Going back is risky, particularly going back to a place that you loved.
It is almost six years since I bid a tearful farewell to this desert isle. When I say tearful, I don’t mean a few drops delicately wiped away from glistening cheeks ‘Bridgerton’ style. I am talking full-on sobbing with swollen eyes and a red nose and my husband having to sacrifice his handkerchief to try to stem the tide. I finally stopped crying when we boarded the plane.
We lived here for four years while my husband, Iain, was British Ambassador. We loved our time in Bahrain (hence the sobbing) and went on to enjoy a posting to beautiful Budapest.
After four years there and 40 years of foreign service life, it was time for a fresh start. That our next chapter was to be a return to Bahrain was a joy but not one that we faced without trepidation.
We have only returned to live in one other country. Japan was our first married posting and the start of our foreign service adventure as a couple. We went back some years later for our first posting as parents and, despite our concerns, our return to Tokyo was like putting on a favourite pair of old, comfortable slippers.
Would Bahrain be as easy?
If Tokyo is comfortable slippers, Bahrain is a warm hug even when we can’t actually touch anyone. We both instantly felt that we were back home. We are still at the beginning of Bahrain #2 and it is both easy and hard to answer the questions that many people ask: “What is it like being back?” “Is it different?”
The easy answer is that it is wonderful to reconnect with so many friends and to experience the legendary warmth of Bahrainis and expats alike but, while the pandemic casts its shadow over all of us, life is different for everyone.
Bahrain has both changed and stayed the same. That is true of us too. Iain and I both joined the British diplomatic service when we were young and it has been a fundamental part of our lives.
What does life look like on the other side? I will let you know when the pandemic is over and we move out of this holding pattern.
In the meantime, I am very happy to be back in the sandpit.