Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Unrest in Bahrain

During the almost 1 year I spent in Bahrain I fell in love with the place. It is a land tucked in the middle between India and the US and is truly between East and West in the literal and metaphorical sense of the word. It offers the comfortable infrastructure of the "West" along with the social fabric, warmth, glow and texture of India.  The people are friendly, weather always sunny, the infrastructure is modern and lifestyle is lavish. Well constructed roads, beautiful apartments, high-end entertainment avenues and unlimited power supply on one side, and eternal sunshine, vibrant social fabric, affordable domestic help, and a 3-hour plane journey closeness to India on the other.

For those who are ambivalent about living in the US vs going back to India, countries like Bahrain and UAE offer the perfect material solution. I would have loved to continue living there, but sometimes superficial comforts are just not enough to convince you. Only when you live in a non-democratic non-secular country do the principles of liberty, justice and equality start making sense to you. Only then does one realize the importance of the rights one takes for granted in free democratic countries. Whereas the Middle Eastern monarchs have managed to create nearly perfect looking kingdoms and have positioned them as the ultra modern civilization that paid western talent and cheap eastern labor can buy (tallest building, largest mall, man made islands, Grand Prix etc), they are 300 years behind on the intellectual and philosophical aspects of civilization.
Believe it or not, sometimes being able to go out for groceries in a T-shirt and shorts can be very liberating, and its not something you would find yourself doing comfortably in Bahrain. There are bigger issues too. My constant worry was quality education, schooling, and raising a girl child in a society with a restricted mindset. Not to say that the schools are bad, but public school education system is practically non-existent and I am not sure if colleges exist. (The rich kids go to UK or US for college, the not so rich ones go to India.) It makes me wonder that with all that oil money they managed to invest in glass towers and malls, but not in a good education system? It probably doesn't fit in the grand scheme of attracting tourists and creating a cool global image.

I will write more to complete this thought. but in conclusion I believe it is natural that an uprising defying monarchy, class-ism and feudalism should occur. In fact, its high time that it happened! We are well into the 21st century!


Anurag said...

well written and well expressed!An enlightened democrat's point of view!

Amit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Purvi said...

Well said!
(I am glad you started writing again :)

sanju said...

Thanks Aparna and Purvi. Purvi, you might also like my cooking blog -

eAnjali said...

It is nice to read a once-insider's point of view on life in a Middle Eastern kingdom. It is topical and given that you are neither a Muslim nor a 'Westerner', your opinion is surely refreshing too.