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.


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?


Songs & Prayers

Be not that far from me,
for trouble is near;
haste Thee to help me.


A scene from the famous church of St. Mary (Marthamariam Cathedral) in Manarcaud, a place close to Kottayam, Kerala, India. The ancient practice of 8 day fast and the Feast of Virgin Mary’s Birth are celebrated between September 1st and 8th of every year at the cathedral.


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.





White beads

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.
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.


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).

Mhrq-shop (5 of 7)

Mhrq-shop (1 of 7)

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

Mhrq-shop (2 of 7)

Mhrq-shop (3 of 7)

Mhrq-shop (4 of 7)

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.


Town of Annecy

From the parking lot at Musée de la Grandé Chartreuse, there is no return!
In other words, the way you enter is a one-way. One must drive around the museum and join the road to Saint-Laurent -du-Pont. Here D520 somehow meets D1006 leading to Chambéry. Driving further north in the A41 with a toll of less than Euro 5 would take us to Annecy.

Mid-April is beginning to bring in all the flowers of the season. Mostly tulips. Walked off to the car park. It is a long way to Mont Blanc.



Being weekend, the parking areas of near Palaise de l’Isle was packed to capacity. Driving down the road by the lake-side D1508, a parking was found. No parking fee. From the car park, it is a few minutes walk back to the medieval part of the city.

canal bank

The canal was lined with restaurants. Took up an empty table just outside the entrance to a cafe. Ordered an Oignon Pizza and an Espresso. The pizza needed a few gentle reminders every 20 minutes or so. But then, who is in a hurry?

Thiou canal

Crossing one of the many bridges across the Canal du Thiou takes us to the famous street Rue Saint Claire. The place was crowded and so were the shops.


Annecy was a short break en route Chamonix. The place is so lovely that one needs a few days to imbibe all its beauty.

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.


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


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!


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.







Covent Garden…

…to Leicester Square, London.

“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
— Samuel Johnson

Boswell and Johnson were discussing whether or not Boswell’s affection for London would wear thin should he choose to live there, as opposed to the zest he felt on his occasional visits. (Boswell lived in Scotland, and visited only periodically).

This discussion happened on September 20, 1777, and Johnson, someone who hated to spend time alone, was always going out and enjoying what London had to offer.

Recent times…
A casual walk around the covered market at Covent Garden… old military uniforms, peak caps, medallions, ribbons, shoes, helmets… and lots of toys and curios.




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Stepping out into the street…. it begins to snow.



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Past Verve, Sussex, Spaghetti House, Bella Italia…

The Sussex boasts authentic English pub cuisine across an extensive food menu, in a bright, vibrant atmosphere. Situated on St Martins Lane the pub is popular among visitors to Central London.

Bella Italia at Covent Garden – the hustle, the bustle, and of course the Bella! Bella Italia can be found on Wellington street, just behind the London Transport Museum. The restaurant has three floors and there is a private dining room downstairs if you’re looking for a party!

The Hippodrome Casino has well & truly established itself as a cornerstone of West End life. The biggest & busiest casino in the UK, we are also London’s most popular entertainment venue.


Finally a cosy warm place… and something to savour.

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Parting of a philosopher

So the traveler,
borne on the breast of the swift-flowing river,
consoled himself with philosophical reflections
on the numberless meetings and partings going on in the world
– on death, the great parting, from which none returns.

But Ratan had no philosophy.
She was wandering about the post office in a flood of tears.
It may be that she had still a lurking hope in some corner of her heart
that her Dada would return,
and that is why she could not tear herself away.
Alas for our foolish human nature!
Its fond mistakes are persistent.
The dictates of reason take a long time to assert their own sway.
The surest proofs meanwhile are disbelieved.
False hope is clung to with all one’s might and main,
till a day comes when it has sucked the heart dry and
it forcibly breaks through its bonds and departs.
After that comes the misery of awakening,
and then once again the longing to get back into the maze of the same mistakes.

-concluding para from the short story “The Postmaster” by Nobel-laurate Tagore


P.W Rushton met Peter Rushton in his 11th floor offices at the World Trade Centre building in Diplomatic Area, Manama, Bahrain recently. 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.


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…

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

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.


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.”