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Chan'ad Bahraini

(Scomberomorous maculatus Bahrainius)

Note: This page has moved to a new address. Please click on the following URL to get there: http://chanad.weblogs.us/index.php?s=Global chaos. Sorry for the trouble.

Global chaos

Friday, July 02, 2004

I stole this picture from Sensed, our resident Hungarian blogger (I hope he doesn't mind!). The photo shows some buildings in Manama city centre, right next to the Bab al-Bahrain. Sensed titled this photo "Global Chaos", which I thought was a very appropriate name. In the frame you can see the American Coca-Cola, the Spanish Antonio Banderas, the Chinese and Indian cuisines on offer, and the Arabic and English languages on display. Yet even this does not do enough to depict the extent of diversity we have available on our island.

But I thought the name "Global Chaos" really does fit the scene because we do not see all of these different cultures coexisting in a comfortable "melting pot" as Bahrain's tourism board might want to have us believe. It is rather a mish mash of different cultural influences not really taking into regard each other: Global Chaos. And this does seem to be the reality in Bahrain. Although there are large numbers of Filipinos, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, Iranis, Nepalis, Balochis, Europeans and Americans residing on the island with the Bahrainis, very often I get the feeling that we all live in our own little worlds (or rather "our own little Bahrains"). There are so few opportunities where the different cultures can get together and interact, outside of the "employer-employee", or "customer-salesman" relationships. I'm really amazed sometimes at how little my parents know about Bahraini culture having lived here for so long. Each of the different cultural groups have their own cultural societies which hold events for themselves. It's not very often that an event will be held specifically aimed towards other cultural groups.

There really is so little sharing and exchanging going on, and no one seems to care about anyone else. We all have our problems and we don't bother about asking others for help. If you were to ask them, a Bahraini might tell you about the political troubles, an Indian worker might tell you about being mistreated at work, an Indonesian maid might tell you about getting raped and beaten by her "owner", a British wife of a banker might tell you of the trouble she has in locating the right brand of cat food from the supermarkets for her pet cat. All of these things are going on, yet so few of us are aware of our neighbour's problems, are care to help each other out.

Anyways, back to the initial topic of globalization, below is a page taken out of the GDN:

I find it quite amusing. Globalization is here to stay. The article at the top discusses the Bahraini prisoners in Guantanamo Bay who have allegedly been abused by United States military personnel. Just below the article is an advertisement for the George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine, which has just hit the island. Now what could be more American than this piece of merchandise? In my eyes it's as American as apple pie, or the blues. I haven't seen the infomercial on any of the local TV stations (thank God!), but I wouldn't be surprised if it shows up soon. Anyway, I found the juxtaposition of those two items quite funny and interesting. Very similar to the graffiti that I discussed before. It's just another illustration of the very confused identities that have been created by globalization and are really quite difficult to unravel or correctly interpret.
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2 Responses to 'Global chaos'

Anonymous Anonymous says:

Ahh, capitalism. Interesting situation because essentially you have a "melting pot" as we do in America, but not quite the same attitudes about diversity and interacting by people. Think that's where the patriotism thing comes into play as well as a normal sense of openess that Americans have. Does Bahrain have celebrations, events or functions that would bring everyone together such as the 4th of July?    

Blogger Chanad says:

I think the point that I didn't make clear enough is that all of these people from different cultures are not Bahraini citizens. They are nationals of India, or the Philippines, the United Kingdom. Therefore, although we do have "patriotic" celebrations such our National Day, which falls on December 16, it is not something that the expats usually partake in, since they have their own "national days" to celebrate. And neither are any of the Bahraini National Day celebrations really aimed at involving the expats in local affairs. Growing up, my father used to take us to watch the National Day fireworks every year, but that just involved driving down to Riffa Valley and watching the show from our car; it wasn't an avenue for interaction with others.

That said, I'm not a big supporter of the idea of patriotism in general. I agree that it useful for the 'State' to get its subjects to mindlessly rally around a flag, an anthem or a war. But in my merely, patriotism is merely a way of trying to convince yourself, and others, that holding a certain passport somehow makes you superior, a priori. It seems to further the divide between humans around the world, and make people conscious of differences that don't really exist. Admittedly, as I have mentioned before, I ascribe to a version of Humanism. Therefore I don't feel that we need concepts like patriotism to build common understanding between people. The fact that we are all human beings (or further, that we are all creation) should be enough for us to celebrate each other. Okay, I'm ranting again as usual... time to rest :)    

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