I have occasionally complained of the lack of things to do in Bahrain (even though there is a shop by that name that sells equestrian gear on one side and arts and crafts supplies on the other, proving that my grumbles must, in fact, be incorrect). However, I think the problem isn’t that there is nothing to do, it’s that I just never know about it. I always seem to find out about activities the day they’re happening or after they’ve passed. For example, I teach drama and this is the first year I’ve taken my students on a field trip, because this is the first year I knew that a play was coming before it actually arrived.
I’m going to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of two things:
- I don’t buy the Time Out Bahrain or visit the website… ever… because I forget about it. That seems to be the absolute best place for information in this country and I rarely check it. Which seems ridiculous on my part. Here are the editors of this fine publication, slaving away each month, to let me know what’s happening around the island and I can’t even be bothered to pick one up? Foolish really. That part of the problem can be easily remedied. I will buy the February issue of Time Out Bahrain tomorrow.
- Bahrain. The area where I live is growing but it not quite the metropolis of Big City Manama, so a lot of advertising doesn’t quite make it down to our neck of the woods. As I drove into town this weekend, I saw posters and billboards for all sorts of happenings that I had heard nothing about. If I don’t leave Riffa, which I don’t often need to do, I don’t see these posters and billboards. Stop the discrimination, Bahrain. Advertise in the South, too.
One of these events that I knew nothing about is the Autumn Fair which is being held at the Exhibition and Convention Center. I saw some pictures on a friends’ Facebook but didn’t think much of it until another colleague mentioned that she was going. But what is it, I asked.
Um. It’s only the biggest shopping extravaganza on the island, apparently. Vendors from here (Bahrain), there (Turkey, Tunisia, Iran, Vietnam, to name a few), and everywhere converge at the Convention center and turn it into a jam-packed shoppers paradise. For one week. That’s all you get. Blink and you’ve missed it. Or live in Riffa and not see any signs or read Time Out Bahrain and you’ll miss it.
Luckily, I did not. The Rugby Star was out of town this weekend, golfing in Abu Dhabi so I had a GIRLS WEEKEND with the Ladybug and Sprout. There is a pose involved each time we say GIRLS WEEKEND, and we say it kind of obnoxiously, because it’s our secret club of GIRLS ONLY. We get another one next weekend when the Rugby Star heads off to Dubai to coach some kids playing soccer. I can’t wait.
Anyway, we went to City Center to play at Magic Planet with some neighborhood friends because it was too cold to go outside. Yep, you read that right. Too cold. The girls had a blast, riding rides, climbing in the play area, having a special ice cream treat, and patiently waiting while Mom paid the phone bills. As we got in the car, I told them I wanted to stop at the Autumn Fair because it was just around the corner and I doubted if I would get back up to town before it was gone. Hyped on sugar from the ice cream and exhausted from skipping nap, they were totally game.
It went better than I expected- I was able to buy a beautiful Turkish lamp while they sat in the back of the shop, opening and closing a ‘treasure box’ they found… which I then bought. We walked around a little more and I ended up buying a quarter kilo of honey. And three magnets. I’m fairly certain I would have bought more but the girls started getting squirrely, so we made a beeline for the doors. After a nutritious dinner of hot dogs and mac and cheese, they fell asleep and stayed that way until 7:30am. I would deem the day a success.
Only I didn’t get to see very much of the fair. So I convinced my friend K that we should go back this morning. Her lovely and amazingly kind spouse watched the girls and off we went. I accidentally bought another lamp, but that was it. But here are some things I saw:
Pictures from the top, left to right:
A guy selling honey, with a special vat that said ‘only for married.’ K and I ate some. Are we married now?
Belly dancing, anyone?
There were amazing colors and smells with all the spices. Those were from Syria and the guy gave us a cookie after we took the picture.
One of the beautiful hanging lamps at the shop where I bought my lamps.
The line to get into the Autumn Fair. In January.
(Underneath) This guy just would not move. I guess he wanted me to take a picture of him and his nuts.
Gigantic bags of snacks- pretzels, trail mix, etc. You can’t tell, but those bags are easily more than half my size.
I asked what the last picture was. It looks like dried herbs and rocks. The only response I got was, ‘fire.’ I was left slightly confused.
I’m very glad I found out about the Autumn Fair. I am equally glad that I had a fantastic GIRLS WEEKEND with my two best girls, though we missed The Rugby Star.
I’m not regretting anything, but I do wish I’d made more of an effort to get out and enjoy Bahrain more the past few years. I suppose I’ll just have to make the most of the time I have left.