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Bahraini Views – Fatima Mohammed – Work with pride


Like a lot of Bahraini men and women, Mrs. Fatima Mohammed takes pride in her work and judging by the feedback of her return customers, she does so very well indeed.

She attributes her success in her chosen profession to how she treats people; with respect and a huge heart. That’s what sustains her in the difficult job she chose, one that she inherited from her father, a taxi driver, and one of the first Bahraini women to conquer that traditionally male dominated profession.


Shameless exploitation

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My blood is still boiling.

As we were finishing our sumptuous special Friday Breakfast, my wife noticed a cage or trap which appeared to have been set on our perimeter fence! She also noticed that what looked like a trapped parrot inside!

I didn’t waste much time, I immediately unhooked my step ladder, went to the fence and retrieved the cage, complete with a male rose-ringed parakeet, into our garden.

On closer inspection, the contraption was ingenious, albeit barbaric and cruel. It was surrounded with tens of very fine looped fish-wire loops arranged in hang-man nooses which would trap anything that falls into them. I wouldn’t be surprise if those nooses – being so thin – would not completely sever the feet of poor unfortunate birds that land in them. My own fingers were trapped into them several times as I was dealing with the cage.

The cage itself was divided into two compartments, the top one inch contains some monkey nuts which the bird does not have access to – he has to make do with a wilted bit of apple and a couple of nuts, no water – and the bottom is where the decoy bird is, as clearly seen from the picture.

Decoy parakeet trapping cage with rose-ringed parakeet trapped inside
The whole contraption is well thought out. Even the pole that the cage is tied to is well thought out, it is constructed in a modular format in three sections, one fitting on top of the other – lego style, which is how the height of the trap is adjusted.

I cut the side of the cage while Frances tried to calm the bird a bit. I can tell you that it didn’t require too much encouragement to fly out.

Free at last.

Once that was done, I completely destroyed the cage, and waited for a knock on the door.

That didn’t take too long.

Two well turned out and very healthy looking young men in their twenties wanted to speak to me. The first question from one of them was “did you take the trap?”

“Yes,” I said, “and released the bird and destroyed the trap”

“Why? The trap was in the street beside your house!”

I couldn’t believe the cold heartedness of those guys.

“Yes, but you are taking ill-advantage of our goodness. What made you decide to place a trap there?”

“Because we noticed a lot of birds come here”

“Well, didn’t that intimate that we actually love birds, put out food for them to invite them into our garden and make them feel safe enough for them to return over a long period of time? What gives you the right to destroy all of our work? What gives you the right to take advantage of our efforts without any thought or consideration?”

“Yes but we were just trying to make a living!”

“Well son, you can make a more honourable living than stealing other people’s efforts in such a heinous manner. If you object to the way I dealt with your trap – and I shall continue to do so – then feel free to go to the police and complain.”

“No no, we don’t want to do that…”

“Fine, then don’t, but you both look intelligent enough and healthy enough to find a more honourable way to make a living. Not by taking advantage of other people right in their homes like this.”

Something must have clicked in their heads that they won’t win that morning, and they won’t get their contraption back. They apologized and went on their way. Hopefully never to be seen in our neighbourhood again.

The sad thing is I’ll probably find that the law is actually on their side and there is no law in this country to even limit the damage they are doing to the environment and wildlife.

This reminds me of the sad state of affairs that animals are kept in Bahrain, and particularly the despicable treatment animals are treated with in this country and the disgusting public souqs in which one could find any kind of domestic and exotic animal. All in the complete knowledge and acceptance of the authorities.

Isa Town Local Market animals Isa Town Local Market animals Isa Town Local Market animals Isa Town Local Market animals

Something should be done about this. Some cultural change must be invested in to get people to at least be a bit more compassionate to animals. I know that parliament is far too busy with other much more important things at the moment to even consider laws of animal protection, and the police – bless their hearts – are far too busy in their own way too…


Smell the music!

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Pink Floyd Animals album cover
Pink Floyd Animals album cover
My all time favourite band that I think continues to this day to be in a league of their own is non other than Pink Floyd. The ubiquitous and everlasting music they created was a breakthrough for the time and continues to be so even today. Nothing, absolutely nothing compares to their arrangements, whether that is the lead guitar riffs or the thunderous and rhythmic drums, the excellent vocals or the whole show they put on. I was never fortunate enough to attend one of their live gigs, but I am sure I would have given my right arm to have had the pleasure!

To me, one thing that is very special about their music which makes it very personal to me is that I even associated smells to their various songs! I don’t know if certain music or songs engender the same response in you too, but I can tell you with many of their songs I get transported back to the college dorm and to my room in my dad’s house through a visual and an olfactory journey too!

