Like many empty nesters, my husband and I wait for the brief snatches of family time when the children visit us or when we go to see them. As they settle into busy careers with families of their own, it becomes easier for us to go where they are instead of the other way round.
In any case, with many of our retired friends leaving to go back home, the familiar contours of their childhood in Bahrain are being surely and steadily erased and soon, they will be returning to a completely new place, devoid of old associations and memories.
The flattening of Kuwaiti Building is an example – once a prestigious landmark, it was our first home in Bahrain for three years, where our family expanded with our first-born’s arrival; next door, the demolition of the Bristol Hotel took down some more memories – the very first pizzeria in Bahrain and the fuss we all made over the British-style red telephone booth at the entrance to the hotel’s popular watering hole. It didn’t take a lot to excite us in those days.
Down the road, at Salmaniya Medical Complex they have crushed the old maternity wing where my second daughter chose to make an unceremonious early entry and are building a much-needed car park.
Nothing obliterates old landmarks as effectively as progress does, I guess.
Still, what keeps our affection for Bahrain alive are the people – and despite many lifestyle changes, the essential sense of community and the ability to make time for each other is the most endearing aspect of life here. Sure there are instances of road rage and bad public behaviour, like in any other country, but the average Bahrain experience is still one marked by what Shakespeare would have called ‘the milk of human kindness’.
And that is a characteristic that comes directly from the leadership of the land, which has long practised a tradition of making citizens and residents of the kingdom front and centre in all progressive ideas.
The clarity and transparency with which the leaders and government have tackled the coronavirus crisis is a study of how wise governance can defuse even seemingly impossible situations.
I just saw a short video on social media where a young Bahraini takes viewers through the whole process of arriving at the airport, testing for the virus, being quarantined and people’s experience inside the quarantine centre. It dispels many concerns and fears and passes on the message of reassurance to the public.
Why, His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier, himself visited the National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus Operation Room and the photograph of him being briefed while standing calmly without any paraphernalia such as mask or gloves, is a reminder that we should not believe or spread unfounded rumours.
At the same time, different branches of the government have taken all necessary precautions and that too is a clear message that all steps are being taken to contain the problem.
In his firm statement on Twitter, the Crown Prince recently reminded us all that in a fight against the coronavirus, we all have to stand united and must use all scientific resources to tackle it, since it does not ‘distinguish between race, religion or any intellectual or social affiliation or sect’.
The Bahraini leadership’s openness and lack of superstition or resorting to propaganda in managing the health crisis is a case study in leadership management. It’s a typical “Manama Response”, one that is compassionate, clear and contemporary.