Though Bahrain is ever-changing, a few things remain comfortingly the same. This week I joined a friend for an al fresco lunch. Where else can you sit outside in all weathers (possibly barring the ragingly humid summer months), indulging in delicious food, refreshing drinks and a beautiful, nearly tropical setting?
A wonderful aspect of being at home over the holiday period is that many of my school friends will be back in Bahrain at the same time. Though we have nearly all finished university and been in the working world for a depressing length of time, many of us still manage an annual trip over. With the advent of Facebook, it is extremely easy to keep in touch with friends these days and while we may have responsible jobs, husbands or wives, or even, in some cases, children, our relationships remain the same. We might not be wearing the ripped jeans and punk rock T-shirts of our youths, but the genuine pleasure of being in one another’s company remains unchanged.
So it is wonderful to be around people who know our own personal histories, which is possibly one of the reasons we have so many visitors in the winter months. This time of year is also perfect for those of us who have been trapped in sideways rains, as the gently warm days are welcome.
In addition, there is so much on. There were days I have been double booked, needing to leave the company of one set of friends to head out and see another. My parents have long been social butterflies and it is only really over the holidays that I can come anywhere near keeping up with them. In saying that, they have still been to two parties more than I have this week, as I needed a time out.
So, it is pleasing that so much remains the same while the rest of the world moves on, but there are changes that I have been excited to note. Having passed my driving licence here in 2005, I had nevertheless not driven on the island for two years. Terrified of heading out onto the roads, I was surprised to find that the driving has improved. Harsher fines and sentences for stupid driving seem to have done wonders for Bahrain’s roads, especially when coupled with some of the excellent new roads. With the exception of Thursday nights, I now feel that I would be quite happy to drive at any time.
In my opinion, Bahrain’s move into the future seems controlled and appropriate, with the dangerous aspects of life here thankfully fading into memory, and the best bits remaining the same. Long may we progress in the same fashion.