A Day at the Museum

11 June 2009
12.45 pm

I have never been to a museum alone. I should do it more often.

Ah! The things I am learning about myself with each idle day that passes…

I write this as I rest my tired feet and aching legs in a spartan cafeteria with modern art mumbo jumbo scrawled across its walls. Cheese flavored corn puffs and modern art mix and mingle in the caverns of a house dedicated to an ancient culture. A charming paradox.

Museums, churches, bookshops, flea markets, bathrooms, stationery shops… they fascinate me no end.

Artefacts to admire, silences that rush to sooth your mind, words that spill from generous bookshelves, trinkets that hold the soul of a place in them, the nothingness you find in a warm shower or soak, instruments that marvellously make life more efficient… bliss can be found in the most unexpected of places.

So I set out eagerly this morning to pay my respects at the Bahrain National Museum.

Situated on spacious grounds, the entrance is littered with obscurely twisted modern sculptures. A ticket that functions as a postcard granted me entrance to this lovely naturally illuminated building.

After gaping at some beautiful canvases on temporary exhibitions, I chanced upon a black heron lazily enjoying the shade with the coastline of urban Bahrain for a backdrop. A captivating sight, one of those that would look utterly stunning come dusk and night.

I was unable to record the Dilmun wing properly thanks to a tetchy camera. Ancient Bahrain is referred to as Dilmun in records. This wing ended my mid-morning tryst with history – a tad technical (heavy on archeology) but supremely enviable (coins, seals – oh the fascinating variety!).

No trip to a museum is complete without paying a visit to the souvenir shop and my tired but very willing legs towed me in that direction.

In my bag went a camel fridge magnets (I madly collect them), a chine plate (exquisite but very touristy) and a bookmark (colorful), all displaying the tag Bahrain rather prominently (this is a requisite, most tourists would agree). A word of advice though: You would have a better pick of souvenirs at the Duty Free section in Bahrain airport. The prices are pretty much the same and the choice is staggering.

A camellia plucked from the sparse but green landscape completed my quest for understanding the local culture. I returned happy, satiated and more aware of the sweet-smelling, beige and ochre country with an achingly sweet-tooth called Bahrain.

1.20 am

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