The famous Pink Floyd balloon pig
The famous Pink Floyd balloon pig
Weird, I know.

I must also confess that when I get the house to myself – which is very very rare – I blast out Money or Comfortably Numb or especially Shine on Your Crazy Diamond through the stereo or the computer, recline, close my eyes, and get transported back to distant memories, locales and odours.

Do you have the same experiences? Or am I the only weird one in these here parts?


Why I hate Facebook

facebook frustrationYes, I’m resurrecting the issue again.

I realised that I don’t like it much because it forces you to install what they call applications which in turn forces you to share your private information regardless of what you think. You can’t even read a message someone sends you unless you agree to install an application of sort, again, only after agreeing to “share” your information to nameless authors of that application.

Why do you like/dislike it? Tell me please? I just want to really believe that it is actually useful.


M.Report S01E11 – Hayfa Wahbi, despondency and its cure!

This is yesterday’s episode, sorry, had meetings outside and didn’t get back to the office to collect the laptop before going home. So I did this on Arif’s digital snapper, and the quality ain’t bad. I might actually go and buy a similar little shooter to shoot the M.Reports through. Let me know which you prefer.

Two things; apart from scratching my nose while talking, which is a habit that has been brought to my attention – thanks my friend! – I also seem to use a lot of “apart from that” too! I’m exposing all of my bad habits to you and hope for forgiveness, ’cause I ain’t gonna change!

Hayfa Wahbi takes on the Bahraini parliamentToday (yesterday) I talk about the pending visit of Hayfa Wahbi who stirred most of our parliamentary members to erectly stand and vigorously complain about her pending visit to these isles of golden smiles and want her banned. Just like they did a few years ago with the delectable Nancy Ajram, this time they are unanimous in their condemnation of the harlot (their words) visiting to corrupt our youth.

I say just give the buggers a box of tissues each and squat them in front of a giant screen showing the gyrating artiste go through her moves. In all probability they will be busy with themselves and leave us alone to choose – for ourselves – what we do and don’t want to do, see and hear.

For those others who actually enjoy live music and dance and want to simply while away the evening with their friends and loved ones, have fun at the concert which I hope that the government for once, just once, will throw the religious zealotry of its parliamentarians to the wind and give the people something to be happy about.

I was feeling quite despondent in this episode, I get that way sometimes, but I tell you what, I actually found the perfect cure which is guaranteed to lift you out of that mood should you experience it. All you have to do is…. watch the episode!


Why family businesses fail

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For an enterprise to survive, they need to get the best there is and trust them, even if they are from outside their gene-poolGoogle this and you will find that the common denominator is that no matter how big a family gets, if they just depend on their own gene-pool, they are bound to fail. In the larger scheme of things, families – even good ones – can and do produce morons.

They fail, because they disregard everyone’s advice and put those morons in places of authority – just because they are family members.

The second reason you will find in your search, is that because they stuff their kith and kin in their boards so much that they dilute their board’s effectively, resulting in weak infrastructure that directly affects decision making.

Those who survive, on the other hand, are inevitably led by those who have the required cojones to stand up to familial and peer pressures and follow their longer term vision resolutely, without succumbing to mediocre decisions made for momentary or egotistical gains.

You will find that those people have no fear in sharing their authority and trusting even “outsiders” to run their show based on ability, rather than proximity of blood-lines.


Soufi Music by Konya Turkish Ensemble

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I’ve not experienced Soufi music nor did I attend any of the Whirling Dervishes before the performance the Konya Turkish Ensemble gave on March 30th at the Cultural Hall as part of the recently concluded annual Spring of Culture. I was in for a nice – and spiritually uplifting – surprise.

The unfortunately incident in which a misguided soul barged into a mosque on the Bahraini-Saudi Causeway and proceeded to serenade humourless security staff (and some worshippers I should think) reminded me that I had recorded the Turkish Soufis on my mobile phone and I had them unprocessed and untouched on my computer.

I broke out Audacity and cropped the three recordings into size, cleaned them up a bit and am presenting them to you as a gift. I hope that you will excuse the wanting quality of the clips and that you will understand that I am providing them here to enthuse you enough to go out and buy their and other Soufi music CDs – if they are available – or even demonstrate to you that Islam comes in various flavours, and song worship is in fact one recognised form.

