Archive for January, 2007

Nido and Oil: Keep on Dreaming, and the Kids Will Hate

January 31, 2007

What’s Nido’s favourite drink?

Nido Milk? Wrong. A nidoer would never be caught drinking Nido. It’s too low class. He’ll most probably drink Danone instead.

Johnny Walker or Jack Daniel? Mr. Nido definitely loves his whiskey, but this doesn’t even approach his addiction to the liquid in question.

The answer is oil.

Is there any poor soul out there who’s still dillusional about how we are completely dependant on oil? About the sad reality that every aspect of our life and indeed our life itself has been shaped, dictated, and defined by oil?

Look around you. That ultra cool and silent Japanese Air Conditioner is due to oil. That swanky latest edition Swedish phone has been bought by oil. The philipino maid that sweeps your house, cooks your food and cleans your clothes is here because of oil. That German car, those American fast food shops, and even your Itlalian designed and Chinese made underwear.

Don’t be fooled by those who tell you that Bahrain has diversifie from oil. That’s utter and complete rubbish. “But wait!”, you say, ” oil Oil only makes up 11% of our GDP!” Yes, but it makes up 76% of government revenue. Yup, a whopping three quarters.

Still don’t get it? Well let’s take a detour into that murky and shady world of economics. You see, pretty much every thing in the country is dependant on that precious black gold. Oil pays the wages of government sector employees, which constitute two third of bahrainis employed . These wages in turn are used to pay for the Shawarmas, the cars, the computers, the houses we build, and the maids who sweep these houses. The money that is paid to the shops and companies that provides these goods become the wages of the workers in these companies and the profits of the hamoors (fat cats) who own them. We of course all know that the other third of bahraini workers and the expat workers (who constitute 67% of the workforce in Bahrain) are paid from these wages. They in turn spend their wages on shwarmas, cars, maids, houses, and the cycle goes on. In the case of expats a big chunk of their wages are sent oversees to never be seen again the economy.

You see, although oil constitutes 11% of the GDP, it is the most important component of GDP. It is the fuel (notice the pun) that propels the rest of the economy. Take away the oil and you take away the Shawarmas, the cars, the maids and the ACs.

Yes, you might say, my daddy worked hard to provide me with CK underwear. Yes, you might say, he opened a business to buy me the latest car for me. Unfortunately the money that makes up his wages and profits started from that good old fountain of oil. Take away the oil and the government can no longer pay his wages and people can no longer afford to buy his company goods.

But wait, what about that Banking sector? That glorious sector that is the pride and joy of Bahrain? Come on, you know better than that. Did you know the Banking sector employs a whopping 7200 people, including expats? Let me repeat that, including expats, and we all know how much expats constitute of the work force. Did you know that Bahrain’s Bahraini workforce is more than 120,000 (this is a rant, not an economic study, so don’t expact exact numbers), and it is growing every year? Now let us be generous and assume all of those 7200 are Bahrainis. In fact let us be even more generous and assume the country’s bank sector has a massive boom and suddenly there are 14,000 jobs, all filled by Bahrainis. That’s still less than 15% of the local workforce that the banking sector can employ. What are you gonna do with the rest?

Let us not forget as well that the money that fuels these banks is all oil money. It’s rich Saudis and Kuwaitis depositing their money in Banks like ABC and Investcorp. What are those banks going to do when the oil money dries up?

Formula 1? Really? How many BAHRAINIS can the Formula 1 employ on a regular basis (I’m not talking here about ushers that work one week out of the whole year)? 500? 1000? 10,000? Let’s be serious here. I mean…. does the Formula one even make money? How exactly is it going to rake in the money for the government?

Amwaj? Durrat Al Bahrain? Riffa views? Besides the ecological disaster that will ensue because of turning a desert into the French Riviera (what the hell are they thinking with Riffa views? The country is a desert for a reason. You can’t just screw nature and turn it into an English Countryside!), how exactly is this going to benefit the country? Besides the drain on the limited water and electricity resources to fund this Shenanigan, how many Bahrainis are going to be employed on this project? You think most of the builders out there at the moment and the employees and waitresses they’ll subsequently bring will be Bahraini? Do you even think most of the people that can afford houses on these projects will be Bahraini?

How about we just depend on “al keyada al rasheedah” (the wise leadership) and their economic management genius? I see…. so in the nineties when we were in a severe recession (which, by pure coincidence I assure you, is when the oil prices dropped considerably) did our glorious and wise rulers lose their deft econmic touch for a decade? Do you seriously think they will be our saviours?

Our glorious rulers, I can assure you, have more than enough money to satisfy themselves, their children, their grandchildren, their great grandchildren, their great great grandchildren and then some. When it all hits the fan and the oil runs out they can all afford to have nice houses in marbella and London to flock off to. What are you going to do?

You know, it’s not a a very hard and complicated formula to become a modern independent economy. You don’t need a legion of Economists, McKinsey consultants, and wise leaders to come up with a plan. Look at every goddamn country that has managed to develop. You need three things: education, strong industries, and a governmental and legal structures to support them. Look at Japan, Korea, Ireland. Those guys had sod all in terms of natural resources. They, however, built impressive industries, well educated labour force, and an impressive governmental and legal structure to support it. It’s not an extremely complicated formula. The hard part comes in executing this plan and in having the finances for it. It’s that good old economic dillemma: How in hell can I get the finances and money to build a modern industrial economy and the institutions and educational structrues to support it?

