The Mall and the Shamal wind

Come evening and the multi-storied car parks of the mall becomes full.
The rows of cars approaching the mall never seem to end till late into the night.
From the car park heated by the summer sun and idling engines to the coolness that embraces you stealthily from all sides.
Walk into the mall with soft and bright lights…

Food courts overflow with long queue of families waiting for a seat in their favourite restaurants.
Movie theatres run in full capacity.
Boutiques with up to 70% sale got no space for another potential customer.
Children play in the designated space seen with their Nannies in pale blue or pink uniforms.

Paper-bags, huge ones, with thin rope-like handles, find it difficult to accommodate themselves in the hands of shoppers.
Occasional lost kids calling “baba, baba” looking for their Daddy, almost in the verge of a tear short of bursting out. Mall securities nearby with their crackling Motorola handsets.
Sales professionals getting busier by the minute at their kiosks of perfumes, white gold and silver jewellery, mobile accessories, spa promotions, teen watches and many more.

Credit cards rake up unpaid debts shaming the speed of light.
Notion of happiness is thus for the chosen few.
Who is sleepy?
It’s only 3AM.

Meanwhile, in another part of the city.

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No malls.
No car parks.
No sale on-going.
No small, rectangular, plastic cards with or without a cute chip.

Just plain talks and laughter, when someone makes a remark, mostly funny.
Laughter even when one opens his mouth to say something.
And then the beverages are served from a nearby tea shop.
A small break from roasted sunflower seeds.

No malls could ever give that feeling being with friends out in the open with the Shamal winds.
Or could they?

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Baker

Succulant Chicken Tikka.
Freshly grilled Riyash (Lamb Rib Chops).
Tabouleh, the great salad made of Flat Parsley, Mint, Tomato, soaked Burgul wheat and Lemon.
Hummous, the chick peas and garlic dip with olive oil.
Kubooz from the Tandoor (a brick-and-mud oven) completes the list.

Kubooz bakeries comes alive as the sun sets.
The baker remembers who came first and what he had ordered.
No notepads and paper slips.
Everyone is served.

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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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Mhrq-shop (1 of 7)

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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SP2016 (6 of 6)

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.

cake

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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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