Sunday, May 17, 2015

Bab el Bahrain / باب البحرين

Gateway to Bahrain stands tall and proud
Historic building in a concrete jungle
Vestige of the past, smack in the middle
Of glitz and neon lights, built on reclaimed land.
It opens into another world all together:
Manama souq, with all its winding alleys and hidden shops
Shawarma joints, meat roasting on the spit
Gold shops, dazzling and tempting pockets
Arabic sweets, spices, heady scent of attar
Mingle with the fetid stench of trash cans
The call to prayer drowns loud voices, arguing, haggling
This is like the Tower of Babel.
Many languages, many tongues, springing surprises,
An Irani vendor argues in Malayalam,
Just as a Malabari shopkeeper shouts in Arabic.
In a secret corner, lies a sanctuary of silence.
A mandir to Krishna, solace to those who've left home.
Rich, yellow laddoos offered to the Lord,
Bridging the gap of the ocean between home and destiny.
During Muharram, there is a different kind of chaos,
Crowds of the faithful, swathed in robes of black,
Drum beats, funereal procession, solemn dirge
To remember the Martyrs at the Battle of Karbala.
Can I go back in time?
To when I was just a little girl
In a navy blue pinafore
Skipping along these very streets
Busy chattering, never minding
The merciless afternoon sun
As I walked back home.

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Bab el Bahrain / باب البحرين

Gateway to Bahrain stands tall and proud
Historic building in a concrete jungle
Vestige of the past, smack in the middle
Of glitz and neon lights, built on reclaimed land.
It opens into another world all together:
Manama souq, with all its winding alleys and hidden shops
Shawarma joints, meat roasting on the spit
Gold shops, dazzling and tempting pockets
Arabic sweets, spices, heady scent of attar
Mingle with the fetid stench of trash cans
The call to prayer drowns loud voices, arguing, haggling
This is like the Tower of Babel.
Many languages, many tongues, springing surprises,
An Irani vendor argues in Malayalam,
Just as a Malabari shopkeeper shouts in Arabic.
In a secret corner, lies a sanctuary of silence.
A mandir to Krishna, solace to those who've left home.
Rich, yellow laddoos offered to the Lord,
Bridging the gap of the ocean between home and destiny.
During Muharram, there is a different kind of chaos,
Crowds of the faithful, swathed in robes of black,
Drum beats, funereal procession, solemn dirge
To remember the Martyrs at the Battle of Karbala.
Can I go back in time?
To when I was just a little girl
In a navy blue pinafore
Skipping along these very streets
Busy chattering, never minding
The merciless afternoon sun
As I walked back home.

No comments:

Post a Comment