Nivi's Adventures

Monday, June 26, 2006

Bahrain - Pearl of the Arabian Gulf

So the shortest version of my life story is that my parents moved to Bahrain in 1979. My sister was born the next year, I was born the year after in 1981 and this is where we lived until we immigrated to NZ in 1994. So, this was the place that I grew up and not having been back since we left, we were all looking forward to visiting again after more than 12 years!

And just in case you're like "what is Bahrain???", it's a tiny island (although technically an archipelago) in the Middle East - and I mean TINY! The land area is 665 sq km (Lake Taupo is 616 sqkm). The population is about 700,000 of which about 200,000 are expatriates. The annual GDP is about $14billion, which is from oil.

These photos probably aren't going to be very interesting if you have no affiliation with Bahrain - sorry!

The entrance to one of the numerous palaces. It's a bit squiff as I was trying to take it surreptitiously (taking photos of palaces usually gets you in lots of trouble with the police!)

The Grand Mosque. It has a massive 60 ton fibreglass dome (to make it cooler during summer) and can accommodate up to 7000 worshippers!

Pearl Roundabout. I was so relieved to see this still standing as I used to love driving past this this cool, rather large monument when I was a kid. Before oil was discovered in Bahrain, pearl diving was one of the main sources of income.

Shot down one of the main streets - you can see some building going on, but nothing as crazy as Dubai.

The Sails Monument taken from Guru Uncle's appartment. Up close would really do it more justice - from this distance you cant the the little pearl being sheltered between the 2 sails.

Bab Al Bahrain - Arabic for 'Gateway to Bahrain'. When my parents moved to Bahrain in '79 it used to be right next to the ocean. However there's been so much reclaimation that it is now well inland.

The souq. I'm trying to capture the vibe and fortunately for you, not the humidity - it is such a part of summer and is really quite opressive!

Yateem Centre - a shopping mall that was quite the hang out when we were kids!

The (old?) courts. Not sure that these still function...

Al Sawani Restaurant - we had dinner here on our last night in Bahrain. It was a beautiful building in an awesome location, right on the water with lots of tasty (Arabic Cusine) food to boot!

A cute piece of 'artwork' at the airport showing two men fishing off a dhow. Fishing, along with pearl diving, a big earner for Bahrain before oil


Bahrain scored a major coup, beating out the UAE and Egypt, to be granted permission to hold a Formula 1 Grand Prix - the first ever in the Middle East. We couldn't go trackside so this is a photo of the grandstand.


We used to live in a compound provided to us by the Government (whom Dad used to work for). I was hoping to see the house in which I grew up so it was a bit sad to find out that they'd all been demolished...

Some of the sights were still the same though - gotta love sunsets :)

After a bit of investigative work, we decided that the Phillipines school had been built over our house :(

The culprit! The pink builiding that is the Phillipines school.

And this is the last house we lived in for about 6months before coming to NZ. It was privately owned so there was no way of getting to have a look, but at least it was still standing!


This is the school I went to until I was 13 - and it is where I acquired the British accent so still gets me mistaken for english!

We managed to get inside the gates and have a look round because Shrini, the head caretaker was still there from when we were there (and remembered us)!

Walking through the grounds was very surreal - so many memories, "This is where Nazia hit her face when we were playing 44 save all, this is where I got hit in the side of the head by some idiot brandishing a skateboard"

Hanging out in the 'booths', just like I did 15 years ago (god I feel old!)


We drove out to the Saudi causeway for a bit of look see. Again, a lot of memories as the last time we were here was 2 August 1990 - the date that Iraq invaded Kuwait.

Road leading to Bahrain.

Road leading to Saudi Arabia


Family shot - I realise that it's totally backlit but the camera was so far away that the flash seems to have done jack! L to R: Majuran, Vasi, Dad, me, Mum

Let the records show that it was VASI that insisted we take this photo. Background: For some reason strange reason (I'm gonna blame it on the early 90s which is basically the same as the 80s) we thought this pose was cool back in August 1990. So we have a photo of this in our albums at home and we (ie VASI) felt the need to replicate this. I am far more accustomed to making a fool of myself than Vasi so I didn't hold back. To be fair, I dont think Vas thought I was gonna post this on my blog. Sorry Vas...


