The Other Shop

The shop in Muharraq Souq (Bahrain) specialised in valve radios… working ones, among other interesting lost-in-time items. Green-tinged, thick, Coca-Cola bottles, for example. Prices for the radios ranged between BHD 100-BHD 140 (roughly USD 250 to USD 350).

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The owner agreed to reopen his shop late in the evening.

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He and his friend also agreed to pose for a few photographs.

A similar shop was seen in the souq in Madinat al Isa (Isa Town). The souq hosted several shops selling everything: fabrics, hardware, coins, antiques, furniture, plants, mobile phones, sunglasses, Oracle latest release, auto-parts, curtain clothes, key chains, bathroom accessories, perfumes, bukhoor, lingerie, incandescent and fluorescent and neon lamps, kites, knives, DVDs, used books, pipes, lighters, mobile Apps, abayas, local fruits, plastic toys and dolls.

Friday being an off day at work, a casual browsing along the souq had become a routine. Knew several vendors by their first name and vice versa. The shop that belonged to a Bahraini – an old gentleman – who dealt with coins and currencies and precious stones and prayer beads. He spoke in perfect Hindi about old times and how the present generation feels shy even to say the word “souq”. He spoke of his travels to Bombay (present day Mumbai) with his Father.

It was another Friday and the usual chat with the coin-shop owner went past the prayer time. The mildly sugared red tea must be the one responsible to make time pause somewhere in the 80s. The old man excused himself and asked me to be at the shop while he finishes his prayer in the nearby mosque. Before I could say anything he was gone.
He thanked me for waiting for him after he returned. I just wished such friendliness and trust last another thousand years.

Arne Hodalič

Arne Hodalič grew up and studied biology in Ljubljana (lyoo-BLYAH-nah), Slovenia. After finishing university, he was working for five years as a professional sailing boat skipper and diver and had his own charter company on the Adriatic coast in Croatia. He began taking photos, mostly of boats, diving and nautical activities. His first trip to India in 1989 changed his professional career when his photos were published in a prestigious Swiss magazine Animan. He received more than 20 assignments from the magazine and travelled extensively around the world with his camera. In Paris he joined Gamma Press agency and began working for French press as a member of several photo agencies.

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In 2008 he received an honorary doctorate at the Academy of Arts and Design / University of Ljubljana and became a lecturer in photography and photojournalism at FDV (Faculty of Social Sciences) University of Ljubljana and at VIST (Visoka šola za storitve) in Ljubljana. He is currently the photo editor of National Geographic Magazine (Slovene edition).

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Met Prof. Arne during a workshop conducted by the Diplomatic Protocol Society at the Downtown Rotana Hotel in Bahrain recently. The photographs are from the photo walk around Suq Manama that followed the lecture.

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BIAS 2016: Glimpses

The organisers of the Bahrain International Airshow confirmed that the Bahrain International Airshow saw its strongest international presence to date reflecting the event’s growing standing in the global aviation event calendar and cementing strategic relations between key nations.

[Note: If you wish to see the photographs in a larger format, please visit “Bahrain Airshow 2016” on the menu above. Thank you for visiting].

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The show saw representation from the US, UK, France, India, Russia and Turkey. Furthermore, the high level aviation event will also see more participation from MENA states, with the largest participation yet from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, from which numerous companies including Saudi Arabian Airlines joined for the first time, alongside Kuwait Airways, Emirates and previous attendees Qatar Airways. Multi-national organisations included Airbus, BAE Systems, Boeing, Chevron, CFM, Finmeccanica, Lockheed Martin, Rolls Royce, Turkish Aerospace Industries, TAG Aeronautics and Thales Group.

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The exhibition feature hall at the show has also allowed a growing number of international SME businesses to attend the show with national pavilions from the India, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and the UK. The popularity of the feature hall, which was introduced at the last edition of the show in 2014, has resulted in a size increase of almost 50% for 2016.

Team NCSIST BIAS 2016

Speaking about the growing international participation, His Excellency Engineer Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed, Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications for the Kingdom of Bahrain and Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Organising Committee for BIAS said, “The Bahrain International Airshow is a real platform for trade and business. With so many countries represented, it allows businesses to bolster and build new partnerships. With the value we bring through our extensive delegations programme we offer all our participants the opportunity for extensive networking and discussion.”

HH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister of Bahrain HH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister of Bahrain

His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain with India's Minister of External Affairs of India, Mrs. Sushma Swaraj
His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain with India’s Minister of External Affairs of India, Mrs. Sushma Swaraj

[Note: The above photograph was published by the Gulf Daily News on 26.1.2016].

Team Sarang, Indian Air Force
Team Sarang, Indian Air Force

Welcome, winter

The turn in weather from summer to winter in here is often seen with the beginning of Shaamil winds. This time, the weather changed to a cool 30 degree Celsius from beginning of 40s almost overnight, sans-Shaamil. But that was almost a month before. Bahrain is now around 20C with mild sunshine. However, it feels its warm for December.

Christmas day saw incessant hum of the rains almost the whole day. Grey skies with light and dark clouds covered the sun for a full day.

