Thursday, July 22, 2010

First impressions of Bahrain

As I stepped off the plane, I closed my eyes and felt the heat. For a moment was I in Texas? I could have been landing at DFW Airport anytime in a hot Texas summer and I would not have been able to tell the difference. Instead of hearing English or Spanish, Arabic was swirling about me. Yep, definitely some place new.

It did occur to me that it have been years since I had been somewhere so totally different than my collective experiences….unsettling and exciting at the same time.

I tried to take it all in…remember those first impressions. It was a conscious thought. Hot, hot, hot. Humid, ironicall. Concrete buildings. Burkas and veils. Dust – lots of it. And that is before I even left the airport.

It was dusk just as the driver walked me to the car…had it not been as hot as it was, I would have thought it was snowing. A fine dusting of what looked like snow covered every surface….hoods, car rooftops, barriers, road, signage….except it was not snow. It was white dust.
Next impression….turn on the AC, driver man! Whoa - it is hot as Hades!
As we made the journey to the hotel, and the gentle cooling of the car A/C wafted toward me, I relaxed and looked out the car window. A strange mixture of East and West. To the left, a Chili’s Restaurant…to the right, a family of traditionally clad middle easterners…men in long white rooms and red and white checkered hat scarves and women in black from head to toe driving in a luxury SUV. And that sight was repeated again and again. A Starbuck’s collector’s mug from Bahrain is most likely in my future.

The good news is that our hotel is right across the road from the client’s office. The bad news is that I felt I was living in my Baylor dorm room…the blonde wood furniture attached to the wall…the desk, wardrobe, night stand, headboard…flashback to North Russell Dorm circa 1980. To add injury to insult, there was no internet…either old school or Wi-Fi…in the room. How is that remotely possible in the 21st century? And then there was the note to only drink bottle water. This is where I mentally flash forward to the 10 days ahead of me…grrrrr….

Still, I am ready to be bowled over by my first Middle East experience. Let me see what happens and I will get back to you on that one.

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