World Music Showcase #7

I have been meaning to do this forever. I mean, I’ve been wanting to give you another World Music Showcase forever, but especially, I’ve wanted to tell you about this band:


One of my favorite bands, ever. They are a truly international trio, described in Wikipedia as such:

“Outlandish are a multi-award winning hip-hop group based in Denmark. Formed in 1997, they consist of Isam Bachiri (born in Denmark and of Moroccan background), Waqas Ali Qadri (born in Denmark and of Pakistani background), and Lenny Martinez (born in Honduras and is of Cuban and Honduran descent). All three members are devoutly religious, Isam and Waqas being Muslims, and Lenny being Catholic.”

That pretty much sums it up. Their music is a combination of rap, hip-hop, R&B, and plain old good stuff. The lyrics of their songs deal with issues ranging from the destruction of war to gratitude to God, to equality in marriage, to giving thanks for the little things in life.

My favorite song of theirs is “Any Given Time,” but followed closely by the popular “Callin’ U”, which takes its melody from Amr Diab’s “Tamally Maak” (another artist to be featured in World Music Showcase), and which received wide radio play both here in the Middle East as well in Europe. And of course, there’s the classic, the song that introduced me both to Outlandish as well as to one of my top 5 artists of all time, Cheb Khaled (who sang the original“Aicha”.

Outlandish is one of few bands that I see today who are actually trying to send a message with their music, and whose very existence is based on an effort to bring our inceasingly-divided worlds together. I always say that music can bring people together in a way, crossing borders, crossing continents, in a way that nothing else can, and Outlandish is proof positive of that. Enjoy!


Too long, far gone

It’s been too long, I know.

I hate when I look back at my journal and realize how many things I’ve experienced and dreamt and thought about here that are not put into words, and are now gone with time.

It’s been almost four months here, but it feels like a lot longer. Maybe it’s because Bahrain is so small. Maybe it’s because I do the same things every weekend. Maybe it’s because my job has been weighing on me and has been more difficult than any job I’ve encountered yet.

But that’s sad, because despite all of that, I love Bahrain, and I love the Middle East.

I love that when I step outside I see everything in white, black, and yellow – white-clothed men and black-shrouded women against a background of sand and sky. I love the green-blue waters of Bahrain that are a color I have never seen before, the lightest aquamarine waters lapping gently against yellow shores. I love the smell of cardamom and clove and the smoke of shisha pipes. I love flat bread with labneh and thym and tomato, Lebanese style. I love camels and falcons and Arabian horses.

But, holed up in my office, spending hours at work with my expat coworkers, I feel so far from all of that. My only reminder that I am in the middle of the Persian Gulf, in the middle of Arabia, in the middle of a desert, is my little chain of camels that I bought from Hisham’s shop. Here in Bahrain, I eat sushi more often than I eat hummus. I have a beautiful abaya that was made for me but which I have never worn, because it’s so liberal that I’d receive more criticism for trying to look Muslim than for leaving my hair uncovered and wearing jeans. I want to steep myself in Bahrain, ancient, present, hidden, discovered. I want to see the A’ali graves and the Beit Al Quran. I want to sit under the shade of frangipani and ride an Arabian horse. I want to see the Dilmun ruins and to walk by mosques and hear the call to prayer. I don’t want to live in Bahrain and somehow, never see it.