Now we in the Gulf have been given a great gift by god. We got oil. Good old sweet black gold. While other countries have to fret about where to get the finances, we literally have got oil to pay for it. Hell, we don’t even have to work hard to get this oil. You literally dig the ground and it sprouts out. No Siberian grim winters or deep reservoirs to worry about. It’s literally at ground level, and it’s even at a slant so that once you dig a whole and put a pipe in the glorious stuff spouts out of its own accord! You literally can put your feet up, lay back and relax!

The problem is we have put up our feet and just relaxed. Do we take that money and invest it in building moderny sustainable industries and in our education system? Of course not. We go wasting it on Merdeses, sushi bars, large fountains and Riffa views.

Do you know that Cambridge University’s total endowment is 4.1 billion pounds? This is of course including its land and buildings that it can’t do much about? Do you know that the gulf has spent more than 600 billion dollars on its defense in the last 20 years? YES, 600 BILLION. CASH. 600 GODDAMN BILLION. IN CASH. That is such a high number it sounds like one of those massive numbers that people spout out to show how ridiculous something is, like when you go “600 gazillion trillion billion.” Do we have ONE world class university to show for it? Nope, we’ve got universities that set up shop in shopping malls to make money. Do we have ONE world class research institution? Hell, we don’t even have a decent army! Der3 el Jazeera ou Der3 al Jazeera. The island shield and the island shield. Well that 600 billion piece of wonder didn’t even survive seven hours against Saddam’s army.

We all heard ancient fairytales or relligious stories about a destitute and poor society that was suddenly blessed by god and suddenly had a massive treasure dropped on them from the sky (in our case from under our feet). Does this society thank the stars for its fortune? Does it try to utilize this fortune into developing itself and creating more growth? Nope, it starts spending it on luxuries and leisurely goods. It starts to get arrogant. It forgets how it used to be poor and how lucky it is in the fortune it came across. It become addicted to its materialistic lifestyle, consuming more and more and growing fatter and fatter.

It is ironic that we never learn from history or from fairy tails. Any creature with an IQ of a sunflower seed can tell that this is not sustainable. Any bozo can fathom that this oil glut is not sustainable and that we should take this limited resource and invest maturely into industries that will sustain the economy of the country. Isn’t it pretty simple? Oil is non-renewable and limited resource. Hence, we should take this great fortune and invest it into something renewable and sustainable.

We however have been drugged by the effects of oil. We have ceased to look at the world rationally. Our minds and senses have been enchanted by the swanky cars, the luxury houses, the servants who do our every bidding. We have closed our eyes on our reality in order to enjoy this dream of a materialistic lifestyle. Isn’t it amazing how our entire life has been consumed by oil? How it has shaped our houses, roads, cars jobs? That black, guey, lifeless, substance? Heck, it has even taken over our thoughts, creating in front of us a mirage of a well functioning easygoing lifestyle that can last forever. How can this commodity have come to control us nay even enslave us so thoroughly?

We have become dependant on oil for everything. We have become like a fat grotesque goblin that is absolutely addicted to the black guey substance. This obese creature lies there with tubes coming out of his every edifice pumping oil into hiim to sustain him. He is so fat that he can’t even move and be productive. He has to shower that black gold on others in order to build his house, feed him, and clean up his mess. He literally cannot even sustain himself, let alone sustain a job to pay for his grotesque lifestyle.

Has he forgotten so quickly how harsh life can be? Has he forgotten the days when he was an agile scrawny person who had to take on the sea for months on end, dodging sharks and infections, in order to fetch a small pearl? Has the coolness of the A/C made him forget the unforgiving heat of the sun, when had to slave away on the fields for hours on end? Has oil blinded his memory towards the fountain of life that the sea and the fertile land has provided him with for thousands of years? Has his betrayal reached the level of killing them in order to build a few artifical islands and palaces to satisfy his unsatiable greed? Is he oblivious that the oil will run out, and that when he will need the sea and the palms in order to survive, he’ll realize that he has killed his life-long friends for a whimsical desire?

What in hell are you going to do when the oil runs out? What will you get up to when the banks’ oil funds dry up and they leave? Will you go pearl diving? We have already killed the sea and the Japanese have developed synthetic pearls. Will you catch fish? We have already driven them away by building on them fake islands. Will you grow palm trees? You have cut them down and used their land for houses, their water for your backgarden. Will you sell Halwa or make a few 7asalat pottery?

You can’t forever expect that oil will import everything for you. You can’t forever import cars. You can’t forever import your food. You can’t forever import workers to build your roads, your houses, to serve your food, to cook for you, and to clean after you. You can’t import education, industy, and development. These require planning and hard work. You can’t simply just import a life by oil and then not expect that life to vanish when you no longer have oil.

Can’t we see how oil has become the source of life for us? From our underwear to our jobs? Can’t we see that it has become our life? Can’t we see that this drug has created an illusion, a la la land dream life that is unsustainable?

