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.