Friday, August 25, 2006

Letter from Juffair - 3

I did something really strange today. I went for a long walk. Alright I needed to think over a couple of issues, and I've discovered walking helps jog the brain cells a little. Don't ask me how or why, but I know it does. However, it was, also, very hot and humid today and that made the long walk a little bit on the unbearable side, and yet I walked.

I started off from my house in old Juffair, crossed the Al Fateh highway, walked towards Palace Inn and then went turned towards Adliya. I stopped by at Leena Pharmacy and picked a few things from there and then followed the road that took me past Al Jazeera Supermarket, KFC and then headed towards the British Club... and at exactly THAT moment I received a call from a friend in Manama, who wondered if I could stop by and I did just that by stopping a taxi.

Obviously, those of you who are not from Bahrain will have no idea what I was talking about, but let's put it this way, the distance I covered was quite a bit especially during the height of summer. Now those of you from Europe or North America might wonder what's the big deal about summer anyway but that's because you guys don't know what Bahrain's summer is all about.

To understand a typical Bahraini summer is to consider a sauna and then multiply it three or four times with the yuckiest feeling you can ever conceive. Summer lasts for, at least, four to five months from May to September or thereabouts, and the peak months are, usually, July and August. Average temperature during these months touches 45 degree Celsius and above (that's roughly 113 Farenheit), and humidity hovers around 95%, and, naturally, it reduces the comfort level considerably prompting majority of residents to leave Bahrain for cooler shores.

One good thing though is that the entire country is air-conditioned, and so going indoors anywhere means enjoying a little bit of coolness and escape from the harshness of the heat and humidity. Obviously, this means that all outdoor activity is severely limited during summer, and people end up haunting malls, cinemas, and restaurants for all rest and recreation activity, while others opt to stay home.

Of course, we are talking about people like 'us' who are privileged enough to work indoors and live in comfortable homes where we are less likely to experience the unpleasant blast of summer. The biggest sufferers during this season, on the other hand, are the construction workers and low wage labourers who have to toil day and night in the outdoors. Most of them are paid pittance, if at all, they do get paid, and their living conditions are, at best, miserable.

And as the construction boom continues its momentum in Juffair, it is these construction workers who suffer the most while working hard to build these fancy apartments for people like 'us' to live in, and to make some landlords a lot richer. Am sure most of us hardly think of the blood, sweat and toil that has gone behind those apartments and villas we live in, but then again, we won't think on those lines because we'd dismiss it off as 'it's their job, after all.'

And that's true... it's their job after all... but the sad thing is, for us to get even a tiny glimpse of what these people have to go through on a daily basis, all we have to do is wear our jogging shoes and step outdoors. Of course, the difference is, we CAN always manage to return to the comforts of our homes, but these people do not possess the same privilege.

That's the difference between us and them, and as differences go, that's a real biggie.

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