We visit the fishmongers in Manama once a month. And this gentleman, from Bangladesh, keeps the choicest catch ready, cleaned and packed for use as we reach.
He is also up to date with technology, liberally using WhatsApp and Instagram for marketing, sending out messages and pictures to customers, who can then decide what they want.
The best part, however, is we can pick up the ‘consignment’ as we pass the shop, not bothering to find a parking spot in the normally congested lanes.
How times have changed!
That the Sikh community are the most-recognizable beings on the planet is no secret.
Yet, now with Sir Ben Kingsley portraying a Sikh driving instructor Darwan Singh in an upcoming Hollywood film, this recognition has become even more obvious.
The only reason for instantly distinctive looks is, no doubt, the turban, which makes us stand apart from among thousands.
This is especially so in any country other than India (and some parts of North America and the UK) where a Sikh is instantly seen as “from India”.
Over the last decade and a half in Bahrain, I have had the pleasure of being called a ‘sardar’ (leader) and Mr Singh, being recognised anywhere in a crowd – at Press conferences, seminars and public meetings.
The Sikhs are known as the best workers, the most loyal and trusted help at some of the country’s most well-known and highly placed families, not to mention holding crucial positions in Royal households.
They are expert farm hands, skillful carpenters, professional air-conditioning mechanics and dedicated drivers, not to mention some of them occupying high government positions.
I have had minister’s calling out to me from among hundreds, volunteering information in English before they began speaking in Arabic and supermarket shoppers asking me the best way to solve a particular problem, after reading my report in the newspaper.
At home, we have often sat in front of the television and go, “Look, a Sardar,” as soon as we see a Sikh man on the screen. Ditto on the streets here. The same reaction.
In my younger days as a reporter in Gujarat, India, I was even called “Look, Gurudwara (the Sikh temple) has come” by towns folk in a remote hamlet as scores of them followed me while on assignment. This was because they had never seen a Sikh except on television.
There are thousands on the road but a Sardar is a Sardar – different!
It has even prompted an enterprising “webaholic” to set up a “Lookasingh” website, Instagram account and Facebook page where Sikhs are shown in several parts of the world engaged in various activities.
Needless to say, the sites are a smashing hit.
With Sir Ben, who has earlier played Gandhi, being cast at the main lead in this new film, it is sure to make the Sikhs even more “recognisable” beings. And, as usual, the veteran actor looks very convincing in the role.
As one cartoon showed, tongue-in-cheek, perhaps the only flip side is that most Sikhs cannot have McDonald burgers – the mayo rubs off on the mustache!