Liberty City

Life in Bahrain is interesting. I have been here a week and it has slightly changed my perceptions of the Middle East and of Muslims. Bahrain is basically a rock with buildings on. The landscape is flat, arid and barren with the north part, Manama, being the only city. Manama is Bahrain and as you go south the buildings fizzle out with just sea and sand at the south. Bahrain is more developed than China and far more civilised which does place it on the sterile side slightly but then sterile is good when you have a young child. It is also very small and the population is 700,000 so its like a village more than a country. In fact, I think of it more like Liberty City with each area having its own character and lots and lots of cars driving aimlessly around. Oh yes, cars, you need a car. I have tried to walk around but its not practical as everything here has been designed with the car in mind so its either sand or road. The landscape is very flat and there are only two ‘sky scrapers’ with most building here being either 10 stories or less and placed arbitrarily around town and its not uncommon for buildings to be next to empty, sandy, voids and these areas allow Liberty City style antics as you can go off road and cut through these places to your destination. Of the 700,000 people that live here one third are expats and most of these are Indian. Then Pakistanis then Filipinos and Thais and then, much further down the list, are the Brits and Aussies with a few American service people dotted around but it works well with the Indians doing the cleaning and the Filipinos ad Thais working in all the shops and the highly paid westerners working in the top jobs. That’s how it was and that’s how it is.

The big mystery to me is what people do here all day apart from work. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do apart from shop (the shops here are ace by the way, Debenhams, Next among other UK tat its great to see again) and drive around the rock. That’s it. You can drink in certain bars which are in hotels. Oh the bars. There are many oirish, English style bars which are windowless halls of utter desperation. Out of sheer boredom and curiosity I went to one last Friday (weekend day) at around 1pm. There they all were the expats sat around watching a mute VH1 as a jukebox played various MOR hits of the 80′s. It was tragic but not as tragic as the group in one of the corners of the bar. Around 8 or so repulsive western creatures absolutely cunted and you can imagine my surprise when they were in fact JOCK cunts. Amazing eh? Scottish people drunk at noon and if you could transport them to a park bench in Glasgow city centre they would have not looked out of place ‘eeh yee wee fooking cooont’ etc. I was reminded why I left the UK and the feelings of hatred to my British brothers and sisters came back with vengeance. The rest of the people are very civilised and very friendly with lots of ‘thanks you my friend’ being used and everything is clean and tidy – much cleaner than China. All in all its like a holiday resort but its boring as sin compared to Shanghai which is still in my heart but I don’t think work is going to pan out for reasons that I explained previously. So, before me there is another crossroads. Shanghai or Bahrain? The work is better in Bahrain but its not China but the work in China is shit and doomed (as is the Chinese economy it increasingly appears) so I guess its a bit of a no-brainer. I will fly back to Shanghai in a few days to confer with my wife. Life.

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