Tag Archives: usa

An unlikely night

Handsome has bought a car. ( He thinks this deserves it’s own post, and perhaps it does.) This required a drive in tandem to the car rental place to return the car he has been renting for 9 months. ( Yes it took him a long time to choose the car of his dreams.)  It being Bahrain and not the hot bed of efficiency I hoped for, the rental facility was closed. After some toe tapping and head scratching we called the owner and wanted to know how he could possibly be closed at 6.30 pm on a weekday. He replied that he would be over in 10 minutes.

While waiting for the trusty man to reopen the shop we hit a bar on the corner reputed to, and I quote, ” serve the best American food in the middle east”. The table cloths were a respendant red and white check, the scent was of a definite  fried variety and classic rock was being sung by a Filipino chap with a mike. It was the sort of American cliche only found outside of the USA.

Of course once we ordered our drinks from the “American Style bar” the man called and turned up at the shop ( disputing my theory that a Bahrain 10 mins would really be 45) and I ended up alone in the bar with a shady group of hard drinking, hard swearing and heavy smoking ( yes you can smoke inside bars here, ironically un-American) members of the US Navy. The tv screen showed a bloody boxing match and the walls were scribbled with purposeful graffiti courtesy of the handy markers left on the worn wood bar tops.

Suddenly I was in the middle of a surreal movie created by people who had been to the US once and were trying to re create the scene they drunkedly remembered. The American Navy was ill represented and the drinks over priced. The whiny voice of the singer failed to do justice to James Taylor and the thick smoke was settling over my hair, my clothes and my mind.

Handsome returned. We didn’t finish our drinks but left, instead, pushing the door into the cool and fragrant Arabian night.



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Summer Memories: California edition

Yes I am a teacher and we get long holidays. Summer is our prize.

In case you think I have been galavanting round the world from one hotel to the next let me set your mind at ease. I am most fortunate in having dear and generous family and friends with homes ( and ample space) in gorgeous corners of the world. I only stayed in one hotel for one night all summer and that was by choice ( thank you Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City). The rest of the time we were nestled with the comfort of friends and in the case of California, family. My father lives in the mountains in Northern California and it had been four years since my last visit. ( That was a little visit sandwiched between Montreal and Trinidad. I see a pattern here.)

California is God’s country. Everything a person could desire or need in life is in California. Avocados, Wine, Peaches, Corn, Fish, Apricots, Raisons, Almonds, Majestic Trees, Waves, Ocean, Sunshine and the Best Highways in the World.

Sadly ( for us) my father and his wife are moving next year.

North Carolina: you have a lot to live up to.

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Filed under Great Big Shiny West, Photography

This is Africa. A public moan.


There are days when it is not all smooth rolling; in fact it is rather more bumpy and potholed. On those days I have to just sit back, bit my tongue and think to myself T.I.A.

This Is Africa. We say that a lot here, especially anytime there is an aberration of the service industry and a reminder, once again, that there is no service industry here. Not one little bit. Take as an example my Sunday. I woke up with the happy intention of going out for a family lunch. We selected a restaurant, one that handsome Husband specifically Did Not Vote for, I might add, and hopped into the car.

Upon arriving we realized that although it was a Sunday, a day customarily reserved for that wonderful North America invention called brunch, breakfast would not be served after 10 am. However, eggs could still be arranged and I settled on an omelette. And how silly was I to choose something so confusing that no one could ever wrap their head around the concept?  I wanted a cheese omelette with tomatoes and onions. Yes, call me picky, I wanted some added zing in my cheese omelette that day, especially since I had prior knowledge of the rubbery and tasteless cheese served in these parts.

I was visited by another waiter, who, like the first, looked bemused. He wanted to verify that I did indeed want a cheese omelette and not a Spanish omelette. Yes, I replied, fearing the worst, cheese, but also with tomatoes and onions.

I got cheese and cheese only. Apparently the extra zing was just too confusing, a mystery that could not be conquered that morning in that kitchen.

In addition there was no salt and pepper, Handsome Husband did not get what he ordered, and the whole lunch, what was intended to be a happy family Sunday lunch, came off feeling like a disaster.

Then: feeling  a trifle sulky I thought a Bloody Mary would be a fine accompaniment to our weekly Sunday Scrabble game. “NOT spicy.” I requested, having experienced the sensation of losing the roof top of my mouth two weeks previously.

Despite asking, I did not manage to get what I wanted for the second time in one day and the roof top of my mouth was once again scalded by spices of a variety not encountered elsewhere.

And what about the time I made the HUGE error of ordering a four cheese pizza at a fashionable pizza establishment? Yes it did have four cheeses. Only it was four times the same cheese, melted and applied to pizza dough only when it resembled the heel of my shoe.

This morning, reading the New Yorker (kindly brought back from the US by a friend) with my coffee, I felt terribly homesick for the Great Shiny West. Imagine this: a Sunday brunch in a restaurant featuring white table cloths, a large airy wall, mammoth windows, lots of green plants. A Bellini would be pleasant and perhaps a Frittata containing Feta from Greece and fresh pesto made with pine nuts. After wards I would go for a walk in a park, listen to some jazz performed on a band stand and finally walk into a gallery to see what is showing. A movie would finish the day nicely, in a large cinema with comfy velvet arm chairs and warm pop corn with just the right amount of salt. The movie would be something that recently visited a festival and would not have the descriptor of Blockbuster attached.

I miss the US, with its energy, its anything can happen and yes we can attitude. I miss the bright optimism and the eagerness to help the customer, an eagerness that I have previously found irritating. But how lovely it would be to hear today, with his chirpy drawl and college stance,

”  Hello! My name is Brad and I will be your waiter today!” “May I help you?” “Is everything to your liking?” “Is there anything else I can offer you?”

But no, this is not to be. I will be fine; I will sit back and breathe. T.I.A.

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Filed under Being brave, Great Big Shiny West