What will it take? Our kids and grandkids stoning our graves and going , “You bastards. God gave you this gift that you didn’t even have to work hard for, and you wasted it all on usless stuff like sushi, Mercedes, and a massive fountain? On top of this you killed all the land and the sea and left me with nothing? Is this what I have to show for your wealth ? A goddamn fountain?”

When will we wake up?

When will we wake up?

Keep on dreaming, and I’ll shut up.

Advertisements

Laziness, Babu, Goddamn Economists and Nido

January 25, 2007

The biggest fallacy in Economics that has been gulped up by many a nidoers is this:

Poor people are lazy, dumb, and less productive. Hence they deserve to be poor and can only blame themselves for the situation they’re in. We, on the other hand, are smart, hardworking, efficient, and well educated. Hence we deserve to be rich.

We have all heard many a nidoers use this ridiculous line before. I have great English, I am very well educated, I am hardworking, and hence I deserve all the money that I get. In fact I probably deserve more money. Poor people on the other hand have pitiful English, most likely haven’t even finished school, they are goddamn lazy, they demand too much, and hence deserve zilch.

Let’s take this argument point by point, Mr. Nidoer. First education. Good old nido went to a private school, probably the best there is in the country. How did he get in? Well, Daddy’s money to be sure. He got the best teachers, the best facilities, and the best (American) text books there are. Heck, he even had a nice shiny Mercedes driven by his private chauffeur that drops him right at the front door. No spending was spared on the coolest and latest fashion attire, school bags, shoes, and pencil cases.

Good old nido gets the chance to take classes no other schools in Bahrain can offer. He can learn to play an instrument; heck he can even buy that instrument. Not that he’ll play it much, he’ll get bored after a month or two. He can even take a class in a third language (third being a very generous term here, considering the state of his arabic); French or something. It is doubtful that he’ll learn anything in French except watching a few softcore French nudity movies. Still, it’ll be handy on his CV when he applies to those illustrious jobs.

Even with all these endowments, good old Nido still barely averages a C, and when he gets a B- the world turns upside down. Parties and celebrations ensue, and mommy and daddy each get him a watch or a playstation to celebrate this historical moment.

That playstation unfortunately has some side effects. A nidoer’s grades fluctuate up and down. Hell he even might fail a year or even two. Mummy and Daddy have to pay for personal tuting at a whopping 20BD an hour for the best tutors, and still good old Nido struggles.

Finally nidoman graduates. It’s a glorious C- but who really cares. Nidoman had the time of his life in high school flirting with girls and playing videogames. A big bash ensues in order to celebrate his achievement. No graduation ceremonies, parties and feasts are spared. He is showered with gifts. Daddy gets him a Porsche, mommy a rolex. Cousins and friends chip in with ties, cufflinks, videogames, and good old money. What a glorious time.

Mr. Nido needs to go to university. That C- and failed years don’t look very good on his transcript. No worries. Daddy’s money comes to the rescue. For there are many a university that’ll push and shove in order to sign up Mr. Nido. No one can turn down good old Nido cash. The world is his oyster. There is the UK, the U.S, Australia, maybe even Canada. Heck, Mr. Nido will probably sample all of them. He’ll probably start in the U.K. He’ll fail his first year and need to go somewhere else. Well, why not Canada? You go there and spend a few more years bumming around, smoke dope, drink up, sleep around, and then you fail again. Well no worries, Daddy’s kitty is very deep. Let’s hop over the border to the U.S. Finally after seven years good old Nido gets a university degree. Sure, it’s filled with Ds, but who cares, he had the time of his life romping around in the good old West.

Good old nido comes Back to Bahrain. The first 6 months are boring as hell. He itches and longs for the good old decadence and pleasures of the West. No worries. Daddy’s money helps him settle in. He can spend those six months partying, getting stoned, drinking, and hanging around sushi bars just as he got used to abroad. In the mean time he hires someone to fix his CV up and puts daddy’s was6a maching into action. Every contact in every bank and company in Bahrain is tapped. I mean, his CV sounds pretty impressive. He’s educated abroad (the Fs and repeats are omitted of course, and the D’s are reworded into “pass/fail” marks). He even has French listed down. There are some made up societies on there just to make sure he gives the impression of a worldly and well rounded person. Finally after some arm twisting and ” you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” daddy is able to find a job for nido. Investment banking, accounting, consulting, IT, whatever it is. Nido’s main criteria is money, and tons of it. Whatever job facilitates that he’ll take up.

And you dare to call poor people dumb, lazy, and uneducated and therefore worthy of the misery and squalor they are in?

The poor didn’t have a chauffeur to drive them right up to the best school in the country. They have to go to the pathetic state school system we have in place. The poor did not have didn’t have daddy’s money to fly off to America for seven years of “education”. They had to fight to get a place in one of the local universities, and 90% of those can’t really be classified as universities but are simply money machines. This is of course if they can go to university. The poor didn’t have daddy’s connections that got them the best job with minimal effort. The poor could not afford to chill out for a few years just for the heck of it or while daddy sorts out the best job for me.

