Life in Bahrain..
As such, i would say the 2 weeks of stay in this city keeps me happy except the two extremes of climate.. as its hot outside and to compensate that A/C is provided everwhere. People say that it was so very hot prior to my visit and its pretty cool for a month or so. I also would admit as i don’t see the same climate which was the first one to welcome me soon after i came out of the flight ;-(. Felt like being in a desert really but nowadays it has come down.
The entire city as a whole
Well.. the total city looks very hi-fi and almost you can see many big buildings which are either malls, hotels etc., Was told that initially the entire city was within 22 kms or so and now its widened to be around 72+ kms.. also they are increasing the city circumference by borrowing the land from sea ;-). As the see seems to be not so deep they are able to quickly construct a building.
People are also of high society, well educated. But i am yet to explore much about the clumsy areas as well as i heard they are existing here too. Perhaps, i might have a better look once this Ramalan month gets over i guess. I have not yet roamed many places as i had to come to office on a weekend (for the KT to be completed from my colleague whom i replaced here).
Irrespective of the place, you can find each and every building, table, chair, road so clean and tidy. That’s a very good aspect. Of course with full A/C as well. Almost all hotels are fully furnished and provided with all necessary utilities like modular kitchen, sofa cum bed, TV, A/C, Washing machine, Gas, Iron box,Microwave oven etc., What else do you need? Don’t ask about the rent.. Somehow i heard that its 450 BD per month for a double bedroom. For us, our client pays 🙂 and 4 people share a room. It is big and decent enough to accommodate.
Because of having a good lifestyle and wealth, you can find cars only everywhere. I have luckily seen some 2,3 bikes here. Heard that in a single house, there are minimum of 2,3 cars and on an average 4 to 5 cars. And the cost of petrol is very cheap here. You get 1 litre for 1 Re. :). Also getting the cars is very easy. I have seen an advertisement in a mall, asking you to take the car now and start paying the EMI only from March 2008. How is it? 🙂
Here two main forms of currency are fills and dhinar (BD – bahraini dhinar). They are like paise and rupees in INR (Indian Rupee).
1000 fills = 1 BD
1 BD ~= Rs. 105 INR (it keeps changing. It was Rs.108 two months back and had been Rs. 121 an year ago). [Source: you can check here]
so, 100 fills ~= Rs. 10 INR. (not exactly).
Generally, fills less than 100 is not of much use as 100 fills seems to be the starting price here. 🙂 On an average, many items would be in BD’s only. (Don’t think Indian Beedee (tobacco) as it may give you such impression while reading :)).
As these people have much of petrol and aluminium of their own and of course they can’t be consumed for survival, they are dependent on the imported items right from milk, yoghurt, bread, butter, jam, rice, biscuits, chocolates etc., so you can assume the cost of items. Just to give you a piece of info. I have not looked at the individual items for a couple of times till day before yesterday. I used to just get the items and get it weighed (for vegetables etc) and pay the bill. Only the final amount is what i used to see. It would be usually around 6 BD and some times may be around 3 to 4 BD if the items are less. Day before yesterday, just thought of having a look at the individual item prices.. here you go…
1 ltr milk = 350 fills
250 gms of Carrot = 250 fills (4 pcs)
5 Nos of banana = 450 fills (philippines banana they say..)
3 Peaches (looks like apple) = 595 fills
1 kg of rice ~= 330 fills
1 can of drinking water = 700 fills (in the hotel itself they provide for the cost)
Though they are just for a reference, we can’t keep comparing you know.. why? all for the single word ‘survival’ 🙂
A bit difficult for people who do NOT eat non-veg 🙂 but manageable. Thanks to this city and because of Ramalan, started doing self cooking and doing a lil bit of research in it 🙂 somehow with the help of MTR, surviving! Had prepared Dhal rice, Gobi curry (cauliflower poriyal) of my own.. Mix vegetables are also available in the frozen state. You need to keep them in the freezer, otherwise it will be of no use. Even in the malls, there is a separate section which contain the freezer to keep all these milk, yoghurt (curd), flavoured milk, mix vegetables, meat, chicken etc.,
Being the month of ramalan (ramzan, ramadhan), its a very strict order from the Bahrain Govt that no one should serve food till 6 PM everyday. If being found, the license would be cancelled it seems. so very less chances to go to a hotel as we would be in office during those times.
We found one Annapoorna hotel here in Manama ( during the last weekend) and I had one pongal (appadaa..) and one Mini Idli (appadi podu!) and one Tea. It came around 300 fills + 400 fills + 100 fills altogether 800 fills. That was not a very big hotel still.
Yet to explore the rest after Ramzan….
Traffic & Roads
within these 2 weeks, i have just seen only one traffic police once in Manama. It looks like there is no need of having them. You know a great aspect made me admire very much was the usage of horn. I literally doubted whether these people have something to buzz or not. If at all they have, do they forget its existence or what? that’s how people use the horn only if really required. that too like a buzzer press. for guys from India, it looked awkward since our people used to just press the horn to establish their presence mainly and at times to ask for the way! I really get irritated by the unnecessary horn. But after seeing this negligible usage of horn even in the traffic signals, got damn impressed. Believe me or not! The way every individual is following the discipline is also too good. No wonder why you don’t need any traffic police.
