A strange feather in Bahrain's cap..!
|Vol XXVIII||NO. 265|| |
Forget all about our 4,000-year-old Dilmun civilisation, the mystic Tree of Life and the A'ali burial mounds.
Forget about our history and legacy as the Land of Immortality and the enchanting tales of King Gilgamesh and his search for the fabled flower.
Forget modern-day achievements including our global position as the financial hub of the Middle East, the home of the Middle East Grand Prix and a pioneer in ushering in a new democracy and political reforms to the region.
This isn't what Bahrain is famous for today - at least in the part of Canada I now live in!
Only three of the scores of people I have met here over the previous 45 days knew where Bahrain was - and what surprised me most was why.
For the rest of the unwitting souls, here are some of the exchanges I have had:
"Bahrain? Is that in the Bahamas!"
"No. It is in the Arabian Gulf," I reply.
"Oh yes! I know where that is...the Gulf of Mexico," one man, who happened to be very educated, except perhaps in geography, told me.
"Bahrain... I know where that is," said a woman of Italian descent I happened to share my umbrella with, outside a convenience store one cold rainy day.
"It is far away. It is like my Sicily!" she continued.
The first part of her response gave me hope. A lot of hope. The second part left me gasping for fresh air.
"Her Sicily indeed," I hissed, moving as far away from her, leaving the geography buff in the rain.
A handyman from El Salvador, who helped fix my curtains, fared much better.
"Where are you from?" he asked with some authority.
"Bahrain," I replied - exasperated with giving more explanations, thinking that if educated people didn't know where my country was, why would Mr Fix It?
"Oh. Bahrain. Small country. Big problems. Like El Salvador," he said, sending shockwaves down my spine.
Well, he knows, I told myself. There was no need to elaborate. Can we get that curtain rod fixed now please ?
The other three who really knew where Bahrain was had their vested interests.
One was my banker and the other two work in the apartment block we have just moved into.
They wanted to check our legitimacy, so they 'Googled' Bahrain on the Internet and learned all that they needed to know about my country.
"We know all about Bahrain. That is where Michael Jackson is!" was all they could say about home.
Of course. Another feather in the cap.