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A beautiful home for sale

A beautiful home for sale

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We’ve spent 13 years in our current home and most of those have truly been the best in all our lives. We made 1813 a place of quiet and safe refuge for us. We love the coolness and tranquility of the spaces inside the house, and the various “rooms” we’ve created in the garden – which won an award at the Bahrain International Garden Show. A point of pride for me.

But it’s now time to move on and make space for another fortunate family to be happy in it.

So if you would like a beautiful, safe and tranquil place to enjoy with your family, please have a look at http://1813.mahmood.tv you might just be fortunate enough to move into it and enjoy what it offers for decades to come.

Give me a call on 33668811 and I’d be glad to give you a grand tour. But please, serious buyers only. Thank you.

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Ministry of Agriculture & Municipalities threatens law suits

وفي الختام، فإن وزارة شئون البلديات والزراعة، وهي تعلن لجميع أبناء الوطن، تكذيبها ونفيها الكامل لكل ما أثير حول هذا الشأن من مزاعم، تؤكد التزامها بنهج الشفافية، والأبواب المفتوحة، وفي الوقت نفسه مسئوليتها عن اتخاذ جميع الإجراءات القانونية بحق كل من تسول له نفسه الإضرار بالمصلحة الوطنية ونشر الأخبار الجزافية التي من شأنها المساس بالأمن الوطني من دون تحر أو تدقيق أو إحساس بالمسئولية الوطنية.
أخبار الخليج – ١٥ مايو ٢٠٠٧

In a communiqué by the Ministry of Agricultural Affairs and Municipalities in response to what has been published yesterday regarding the purported sale of the Fasht Al-Jarem reef, the ministry not only denied the allegation completely and stated that the island of Fasht Al-Jarem is still owned by the government of Bahrain, but went much further than it should have by threatening all those who dare criticise or ask questions or show concern for our lands, islands, seas and the environment with law suits!

I am not certain – so I might be completely wrong in my assertion here – but did anyone notice the word “Justice” appended to the ministry in question? Or has the Ministry of Justice been now disbanded and enjoined to that of Agricultural Affairs and the Municipalities?

Why else would a ministry more concerned with the disappearing agricultural scene (other than the cosmetic one that is), city planning (supposedly, though I would strongly question the use of the word “planning” here), environmental cleaning (I would strongly question both premises here, its concern for the environment and for the act of cleaning our streets, villages, towns and cities are both sorely lacking) have with threatening the genuine interest of the people’s need for information with law suits?

Of course if the respected ministry and government had given the public clear access to information, these kind of “baseless” allegations would probably not happen.

But try as much as you could as a citizen to find out who owns what land in Bahrain or its environs and you would know how difficult it is to ascertain anything officially.

For instance, who owns this? Just out of interest, how would one go about ascertaining its ownership and the circumstances thereof?

Jiddah Island
click image to download Google Earth locator

or this:

Umm Al-Na’asaan Island
click image to download Google Earth locator

Of course all a Bahraini wants to know is what can he and his children can look forward to in 5 or 10 or 15 years. Will there be any land left for his children to continue to reside on these precious islands we call home? That’s why this major concern and it is a concern that worries every single Bahraini because we love this country and don’t want to dream that our children would have land and opportunities for them and their own children in the future, but we want to change that dream into reality.

What’s wrong with that?

Should we now stop being concerned because an illustrious ministry threatens us with law suits?

Well, I will not.

What the honourable government and our illustrious parliament should do is work together to produce and inculcate a Freedom of Information act immediately and make all non-national security issues freely and immediately available for us citizens.

It is our God-given right to know.

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Insisting on a wrong

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I’m curious, what makes the Muharraq governor Salman bin Hindi so adamant on insisting on a wrong? And now he’s even supported by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. What’s going on?

It just does not make sense, unless of course this is another “test balloon” being released by the government to see the reaction of people if (when) they produce laws to divide Bahrain into cantons housing specific sects and not allowing any intermingling between them.

This is not just stupid, but extremely worrying.

Why isn’t anyone responsible from government come out and immediately refute these claims and tell bin Hindi that he over-stepped his mandate? I know that a member of Al-Wefaq has tabled a parliamentary question to the Minister of the Interior in this regard, and I hope that the minister will be good enough to unequivocally answer the question, rather than pass the buck along to another ministry or department; thus, allowing this farce to continue.

We’re supposed to be one people and one country, right?

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Above the law

What’s the future like for our children in Bahrain when 95% of the land are in private hands. How did a country as tiny as Bahrain end up in a situation where a few individuals own the vast majority of the land mass? How did that happen?

How it happened is quite well known to us Bahrainis who have heard horror stories since we were toddlers of some “higher ups” touring the country in a pickup truck with a few Indians at the back and rolls of barbed wire. When that person spies a parcel of land which takes his fancy, he instructs the his Indians to hop off and start surrounding that plot of barbed wire.