Of course, not all Nidoers and neither are all poor people are like this. Just like any other group of people, there is the hardworking, the smart, the not so-hard working and the not so smart. This is the point. You’re not rich because you’re smart, and they’re not poor because they are dumb. You’re not rich primarily because you had the best education and the best job. In fact it’s the opposite. The fact that you are rich made you have the best education, the best schools, the best universities, and the best jobs, which keeps you being rich! What a glorious circle of life……

Many nidoers hold the inverted and lopsided “lazy” fallacy mentioned above. And why not, for a nidoer can point to good old neoclassical economics to support this drivel. Let us venture a bit into this cult and misty world of neoclassical economics. These economists would tell you income is determined by two things: the amount of time you spend working, and your productivity. A person can either chose to work for long hours, gaining high wages, or he could choose to have high “leisure” (an economic euphimism for being lazy) and hence receive less wages. This is not the only determinant of wages, however. There is also “productivity” or “efficiency”. Some people are more productive or efficient than others, and hence receive higher wages. “Productivity” is usually determined or “signalled” by a person’s education. The higher the education the higher the productivity. Hence highly educated and productive people who work long hours are rich, and lazy, uneducated, unproductive people are poor. It’s that simple.

This vision, to say the least, is warped. It’s all good and well that highly educated people get paid more money, but where in this analysis is it considered that rich people and nidoers get a better education to start with, and hence end up being paid more? Nope, none of that in good old classical economics. The “assumption” (and boy do economists love their assumptions) is that everyone starts from the same position, that good old concept of a “representative agent”, where all people are the same and have the same background, money, tastes, and environment. From there they choose their education and how hard to work, which determines their income. Hence rich people are rich because they chose to work hard and got a good education; poor people chose to be lazy and uneducated. Tough luck for them.

This is the demented world of neo-classical economists, which are unfortunately nowadays 90% of economists out there. They have no conceptions of historical reasons, social conditions, and political factors for why a society developed in particular why or is in its current condition. Nope, economics has to be “pure”, devoid of these silly other social sciences. If something can’t be expressed in an equation, it isn’t worth considering. I’m telling you, never trust anything any of these new “economic scientists” say, because they know zilch about what they are talking about. They can integrate an equation or calculate a regression like no one else though.

Alright enough about the Economists rubbish, my ranting about that peculiar species will be left to another post. Lets get back to our Nidoers and their love to bash poor people. Many statements are used to justify their warped vision. “It’s an Arab or Bahraini thing, They are lazy.” “Poor people aren’t civilized and they just keep multiplying like rabbits and having kids that they can’t teach, can’t feed, can’t take care off and that litter the streets like rats.” We’ve heard all of these before.

“Bahrainis are by nature lazy.” I have always marvelled at this statement. This is in a country that only seventy years ago people had to work their socks off just to feed themselves. They had to go on a rickety wooden boat for months on end, not being able to see their family, dive into the sea until their ears pop, risk drowning and being bitten by a shark only to get some small pearl that he’ll not even see one drop off but instead will go to some nukhetha (ship financier back home) who’ll sell it for a nice profit. All of this to get a few measly rupees that are not enough to feed your family and in fact you end up being in perpetual debt for the rest of your life. To add to this, because of the laws of the country your son has to keep paying your debt after you die. Either this or you go toiling in the fields for hours on end under the scorching heat on a land that isn’t even owned by yourself. No 25 day annual leave, “business lunches”, or two day weekends here.

But no, Bahrainis are by nature lazy.

Then we have the ” they keep multiplying like rabbits. All quantity no quality” argument. Of course this is a familiar argument that rich people use all over the world. Zionists use it when describing Palestinians. “Those goddamn Palestinians. They keep muliplying like rabbits.” Many immigration-phobes use it in Europe, and the same mantras are repeated in pretty much every country by a good chunk of the rich.

I wonder have nidoers ever looked around to see how untrue their arguments are? Have they ever stopped to think about the expat labour toiling away in near-slavery? Where they work as builders in the scorching summer heat for 12 hours a day 7 days a week for 60 BD a month? Do nidoers really think they work harder than these guys? “Ahhh…” they say, “but they are not as smart or productive as us.” Really? Babu in our local convenient store speaks at least four languages (English, Arabic, Hindu, Urdu, and who knows what else) and he never went to a university. And by speak I actually mean he can speak it, not that he attended a few classes so that it shows up on his CV. In fact his Arabic is ten times better than most nidoers I know. You really think you’re smarter than him?

What about Raju sitting next to you in your bank or company, who actually ends up doing most of the work assigned while you browse facebook for double his pay? Do you really think you’re more productive or smarter than him?

Maybe, my nido friend, it is you who is lazy and who has become a burden on the economy and society. Maybe it is you who requires the highest quality sushi and American beef just to not kick away your food and call it tasteless. Maybe it is you who needs to guzzle 80 litres a day of benzine to power your $100,000 hummer. Maybe it is you that needs a kilometer squared of land just to be able to call your house a place worthy of living in. Maybe it is you who needs the state of the art TV, sound system, XBox 360 adn thousands of DVDS just to be able to have a bit of fun. Maybe it is you that needs to keep monopolies and agencies that give only you the control and the right to sell a good in order to keep feeding your expensive habits. Maybe it is you who needs a legion of servants to cook, clean after you, chaperon you around, and do your ironing. Maybe it is you that has turned into a grotesque fat creature that needs to consumer more and more of the the earths limited resources and have more manpower under your service just to satisfy your insatiable appetite for goods?

