I tell you...

April appreciation,

April has been a pleasant surprise this year.  The typical April weather has been evasive this year. April thus has shown a vast amount of modesty and restraint... I can still walk outside and not be met with an impenetrable wall of heat that forces me to momentarily stop in my tracks, gasp, breathe out slowly and continue on- quickly- to my destination, which usually consists of another air conditioned environment.

Instead, April has been lovely, tantalizing even! I've been able to run on the A`ali running track in relative peace. Sure I sweat, but it's not dripping into my eyeballs. The air conditioning in my room was on for a few days last week, but not the past few nights.  I've hardly had it on in my living room as well.  It's not even necessary- yet...

April has abated, for whatever reason.

The Bahrain Heritage Festival is happening right now.  Music, food, crafts, people-watching, etc. The community spirit comes alive in the evenings here in Bahrain, as well as throughout the MENA region I have found. 

As I prepare to depart my sweet host country that I have called home for the past 2 years, many things vie for my attention: That Egyptian bakery at Al Waqif Souk, Muharraq old town, the coffee shop at the King Fahad Causeway in the middle (never seems to be open), hanging out at Capitol Mall 'shooting the shit' (talk story) with the basket weaver old man that has a twinkle in his eye,  the fabric sellers at the Manama Souk, cruising Bokawara 'hood in East Riffa a few more times to enjoy the carnival of affections taking place in carloads full of young Middle Eastern females and males in a parade of attention-getting techniques that will never cease to stop fascinating me, etc.

Yea, I have a lot on my list to take care of before I depart.  The frenzy begins to soak up as much of Bahrain as I can. This has certainly been a pleasant, unexpected stopover on my path... 

Pedal Power: One of the vendors had this lovely little set-up.  The table was full of traditional sweets

This old man was happily working away on his nets

Looking up at a shisha cafe


April Showers Brings May Flowers?

Perhaps you can't tell from the picture, but it is oppressively hot as well as engulfed in a sandstorm in the 'hood

I smell it in the air.  I taste it in my mouth.  It swirls around my feet... Yes, I just woke up this Monday morning to another sandstorm... Fortunately FaceBook Oracle told me all about it in advance as many friends in UAE & Saudi were already posting about the impending arrival here of another sandstorm. Thus meaning that I managed to close all windows before the storm hit... I don't usually manage to do that so I feel I'm already winning.  This year we've been getting hit by quite a few.  I don't remember this happening last year- at least with this frequency and intensity.

Speaking of intensity... I'm headed to the Formula One races this weekend here in Zallaq!  Again this year a friend is working the circuit so giving up his tickets to us :)  Again this year I do not have binoculars... Fortunately they are pretty decent seats situated above and near the 1st bend in the track. We saw some good action last year from those seats.  Not that the races themselves isn't thrilling enough, but the people watching is equally entertaining.  I mean, you see jewel-encrusted people there.  You see thobes with diamond cuff-links.  You see abayas dripping in Swarovsky crystals.  You also see a lot of normal looking peeps too... You will also see Starr, Dot and myself!  Hopefully the sandstorm session will be over.  Did I mention that Pitbull will be djing?  I'm looking forward to that as I'm a kinda-fan...

Last Thursday- that was the day. That was the day that the weather 'broke'. It was a definite feeling of the rise of temperature.  It seemingly went from high 70s to high 90s overnight. Everybody noticed it and talked of it.  I held off with the air conditioning until Saturday evening... Now, though, air con will be a constant I fear.  This is how the rest of my time in the Middle East will be spent- going from one air con environment to another air con environment, etc.

I managed to get back in my yoga routine at BaYoga. Just going inside that humble yoga shala makes me realize how much I will miss it.  It's such an easy vibe and no one is there to babble about yoga, etc.  Everyone is just into their practice, and then they leave.  Although, this past week I noticed some new people and a few in particular kept talking.  There is a point in class where there is kind of a little break and our teacher walks around and gives us adjustments, etc. Usually if you opt out, or don't take them, you just sit in meditation or Child's Pose, etc.  These girls decided it was time to talk-story as if they were at a cafe or something.  I don't know, but I thought it was incredibly rude.  Perhaps they just don't understand that yoga isn't simply an 'exercise' but a deepening of development to quiet the mind, as well as the body.  I let it temporarily affect me, but then I decided that I needed to become unaware of it and just let it go.  I guess I decided to turn the situation into a lesson for myself in my own personal development of quieting my own mind! 