There are also the other stories of another one of those higher ups colloquially called Mr. 3 bricks, because he’s a bit more advanced than the pickup guy where he builds a three brick high fence around the plots he “takes.”

This is mostly how Bahrain was divided into an almost medieval landscape; large plots of land which have been apportioned unfairly, then goes through some sort of sectioning and offered up for sale, hence the seller – who doesn’t legally own that land in the first place – becomes upwards of tens of millions of Dinars richer. And off they move to another “unclaimed” land.

How else did Tubli Bay get raped? It was at some point over 25 square kilometers of the most fertile fish and prawn grounds. Now its filled with sewage AND its reduced in size to between 11 – 13 square kilometers, and other than supporting a few stray flamingos, I doubt that any other fish than the hardiest (and uneatable) could survive there. How did it reduce in size though? The same “technique” as the ones described above. This time however, they dredge, fill-in, section and sell. Disregarding the hundreds of families’ livelihood gained from fishing, or the rich environment of that area.

And they move on.

A few weeks ago, the press reported that one of the “big hamours*” had sold THE SEA to the North of the main island, an area of several tens of kilometers to private investors. The figure gained? The rumour has it pegged at upwards of US$ TWO BILLION.

Is it then strange that we see another “up and coming hamour” trying a fast one on Malkiya’s coast? One that doesn’t give a shit about direct and repeated orders from the municipality and the ministry to stop building a wall that would cut off a whole village from the sea on which they depend for their daily lives and entertainment?

The wall being built in spite of clear laws and government warnings

The wall being built in spite of clear laws and government warnings

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Well Contented

Well Contented

Now that our first family vacation (ever!) is over, and the house move is almost completed, let me take a few minutes to share with you at least the status of the house move. The vacation’s happenings will have to wait for a while, but I promise to post a few pictures and maybe a video once the editing is complete.

We arrived back on the island on the night of Friday August 6th, I posted to that effect. What I didn’t say though is that I was so itching to go and see the progress on the various things we wanted done to the house that I dragged Frances out at 1AM to go and have a look! That’s how desperate I was to get to the new house, start a new life as a home-owner and get rid of 18 years of paying rent!

Most of the stuff we needed done were done quite nicely. We got a picket fence around the garage so I don’t drive over the bloody dogs, they now have a large and air conditioned kennel which they have taken to quite readily when you consider that the average daily temperature now to be around 48C (that’s over 110F to you yanks), the swimming pool is filled and clean, both the outside and inside storage rooms have floor to ceiling shelves which Frances will take no time to chock them up, and my tools and stuff of course have been moved to the water tank room at the edge of the garden!

The gardener has done a good enough job with the garden, it is extremely surprising that anything at all grows in this weather, but when I got the first ever water bill for the house I understood why: BD 95 (US$250) for water alone! I discovered that the bastard comes in at 4AM, switches all the sprinklers on and then goes around and turns on all the garden taps and places the water hoses all over the garden then buggers off until he comes back again around 5PM! By that time there is no water left in the bloody tank (and it’s a huge one as well) and complains that there is no water pressure in the afternoons!

I clobbered him over the head (gently) and roasted his ass for that. Now he waters the garden for an hour in the morning and another in the afternoon. Let’s see what the next bill is going to be like. The garden is about 400 square meters and it is thirsty.

There was a firetree growing by the pump room which I stupidly told him to move to another location. Again by the process of discovery I found that the twit cuts the roots too narrowly (ie, dig the ground and sever the roots to just about 15 centimeters from the trunk) that there is no chance in hell that anything will grow. That’s dead. Thankfully we collected enough seed from the tree and we have a few saplings coming up nicely. Let’s see how long it takes him to kill them off.

We also had quite a number of what the locals call “American” trees. I have no idea if that’s actually a correct name, I’ll find out later I guess. Anyway, they were planted to provide privacy as they are very fast growers, but there were too many. So I told the guy to move them to the pavement outside the house. 4 days later the outside of our house has a lot of colour, it’s like Autumn in Scotland! The lovely shade of green has changed to brown, and when you touch the leaves they crackle and disintegrate in your hand. Yep, 4 more trees are no longer with us. Damn!

We thought that he couldn’t screw up a local tree that thrives in the hot Bahraini summer, so we planted our cuttings of Frangipani by the front gate (again on the pavement, which is a natural thing to do in Bahrain) and various locations in the garden. They’re now very sad looking. Not dead yet, but there is hope… if my Frangipanis die, I’m going to bloody well bury that piece of shit gardener under one of them, maybe his decomposing body can breathe life into them.

Not content with the gardener, it has been quite a frustrating story with the stupid plumbers. I’m not sure what amount of threats, phone calls, screaming blue-murder, or even cajoling it would take to get those bozos to get their job done. The house was not occupied since new and it’s now about 18 months old. With the salinity of the water here, the water heaters’ internals change to that of stalactite infested caves. Obviously that’s not very good for water pressure coming out of them, if any comes out anyway. You turn the hot tap on and it spits at you for about 5 minutes, and then it oozes some sort of stuff very close in smell, constitution and condition of diarrhea.

