Rediscovering our rich past, but alongside modern-day litter
Vol XXVIII NO. 35 Sunday 24 April 2005
By AMIRA AL HUSSAINI
Bahrain's rich traditions were splendidly showcased in the annual heritage festival, which celebrated old weaponry and falconry this year.
The festival, which attracts thousands of visitors from Bahrain and abroad each year, is always a great opportunity for the young and old to rediscover the country's vibrant past.
It is hosted in a mock village, especially designed to take visitors to the old alleyways, homes, mosques and courtyards which made up Bahrain's neighbourhoods before the discovery of oil and the development it has brought with it.
As we toured it, the smell of kebab and khanfaroosh led visitors to a line of women preparing the delicacies in a corner in the village.
Traditional craftsmen could be seen going about their business, preparing everyday items the way they have been made for hundreds of years, with the skills passed down from one generation to another.
It was with this nostalgia for the simple days of Bahrain of the by-gone era that I took my five-year-old nephew to the heritage festival, which ended on Friday.
Yes, it was a very successful theme, with a lot of things related to weaponry and falconry available in abundance.
We found the women preparing the traditional Bahraini kebab and the falconers posing with their birds of prey.
We saw the camel, the donkey, the pony and the horse - things which would excite any boy of my nephew's age.
But he would not be tempted to ride any of them. I tried to bribe him with a kite in the colours of the Bahraini flag.
I offered to buy him a talking parrot. I even bought him lots of trinkets... but he was adamant that he wanted to leave.
"I want to go home," he grumbled.
"Don't you like the music and the animals?" I asked.
"I do, but this is a very dirty place," he replied.
I took a deep breath and then a look around me. It was a dirty place indeed.
There was waste paper and plastic bags flying in all directions.
In fact, litterbugs were everywhere while litter bins were rare.
I wasn't surprised that my nephew wanted out.
On our way out, he pointed to the waterfront.
"Look at all the rubbish here," he said.
"Why are you bringing me to dirty places? Let's go to Seef."
So much for an educational outing to instil some pride in a youngster about his country's heritage and history!