Because I Want To!
Carrie Jo asked me a few questions based on my last post. I could have answered her privately in an email, but I’ve decided to actually make it a post. I appreciate her genuine interest.
Carrie Jo and I have “known” each other for over a year now, I think. She is a real sweetheart I met through the comments section over at JULIE’S. She is a fellow infertile, with additional problems that when she confided them to us, broke my heart, to be honest. She is an intelligent, caring and compassionate woman and I’m so very glad that she has come back to the blogworld after her “hiatus” (I missed you woman!) and found her way to my blog and is kind enough to leave comments.
Now, for Carrie Jo’s question. Did I grow up in the US and is it scary living under a foreign government.
Yes hon, I was born and raised in the USA. *Cue Bruce Springsteen here* Haha. I was born in North Miami Beach, Florida. When my parents divorced, Mama and I moved to Jacksonville. Then, here is my quickie list of where I’ve lived: Munich, Germany-Paris, France-back to dad for another try in Miami- then, when it wasn’t working out to Los Angeles- then Oklahoma (shudder, retch, hated it! Sorry Okies, long story)-back to Los Angeles for the long haul until early 1998 when I moved to Bahrain.
Is it scary to live under a foreign government? No. Not really. At least here it isn’t, I realize that there are other places here in the Middle East that I just couldn’t live. Saudi Arabia is one, Iran is another. Not that I would!
The population is about 700,000. (Locals and expatriates combined!) I would say about 300,000 of that number are Bahrainis. Here the ruling family is very tolerant of all other religions. Of course, Islam is the main religion, but others are freely allowed to practice here. Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus… all live side by side peacefully and practice their respective religions. You are not allowed to try to convert a Muslim to your religion, however. That could end you up in some deep doo-do.
Women are not really suppressed here. We all drive. Women do not have to cover, but do so only if they choose to. (or the men in their lives make them.) But it isn’t mandatory and ordered and enforced by the Government like in Iran (where I’ve been a few times on vacation) or in Saudi Arabia, where it is even more restricted.
There is the normal government bullshit that goes on all over the world, of course. But the Bahrain government has strong ties with the United States and England. But it is now a democratically ruled monarchy much like England. (Does that even make a lick of sense? Well, that’s what they say anyhow!) Well, they are trying and I give full points for that!
There are benefits to living and working here too. So many people come here from Europe, Canada, and the United States to work, enjoy the lifestyle, salary and benefits that they quite frankly would most likely be unable to have back home, and many end up staying and raising their kids here. There are “foreigners” that have lived here for more than 20-30 years.
To start with, Bahrain is currently a tax-haven. NO taxes on salary, consumer goods, or perishables. No tax on food. . Also, gasoline is at a fixed price, and it is very reasonable. (Understandably) Therefore, foreigners end up frequently driving cars that they wouldn’t possibly be able to afford to drive back home where we all have to frequently look forward to an hour drive at least in some states to work everyday. The luxury cars that are gas guzzlers. Huge SUV’s and the like. Some men come and have such senior positions, (ie: salary) that their wives can stay at home and not work if they so choose. Not all, but some.
Most homes have housemaids/nannies, either live-in or part time. Again, at very little cost. I mean seriously cheap labor. Try this on for size; you can have a live-in FULL TIME housemaid/nanny for as little as US$120.00 a month + food & necessities. Meaning, house is always clean and neat, laundry always clean and pressed, full time babysitter. Waiting there for your kids when they get home from school with a nice hot lunch waiting for them. This, I think, is an amazing option particularly for working moms here. If you get lucky, some of them are amazing cooks, for the ladies that don’t cook, or can’t be bothered. Whenever you and hubby want an evening out with friends, go on out!
Living the life of Riley, eh? Yeah, to some extent. There is give and take in all situations. Good and bad.
Now then. …. In the same post that Carrie Jo left a comment on, a very young and highly opinionated girl thought she would take the opportunity (In her first ever comment on MY blog) in the comments section to reprimand me: a soon-to-be-33 year old woman that has traveled the world extensively, for “whining” about something she found trivial like the entire country where I live being completely without electrical power for almost the whole day when, considering where I live, I should be worried about other things going on around me…put more value on life, ... etc, et al. blah blah blah.
When I read her remark, the first thing that struck me was I could have sworn I’ve read almost word-for-word an almost identical comment over on Julie’s blog a few months ago before Julie got pregnant that was left anonymously bitching at all of us infertiles to basically get a real life and stop WHINING about not being able to get pregnant, when there are problems that are more important than that going on in the world, and don’t any of us watch the news and know that? That if we want a baby so badly to just go adopt one…blah blah, and more bullshit.
Why did that particular post at Julie’s stick out in my mind so much? Well, first, because we all dog-piled on the chickenshit writer. Secondly, because I wrote such a doozy of a response that Julie did major reconstructive surgery on my comment. (ie: cut most of it out). IT was the first (and hopefully last) time she’s done that with one of my gizillion comments. Upon reflection, I admit that it was... well, strong.