A visit to Murthy Uncle's house - Murthy U and my dad worked together at the Ministry of Works, Power and Water. L to R: aunty, uncle, abishek, dad, mum, majuran, vasi & me

Photo after a 'kool' lunch at Guru Uncle's. Kool is a Sri Lankan dish that is essentially a seafood chowder, meant to be eaten extremely hot - both temperature and spice wise. Man it was hot but too good to pass up.

Photo at Srikumar uncle's house, after gorging ourselves on the takeaways we used to get - shawarma, samosas, cheese samosas, fish rolls, lamb rolls and parathas! Sooo tasty! :)

So I've made no mention of the driving, which was fairly harrowing. The only advice Srikumar uncle gave my dad before lending us his car was 'don't indicate as only learner drivers do that!'

So this photo depicts how people regard traffic laws - as the America Idol judges might say, this dude is making this parallel park his own by turning it into an angle park - on a pedestrian crossing no less!

Well all in all Bahrain was a wonderful, wonderful trip. The heat and humidity is crazy in June but the amount of memories and familiar sights, smells and tastes the trip evoked was just magical. It was also lovely to be together as a family again as this was where our family began all those years ago :)

Monday, June 19, 2006


Well Dubai was quite an experience! There is a LOT of money in Dubai and it seems the motto to live by is "if you've got it, flaunt it". I was quite stunned to read in the paper the 25% of the worlds cranes are in Dubai, but then it didn't seem so crazy when we were actually driving around...

And like most great dynasties, much of the city is being built of (almost) slave labour. Indian/Pakistani people work as labourers, for approx 200NZD per month! I spose it's as good as or better than what they would get if they stayed in their home countries - but still it wasnt so flash seeing them working in the midday sun (42 deg Celsius).

Anyway, the opulence of Dubai was bearable for the 3 days I spent there, here are some of the snaps.

Firstly I've got a collection of buildings - some that are quite spectacular. I spose it's easy to get some nice looking buildings in your city when you have enough money to commission any architect you want.

BURJ AL ARAB (Tower of the Arabs)
This hotel is now one of the icons of Dubai, typifying the culture of opulence. I heard varying prices of how much the cheapest room was - I'm sure all rumour but if you're interested the lowest price I heard was 1000USD a night!

This is the greeting area/foyer. Ordinarily you cant just drive up here but we were on a tour thing and needed to pick up some people from this hotel so we got to sneak a peek. Check out the hummer on the left - does it look silver plated to you?


I did a tour with my folks which included going off road through the desert in 4WDs, a camel ride, sand surfing/boarding (which is def not as much fun as on snow) and then a BBQ dinner at a 'camp' in the middle of the desert.

We got stuck at one point - so I thought I might as well get a photo seeing as though I had to get out

Awww pretty sunset

My camel and me :)

Mum & Dad; mum holding on for dear life I think

Dad trying shisha - I tried it as well and really liked it. It's quite sweet & fruity tasting and smells really yummy!!!

One of the tents in the camp

Getting some henna done

Oh and of course - the belly dancer. It's a bit blurry (sorry boys) but she was moving too fast for me!


A mosque

Jumeira Beach

A shopping mall that was designed to look like venice. I swear these people have too much money!

I mean look at this walkway dressed like a bridge!

Some guys having a coffee at the ubiquitous starbucks...

So it's really common for men to wear thobes (the white robes)...

...but i loved this trio's look - swapping the headdress for baseball caps ;)

The next couple of photos are from another shopping mall - the lengths they go to to entice shoppers to all the different malls!

At first glance, just a normal outdoor dining area at a restaurant...

but on closer inspection you can see the airconditioning vents!

The worlds largest indoor ski field - part of The Emirates Mall

The slope from inside. Boy do I miss the snow, especially with Bridget's updates from Mt Ruapehu :(

Now for some photos from another mall where different areas were themed with different ancient civilisations.




I realise that many of my photos are from shopping malls but really that is most of what Dubai is about! Ordinarily I dont take photos of shopping malls but this was totally a case of morbid fascination! I was still definitely looking forward to visiting Bahrain, but seeing how crazy Dubai was, it was with a bit of trepidation! Blog coming soon...