I can’t help but laugh when I hear these big Hamours on TV or newspapers complaining that “the new generation of Bahrainis are lazy and expect too much, unlike the older generation. That’s why my company (more like serfdom-factory) exclusively employs 5000 indians. They are hardworking, they don’t need a lot of money, and they don’t demand too much. The moral is Bahrainis have to suck it up, work hard, and not expect too much immediately. ” Well that’s all good and dandy Mr. big shot, but not everyone is so poor that he has to accept slavery conditions in order to make a pittance of an earning to support his family 5000 miles away. Why exactly should someone start toiling under the unforgiving Arabian sun for 14 hours, under miserable work conditions and for piss poor pay? Sure, you can always find someone somewhere around the world who is so destitute that he’ll accept these conditions and travel half around the world to do your bidding, but do you seriously expect most people to do that? Does that sound fine to you while your kids get to deck it out in the finest schools, the finest universities, and the finest jobs, simply because they were born rich? Is it fair that while your kids can afford to play video games, flirt in malls, smoke spliffs, drink up, live it up in Marbella or London, and just take it easy for a good chunk of their life these other kids have to start working by the age of 14? Knowing the most that life ever has to offer them is serving your kids in one way or another?

This rant is over.

Bras, Panties, Colonialism, and Nido

January 23, 2007

“We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect.”

Lord Macaulay, British Colonial Administrator in India, 1835

.
.
.

Mr./Mrs. Nido are a colonized creature par excellance. If ever there was a definition of a colonized person, a picture of a nidoer surely should turn up

Colonization of the nidoer is almost total, and it continues onwards unabated. It covers his exterior looks, his job, his activities, his food, his cars, his language, his love life, and seeps deep down to his thoughts.

Imagine a nidoer in front of you right now and let us deconstruct him. First let us take a look at his exterior. His T-shirt will probalby be made by FCUK or DKNY or something along those lines. His jeans, Levis or wrangler; which he’ll make sure to flash as blatantly and loudly as possible. If he’s in formal attire, he’ll be wearing an Armani or Versace suit. Some nidoers go down the other road and deck it out FUBU style. In all cases, it is modelled on some vision of coolness that he borrowed from an American magazine, TV show, or movie. Same goes for his latest fashion hair do and sunglasses. Indeed, if you ask a nidoer to only wear regionally produced goods he would be exposed to you in all his glory. Stark naked. Not a bra or a panty to cover her up. Nada. Completely, utterly, totally naked.

We observe the nidoer in his food habits. Once again colonization seeps deeply here. His diet revolves around burgers, pizzas, and hot dogs. If he tries to be sophisticated he’ll switch to pastas, risottos, and sushis. His haunts will include chillis, papa johns, and more posh places like mirai and trader vics. For coffee he’ll go Starbucks or costa. If you force a nidoer to live on local foods and goods he’ll end up dead within a week.

“So what”, you say? “That’s the characteristics of a modern globalized society.” Hold your horses there. This is only the the cover. His colonization is no petty kalakchy version that only runs skin deep. No Sirreeeeee the colonization is more entrenched than that.

Let us turn to his past times. They are borrowed from the colonizer par excellence. He’ll exclusively watch American movies. The shows he devours will be the OC, desperate housewives, and Scrubs. You might think it’s normal to watch American shows, but no, this guy exclusively watches American shows. No 6ash ma 6ash or Khalid bin Al Waleed for him. He doesn’t even understand those. They might as well be in chinese.

The most clear sign of colonization is his language. The nido-er no longer considers arabic to be his first language. In fact, you can’t even say that he knows arabic. Hell, even his name would most probably be anglicized. Instead of Mohammed he’ll be “Mo”, “Naz” instead of Nizar, or good old “Jo” for Yousif.

Most importantly of all, his thoughts are colonized. This leads to his morals and his outlook on life being colonized as well. Heck, if your main language is English, and one needs a language to think (for how can you think without a language to express those thoughts?) how can you possibly escape thinking and looking at the world in a way dictated by those who gave you the language? If your main food for thought is Friends, The OC, and Scrubs, how can you possibly think but in terms of those shows? If all of your friends are Westernized, how can you possibly not think like a western-wannabe? It is only natural that you start framing issues in terms of a nido-colonized mentality.

I always thought why in Hell’s name did George Bush invade the Arab world in order spread American influence and thoughts? You didn’t have to do that! Globalization is doing that job better than any guns can. No American has to ever set foot in the Arab world and still the American way of life will take over the place. Just let American movies, shows, books, clothes, schools, companies and nidoers do the task! You don’t need to go and bomb the place. Nidoers lap up American culture like Homer Simpson devours doughnuts! They’ll freely convert to your ideas. Throwing in a couple of F-16s in the mix hinders this process. Keep those planes and guns in the TV shows. Nidoers like them there, they are kind of scary in real life.

“We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect.” These are the very perceptive words of Lord Macaulay, a colonial administrator back in the good old days of British colonialism when talking about creating an educational system that would serve best the interests of the British empire. I’m not too sure about the intellect part, but he got the rest bang on when we look at nidoers in Bahrain.

