One of Muharraq’s icons Rajab Bu Muftah is no more. He passed on a month ago.
I realised his legendary status on visiting the Old Suq two evenings ago.
On finding empty shelves and a locked door at Bu Muftah’s antique shop, I asked an accompanying friend why it was so and he told me what had happened.
“He was old, very old,” I was told. “He passed away a month ago. The entire Muharraq town gathered at his burial.”
I further learnt he had come to Bahrain from Yemen more than 60 years ago and set up a small trading business in the historic part of the island.
Business boomed and over the years, he did well, raised a family, educated his children and made sure they settled well in life.
In the last few years, too old to run around, he ran this small shop selling all kind of antiques. When they did not do good enough business, he also started selling fruits and dates.
I first saw him a year ago and he happily posed for pictures. He offered ‘discounts’ on antiques if I wished to buy some.
At first he appeared to be a stern man, not very impressed with all the attention but a brief conversation made me feel all at ease.
I did run into him a couple of times after that and we waved to each other. He seemed to be happy and content and sat at his storefront like a lord and master.
Now his shop is locked. The shelves are empty. The signboard is falling apart. All the antiques are probably locked away somewhere.
No one has any time to run his business anymore. But passersby speak about his, stop at his shop, look at the empty shelves and move on.
Clearly, a part of Muharraq, and Bahrain, has gone forever. It’s sad, but that’s life. It goes on. The wheels keep moving.
And we pass on!
I took some pictures of kite-flying enthusiasts playing with what they now call kites.
Made of plastic and fibre, with fibre strings as well, these ‘birds’ just fly in the wind, with no skill involved and no sense of adventure.
Compare this with the days when we indulged in this sport (yes, it was SPORT then) when kites were made of bamboo sticks and thin paper and the string used was a fine cotton thread laced with a fine mixture of colour, glass powder and glue!
During the kite season, the streets of almost every Indian city (except in Southern India), were ‘littered’ with kite sellers, men and women, as well as roadside kite string ‘factories’.
There were competitions, there were teams of kite flyers, and most of all, everyone indulged in the activity – young and old, men and women, boys and girls. The spirit was infectious.
The spirit still exists but the kites of yesteryear are rarely to be found. The die-hard enthusiasts are still there but one has to look for them because they are the ones who still stick to tradition in the real sense.
Most kites are now machine-manufactured though in some parts of India, traditionally the strongholds of kite-flying like Ahmedabad and Amritsar, there are still a lot of bamboo and paper kites.
But here in Bahrain, I have never seen those. There are festivals to mark occasions, in keeping with the Indian traditions, but only plastic “China-made” kites are used.
This is the modern sport anyway. Things change with time and like many others, kite-flying has also turned the corner.
Clearly, this is not the way.
But who would know? And who cares?
Also take a look at this brilliant blog:
Taking night shots is challenging but I have done a lot of it lately, mainly to discover some of the “hidden” features of my camera. This picture, of a clear moonlit night and still waters on the Manama cost, close to Bahrain’s financial district, shows the calmness of the night and the almost pin drop silence when the camera clicked.