There they were playing in the garden one day and being told to pack their bags the following. The Russians were coming and a lot of them weren’t very happy. However, more to the point regarding the story that is unfolding, ego is no longer surprised at how long normal life continued until it was no longer feasible for it to continue. Not quite a “Carry in up the Khyber” scenario, but wouldn’t it have been better for the wife’s mother and her family to have made the move from Silesia westwards just a wee bit earlier in 1945?
Fast forward to 2006 and there is me in my hotel in Beruit’s Hamra area and putting my phone up to the sky to let the good lady listen to the bombs whistling into the south of the city. “Schon gut, sehr interresant, aber ich muss gehen … ich spiele Badmington Heute abend” (“yeah great, very interesting, but I have to go, I am playing badminton this evening.”). Yes, “normal” what doesn’t have too big an effect on our normality.
‘Aljazeera’ informs me that the opposition in Bahrain will be stepping up its demonstrations as the formula one race approaches. At Bahrain City Center Mall they are checking bags as people enter the mall, which, of course, hardly has an effect on “our” normality, which is the “normality” of Juffair, Adliya, Anwaj island, and other little islands of expat …… is it sanity or insanity. Well, it is not civil society that’s for sure, a little world where …. well, just watch the chain smokers in one of the islands many little drinking dens. No, checking the bags will interfere with that “normality” about as much as the long road round – they have closed the Pearl roundabout since I was last here – from Adliya to the city center mall will.
Oh and when does “reality” hit you? Well, I had to think back to Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, Sadaam’s information minister, telling the world press, that the American infidel had been forced out of the city just as two American tanks appeared in the background. Nevertheless, even if the “reality” is unlikely to hit us anytime soon, we might do well to talk to some of the taxi drivers who take that long way round to city center mall, in order to get a glimpse into that reality. After all, even the good lady’s mother understood just why the Russians were more than a trifle pissed off, even if she did take a couple of years or so to realize it.