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Culture clash Bahrain December 3, 2007

Posted by Aella in Bahrain, Culture, India, Lebanon, Manama, Pakistan.

I must say living here sometimes is confusing. When I lived in Lebanon I met mainly Lebanese people and through them I learned about the culture, their habits, traditions and also parts of the spoken language. Now, in Bahrain it’s totally different. Here I daily meet people from several different cultures and I mean cultures that has hardly anything in common. People from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Bahrain and other Arab countries (I won’t mention the Western cultures cus I am quite used to them).

Now, I am not quite sure what I am trying to say here but ehm, what I mean is that it gets confusing trying to figure out the cultures from these different countries. For example, many Westerners I meet think that all Arab countries have the same culture. Nothing can be further from the truth of course. If you compare for example Lebanon and Saudi (since I have lived in both these places) you will find that these countries haven’t got much in common at all. When I meet an Indian for example they are quite different from my experience than say people from Bangladesh. I know the history of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan (not in detail) but still they are very different people in their own right.

I like to know some words and phrases of the people that I deal with on a daily basis but here I am faced with the prospects of having to learn some Tagalog, Hindi (or urdu even?), Bengali and of course also the Bahraini spoken Arabic (which I haven’t managed to pick up any words from yet). Do I sound like a sick person? Ah perhaps, but I do find it useful to know some basic phrases when dealing with people.

I must say it is confusing. One might say, but people speak English right. Well, that doesn’t really help when I really can’t understand what they are saying at times. I find for example the Indian accent really hard to understand. For some reason the Pakistani one is easier. I can stand like a question mark and say Uhm sorry what did you say when someone confidently explains to me that – No that’s not cheese it pudder! Pudder? This man laughed at me and say yes Pudder. I then carefully asked if hmm that was something Indian? He then laughed hard and went over to a cupboard and took out a box that had the letters B U T T E R written on them…. Aaaah butter!!!! I exclaimed in a really surprised voice feeling as if I had made a major discovery that should grant me some kind of a Nobel Prize..

Anyway, I guess in time I will have learnt some about living here.



1. rainmountain - December 3, 2007

That very much reminds me of my husband trying to make sense of what people here are trying to tell him 🙂
He starts to listen to me now when I tell him things, like prices and well, sometimes the translations of what people are saying.
But there have been times when he got mad when I corrected some of his “understandings”. Changed quickly after a quite expensive taxi ride 😉

I often have trouble to figure what people are saying, but most times it works.
I have more trouble with Black Americans than with Indians 😉

But I understand where you are coming from and what you are trying to do.
I just lost most of my appetite of learning languages in countries where there are 5 or more versions for one thing to say 😉

2. Sous - December 3, 2007

Hehe your husband sounds like me. One thing that often confuses me is the Indians/Pakistanis/Bangladeshis shaking their head as in a No when they in fact mean Yes. So many times I have stood there thinking a person means No when he means Yes…

3. Albums of the 1970s » Blog Archive » Culture clash Bahrain - December 3, 2007

[…] Culture clash BahrainBy SousI must say living here sometimes is confusing. When I lived in Lebanon I met mainly Lebanese people and through them I learned about the culture, their habits, traditions and also parts of the spoken language. …S as in Saudi – http://sasinsaudi.com […]

4. Mich - December 3, 2007

Livemocha.com is a free language learning site with many languages available. Maybe that would help your husband.

5. Sous - December 6, 2007

Wow what was a great site Mich. I went there and registered and I am learning some Hindi right now 🙂 . Cool place. Thanks.

6. Ammar - December 13, 2007

bahrain is a melting pot of cultures; you have europeans, americans, africans, other gulf citizens, indians and far easter asians, and so on. if you think its bad here, take a trip to dubai! you get completely lost; the typical emarati is lost in dubai, hardly exists anymore

7. Sous - December 13, 2007

Bahrain sure is a melting pot. I think it’s nice even if it is confusing at times. I haven’t been to Dubai but inshallah in the future I will get to go there and see the diversity and all of the other things Dubai has to offer.

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