[MYPLAYLIST=1] download the mp3 parts: [one] • [two] • [three]

The rituals of the Whirling Dervishes are among the most enduring and exquisite ceremonies of spirituality. The ritual whirling, still practiced today by the dervishes of the Melevi order, is an act of love and a drama of faith. Sufi music is closely connected with religious music and the lyrics are mainly taken from poems of Mevlana Celaleddini Rumi. The Konya Turkish Sufi Music Ensemble was formed in 1990 by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey and mainly performs during annual commemorations of Mevlana but also perform Sufi music and Sema rituals in Konya throughout the year. The forty member Ensemble is headed by Omer Faruk Belviranli
(vocal) and its art director is Yusuf Kayya (nay). The Ensemble plays an important role for the promotion of Turkish culture around the world.

Have a wonderful and peaceful evening my friends.


The New Media Environment: Paths to Understanding

The premise of the Aspen Institute’s conference I just attended at the Dead Sea in Jordan was somewhat different from the others I had in the past. This one took on the shape of an informal round table discussion with leaders and visionaries of the industry; in them was the grounded wealth of experience unparalleled outside of that room. Their level – board members, CEOs, journalists of note, university professors and renowned new media practitioners – is indicative of the seriousness at which the Aspen Institute’s genuine desire to add value to an oft used and malleable mantra of rapprochement between East and West; Arab and US relations to be exact; and how specifically to harness the power of the emergence of new media to ameliorate differences and elevate the level of discussion within that sphere to be objective and cohesive to engender true understanding.

CNN’s Rym Brahimi - Princess Rym AliThe agenda was given direction by her royal highness princess Rym Ali who is no stranger to journalism; having been an international correspondent with world broadcasters like CNN with stints in Iraq and other trouble spots in the world. She spoke with passion tempered with erudition drawing on her experience in the field and raising many difficult questions challenging the attendees to consider; in her keynote speech she drew many parallel situations in world reporting which demonstrably shows the dichotomy of ignorance on both sides of the equation recognising the prejudices held in the news media explicitly on both sides of the divide and laying down a challenge to the attendees to come up with practical implementable solutions for us all to take on board.

As the conference was chiefly considering the effects of new media – a term which is traditionally interpreted as blogs exclusively; but in really should also encompass capital intensive endeavors like news-sites, satellite television, internet radio as well as old media’s forays into the internet – the sessions started appropriately with short presentations followed by round table discussions in those regards.


The fun of doing charity

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It’s been a hectic few weeks in my life, but what a fulfilling time it has also been!

I was amidst great people who selflessly dedicate their efforts, time, money and resources into helping others less fortunate in our community and have been doing this for years, without ever looking for any reward for themselves. They work for weeks without tiring. Even after an event is done and the objectives for charitable work is concluded, the lines etched on their faces are those of satisfaction and big smiles which far outweigh those of weariness and exhaustion.

But they don’t stop there! Immediately one project is done, they’re always thinking of other schemes to continue to help others out. Communities are much better places with these giants amongst them.

I’ve never been part of organised social charitable functions; although like most people I give here and there. Recognising that I could do much better in a structured environment, I sought such an organisation to expend my energy through. Fortunately, my good friend Hameed Karimi has been part of the Rotary Club of Adliya for some time so I questioned him about it and inveigled my way into being invite to one of their functions. A few months later I was invited to become a full member of that club which I accepted with alacrity.

Since then, I discovered the good they do in this community; from helping build autistic centres for children and youths (Al-Wafa and Al-Rashad Centres) through to pay for maintaining houses of the underprivileged throughout the country, to a highly successful annual golf tournament to raise money for various charitable causes.

This year, as the golf course is being rebuilt and the signature annual golf tournament cannot be launched, the board decided to mount an art competition to replace it. It is this event that I got involved in and I can tell you that no matter how tired I became, the realisation of giving something back to this great community gave me added strength to innovate and help out in any way I could.

I don’t think I did much other than utilise my own expertise in creating a website and made a short video documentary about the event and a few phone calls and emails to collect sponsorship funds. These activities were in no way comparable to other Rotarians who did and continue to do a lot more, but even with that, the satisfying feeling of being at the venue very early in the morning on the appointed day with my son Arif and offering our hands to help out with receiving people, especially those with special needs and seeing first hand how normal, jolly and positive they are, filled me with feelings of happiness.

It is no wonder that recent research suggests that giving away money makes one happier. I would add from my own experience that dedicating one’s time, efforts and resources also makes one much happier. It fills you with self-worth, it pegs you to the country and community you live within and makes you realise that the world is really not centred around you. There are much more important things in life than working away your life and chasing that non-ending rainbow. Giving, really, is the secret of happiness.

So go ahead and choose a charitable cause, even if it is simply helping an old person cross the street, giving away a few hundred fils now and then, or providing a shoulder to someone who needs it, these simple acts will most definitely make you feel much happier about yourself.

Try it, I don’t think you will regret it.