Indeed that turns our attention to one of the more important forces for the advent of Nidoism, the education system. I’m not going to say much of it right now because it will be the subject of another post, but suffice to say that when you learn in English, go to American schools, study American curriculums, and mingle every day with Americanized classmates… well… I’ve banged on about the outcome enough me thinks.

Indeed the nidoer is the best type of colonized person. The colonization has been complete. He is absolutely dependant on his colonizers for everything that he wouldn’t be even able to think without them. From his food to his thoughts, from his clothes to his language. Once we realize this it becomes pretty obvious and non-controversial how a nidoer becomes an agent of western interests in the region. They simply are his interests. The best part of it is that the nidoer is completely content with this colonization. Better yet, most nidoers are completely oblivious to their colonization and haven’t even contemplated the thought. He is like the grateful slave who is dependant for everything on his master. But why should he care? He is a rich and content slave who can indulge in playing videogames and eating sushi, so why complain? Indeed, he could be much worse off, such as being one of the poor toiling masses underneath him that he administers and keeps in check for his benefactors’ and his own interests.

Mark my words, we will slowly start seeing a new breed of Nidoers mushrooming like fungus on bread: that lovely breed of “native informants”. They have always existed in the world of colonialism, personified by the likes of Hirsi Ali, Irshad Manji, Wafa Sultan, and Fuad Ajami. The Nidoers however will take this to a different level. For if you have been so Americanized that you eat like an American, talk like an American, watch American shows, read American books, and think like an American, it is only a small step to move on to ” working for American interests,” which anyway are your own interests. If you look like an American, talk like an American and walk like an American… well you know the rest. Most definitely we’ll see a lot of Bahraini nidoers taking up the mantle of native informants over the next few years, and they’ll be celebrated in Newsweek magazine and Neocon cirlces as “forces of freedom, democracy, and civilization in the Arab and Muslim world.” I’m telling you, if you’re a nidoer, Arab, and Muslim, a sure-fire way to fame nowadays is to come out and bash Islam and Arabs, complain of oppression, and glorify the great American way. Throw into this mix such headline grabbing issues such as being an oppressed woman, homosexual etc and you’ll be the new great star celebrity in Neocon-mania and MEMRI. Nidoers, if you want to become an overnight phenomenon, this is the most sure-fire way nowadays to achieve that!

The battle for and against imperialism will necessarily put the nidoer in a tough position. “Should I be on the side of my fellow citizens or on the side of my nido life and its patrons?” I hope nidoers make the right choice.

*** P.S. My apologies for not posting for a few days. As I’m sure you all know, being a nidoer I am a very busy person. I’ve got videogames to play, sushi bars to attend to and desperate housewives to watch.

The Sheikh, The Bannay (builder), and the nido bubble

January 17, 2007

The other day I ventured into Mirai, the fusion Japanese restaurant that is the darling of many a nido-ers. My nido friends were shocked this was my first time. “Never Before? REEAAALLLYYY??? Where have you been living maaaaaann? You gotta get hip with the times!”. Well I can happily say that I will never venture again into that dump unless it involves an opposite sex with the possibility of future bonding. The risotto tasted like it was made by Tesco Ready Made Meals, the beef was dry and tasteless, the portions were really small, and at 20 BD a head I thought this was outrageous robbery. I bet you if someone is bored enough he could surf the internet and find the menu of some restaurant somewhere in the world that Mirai ripped off. I doubt the resident chef sat down and developed that Menu. I’d rather any day walk down the road and go to Krumz its next door neighbour, which is 100 times better and at a better price. Heck, Bu Shanab the tikka place in Muharraq is a better option any time and any day.

Anyway, I digress. I was sitting there eyeing the waiters topping up every nido-er’s water glass the second they took a sip. This is of course a common trick in up-scale Bahraini restaurants, where at 2.500 BD a bottle these places can easily rack up 15BD++ purely on water. It doesn’t matter that a bottle of water costs 200 fils in shops. It doesn’t matter that the restaurant makes a healthy 1150% profit (not counting the 15% service charge that the waiters ironically receive none off) on each of those bottles. Of course not. A nido-er would never be caught complaining of this. He would die of embarrassment. He’s got to keep his image and pretension of being a rich, magnanimous nido-er that a trifle few BDs make no difference to. Even though the nido-ers life and thought is centred around money, how to make more of it, and how to flaunt it, he has to keep up the image that money is absolutely inconsequential to him. And the restaurant managers know this.

Anyway we were sitting there drinking our BD 2.5 glasses of water, basking in our glorious nido-ness and checking out other nido-ers. Of course that’s the whole point, to see and to be seen. The mediocre food is inconsequential. It is the sensation of being around other nido-ers that matters.

I then realized the absolute nido bubble that we live in. Nidoers rejoice in spending 20BD+++ a head at ONE meal sitting, while for the vast majority of the country that constitutes the spending of a household for 2 weeks of meals. What nido-ers spend at a night club without batting an eye lid is what most of their countrymen spend on their household electricity bill.

Nidoers live in an extravagant lalaland consumerist world that has been imported to them from the west that has nothing to do with the vast majority of the rest of the population. They cruise around in lavish German cars. They live in luxurious houses furnished by the latest designs from Italy and the U.S. They spend their free time roaming from Trader Vic’s to Mirai to BJ’s. They deck out in the latest fashion hits by Armani and Massimo Dutti.