Saturday was bit more sunny.

Took the family out to Arad bay area which was made into a beautiful picnic spot by Bahraini families. The walkway around the bay, with a close view of the international airport reminded of Chowpathy beach for some reason.

319s to 747s flew in and out from the airport close to the bay. More flights flew around the region and less around world as long-haul flights enter into active mode towards late to mid-night.

Low tide made bare the sea-bottom visible which was clear and sandy. A few unconcerned flamingoes were seen casually wading through shallow waters.

Kids still played in the green lawns dotted by date palms outside the café. Kites were flown by a few girls and rental bikes were speeded by the boys aged between 4 and 14 between parents who rested on rugs brought from home.
Land Cruisers and Lexuses were parked neatly nearby.

While returning, the debate was whether to visit Fareej al Rashdan (which means “neighbourhood of Rushdan”) or La Café; both restaurants serving authentic Bahraini cuisine. Former is nearer to the sea but with a low tide in play, proximity turned out to be a neutral consideration. A dinner of Potato wedges with jacket on, Mixed Grill with Lebanese bread, Tabouleh – a green salad made of chopped Parsley, Mint leaves, Tomatoes and Burgool wheat, Hummoos – a dip made of Chick Peas paste, Garlic, Sesame paste, Lemon juice and fresh Olive oil, and Turkish Coffee from La Café made the day.

Fareeda Khanum’s “Aaj Jaane ki Zidd na karo” created a great ambience on the way home in the car.

Welcome, winter.

Home baked!

Spend months looking for the best recipe.

Ingredients were all hand-picked from super market baking sections and grocery stores.
Befriending chefs from the bakery section; picking up pearls of wisdom.

Best possible dry fruits… Medjool Dates, Dried Figs, Sundried Apricots, Glacé Cherries, Golden Sultanas, Dark Raisins, Cranberries, Black Currants,… all soaked in very special old pale brandy for weeks and months.

Then those, ah,
Chopped Brazil nuts.
Slivered Almonds.
Halved Walnuts.

Mixed with freshly milled flour, free-range eggs, butter@room-temperature, dark muscovado sugar… with a touch of Treacle.

Not to forget the nutmeg, cinnamon and mixed spices.

Oven pre-heated to a modestly warm 150 degree Centigrade (300F).

Patience.
Patience.
Patience.

And then, three and a half hours later… where did the mittens go? Whole family assembles in the small kitchen…

Moment of truth.

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They say this cake will last for months if kept in an airtight container.
Yet to see one last that long.

Al Fursan

What word could better define the energetic and enthusiastic aerobatic display team of the United Arab Emirates Air Force than “Al Fursan”? (The Knights).

The team flies seven Aermacchi MB-339A jet trainer aircraft including one solo. The “Al Fursan” planes are painted in black, gold, white, red and green colors and are equipped with smoke generators producing red, green, white and black smoke (i.e. National flag colors of the UAE); black and gold representing the desert’s golden sands and the black oil that lies beneath it.

The team was formed at the beginning of 2010 and the team’s first public appearance was on January 20, 2010 with a simple fly-by at the graduation ceremony for pilots and air-traffic control students at the Khalifa Bin Zayed Air College.

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Il-76

Can anyone love a beast?

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Ilyushin Il-76 (Russian: Илью́шин) is a first Soviet four-jet heavy transport designed to fly strategic military cargos. Seen here is some of the crew with their beast, in Sakhir Military Airbase, Bahrain… captured with a Sigma 10-20 mm f/4-5.6 lens.

Green is the valley

What once was an arid, dry piece of land was transformed to a world-class golf course in a period of a few months. International golfing legend Colin Montgomerie is responsible for the magnificent design of the 18-hole, par 72 championship golf course at the Royal Golf Club, offering a unique blend of links and desert golf. The course hosted the European Tour’s inaugural Volvo Golf Champions tournament in January 2011 and the maiden Bahrain Invitational in April 2012.

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P.W Rushton

MyRefractions.com met Peter Rushton in his 11th floor offices at the World Trade Centre building in Diplomatic Area, Manama, Bahrain recently. MyRefractions.com wish to thank Mahmood Al Awadhi, a good friend and a capable Administrator for initiating the meeting with Peter.

Peter was recovering from a mild stroke but was so kind enough to share his life experiences and how it feels to be a creative source of positive energy.

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Some excerpts from our conversation… some images of his paintings… and himself.
Please scroll down for more.

Is there an artwork here you are most proud of? Why?
There is a painting that I dearly cherish which has been in many an exhibition I have entering, but has not included a price tag. During 1978 when I was in England and were unsure of my future direction at that time, I had a vision in my mind of a beautiful young lady with who wore a head scarf. She had a tanned skin and vivid blue eyes. This was at a time when I was using an airbrush which needed a lot of preparation and precision in technique. I look back now and the painting was depicting of what lay ahead of me for the years to come. After 19 years in the Middle East, I should have questioned my visual ability a bit more seriously.

– What inspired you to become an artist?
From the time that I could draw properly I had a passion. I grew up wanting to express art in various ways, allowing the subject matter dictated which technique I adopt.

