I have driven by this very busy traffic island in Bahrain’s Salmabad area scores of times but this shot from on board a helicopter presented an entirely different, and surreal look. I cannot for the world of me figure out how a mosque came up ON this roundabout and attracts thousands of worshipers. To top it all, there is no traffic light – a RED signal – that gets traffic to halt for a moment so the devout can safely cross over. Well, as they say, it’s truly divine intervention and nothing else!
A mosque, the crescent and the palm – three symbols of life in the Gulf – are seen in this one picture taken during sunset at the Al Ghous Corniche in Muharraq, Bahrain.
Bahrain is an Islamic nation in name but is a melting pot of all of the world’s major religions, whose followers stay in harmony and brotherhood with full freedom to practice their faith.
Weekend Friday prayers in the Old Manama Suq in Bahrain.
Thousands of people get together on the streets of the old quarter a little before noon, come hail or shine.
The gatherings are rather pleasant occasions during the cool winter months, though worshipers have to endure sizzling temperatures in the summer.
This last weekend I did what I had put off for the last many months. I emptied my turbans’ wardrobe and tried sort them out. I was sure there would be some that I had not worn yet and there would be many that would have outlived their utility. However, that was not the case. While there were at least a dozen of the 48 I counted that were brand new, there was not a single one that was either torn, faded or just looked old.
So I again did the unthinkable! Washed them all, dried and folded them and laid them on one of the beds. At least I could admire the booty!
I remembered the time when I had just started to wear the turban in my early teens, after a religious ceremony at the Sikh temple (gurdwara). I was initially coached on how to get the perfect shape by my uncle, who even gave me marks out of 10 every time he visited. That encouraged me to try to score a perfect ’10’ at all times – and I succeeded on several occasions!
I also recalled how a group of students from the United States visiting our college on an exchange programme back in the 1980’s were simply fascinated by what looked to them an elaborate ritual every morning. They were so eager to learn how to tie the turban that a few of us got together to show them how it was done. Needless to say, we were impressive.
At another time, travelling on a long-distance train, I took great delight in demonstrating it to a group of Englishmen who were in the same compartment with me. One of them was impressed enough to even “borrow” one to try it on. Of course, I never got it back but what did arrive was a very polite ‘Thank You’ note several weeks later!
Then there are those who keep saying how uncomfortable wearing a turban would be in the summer and how fortunate we were to wear it in the winter, protecting the head and the ears from the extreme North Indian cold weather. What many do not know, of course, is that the turban is a natural air-conditioner in the summer and keeps the head cool and fresh, even as one sweats like crazy!
But the best came from my Englishman Editor some years ago, who said Sikhs have this “great advantage” of a perfectly matching dress – because it is only Sikh men who can match their tie and shirt, and perhaps a neck scarf, with the turban. And that’s the perfect match – literally!
So now, I hope that explains the 48 different colours I have – for those of you who were wondering what anyone would do with so many!