Sunday, December 30, 2018 – Unofficial Anniversary Dinner, Mohammed Noor Bokhari Restaurant – Manama, Bahrain
Dusty road- leading to a mini-strip of culinary interests: Thai, Bahraini, …Starbucks? An uncertain entrance and stairs off to the right. A series of sink stalls peek from around a corner and a villa-esk dining hall welcomes us to have a seat anywhere. Booths, tables, and floor mats beckon, whichever strikes your fancy. A party of Bahrainis has crammed snuggly into a booth off to the left. A trio hides in another booth in the corner, and we gravitate to the opposite corner booth. Cushioned benches, wax paper tables, and mildly adventurous gazes locked in a moment of warmth. Easterners dominate the field, the visiting team is left slyly ogling the foreign styles, smells, sounds. Waves of Arabian groups wash over the modest hall. A “Born in the USA” sweatshirt boldly enters, a teen paying tribute to Springsteen as he follows behind his masked mother.
One half chicken over rice, one platter of lamb tika, a humble bowl of hummus and a bag of fresh naan. Pepsi displaying its “energy” and full pull tab of a bygone era. A little girl runs a circuit of sink, mat, sink with her little brother in tow. Clean hands equal clean utensils! Crossed sitting and cross sharing, a family dives into a meal with wild abandon and swiftly scurries back out, back to the modest safety of home. A flurry of patrons gather and disperse, gather and disperse. Alas, not a Westerner in sight, save for the two anniversariats seated in a side booth, cornered between the tables of a typical hall and the evidence of culinary culture. Smooth conversations whispered around the void, crickets of a new experience. Seven odd dinar later and we happily exit, satiated in the essential sustenance of life: food, love, adventure….