Is This The Friendliest Place in The World? Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Kingdom of Bahrain

I can’t get over how friendly people are around here.  I spend most of my day in the Mayo Clinic with my parents, and I must say the staff here are so friendly and sweet – not to mention professional (I’ll be writing a related business post about this soon.)  The nurses here are angelic, God bless them.

Dinner
I arrived at my hotel around 7 pm yesterday and went to my room.  I was deciding whether I should have dinner in the room or in the restaurant below.  I decided to go to the restaurant.  The waiter told me that they didn’t have any tables available, but that I could sit in the bar, where they ha full dinner service.  So I did.

Within a couple of minutes of sitting down, a couple sat next to me.  I was on their right and another couple was on their left.  They soon started talking.  What was amazing was the fact that they just met but were talking as if they’ve known each other all their lives.  I was involved in the conversation too, and soon we had a nice long chat.

The couple right next to me were from Wisconsin, and the other couple from Miami.  They were Cuban immigrants.  We had the usual “where are you from” conversation.

This never ceases to amaze me about Americans, (in most cases) they’ll start a conversation and open right up.  They tell you about their families and share personal information that most Arabs wouldn’t tell their friends.  It’s fascinating.  This is one friendly and warm nation.

If I was in Bahrain there’d probably be an exchange of asallam alaikum and waluikam asallam and that’s that.  I think us Arabs are friendly but way too reserved, especially Gulf Arabs.  We rarely let our guard down.  Americans don’t have a guard up at all.

Of course I’m generalising, but overall I think this is accurate.   I was expecting to have a quick, lonely dinner but ended up staying an hour an half.

Politics
After about 20 minutes the Wisconsin couple had to leave (they were meeting their son’s new Brazilian girlfriend.)  I stayed with the Latin couple and continued chatting.

They were telling me how they immigrated as children (not together) to the US and how the country had given them so much.  They told me how amazing the US is, and I agreed.  Apart from the  politics pertaining to the Middle East, I think it is an amazing country.  It’s more like a continent.

Think about it, such a vast country with so many different cultures, yet they all speak the same language.  What’s even more amazing is that this union was created over 300 years ago.

I told my new Cuban friends that I also admired this country, and that I had a lot of respect for the founding fathers.  In particular I admire George Washington quite a lot.  And if you don’t know much about him, then I encourage you to read more about him.

Anyway, the conversation then somehow turned to politics.  And I was quite surprised to hear Fernando’s (the husband) views.  He told me that George W Bush was the best thing that ever happened to the Middle East.  What??

I usually can’t be bothered to get into political conversations, but yesterday I made an exception.  I explained the Arabs’ point of view on the Afghanistan and Iraq war but he would hear nothing of it.  He told me that the war in Iraq will spread democracy in the Middle East.  WHAT??!!

Aleda, the wife, winked at me with a smile and said “don’t listen to him.  He’s the only person in the US that likes George Bush.”

Fernando told me “you’ll see!  In twenty years you’ll remember me.  I want you to call me and thank me then, okay?”  I said okay and we actually exchanged contact details.

In the end we respectfully agreed to disagree.  They very kindly invited me to visit them in Miami and I told them they are welcome to Bahrain any time.  Though we had a semi-heated discussion, it was civil and respectful.

In the end we said our good byes and I went to bed.

Reflections
I was a bit saddened to see that such an intelligent and successful man had such a view.  I once or twice noticed a hint or two about his views on Muslims.  He was being as polite and respectful as possible, but I could notice he thought that we were an aggressive bunch.  I guess it was the damage done by 9/11, and the US media’s not-so-balanced portrayal of the Middle East.  I do hope he comes to visit so I can show him a side that he never imagined.

Anyway, a very interesting night and I’m glad I didn’t eat in the room.

Talk to you soon.

One Response to Is This The Friendliest Place in The World? Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Kingdom of Bahrain

  1. Alia Almoayed 20 December 2009 at 10:37 pm #

    very interesting 🙂

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: