Sunday, October 22, 2006

Making of Manamahattan


DRIVING from Budaiya to Manama is now a special pleasure. Going non-stop, up and down the undulating flyovers, is a newfound joy.

Also, negotiating that curvaceous carriageway at Pearl Roundabout; navigating on the meandering motorway in Diplomatic Area; watching the superb sunset on Seef district; ogling the marvellous moonrise on the 'Manamahattan' skyline ... well, nowadays ... these are a few of my favourite things.

Like a floral sprout, in slow-motion - as in a TV documentary - the buildings are blooming into the beautiful blue sky. Like spikes slowly rising out of ground - as in a science fiction movie - the buildings are bursting into a brilliant array; tall, tough and tenacious.

When I arrived in Bahrain about seven years ago, the tallest structure I saw - from anywhere in the city - was the National Bank of Bahrain (NBB) building. But the rise of the Almoayed Tower saw the fall of NBB Tower's reign. And even before this new kid on the blocks (of black) could bully anyone, the bigger boys arrived.

Towering above the town, dwarfing the once-egoistic edifices, these two new sets of twins - Bahrain World Trade Centre and Bahrain Financial Harbour - now give Manama the majesty it deserves.

The growing giant of a cylindrical structure in BFH, the colossal construction site in Sheraton complex, the sudden sprouting of a tower near the fish-market at Marina Mall, the making of the car-park building in the Diplomatic area, the soaring up of Abraj Al Lulu; all bear testimony to the fact that, truly, uptown is soaring upwards.

We also see these now-familiar cranes - extremely-tall, yet surprisingly-slim - silently hovering over the sky, around these sites. They are seen smoothly lifting blocks and blocks of building-material from, and towards, gloved and helmeted men in brown and blue overalls.

We also see here - often at nights - these long, brightly-lit, bejewelled cranes, continue shifting slabs of cement, undeterred by intermittent sounds of the clanging of steel and iron. We also see those fiery-sparks that cascade around the night-shift welders who seem to have the wrought-iron will to build it good, and build it quick.

The final 'handiwork' would of course display wonderful designing and planning. But the 'hard-work' behind it, describes the dedication of the people who give credence to the essence called persistence.

This story of concrete quite evidently conceals in it the strength of character. It is the character of a country that refuses to rest, and continues to command. It is the commanding of respect by its determination to move forward, and by its doggedness to move fast.

Yes, there is, of course, that traffic bottleneck at the signal near the Intercontinental Hotel. Yes, there is the inconvenience of those traffic diversions. Yes, there is the annoyance of driving around ditches with men-at-work. Yes, there is the frustration of our delayed meetings due to all this. But then, we must accept, there is no smooth driving in a city on the move.

So, let's look forward and look ahead. Let's look up and look higher, as we proudly participate in the making of our own 'Manamahattan'!

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