bahrain picks up the pieces after violent protests
Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
Arab Today, arab today

The country is counting the cost of the events

Bahrain picks up the pieces after violent protests

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Bahrain picks up the pieces after violent protests

Mourners attend the funeral of Ridha Mohammad in Malkiya
Manama - Arabstoday

Mourners attend the funeral of Ridha Mohammad in Malkiya This island nation is counting the cost of the events of the past week. There is a physical toll in lives lost, bones broken, death defied. There is a mental toll of emotions endured , nerves needled, hearts heavy. And there is a business loss of opportunities overturned, flights unfilled and good will gone. When accountants count the cost of a company, they figure in: "good will" - a hard to define concept that sits uneasily in the columns of generally accepted accounting principles.
When economists sit down to count the cost of these past few days, they will look to the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix and apply a figure. But there are the many little things that can never be accounted for and will never figure into any reckoning.
The taxi drivers outside the Delmon Hotel have had few fares. And those that they have had, had been hardly worth the drive because of congested streets. Yes there are those that are entrepreneurial: at the Pearl Roundabout, a barber shop in a tent was doing brisk business as anti-government protesters had beards clipped and hair coiffed.
Protesting is a messy business, after all, and there's nothing like a good shave to sharpen resolve. Another entrepreneur had set up a small table and was hawking -  much to the annoyance of some ?the discarded material of the police.
CS gas cylinders, used, for a dinar; rubber baton rounds, five for dinar. The johnny-come-lately journalists who had missed the action first hand were snapping up these souvenirs.
Mine were obtained first hand. When you stand the rubber bullet cylinders on end, they make a good pen holder. I can see children in the future covering these in glue and sparkles and macaroni shells and using them as arts and crafts projects, much as they do now with tuna tins?
Hasn't every parent who has a child in school received such a gift? Precious because of the tiny fingers and tongue-out concentration that made it; joyous reminders that our young are becoming older, to be hidden away at the first chance then pulled from a box of memories with the laughs of life's passing.
I saw many children in cars, waving flags, in Sunni and Shia gatherings alike. Do they understand what is happening? Do they know of history or politics, constitution or cabinet, police and protest? Will those children have dreams of a better Bahrain? Will they have nightmares of a sleep suddenly interrupted?
I listened to a saxophone player play a haunting Arabic melody  - melancholic and mournful - as he sat beneath the white arching concrete columns holding the pearl aloft.
It brought a sadness to my heart, made it heavy for the happenings I had been witness to. I sat on a concrete brick across from the roundabout and contemplated all this. I was feeling a little blue, a little bewildered.
Then the most wonderful thing happened. I struck up a conversation with Ebrahim Radhi, a gentle man and a gentleman. We talked at length about Bahrain, the situation, my impressions, his thoughts, our hopes. We are close in age, he invited me to his home for dinner, an invitation which I regretfully and respectfully declined because of my work.
He was a most interesting man, retired from banking ? he was in sub-prime end of things, managing an $800 million portfolio which, despite all that happened in the US, lost just $20 million. We talked at length about Dubai, the GCC, the US, Iran, Bahrain.
Our views were similar.  "My friend, I tell you, this will all pass and we will live together as one. But both side needs to be realistic," he said. "There is a need for more jobs and better housing in the villages."
"The villages", I have learnt and seen, are places were housing is poor, families sharing homes, the young with no jobs despite having education and aspirations.
My driver took me to Jid Al Haj, Karranh, Mugsha, places where the roads are poor and the people poorer. Black or green flags flying from rooftops amidst satellite dishes and telephone and power lines. It is in these places that change must come.
And who will count the cost of that?
 

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