Ok, change the bloody things then, they must be still under warranty? No chance. The warranty on the house expired 6 months ago! How can a developer give a warranty on a house for one year only? Yes, that includes everything in the house, walls, foundation, fixtures, etc. I’m still looking at the structure side warranty as I have been told that the government forces all developers to guarantee their houses for 10 years, so how come these people only give one? No idea, and this is a house which was built and supervised by one pre-eminent architect.

Anyway, I told them that I would be happy to pay for the bloody heaters, just change the blasted things. What about the pipes they asked? What about the pipes I asked? They said that the pipes might also either be replaced or flushed with acid to clear them up of salt build up! WHAT? God help me, I’ll kill someone!

And in between all of the above we discover some superficial cracks around the house. The developers were good enough to fix them up well enough. What the bastards didn’t do however is fix a bigger crack running down the wall at the roof! And I’ve been chasing them for a couple of weeks to attend to that…

After 18 years of living in various places, we have accumulated an inordinate amount of junk. I never realised that a small family would collect that much stuff. We had 3 big 6-wheel trucks and a crew of 10 to move the things we wanted to keep into the new house, but Frances has been dragging me every single bloody day back to the old house to get more stuff moved! That actually started much before the movers came in: her idea is that she doesn’t want anyone to touch her kitchen, crystal, clothes, bedding, towels, plants, and “important” pieces of furniture! What the hell remains after that then? My idea was to hire a company, bring a crew of a hundred, pack everything and move the goddamn things into the new house. We’ll tell them where to put the various items, get them unpacked and re-assembled… no bloody chance. I’ve worked like a coolie since we’ve come back and we’ve STILL got boxes in various states of unpacking! That considering that we have bought completely new living room furniture as well we 4 new bedrooms, breakfast nook table and chairs, pool furniture and various other bits and pieces. I said I would leave my study to the very end where I could get what I want, unpack my stuff, connect my computers and close the fuckin’ door!

I got fed up so I went furniture shopping for my study instead. Got fantastic rose-wood bookcases (Basset, American stuff, love it) and they came and installed them yesterday. I took one of my leather sofas from the office and brought it to my study. The computers are connected (but not on yet, read on) and got a couple of camel seats to use for tables at the moment. Door firmly shut, and the Cohiba cigars are OUT. What a wonderful feeling! Until both Gnasher and Phoebe come round to my French windows and tear the fucking fly screen off its hinges to try to come in!

Batelco and the Northern Municipality are a major pain in the ass. They must have heard of my troubles with various “professionals” so they thought they would add to my state of health…

Because of a dispute between these two entities, the Northern Municipality is not allowing Batelco to dig anywhere in our area without paying a (exorbitant) fee. Batelco is refusing to do that. We end up with no telephones and no internet in the house. Ok, so when is this tizz going to end and when are we to get connected? No idea, they said. If we’re lucky we’ll be connected in 6 months! Bastards.

Now I’m looking into satellite internet and see if I can get one in Bahrain. Not sure if we have such a thing, but I’ll look into this as soon as possible. I’m not waiting for 6 months to connect to the internet for anyone. 8 weeks without a regular connection has taken its toll on me. Yes, I am an internet junkie.

We don’t have curtains on the windows yet. They take 3 – 4 weeks to get done! Still, we’re not letting that little thing put us out. We’ve been living there for 10 days without curtains and can survive without them for another couple of weeks I guess. I’ll just have to tape newspapers or something on the windows I think, at least on the front facing windows. Maybe tonight. But going around and doing that for 30 windows is a bit much. The pisser though is that I have been up every single day at 5.30AM! That’s when the sun decides to play a game on me… our bedroom faces the East, and when the sun comes up, it decides to shine directly in my eyes! I am absolutely knackered from waking up every day at that time. I’m a night person, not a bloody morning person! Better get on the phone to the curtain people to harass them a bit more…

Friday is for rest right? Wrong! I was dragged in the afternoon by her who should not be named to the old house to move everything that is left over there into the living room to prepare for the house sale next weekend. And of course to price everything. What should I care for God’s sake? They’re things we have not taken, so we don’t need and hence junk, why try to sell the blasted things? Just give them away if they’re in approximately good shape and be done with it! Had to do it though. So I went around last night and put ridiculously low prices on everything (anyone wants a Laser Disk player for BD 20? How about 50 laser disks for one dinar each?) Hopefully that will get rid of the junk. But it ain’t gonna get out of the door by itself right? Right. We’re going to be in the old house next Friday trying to flog the stuff. I have a feeling that next Friday night I’ll be talking to Mr. Smirnoff quite a lot!

Apart from all of that, we’re really well contented with what we have. It’s a lovely house, lovely finishing, lovely garden, and we are absolutely thrilled to be living in it. Home sweet home!

Now I need another vacation… this time by myself!

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