I am amazed though as Friday morning class is always full, but on Saturday mornings sometimes I'm the only one or there is one other person.  This Saturday there was another guy and myself. I always enjoy this class as instruction is so personalized.  I hadn't seen him before, but he looks like he will be a regular and is pretty dedicated to his practice. Our teacher had us strike up some rather complex asanas that took some mental/physical preparations to gear up for.  At one point my mind tried to take over.  I said, "Abelish I can't do this pose today", as I fell over. He did not falter for a moment.  He simply waited (signaling me that I was going to try again) and casually said something to the effect of, "Yes you can.  Don't tell yourself you can't."  What happened next?  I nailed the asana- right before I tilted over again!  It was Pigeon Pose variation(s) that looked like this:

It's amazing how one's mind can control one's body.  You don't even realize it and live your life like this.  I'm being dramatic, but to express my point.  It just hit home for me that my mind was resisting what my body could fully do, and I don't know why.  I don't know why both my mind and body weren't working in unison to bring me happiness.  Why did it take someone else to tell ME I could do it?  Well, that is a cerebral question with a cerebral answer... The lesson (re)learned is that you can do a lot, but you have to train your mind.  This is what a lot of people don't realize about yoga.  You are training your mind as well as your body.  It is discipline.  It is intense.  It is light-hearted.  It is the union of body and mind- yoga.

I  remember being burnt out on yoga a few years back- when I was still back home on Maui.  It wasn't the practice, but the perception of yoga that was starting to annoy me.  I kept hearing in many different classes with different instructors stuff like, "Keep it yummy" or "Doesn't that feel delicious", etc.  There was always this talk of 'heart-felt', etc.  I mean, yes okay but do we have to talk about it.  we KNOW it.  I just felt like so much superficial talking was going on.  I just wanted to deepen my practice and to do it in a group setting.  There was only one instructor that gave me this peace of mind where I could just be.  I could drown out all sounds and have my practice. This was at the House of Yoga and Zen.  Perhaps it's because of the nature of Ashtanga Yoga itself in that it is a specific routine that one flows though holding each pose for only 5 seconds.  You flow so fluidly that there is no time to let the mind wander, in my humble opinion.  As well, there is a way to channel one's energy into the body and give up the mind.  There simply isn't enough time for the mind and body to communicate together (meaning that the mind has no time to try to convince the body that something can't be accomplished).  I don't know, but it was at this point that I realized I needed to explore a deeper practice on my own.  I say this because I could not practice Ashtanga every day- as is needed with that branch of yoga- because I was always up early and working archaeology jobs on construction sites so couldn't make the 7am classes.  I could only make Sunday morning classes. 

That was also about the time that I moved to Tunisia so my practice had to go 'underground' so to speak.  Same thing as when I moved to Southeast Turkey.  I had to develop my own home practice, which is not an easy thing to do.  I still battle with it, and am fortunate enough here in Bahrain to have access to some great yoga classes.  It is freeing.  It is liberating.  I really missed the interaction of open classes- even though we are not necessarily interacting with each other during practice. At one point yesterday morning the teacher was adjusting Spencer and I was watching how he was adjusting (every yoga teacher is always fascinated with how another teacher gives adjustments) him.  We both caught eyes briefly and it was just a pleasant exchange.  That is all.  He was nailing the pose and I was excited and he was feeling elated I could tell.  It was just a tiny moment of sharing something together yet totally separate.

My friend Angie had friends visiting from North Carolina this past week so they had a full fun-packed schedule of events that I tagged along with for some.  Probably the highlight though was finding Farheen- an Indian woman originally from Bombay that lives here and does a kick-ass job of henna application, as well as teach yoga!  I'll check out her yoga classes soon enough, but I am really impressed with her henna designs.  She does it at her house and is just a wonderful person with a sweet vibe.  There were 5 of us so it was a full evening of henna, food and talk-story.  My kinda evening indeed.

Here I am at my beach after yoga class on Saturday reading my book.  Yes, I'm the only person 'on the beach' in terms of a towel on the sand... A beach culture Bahrain is not!!!
a traditional Bahraini-weaved basket I got from a cool old man at the Capital Mall Artisan Collective.  He gave me a bunch of freshly-picked sprigs of basil.  Smelled delightful! Oh, also my beloved Alfonso Mangoes- which are to-die-for

I'll end with some other pictures of various hoods in Bahrain that I frequent and find fascinating

This is towards South Sehla. This hood holds lots of "BBQs"

This is in Al Hajer.  I go through here to take a short-cut to get back on the freeway when I want to avoid Budaiya Highway

The pet store where I get catfood is nearby to here

On the way to Starr's villa- in Al Hajer village.  I really like this village

an unfinished mosque in Al Hajer.  It seems work was stopped on it a few years ago, right after work started on it...

By the way, April showers are non-existent here in the Middle East...


Tuned in and Turned on- to MY frequency of love

8 am in bed listening so Antonio Carlos Jobim with a hot cuppa joe.  Kitties are gleefully playing around the house, now that it is (mostly) rid of sand from this  past week's sandstorm that came in and held my house hostage...  Yea, true story.  Sand everywhere.  I could track all movements throughout the house using my cleaning skills as an indicator of where there were still layers of sand I had not excavated deep enough & cleared.  Obviously, my cleaning skills lack but whatever...

