Thursday, September 20, 2007

I love/hate you ESPN

I'm not an athletic person at all. I have no competitive streak in me. The only physical exercise I partake in is jogging and I've never been in a marathon of any sort. I was never the kid that got picked last in gym class, I was just the kid that was never there. I just didn't care for playing any competitive games at all. But still, I think I can say I understand sports.

Growing up, I never interfered with football games on TV or the strange language of baseball players between my brothers. I got it - sports are important to men and that's just the way it is. It never bothered me, I never thought of it. When I went to college, I even became an avid football supporter - I became the girl who jumped on her chair and screamed in the face of a rival team's supporter when my team won an important game (Vimmel, if you ever read this, I'm not sorry). Still, I never went to play footie with the boys or try my hand at squash or hockey and at the same time I never dismissed any of it as being unimportant to anyone. I valued how people felt about sports.

Towards the end of my college years, I met this guy and I kinda liked him. He was pretty cool; he was smart, funny, down to earth, a bit of a geek, listened to some cool indie music. He was also a crazy sports fan and I thought that was pretty cool too. I actually thought it was important to like a guy who liked sports, because it gave him something to feel passionately about. Not so cool that he felt so passionately about my team's rival football team, but I pushed that aside. He had other good qualities in him. So I didn't think too much of it.

Soon enough, I started dating this guy. The first week of our official courting we spent watching Euro 2004. Our first summer was spent explaining the rules of the NFL and rugby. The rest of our courtship was filled with endless football games, international competitions and even lazy days watching darts (Phil the Power Taylor and his arch nemeses Scholten). I didn't really mind, I was pretty easy going about it. I toned down my hooligan ways and let him explain things to me I pretended I didn’t know already. It was sweet.

Me and the boyfriend then got engaged. Amazing, flowers everywhere, congratulatory wishes and everyone’s blessings. Things were great. Everyone was happy for us, we were especially happy. Boyfriend now becomes fiancé and is still ever as much a crazy sports fan. All is still cool.

Fiancées both move back home and back into their parents houses and fiancées want to live a happy engaged life together, as you do. But wait, how are we going to go about this fiancé business with all these sports on? I mean, the premier league is going to start soon... That will take away Saturdays and Sundays... Short after the Champions league will start too, so Tuesdays and Wednesdays are going to be written off as well... What now?

Male Fiancé gets an idea: He'll get a Showbox aka the-answers-to-all-my-problems-in-a-box-box. Showbox has a function where you can record TV shows to watch later a la sky plus. Excellent. No problems missing any important games. Perfect, perfect. I even call up Showtime to give them a shout so they can install his box faster, all in hopes that now we’ll be able to spend far more time together. Game’s on at 6 - that also coincides with dinner with all our friends for someone’s birthday that’s really in 3 weeks but we wanted to throw it now incase anyone travels at any point in between…? When this could have been an issue, it now was not a problem: we have the ShowDreambox…

Or so I thought.

Because then the inevitable happened. I mean, what was I thinking? That it was just going to end there? Here, let me set the timer for the United game today and then me and Fiancée can go back to being in love and… wait a minute, the Chelsea game’s playing too… Hmm… I should probably record that too… Wait, wait, I have to record the Liverpool game so I can taunt my best friend about it later… Hmmmm again… I wonder what else is on today…

You may think you got the picture but you really gotta try and picture it: Next thing it’s International friendlies. Then it’s Champion’s League games. Then it’s the Rugby World Cup. Then it’s anything where there’s people and a ball and screaming fan(s) and a whistle blown at the end and Fiancé going “Oh Wow it’s over” with a big sigh of relief like people did when someone big gave a speech or a war just ended. And guess what? If he could record them all, he would and he would spend all day indoors watching all the sports he can. Lucky for us, good-for-something-Showbox-box has a limit on how much you can record at the same time. Lucky us.

I thought I got it, I thought I understood sports. I mean, we even spent that summer watching the Ashes, remember? Wasn’t it nice? Couldn’t it have just ended there? I know that would have been asking for too much because I had to face reality: This was it, my fiancé is a sports lunatic. Fiancé has even asked that our wedding date does not clash with any major sporting events. And when I mockingly asked what game could be more important than our wedding day I should have known what would happen next: Fiancé’s silent blinking face stared at me as in his head he named all the major sporting events which he could not, under any circumstances, not even his wedding day, miss watching live.

I think I still get it, I think we’ve managed to work out a system in which we’re as happy as we can be. Sports are still being watched and fun stuff is still being done. We lay down the law as soon as we saw a potential conflict arise: Once I’m done with work, the remote control is dropped and we continue along our merry way. There are still many “but for’s”, but we’re managing pretty well so far.

