coffee and watched all the shenanigans- and there were a lot of shenanigans.  There was definitely a  lot of testosterone overflowing.  A good time was had by all basically.  Again, what we make of our 'roadtrips' on this tiny island is a pretty big thing actually.  It is definitely my favorite pastime to just cruise around.  Too bad most drivers here are so reckless though and love to tailgate super fast...

Friday day I went to the navy base to watch Exodus: Gods and Kings (FYI, I'm not in the military, but because my teaching grant is funded by the DOS Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and because I'm in Bahrain, I get access to the base.  This, of course, is most useful when needing to purchase alcohol at super cheap prices). Even though the theatres in this country are super huge and luxurious, etc, I don't like going to movies here.  Everybody has their cell phones on, and lights are lighting up and people are whispering (which is like screaming while watching a movie, or just as annoying), etc.  Another annoyance is that most movies are 'edited' (I suppose that's a safe term to use). Some movies are even banned from theatres here- like Exodus. Why? Well, specifically for Exodus, which is about Moses being taken away from his (Jewish) land and being in Pharoah's court and then being banished and heading into Christian land to settle, etc.  Well, none of that is a problem actually.  The problem is that God is personified. With this movie, 'He' is a small boy WITH A BRITISH ACCENT... Enough about the movie as I don't want to spoil it for anyone.  Let me just say that Christian Bale is a pretty good Moses. Ben Kingsley is an added bonus. As well as the dude from Breaking Bad...

I had a friend that wanted to go on base so I met her out at the front entrance. I first saved her Thanksgiving, and now I saved her Christmas so I'm feeling like a good Samaritan for sure. We have this thing where when we finally finish with all her shopping, we head to the bar and have outrageous drinks while eating Taco Bell.  Yes, the base comes in quite handy actually... It's a dose of America in a foreign land.  This is definitely a foreign concept for me, yet I have to admit that I enjoy the benefits it gives me... One thing that is particularly charming in a strange way is when you are at the movie theatre.  As soon as the lights go out and before the trailers start playing, everybody stands up at attention while the National Anthem is played.  I'll just say it's an odd experience.  Priceless though in terms of watching a movie without cell phones going off... Worth it?  YES!!! You can also take outside food and drink into the theatre!  Another added benefit for sure...

Life is a treasure chest of events to savior and indeed I found many treasures to behold this week!