I have seen patriotism, I have seen national pride and I have seen flag waving. The Royal Wedding in England, July Fourth, Canada Day or Bastille Day, St Jean in Quebec; I have experienced them all. But there is something just a little bit different about National Day here in Bahrain and I am not sure I can pin point what it is. Perhaps it is the meshing of love for a country with unflagging love for a King, or maybe it is the unfailing and unquestioning pride in this small land at a time when it is feeling bruised and vulnerable. Perhaps it might be the linking of national pride with religion so that the three tong image of King-Quran-flag makes for some very impressive symbolism.
Yesterday at school I heard the national anthem sung twice. I saw videos of the King in full military regalia, I saw old film clips of tanks and salutes, pearl divers and oil pipe lines. I heard poetry in Arabic and the King’s name said over and over again with a love normally reserved for close family. I tasted food that tasted of Cardamon and rose. I saw a blur of red and white as flags were waved with unceasing passion.
And I saw all forms of national dress from 3 year old boys, proud in their mini Thobe, fidgeting with long head dress, to tiny girls wearing sparkling Jalabiya. The Jalabiya is gorgeous traditional dress worn by women and comes in many forms; long, short, brocade or sequinned, flowing with swaths of silk and chiffon. Normally they come in the colours of jewels or flowers; emerald, ruby, fuchsia, lime or shimmering pearl. I was loaned one by a student and flowed around in it all day, by the end of which I had discovered by new found personal style. I felt part princess and part Endora and decided that I would need to pop off to the Souq to purchase one of my very own.
We are facing a mini whirlwind of events in the world of 3limes.
This morning the graduating class at our school marched through the entire campus and past every student, from the wee 2 year olds to the weary and so-over-it 17 year olds, to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance. They were showered with tossed roses and applauded for their achievements. Even the most hardened cynic could not fail to be moved. I am especially pleased since it was I who brought this procession idea, having enjoyed it so much at my last school in Trinidad. It is a worthy tradition that gives the little younger ones pause for thought and dose of honour and the graduates respect and lashings of pride.
Tonight I will attend the Graduation ceremony where I will sit and remember the festivities of last year. The last Graduation I attended took place on my very last night in Trinidad and I sat through it in a daze of tears and pre-emptive nostalgia. I sensed I was sitting in a movie that I had already seen; it was an out of body experience and the heightened emotional state caused both by the sheer quantity of goodbyes and the tearful but fabulous party afterwards formed a psychedelic imprint on my memory. This Grad will not be in any way emotional, I don’t even teach any of the students but instead will be a precursor and perhaps even excuse for the 70’s party I am attending afterwards. Then tomorrow morning I will peel myself off my bed and prepare for Trooper’s surprise party. She still has no idea and I hope it stays that way. I must confess I am failing as a domestic goddess as her cake will be purchased for the first time in her life. But how can I bake without revealing the surprise? Tricky.
Next week I will attempt to prepare my classes for exams but I think their unusual attire might prove a mite distracting both for them and me. It is Spirit week and for three days teenagers will come to school dressed as movie stars, wearing crazy wigs or boxers around their necks and finally even in their pyjamas. Do I need to dye my hair orange too? Will my pyjamas be revealed for all and sundry? Luckily the amusements will only last three days and shortly after I will be skidaddling off on a Mini Break.
This time next week I plan to be horse riding with Zebras.