One more important and distinguishing factor here is, the people in Car give atmost respect and importance to the pedestrians as the government rule says if they hit someone going by walk on the road, they need to pay some 1000 BD it seems. So you can very much take it for granted to get your way in the roads. There are some signal changing machines on the road where you can alter the signal from green to red so that people who follow will have a pause and you get your way 🙂 Aren’t you feeling happy by reading this? So do I.
The roads are so clean as i already told and very broad to accommodate 3 lanes. The gear system here is pretty different as they are adjusted automatically according to the speed you raise. Because of this facility, people easily manage and control their speed. Heard that getting a DL (Driving License) is pretty much difficult as getting passed here would be a bit tedious and you may be asked to retake the classes which varies from 15 to 20 BD per class and on an average you need to take 20 classes at first. For bahrain citizens, it is very easy as they would start playing around with any of the available 3-5 cars in their home..
The ‘toilet’ deserves very much to be a part of this blog! These people use only bath tubs with shower for taking bath. As far as the commode is concerned, here they are two instead of one. One for ‘using’ and other for ‘washing’ :). No pipe attached. Also no bucket, mug here. We made fun of asking by imitating Madhavan from Naladhamayandhi movie ‘Excuse me.. Jakkoosi here.. please?” 🙂
People here speak Arabi. Urdu also is in use. Somehow english and hindi are also omnipresent and we are able to manage with them.
Of all the middle east countries, Bahrain is considered as the most liberal country in the rules and regulations be it in the religious aspects, entertainment and all others. People from other nearby countries like Saudi used to make a visit here on the weekends it seems. But generally there are not much restrictions here as heard outside. That’s true. Of course, even during the ramzan, we are allowed to have our food with no restrictions and relaxations. If at all they have some concerns, they used to say it very politely to the concerned person and not to the individuals directly.
Bahrain time is 3 hours ahead of GMT. That means, -2.5 hrs of IST which is +5.5 hrs ahead of GMT. [Source: You can check here]. The capital of country is Manama which is also of very less in geographical area. As the entire city is very small, you can assume every individual area’s size. Not like TNagar/Adayar in Chennai and Jayanagar/BTMLayout in Bangalore.
Comedy wrt timings
As i forgot to change the local timings, on the very first night(!?), i kept the alarm by 6.30 AM as usual. Once i got up and saw, it was completely dark. Then i went and saw the time in my wrist watch, where i had luckily adjusted the day before. It was showing 4 AM here :). What to do? Slept again. The same happened on the next day (second night) as well. Then remembered while setting the alarm and increased it to 9 AM instead of 6.30 AM. Still somehow we keep the mobile timings as that of IST so that it would facilitate us when calling the people over there.
Here the office working hours for government is usually 7 AM – 2 PM. For some private organizations, they can have a bit relaxed timings which is usually of 8 AM – 3 PM i guess. Being ramalan, its a bit relaxed wherein people are coming here by 8 or 9 AM in the morning. But for us (me and the set of TCS guys working here) its generally like the IST 9 AM – 5 PM.
We work for LMRA (Labour Market Regulatory Authority), a government organization which facilitates the visa entry, exit, extension of stay for the labours working here. I alone work here from my office and there are about 15 guys from TCS working here. I report to the TCS Program Director here. There are other people from my office who work in other government organization named CIO (Central Informatics Organization) where they usually follow the same bahrain working hours. Lucky those people 🙂
We are asked to wear tie everyday and its been a good and regular habit of mine. It looks good and very professional you know though at times you may feel a little uncomfortable. Pros and Cons.. he he he !
My usual routine
Get up by 6 or 6.30 AM, do the morning duties.. clean the vessels and my tupperware if there are any left unwashed in the previous night. prepare and cook food for lunch. Generally have cornflakes and bread+jam for breakfast. Get the cab by around 9 AM and reach here by 9.15. Having lunch in the canteen (at terrace) at around 1 PM. Leave office by 6 PM.
The usual time of travel to and from home and office is about 15 minutes for some 10 to 15 kms 🙂 Can you believe? It used to take hours in bangalore to reach. I also heard nobody here bothers about the kms as per the cheap price of petrol. Heard that a guy who has been travelling to the same place for about 10+ years does NOT know how many kms its from his home:)
But the commuting here is bit expensive. For my to and fro travel per day, i give 3 BD per day. That too being the regular customer and he is an Indian. Otherwise, it is usually 5 BD it seems. Generally when you go to any mall which is situated a bit far, they charge around 2 BD.
Having asked for the same despite of getting the petrol in dead cheap rate, i was told that hiring rate of car/cab is costly it seems. It very much coincides with the lifestyle of the people.
On some days when we have production deployment might need to stay back. Being on support, may get a call in the untime also. On my very first day when i was back from airport after giving send off to my colleague Vignesh, i got a call saying that there was an issue 🙂 Had to rush to office by 9.30 PM and went back by 11.30 PM.
Wasn’t really much excited and all. It looks like yet another transfer from karaikudi to chennai, chennai to bangalore and now bangalore to bahrain! But a kinda overseas exposure would be a value-added one.
But overall, the work and life is coool…………….. 🙂
PS: As at present i don’t have the snaps taken in this machine, would add the snaps in the required places a lil later.. probably tomorrow. so stay tuned 🙂