Hidden Gem

Muharraq is where one can find a place many casual cafés and restaurants that serve brunches with Kadak Tea and Turkish Coffee. Though some places are not advertised much, a wanderer-of-streets finds them anyway; either by chance or through a casual recommendation from a friend. But the one located in a narrow by-lane, that just let a car pass by, blew away most of the cafés in terms of ambience, authenticity and the traditional food served.

The place serves only traditional Bahraini breakfast which includes ful, eggs with tomato, balaleet, beans, breads and more. Fresh juice or coffee compliments the food served.

Lanes of Muharraq are also best places to hone the art of driving while they offer several photo opportunities to those interested in photography.

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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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White beads

Yes.
All those toys are hers.
But no.
Those are not for her childhood to play with.
And no, again.
This is not a great photograph.
Nothing to boast of.
No great shutter-speeds.
Nothing with the ISO.
Just like the little girl wearing that cheap beaded necklace…
She ain’t no great in sales, either.
Just helping her Grandpa – the balloon-man for the rest of us – sell those toys.
Silently.
No sales pitch.
No requests.
No sad stories.
But one look into her eyes is enough to make you buy
all those toys.
The depth of helplessness felt at that moment
is beyond any pictures
or words.

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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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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.

The Bride

Restaurant Le Consulat on the way to Sacré-Cœur, Montmartre, Paris, was most widely read about during the research before the recent trip to France. After the visit to the church on a mildly-rainy day, a hot coffee and a crepe sounded good. Rain had drenched the wicker-chairs outside the restaurant. Few tables were empty and took a corner one with the street view. As the crepe was half-way through, rain ceased. A small commotion ensued outside and could get a glimpse of a tall-handsome man in his almond-suit and a petite woman, beautiful, of course, in a white wedding gown. A photographer with a high-end Nikon gear was seen capturing the bride from all possible angles. Finishing the coffee, and paying the host, remembered that the camera was kept inside the car parked somewhere downhill. It was raining. With the iPhone, decided to take a chance. Bridegroom gave permission to capture his lovely bride as the man-with-the-iPhone approached him with a smile.

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Entertainer

The Cello player at the street corner
turned many a heads
and sharpened
many a ears…

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As the bow rode
over the taut strings of the Cello
Many ‘brows became bow-like,
sheer annoyance.

A few paused,
confirmed all is fine
before continuing on their way
to their own felicity.

Few others
stalled their stroll
consigned to oblivion for a moment
got lured to the four strings.

To that single bow,
the moving hands,
the quivering fingers,
on a gold-lit night.

That made music
so heavenly and deep
mildly squeaking but mostly stringy
with random pitch et al.

Rising now, falling then
Nuances of the notes…
An enflé here, a coulé du doigt there
Plainte, a-plenty.

All in a train
moving along merrily
reflecting on the face
of the Entertainer.

Coffee in Sudan

When my next door neighbour from Sudan got a new born baby boy, a visit was made to congratulate the parents.
What followed after the visit was not just wonderful but amusing too.
Coffee was served!

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Coffee preparation is an art in many parts of the Middle East and North Africa. Coffee preparation for guests is a ritual affair, with various spices added to the clay pot in which it is brewed.

The stove with lit charcoals was bought to the living room and coffee beans are first freshly roasted over the small fire. The beans are then crushed by hand in a mortar and pestle. The pots used to make/serve the prepared coffee are of clay with a long neck and spout – the traditional jebenas, as they are called.

The beans are put in the clay container, together with spices, usually a few cardamom pods and some pepper. This is then slowly brewed by the side of the fire – and when done, is poured over a sieve. As the room is filled with the lovely aroma of fresh coffee, the smoke from Frankincense burned rose up creating a magical atmosphere.

Very small cups are then placed on a tray – the cups, too, are traditionally round, small and cute. Coffee cups on the tray are then passed around.

The baby was still asleep.

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.

Seller of Beads

The fair came to the village.
Again.
After a long year of anticipation.
There was excitement in the air
as the day of his return neared.
For he would bring the magic of beads
In all beautiful colours
And shapes.
He would show off each of his treasure
by wearing some;
by holding out some others;
by leaving more on the walls.
The girls laughed to see the display,
A man wearing beads? they would ask.
The fathers were content to see the laughter of their daughters
that enriched those jingles of the wears.
So was the heart of the wise, gentle soul..
the Seller of Beads.

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F1 Marshals

In motorsports, such as auto racing, motorcycle racing, and rallying, the track marshals wave the racing flags and assist crashed or broken-down vehicles and their drivers, while pit marshals watch over the procedures in the pits, and fire marshals assist in the event of a fire on the track or in the pit. Seen below are three of the Marshals from the Bahrain Grand Prix…

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