The bottom line is this: Don’t fuck with my friends cause if you do, I’ll bitch-slap you into next week. You will find I’m quite protective. Apparently Cheryl b. feels the same about her friends….because she bitch-slapped the commenter on my blog before I could gather my thoughts. Actually, I loved Cheryl b to pieces waaaay before she defended me. I have NEVER seen her get so pissed before. Actually, this also goes for MittenKim too. Thank you- both of yous! I’m SO feelin the love. I’m sure the only reason my darling Mindy didn’t comment was because she was on vacation and had no inet access- (perish the thought! Shudder, twitch.) she is top dog in the pile. Well, Mindy and Amalah! Woof woof.
But I digress… back to that admonishment I received.
Little girl, the life I have led would chew you up and spit you out for breakfast.
To begin with, if you will kindly take notice, that at the top of MY blog, underneath the blog title, it states, quite clearly: "Scarlett’s got an opinion…. and she’s gonna share it whether you like it or not!” Was that not enough warning? I guess not.
It saddens me that the “little one” missed the WHOLE POINT of my post about the damn blackout. Maybe she missed it because of my rapier-sharp and cynical wit? Perhaps because she was blinded my humor and genius? (heh) Yeah, THAT must be why.
So, I will state it more clearly now. For the record. Okay? The point that so obviously went right over your head was that we all take so many things for granted on this little tiny island here in the Persian Gulf. So many people here didn’t realize just to what extent we were dependent on the electricity supply, beyond the obvious things like Air-conditioning in extreme heat and traffic signals. Typically the Ministry of Electricity & Water does timed power cuts during the extremely hot summer months. For an hour or so each day, in each “city” so that there is not so much strain on the electrical power plants. This is not a big deal. Sometimes there is so much pull during the summer from certain areas/cities that it trips the breaker for that area. They have always been good about getting it back up and running within a reasonable amount of time during such. People grumble, but it’s good-natured usually.
Now for a little lesson for you during your summer break holiday in Cause and Effect.
For an ENTIRE COUNTRY to be without power is dangerous in so many ways. The blackout lasted one day. It COULD have lasted longer. Imagine a whole country in suspended animation for days? A country that IS NOT SELF SUFFICIENT. That depends on trade? Suddenly people realized that we had to be careful with water usage, because if the tanks on top of the houses and in the compounds ran out… there was NONE for a while. There is one fresh water source that was used in old times, but it is a well, and not enough to take care of the population of this country, which is around 700,000. Therefore, we have desalinization plants to provide the water mains countrywide. But this water it produces is not for drinking.. no. We have bottled water, for drinking and cooking which people begin buying and hording just in case…..making some of us to go without. Not nice.
No electricity means the seawater is not being desalinated for consumption. We couldn’t pump gas because the pumps run on electricity. Oh yeah, and the sewerage treatment plants too. Only FOUR gas stations had generators. One of them ran out of gas. All businesses closed. Meat went bad. The majority of meat and produce is imported to Bahrain from Saudi Arabia, New Zeland, UK, and the USA. Most of the dairy products we have here are brought over the causeway from Saudi Arabia where they have dairy farms. So, while the food in ALL of our houses was going bad, so too was the food in the multitude of the grocery stores going bad.
In that one day that you said I was whining about, the country lost billions and billions of dollars. How? Well, lets see now. The products that we DO export couldn’t do business that day. Bahrain is the banking and financial hub of the entire Middle East. Millions lost from that sector alone. Then there is one of the exports… oil. Couldn’t pump from the ground by itself, now could it? The oil refineries? Needs electricity to operate. Bahrain also produces and exports steel and aluminum in massive amounts internationally. Nope, neither of them could do diddlysquat either.
There were accidents everywhere you looked due to the lack of traffic lights. But everyone was forced onto the roads because the cars air conditioning were the only source of comfort from the heat. Dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t.
The heat. Last summer, hundreds of people in France alone died from heat exhaustion in temperatures NO WHERE NEAR what we get here. It was 105-108 in Paris last summer and people were dropping like flies. That day, the temp was around 120 degrees IN THE SHADE WHERE I WAS SITTING in my car with my daughter… PLUS at least 80% humidity, which probably kicked up the apparent temperature to around 135 or more. It is so hot, and the air so heavy on your chest, that every breath you take is wet, extremely hot air. It feels like someone is sitting on your chest. Someone really heavy. For me, this is the worst… since I have asthma. It is frightening to feel as though your lungs are not working… feeling your chest heave and strain for a little air and when you don’t get enough, the lightheadedness that hits you is even more frightening.