Contrast this to the vast majority of the population. They struggle to feed their families meat everyday. They barely have a house to live in, having to share it with parents, grown up brothers, sisters, their spouses, aunties, grandmas, grandfathers, and the rest. A vast proportion don’t even have jobs. Some don’t even have air conditioning in every bedroom of their houses.

It is literally two parallel societies with little in common except having to share an island. One side is cramped in tiny villages and alleyways. The members of the other side own houses each that are as big as any of those villages. One side’s kids go to the best private schools and western universities. The other side barely can buy the stationary needed to send their kids to school. They don’t watch the same shows, they don’t hang out in the same places, they don’t populate the same food places. They don’t even share the same language. One speaks arabic, the other English or at best a bastardized form of Arabeezi or Arabenglish.

Contrast this to the country as little as 30 years ago, where this class dichotomoy pretty much did not exist. Everyone was literally pretty much piss poor. People lived in a harsh environment which they had to share with one another in order to survive. Even the rich were poor by today’s standards. Just go and look at Shaikh Isa Bin Ali’s house, the former ruler of Bahrain in Muharraq. Although impressive, it would not even be the size of a garage in a modern day’s rich man’s house. Most astonishingly, it is right smack inthe middle of old Muharraq. People back then lived in the same areas, went to the same schools, and even used the same khabazz. Nido-ers have only to ask their fathers to get a sense of this. It is amazing how people from the older generation know and shared their youth life intimately with other individuals from all walks life, whether poor or rich, highly educated or not, regardless of wealth, class, and nidoism.

I’ll recount to you one story that I found funny, revealing, and full of despair. In our old neighbourhood in Muharraq, there used to be a family friend and neighbour who was born and bred in Muharraq since the thirties. He was a builder by profession. This guy was 3ejmy, and back in the eighties he had a horrid time trying to obtain a paspport for him and his family. He would go several times to the ministry and every time they’d make him play the run-around game and then kick him out. He would never be allowed to see the person in charge. One fortunate day 20 years ago the guard was distracted away from the manager’s office, so the builder took his chance and barged right in. The chief was sitting on his chair.

-Yes, what do you want?
-El Shaikh, I have been coming now for years trying to sort out my passport situation.
-What’s your name?
-Flan, ben Faltan.
-Flan ben Faltan???!?!?!? didn’t you go to Al Hedaya school back in 1950?
-Yes.
-It’s me! Faltan ben Flan! Your school mate! My god what happened!!!!
-Well, I became a builder trying to feed my family, and you are a sheikh!

I thought this story illustrates perfectly how not so long ago society was not so materially divided, and how the division has grown to mammoth proportions nowadays. How many nido-ers will encounter a similar incident to the above? Not so anymore. Nido-ers go to their own private schools with other nido-ers. They go to university with other nidoers. They hang out with other nido-ers in nido places. There is such a big schism between the two societies it is as if they are living on two different planets, where the only places they meet are the roads that each uses to go to his own different little planet.

As any blind person can see, this is a recipe for resentment, conflict, and revolution. A revolution probably will and should happen. When you have to bear living in a cramped room with four others of your siblings in a village cramped with thousands of others, and a few feet away a person you don’t even know or interact with owns a compound literally the size of your village, things don’t seem right to you. When that person stacks his compound with guards, nighswatchmen, high walls, barbed wire, and dogs to prevent you from even walking by his wall, things don’t seem right to you. When a person has no qualms about spending BD 2.500 bd on a bottle of water and you have to watch your spending on nekhi from your local khabaz, things don’t seem right to you. When you cannot even find an apartment to house your 8-member household while this guy own a house in Muharraq, Sehla, Budaiya, London, and Paris things don’t seem right to you. When you have to beg this guy for work while his kids can get away with clubbing, drinking and smoking the most expensive substances there are for a good prportion of their youth things don’t seem right to you. When you have nothing in common with this guy except that he seems to have set up a massive palace right next to your cramped vilalge things don’t bode well.

Indeed nido-ers have come to be perceived and indeed are a massive drain on the resources of a country. In a country with limited land wealth, they are seen as land grabbers in order to facililate their lavish compounds with their exotic gardens. In a land with limited oil wealth, the oil seems to be wasted on fuding the spoilt habits of the rich. While the rich waste the black gold money on drinking Johnny walker, buying fancy Mercedeses, and filling their big guts with fusion sushi, the rest of the country can barely make ends meet. They are percieved and indeed are, a waste of limited resources in order to fill their insatiable hedonistic apeitite for a lavish consumerist lifestyle.

And the recent oil boom has exacerbated this division. The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. Nido-ers have never had it so good. All of them are making a ridiculous amount of money thanks to oil, Daddy’s wekalat (monopoly agencies), was6at (connections), land ownerships, and the ability to go the best education institutions. The money kitty gets bigger, and the spending on the lavish materialistic lifestyle ballooons. They buy more posh cars, posh houses and apartments, and an increasing number of upmarket restaurants pop up. Hoards of expensive new suits, sunglasses, and louis vetton bags are purchased.