I even let him read a bit of this post as I was writing it last night. He was watching some footie and flipping through the flip-through ART sports channel and he asked to read what I was typing. See, I told myself, he’s doesn’t completely zone out when the football’s on. I propped up the laptop and showed him what I was saying about him, I wanted to make sure he thought it wasn’t too inappropriate, writing out our private lives and all… In short, when he stopped reading out loud and snapped his head back to the TV screen, I knew that this wasn’t going to be a problem. I almost expected it to happen. And rather than get angry, I just laughed and finished writing this post.

There are a lot of girls that like sports. I enjoy watching sports on TV, I like the rush. I get in the spirit. But I also learned that I have other priorities in life that make sports take a back seat after a while. Men don’t really have that and I think women don’t really understand it. My only piece of advice to all girls out there is to humour them. Don’t pretend to be into it if you’re heart’s not in it, but don’t let it get to you either. It’s just sports. Don’t ever say that to your male companion either. Just find the funny side to it. Because when your fiancé starts listing sporting events that cannot, under any circumstances, coincide with your wedding day, all you can do then is laugh. Or call me up and I’ll laugh for the both of us.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

1 Ramadhan 1428

God works in mysterious ways...

Monday, September 03, 2007

My summer island hopping (Bahrain is an archipelago after all)

It has been a hot summer here and I did not anticipate it to be otherwise. Hot, sticky and humid. It has been a nice summer.

I could have only guessed my stay here would fly by with days in the office and nights fluttering between one social event to the next. Weekends were spent with my family and his family and their family and then at various dinner parties eating Thai tidbits until 2 months flew by. I carelessly counted the days until reality told me my time here is coming to an end and soon I'll be back on the outside looking into a world I forgot I was a part of.

It's been a good summer because I love Bahrain. I love hanging out with my family and my childhood friends. I love cocktail Kuwaiti from Burair and drive-thru everything. I love the simple life here that can get you as far as you need. It's great, isn't it? My friends abroad leave me jealous facebook messages on how sunny life must be here and how wonderful it all is.
What I don't tell them is that after a whole summer here I've now got an itch that no matter how much I scratch will not go away. Who was I kidding, a whole summer here and I was expected to stay sane? With no special exhibitions in museums, no parks, no outdoors activities, no long walks, no intellectual stimulation, no anything new and no character to anything around me, was I supposed to be just fine and not feel useless?
I may have been working since day 2 of being back but I've just felt generally lazy this summer. I can't pinpoint what it was and I feel pangs of guilt everytime I try to break it down, but it just might be that I tried too hard to transition into life here and it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. I miss being outdoors and exploring, I miss going for a run and then having a day jam packed with things to do. I miss being busy with "that sort of life" that a lot of people here just don't understand - "Miskeena" they say, shaking their heads "you're always running around, you don't have time to take care of yourself and relax"... all I can think is that maybe I like that kind of life...

I hated it when people said they "hate Bahrain" but I sympathise when people said it's "boring". It is boring and if you don't find ways to keep yourself busy it could drive you crazy. Life in Bahrain is far slower than many places in the world and if you don't accept it, you will go mad. I see people in Bahrain who are comfortable. They have their jobs, their social lives, their routines and it suits them just fine. I don't see myself there just yet. Where's the music, the art, the life? Or am I just being too ambitious?

And this is why I love London. I love every bit of it - even the mad bursts of sunshine in between rainy days, park lunches and all the media types of Soho. I love the side streets and the cafes, I love the Indian men in corner shops who drive Mercedes because they over charge you for a bottle of water and a Kitkat. I love the monuments, the benches, the Thames, I love everything about London. I love the Electric Ballroom and Harlem, kebab at Behesht and Kulfi from Brick Lane in Ramadhan. I'm itching to go back to the way things were when I was there... back to walking up long escalators and crossing streets like a real pedestrian. I miss our cafe nero and the beep of my oyster card, I miss shuffling through lines of slow people, I really miss it all... It's just my city and right now I feel like I need to go back.

Sometimes other Bahrainis talk about London and how much they love it, and I try not to get too possessive. I mean, not everyone knows where the best dim sum is or what it feels like to be attacked by a hobo. A lot of people don't know London overground or what buildings are teaching hospitals and elementary schools. Probably none of these people have ever worn mismatched clothes and gotten complimented on their outfit. Still, it's such a great city that it can be anyone's city - there's just so much to see and feel and taste and experience with all your senses and enough to go around for 11 million people at a time... Oh, I sigh as I write about London with a dreamy look on my face, I do love my city...

I love Bahrain but I miss my life in London. I miss being energetic, being arty for a day, being professional the next, being serious all morning and fun fun fun the rest of the time. I just haven't figured out how to bring that here.
Maybe what I need is to get away and reflect about all of this.
Maybe I'll do just that... 6 months in London again? Back to suiting, booting and commuting?
Perhaps that's exactly what I need...

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