How I Celebrated Easter In The Gulf
This newsletter unpacks narratives about the Arabian Gulf by different writers
Happy Easter! For those of you who don’t know about Easter, it is pretty much a big deal for Catholics. We literally celebrate just two times a year- During Easter and Christmas!
Easter marks the resurrection of Jesus after being crucified on Good Friday so it’s a happy occasion. I am a Mangalorean Catholic who was born and raised in Bahrain. We used to attend mass in the Sacred Heart Church. I used to look forward to Easter just because of KinderJoy easter eggs. It’s still exciting to open the egg to find chocolate on one side and a small toy on the other side. We can buy these eggs literally anytime of the year but it was especially exciting on Easter. Here are a couple of photos from my life in Bahrain.
After mass in Bahrain, we would come back home and prepare elaborate meals to celebrate the occasion. Food is a big part of a person’s culture. Just the way consuming Easter eggs made Easter special for me, eating Irani tikka made our weekends all the more special. My food essay on Irani tikka is published on Soup, an independent publication in India.
I’m so in love with this illustration by Siddhi Vartak. It manages to capture the essence of the essay!
Once the meat was barbecued, it was then taken off the skewers with a khaboos (Arabic flat-bread). One serving included ten pieces of meat on ten sheekhs (skewers), khaboos, grass (bagal), white onion, lemon and green chilli. We would tear a piece of the khaboos, stuff it with a couple of meat pieces, top it with grass and onion slices, then we would squeeze lemon and wrapping the whole thing together for a juicy, meaty bite. It was essential to bite into a piece chilli on the side, to give the meal a wholesome flavour. The locals usually preferred to have a soft drink (Pepsi–pronounced ‘Bebsi’) and hummus as an accompaniment. One serving was quite filling for even those with voracious appetites.
Read the full essay here.
-Other narratives about the Arabian Gulf:
We don’t often see stories from the Gulf. The Common recently released an issue with a compilation of work from the Middle East.
There is a wide range of work in it from essays to poetry and fiction!
Here’s the introduction by Deepak Unnikrishnan, the author of Temporary People. His book was the winner of the Restless Books Prize for New Indian Immigrant Writing.
I follow the prize for the stellar work they showcase. One of the finalists of the 2021 prize writes about the Gulf as well. Happy to see that the prize is highlighting work from the Gulf which is rare. This is what the judges had to say about her work-
Drifts by Natasha Burge
A strikingly original exploration of autism and psychogeography, Natasha Burge’s Drifts takes us through the souks, caves, and sands of the Arabian Gulf to create a loving and sensorial meditation on place and transcultural identity…
Read the full list here.
If you are into poetry you might want to check out my poetry chapbook ‘Gulf’ which came out last year from Yavanika Press in 2021. It was recently reviewed by Jane Borges for Mid-Day. I have an intriguing interview about the book coming up in EKL Review, so please look out for that!
Hope you liked reading this newsletter. I loved sharing a slice of my time in the Gulf with you all! If you enjoy stories set in the Arabian Gulf or the Middle East, please send across recommendations!