The way it used to be Print E-mail
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The way it used to be
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The choice of clothes for men and women in the Fifties was very limited so it was the norm to have clothes tailored. In Awali a tailor named Lal would visit customers in their homes to take their orders. He made things such as ladies day dresses, evening gowns and clothes for children. All Lal needed was a photograph of the required garment from which he produced an extremely accurate copy. This is an art still practised by the tailors in the souk today. Lal was a rather large gentleman who ran, never walked, between customers.

There was also a very well known tailor named Gulam Mohammed whose business I believe is still operating in Manama. He had, and I am sure still has, an excellent reputation as a gentlemen's tailor. Most expats going on leave had suits and trousers made by Gulam Mohammed and they were as fine as any made in London's Saville Row.

Another man who ran round Awali was the egg man. He would run from door to door with a large tin can full of eggs and when housewives answered his ring on the doorbell they would go to the door with a bucket of cold water to test the freshness of the eggs. If the eggs sank to the bottom of the bucket they were fresh, if they floated on the top they were not.

Eggs were one of the few items of fresh food available in those days so the egg man was always very welcome. Fresh vegetables were practically non-existent so we ate mainly tinned and what meat that was available was imported frozen from the US. My mother and her friends were very inventive in the kitchen and their culinary talents were amazing. They shared recipes, and out of necessity, made home-baked bread, cakes and ice-cream. They also learned the art of cooking Arabic dishes, which in those days were totally unknown in the West. These foods had previously never been known to most of the expat housewives but they were all eager to learn from their Bahrain friends and each other. This knowledge they took back to their home countries where, I am sure, some of the recipes are still being used.

Prawns were an occasionally available delicacy and as a treat we were sometimes taken down to Sitra to see the prawns all laid out to dry on the pier. We bought them direct from the Prawn fishermen for a rupee per ruttle (just over a kilo) and I can taste them even now.