As I woke up today I thought to myself, "Do I spring out of bed"  Do I get it together to get myself together and get in car and drive to 9:30 yoga class? Or, do I lounge in bed and drink coffee at a leisurely pace?"  Option 3 works for me today! 

Speaking of coffee, I'm quite excited about my Yemen coffee that I recently purchased... I am patiently waiting for the Starbucky's swill to run out so I can test out what I think will be an excellent brew.  Perhaps I should have gotten more? 

Yes, relaxation rules the day, or the weekend more appropriately.  The past month every weekend has been absorbed by travel and running around.  I am ready to simply sit and stare at walls... Yesterday even staring at walls was interrupted- by 11 episodes of House of Cards... Honestly, it takes me so long to watch these awesome tv series.  When I finally figure out how awesome they are, I go on an episode binge.  I did have intermittent bouts of house-cleaning, running, yoga and push-ups though so not all was lost in slackerverse...

Today.  Today though is all about the animals!  I'm catsitting for my downstairs neighbor and he just had his balls chopped off so... he needs some extra loving.  My kitties need loving too!  As well, they need food!  Yes, it's a trip to my favorite pet store on Budaiya Highway. It's a completely rural experience here and I love it that I can find gems like that here in this strange little island nation. 

Lastly, today is about the BSPCA.  Yes, it's a day to share some love with all the homeless kitties and doggies!  I suppose the animals are not exactly 'homeless' as they do have a home to live in while they await their forever homes.  There are far too many homeless animals here in Bahrain though.  Also, there are far too many assholes here in Bahrain that treat animals like shit... That is universal though.  I'm quite impressed with the large community of animal care-takers here honestly.  Some asshole burned a cat alive last week, in a cage, and got it on video.  It was posted to many websites (I was following the BSPCA Facebook page), and within a few days a few supporters got a reward bag of 600BD together (approximately 1500 US$) and within days, the culprits were turned in and, apparently are currently arrested.  I'm hoping for a positive ending with this (goes something like, "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth...")

It got me to thinking about religion- all religion.  Isn't it supposed to be about love and compassion and acts of charity? Sick of all the hypocrits- from all religious backgrounds.  I'm not an aethiest by any means (to me this simply begs for inclusion into some group of non-believers that wishes to adhere to some group norms- such as a 'religion'). I simply pick and choose what I wish to accept at various times when I think about these things.

What exactly is a 'pious' act anyway?  Is this possible in the current state of the world? Can you be pious in advance so you can 'sin' at a later date and use that ace in your back pocket  as a 'get out of jail card' such as in Monopoly?  What exactly is a 'sin' anyway?  I vaguely remember what is represented during my youth spent in a Catholic Church every Sunday morning at 7 am... I have different opinions now.  Or, I've decided that it is a gray area.  There is no black and white.

Let's just say that this Sunday morning I am reflecting on going to my type of institution of worship- a jungle back home in Hawaii.  Filling my body with Mana from the land. Having my body adorned with black sand from Maui's volcanic shores of the east part of the island.  Having seawater, (my 'holy' water?) in my hair to put a spell on me and not let me forget who rules the land, the heavens, the hells of my world. Jumping naked into waterfalls and feeling free.  Feeling like perhaps people are watching, but do they really care? No, not really.  Not in my world.

What else am I thinking about?  I'm thinking about how back home in the summertime I feel so free.  My HQ is up in Makawao- Cowboy Country.  I think about how I get up and decide to go to the beach and simply walk into town and hitchhike down into Paia and walk over to Baldwin Beach, or Tavaras Bay, or at the Youth Center.  I think about lying on the warm sand and how the sun eases away all the stress and tension from my body that has been building up from living in this part of the world.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the challenge of living where/as I do, but I do need healing every year away from it.

I think about how not strange it is to be in constant movement back home.  Dancing in reckless, wild abandonment (and not in a thumping nightclub full of losers and hookers intermixed with a few like-minded expats). Choosing to do yoga on the beach rather than inside a classroom.  Want to do a headstand on the beach?  Why not.  Go for it.  No one will stare you down.  No one will even notice.  You have a teeny bikini on too?  Not a problem. Do your thing peeps. Smoke. Drink. Make out. Read a book. Whatever. 

You read my words this morning and you might think my mind is in the gutter.  Nope.  It's already back home on the shores of Maui. As well, my mind is projecting on my future home- Istanbul...

(how's that for a cliff hanger...)

The race is on folks...to get back to my 'normal'

... to get back to MY frequency of LOVE.  Soon come Hawaii...