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-What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
I have a number of tools that I use in most paintings, namely a wide variety of brushes and sponges. The tool that seems I can’t live without; certain in my studio are my knives. This includes a pallet knife up to a bread carving knife from the kitchen! Mostly, I use acrylic paint as it is faster to use than oils however, you can get the same depth and textured when the paint is being applied by a knife.

– How did you get where you are today?
My influences are first and foremost everything I see, feel and experience, but I’ve always loved the unexpected. My love is the rhythm of life and how it can be represented. Plus a lot of hard work, commitment and dedication!

– What is the main challenge you face when beginning a painting?
I’m never without a creative thought as I am constantly being inspired by what is around me; sometimes the thoughts are left in my mind and other times they develop into more in-depth ideas and detailed images.

– At what point in the process of the painting do you begin to feel like the painting is almost completed?
A painting tells me when it’s finished, in fact, there have been times when I could not put another stroke on the canvas; the painting would not let me! A painting develops its own life as it being created.

– How has painting influenced your life?
During my years in London where I exhibited and also became a critic at private shows, the exposure to various subject matters and styles of art has played a significant influence in my creative approach today.

– What qualities do you look for in other artists whom you would like to work with?
I would say that I wouldn’t want to work with other artists as I have done that before and I believe there needs one Captain of a ship. If I would to critic the qualities of what makes a good painter, I would say they would need to be Inspiring, concept driving, emotional, original and passionate.

– How do you manage balancing work/life?
It is difficult. However, my day to day function demands that I use my creative ability and use the experience that I gained being Creative Director for Advertising Agencies throughout my career. I naturally employ these skills with the Team and the Agency we work with. Thinking original thoughts and guiding those that need them makes up some ways in equalizing the balance.

– What do you like most about your career?
I didn’t intend to be a contemporary artist but over the years, as my portfolio styles naturally evolved from a photographic illustrative style to looser acrylics and people started to review my work at International Exhibitions, the descriptions started to emerge and I began to notice a style I hadn’t intended but am now pleased with.

-What are you working on at the moment?
As most appreciated in my last exhibition, I am drawing to the close of a painting which features two sunflowers which adopts a style that was very well received. At the same time, I have two canvases which I am starting for a project that I am really looking forward to. I see them as a pair, working together and creating a harmony in their form.

-Where else can we find you? (Blog, website, twitter, facebook etc)
I have utilized a website for a number a years and I am just updating my site. What with the Social Media leading the way, I am in the process of uploading my work onto my Facebook site for ease of visual access.

-Do you admire any artists / photographers?
The artist I most admire is Salvador Dali. For me, he was a genius before his time in conceptual thinking and technique.

-What is your favorite…

Color:
One of the Jewel colours appeals me most; a ‘charoite’ sits well with most other colours and yet is very unique in its vibrancy.

Animal:
I have two Golden Retriever dogs, a mum (Sophie) and her daughter (Sunny). When they play, you know they are around and yet when I am being serious about painting, they quietly sit in my studio and keep me company.

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Season:
As a gardener, I enjoy the blossom of plants that have lasted the winter. Spring adds colour, shape and form and adds life to its environment.

-Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others?
“Rules are what the artist breaks; the memorable never emerged from a formula.”

Calligraphy and Fashion

Calligraphy can often be a rare confluence of beauty and enigma.
Strange mystery is held by each piece of calligraphic art.
Sleek trailing lines that merge with life.
Broad, bold lines that changes its shape in a graceful curve.
The pen made of bamboo with a tip that thickens and thins out the script.
In short, it was magic to watch the artist come alive with the art.

Calligraphy is an ancient art form.
Kings in the Middle East often had their personal Calligraphers
who had their favorite styles or fonts.
They send their messages through the scripts between them.

MyRefractions.com recently met an artist who excels in her forte: Njood.

She talked of how it all began…

“When I was 11-12 years old, I used to watch my Father – who is a Calligrapher – work on various designs and styles. I love art. So from that point onwards I had become a Calligrapher”.

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Njood was kind enough to display many styles of writing…

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“There are lots of Calligraphers in Bahrain but most are men. The support for a woman Calligrapher is less… but then I met Jassin Al Hamadi who promised to make me a great calligrapher if I attend his classes. That is where I learned Ri’qa – a beautiful style. One must never mix two styles, warns Njood with a serious face, her smile to return only too soon. I had also visited so many artists and their exhibits with Suhair… I started designing logos and other works on my own from 17”, says Njood.

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Hamra added that faults and mistakes in fabrics are common in the initial stages of learning but one must be willing to make mistakes and learn. HA had taken a bold step in accepting a challenge by choosing Njood to be her designer in Calligraphy. Njood was beginning to try her designs on fabric for the first time ever and Hamra works mostly with fabrics. Usual media for a Calligrapher are paper and canvas. Hamra says she loves Njood and “she is as beautiful as a song” which makes Njood smile.

Farsy, Deewani, Thulth are her favourite styles which also includes Naskh, Sunbly, Kofe, Al Naskh Taleeq and several other free styles.