And the poor get squeezed even more. Prices of basic goods shoot up. House prices have more than doubled and are out of the reach of most of the population. Foodstuff have become so expenisve that people are having to cut down on basic household goods. But why should the nido-ers care? After all, daddy and auntie own the land of which the price has shot up. Grandpa and mummy own the food wikalat that sell these expensive basics. It makes the nidoer able to enjoy more linguinis, bmws, and buy more apartments in amwaj or riffa views.

Do the nidoers know about the forces that their lifestyles have unleashed? Nope, and nor do they care. They are busy getting drunk, watching the OC, playing videogames, or debating whether mirai or sato has better sushi. A country that was once reknowed for its sense of community has now degenerated into a classic divide of rich and poor. The forces in society are ripes for some sort of uprising, and it will only get worse. The rich, however, are as usual oblivious in their lavish spending.

And when the poor complain, and when the poor protest, they just go, “Why do they hate us so much? Why can’t they just be good obedient poor buggers? Why can’t we just get along?”.

Nidoers, you better cut down on a few sushis and use that money to buy a nice penthouse in London. Because when the turd hits the fans, you are going to need another pad from which to continue living your la-la land materialistic lifestyle.

BooBs vs. Nido Milk

January 16, 2007

It was eid. I was about ten, and we were gathered (as usual) in my grandparents’ house. There was a bunch of us kids and then there were some of the older gang (uncles, aunts, parents, etc). I don’t recall what exactly happened but us kids did something pretty messed up which caused an uncle to proclaim:

“هيييه… انتو مشكلتكم ما رضعتوا من حليب ديود… انتو كبرتوا على حليب نيدو!!!”

For us kids all this signified was the “dirty mouthed” renegade uncle daring to use a risque word. We chuckled, we laughed, and we kept repeating for a while ديود ديود ديود!

A few days ago this statement hit me as pretty revealing. Over the last decade or so an intriguing species has began to develop in bahrain that has nothing in common with its ancestors or previous generations. There seems to be a considerable swath of “the new bahrain” that it seems fitting to call the “nido milk generation”.

mex-grocer_1932_11495892.jpg

So who are these members of the nido generation, or nido-ers? At first glance, the nido-er will seem highly educated. He/She will probably have a degree from a UK or a US university. At first glance, a nido-er will seem huber hip or cool. He/she might sport a snoop dog hairdo or a jennifer anniston look. He/she will be up to date on latest OC and desperate housewives shenanigans. Heck, at first glance you might even call him/her “sophisticated”. He/she most probably will possess a noticeable american twang (or in some cases british, whatever the heck that means) in his english.

A nido-er most definitely will strike you as (very) well to do. He/she will try to possess the “best” car there is, the “best” house there is, the “best” gucci sunglasses there is, and the “best” armani suit in town. In fact, a nido-er will most probably want to have “the best” in everything there is. The best hummus, the best flip flops, the best hair do, and the best shawarma. In fact, he might strike you as a tad (read that as a heapful) nouveau-riche or “keeping up with the joneses.” He will strive very hard to have the best of what the nido-ers consider to be the best, and most importantly, he’ll flaunt it.

A nido-er will always hangout with other nido-ers. In fact he would die of shame if he’s associated with anyone or anything that sullies his nido-ness. He’ll live around other nido-ers. He’ll live in nido houses, acquire nido cars, eat nido food, and hang out in nido places. He will only feel comfortable in a nido environment surrounded by other nidoers where they all can bask in the glory of their nido-ness.

Still not sure what a nido-er is? One sure way to spot a nido-er is to converse with him and ask him to respond back in Arabic (or whatever his mother tongue is). A nido-er will start shaking and stuttering, his eyes rolling up and down from side to side. He’ll start foaming at the mouth and sputtering sentences that are unintelligible in any language such as ” yeah but no but yeah but I cannot ya3ni madri but there is shisalfeh magdar dyood dyood dyood…”

toot… tooot… toooot……

In order to resuscitate him and put out of his misery you have to switch back to english. A big smile will suddenly flash on his face, his demeanor will change and he’ll resort back to his most favoured american flavoured twang: “sorry dude about that, dunno what happened there”.

If you want to further confirm he’s a nido-er ask him about arabic music. He’ll dismiss it quickly saying that it “cramps his style”. Any intelligible conversation on arabic movies, serials or books are a big no-no. That oriental rubbish just ain’t his thing maaan.

A nido-er is all of this and more. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can quickly grasp his multi-faceted dimensions. A nido-er and the general nido bubble he lives in require careful and deep analysis in order to achieve an understanding of this amazing creature and its environment.

This blog is dedicated to examinging, unfolding, ridiculing, praising, celebrating, taking the piss out of, deconstructing, de-orientalizing, de-colonizing, de-markating, and unpacking the nido-er, with all the other “-ings” and “-isms” you can think of.

I am a product of the nido-generation myself. I hate it, no doubt about it. I try to change this and break free from its shackles, but the nido bubble is a strong self-enforcing entity which always comes back to encircle you with its charms and misdeeds. I am a self-hating nido-er. This blog is a chance for me to exorcise my nido demons. God-damn you, nido.

Welcome

January 13, 2007

This is a blog for and about the Nido Generation. I am, unfortunately, a member of the prestigious and ever mushrooming nido generation – Bahrain Branch. You can call me a self-hating nido-er.

I hope you enjoy!