The best thing about the blackout? People were more appreciative for the things they took for granted. All over, I heard the comments, “Oh my God, how did our grandparents, gread-grandparents stand it? No AC’s, etc..”, although, with global warming and all, it just gets hotter and hotter. It wasn’t this bad 100 years ago. But still. MY daughter, who I have been trying to tell that she doesn’t always have to be entertained my TV, DVD’s, PS2 and other things, but to entertain HERSELF if she’s “Bored” by reading.. learned just that on this blackout day. She learned my little Cause and Effect lesson that day…. THE HARD WAY. I was able to teach her, by example, how to use her HEAD effectively when presented with a problem like this. Rather than let the dairy stuff completely spoil in the fridge, I transferred it to the freezer to try and keep it from going bad just IN CASE the blackout didn’t last too long. My remark about lying on the still cool tile? Completely true. (I do not lie on my blog or generally in real life either) Keep hydrated, wear as little as possible (while still being decent when out in public), and light colors so as not to trap the heat in your body. Many other things I was able to teach her that day. It was lovely in that respect.
EVERYONE in the country was outraged that such a thing could occur in the first place though. That was the fault of the government and showed a lack of forethought and emergency plan or “In Case Of” scenarios. Hopefully they learned their lesson as thoroughly as Arianna did that day.
It was also mentioned that considering where I live, I should be more concerned with the things going on around me and it should cause me to value life or some such. Let me tell you all something. My Nickname is CNN. Cyn News Network. Got that? I am and always have been, quite aware of the world that I live in. Jeez.
Ok everyone, watch out. Cyn is going to get mildly political here. Which I NEVER talk about two things typically… Politics and religion. If somebody doesn’t like what I say here, feel free to go. Come back tomorrow when I’m being more playful. I’ve got a lesson to teach here! It is MY blog anyway. This will be the one and ONLY time I bring up either subject. OKAY? Promise.
First. Get out your map. (Go on, I’ll wait) A real map. NO cheating. I live in Bahrain. BAHRAIN. It is an island. And a TINY ONE AT THAT. Can you find it? I bet not without a map locator on the net. Ok. Now look it up on the net if you want. See where I live? I know, it’s hard, even then. Did you find Qatar? Bahrain is a little chip off the coast of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Look at the size of Qatar will ya? It is HUGE! And nowhere near as developed as Bahrain at present, but from what I’ve heard, it’s beginning to boom. Bahrain may be an itty-bitty place, but it is a lovely mix of old and new. Of Modern and Traditional. That is what I like about it really. The crime rate is really quite low also.
Anyway…back to the map!
Please notice that I am not, literally in the middle of the Middle East Conflict or anywhere NEAR the military action going on in Iraq or Afghanistan. Thank God. I am about a good 2 hrs plane ride from Iraq. 3 hrs from Afghanistan. I’d say the distance between San Diego, California and Seattle, Washington? Bahrain is 4 ½ -5 hours by plane away from Palestine and Jerusalem in the opposite direction. The only thing I do hear, is from time to time, the F-16 fighter jets flying over the island to go to Iraq from one of the US aircraft carriers in the Gulf. I also heard them when they would leave for Afghanistan. That’s about it. (It sounds just like Top Gun, FYI and makes your heart pound)
Just because I’m not dodging bullets and suicide bomb*rs delusional enough to think that Allah (God) will reward them for killing themselves and innocents for a “cause, even if it is called a Jih*d (holy war)” everyday does not mean there aren’t terrorists here. There are, I’m sure. Difference is, the government caught 6 of them with links to Osama the Nutcase’s organization just last month as a matter of fact. God knows what they had up their sleeves. Anyway, it is probably only a matter of time before something happens here, I’m sure.
Bahrain is the central command for the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet and has been for longer than I’ve been alive. It is also, as previously mentioned, a financial hub for the Middle East. Bright side to all of this tiny island stuff is, everyone knows everyone. Gossip travels faster than a F1 car driven by Michael Shumaker (sp?). If you don’t know someone or something, you know someone that can tell you, definitely. So it is that they can find people up to mischief, cause people here have a hard time keeping their mouths shut. That is for damn sure!
And before you start in on the whole Jih*d thing, and another lecture, (spare me) I will tell you that I don’t agree with the fact that people (kids and teenagers) that throw stones get bullets for an answer. That is complete bullshit. So hush up and don’t start. I see both sides. Both sides are at fault.
I personally believe that if President Clinton couldn’t get those two sides to reach an agreement, as hard as he tried, then they, neither one, really wants to have peace. (Bless Bill’s philandering heart! I don’t really think his getting a blowjob in the Oval office affected his actual work much. I mean, hell, a world leader was having a discussion with him on the phone and the guy had no clue what Bill was “up” to. Ha!)
I am all too aware of what is going on in this region. Z’s niece, her husband, and 5 month old daughter lived in first the compound in Saudi Arabia that was bombed by those militants last year in May. The bomb went off directly in front of their villa. Every single one of their neighbors was killed, yet they miraculously survived. They will bear their scars forever, particularly her handsome husband who now has Frankenstein type scars on his face and head, one of which almost lost him his eye. Amazingly the baby didn’t have a scratch on her. They literally crawled through the burning wreckage of their house. Or what was left of their house. So yes, I understand just how frightening it can be.
Well, that is about all we have time for today folks. Tune in tomorrow for a more lighthearted post, hmmmm?
Posted by Scarlett Cyn at 8/26/2004 06:37:00 PM