Bahrain means “two seas” in Arabic, but since we landed we’ve hardly seen one, except from high perspectives. Get to the sea; that was the goal of an unusual Saturday road trip.
The night before that, we watched one of The Wonderful World of Disney’s opuses in a historic building in the heart of Manama – explaining the World to the youth. In the tale “Hamad and the Pirates”, we follow 12-year old Hamad’s journey in trying to get back to Bahrain Harbor after being shipwrecked. Filmed in Bahrain and the UAE and Released in 1971 (well before grand red carpet opening nights and fashionable film festivals), the goal was to describe every aspect of life in the Khaleej (Gulf).
Finally! A clue about Bahrain’s name.
If one of the “seas” is obvious, the second would be the result of a surprising geological phenomenon known as flowing Artesian aquifer. In other words, fresh water reaching the surface. Those wells are located at the bottom of the sea itself, allowing the encounter of fresh and salty waters or, as we say here, the encounter of “two seas”.
On our way to the sea an unexpected phone call led us to an even more unexpected meeting. As we arrived at Qal’at al-Bahrain (Fort of Barhain), a beautiful relinquish of a Portuguese presence, we ran into what we first took to be a heteroclite group of people. About a dozen fellows were gathering in the Fort museum to celebrate a success. That’s when we first met the people of ” Ulafa’a”, young artists from various walks of life and different artistic scopes, trying to unite people around their common shared passion.
Street artists, media artists, photographers, painters… united by the idea that Art can bring people together. Looking at them, full of passion and joy, we were convinced they couldn’t have chosen a better spot to celebrate their 1000th follower on the Instagram platform. What could be more solid than an old Fortress foundation? The most important element for us, as they are about our age, was the warm welcome they offered.
Among them, believe it or not, André and Maria Jacquemetton, both Mad Men co-writers, who were sharing this unique moment.
After quickly grabbing a piece of cake, representing the Instagram logo, we went for another meeting, sure in our minds that we would definitely see those guys again.
Back to midtown high-rise buildings, smoking in the car, listening to the Rolling Stones with all windows open, we were late! Again! As usual… we really have to drop that bad habit!
The traffic over here doesn’t quite help, and Melchior’s driving even less. He keeps on taking the wrong highway ramps whispering “ne t’inquiète pas” (“don’t worry”), while chewing a mint sweet and lightning the 1000th cigarette of the day (we don’t celebrate that!). To be fair, everybody’s late here…
We were on our way to have supper with Shahnaz at her place. We had to discuss the project, and thank God we did because it reminded us all of the goal of this book; showing the Gulf through urban art. Sounds simple right? Actually, it’s not. It never is and I had to hear it again. It was a passionate talk about our own expectations.
And as always, Shahnaz was of great help. A wonderful supper, about which she keeps apologizing because she is convinced the food wasn’t good enough. Maybe it’s because we are French, so we are supposed to be snobbish about food. Doesn’t matter, it was great, and that’s all that matters.
Not only did she nourish our bodies but also our souls, giving us inspiration and above all, motivation. That’s all we needed to head back home.
Back in the car, smoking cigarettes, licking mint candies, taking the wrong road, listening to… Lady Gaga, surrounded by two seas…yes we had a perfect day, no way could it last…