Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bahrain and Attendants

Next week I am off to Bahrain for a conference... I am giving a short (15min) presentation, but other than that I am listening to 3 days of talk fest.

Never been to Bahrain before, so not sure what it's like, but I guess it will be pretty similar to the UAE.  I will try and post something from Bahrain when I am over there.

But on local oddities, I wanted to raise something that I probably haven't raised before... "the Attendant".  It is local custom here for owners of public places and places of business that have public bathrooms that they're stocked with "Attendants".  Attendants are workers who have a job to do while you're doing your job...

Essentially, and we have them here in the office, you go into the bathroom and there is a guy in there (a lady I presume if you're in the ladies) and they will welcome you.  "Hello sir" is the greeting I get here in the office.  Then you go to do "the business".  They don't assist you (thank god!) and you are left to your own devices, but you can still get performance anxiety if you know that you're alone in the bathroom and there is "the Attendant" waiting outside by the sinks.

When you're finished and you flush, then instantly I hear the paper roll dispenser into action... you may think its automatically connected electronically to the flush, but no... "the Attendant" has pressed the button and has some paper towels waiting for you.  Flashier places like hotels and business class airport lounges will have warm towels, but here at work we have a paper towel dispenser on an electronic roller... and he pre-presses it for you for your "convenience".

On good days, I exit the stall and he will also have the sink running at a mid range temperature (depends how busy he is!) and you wash your hands and he will pass you the paper towel... then if you motion to get a bit more extra towel (for the back up dry) he will reach in front of you and press the button again and again pass you the paper towel.

Then, when drying is done, he opens the door...

Considering that in Australia, you'd be hard pressed to find a company to work for that would buy decent biscuits in the kitchen, here at my work here in Abu Dhabi I am blessed with "the Attendant".

Imagine my horror last night when at home, I realised that there was no toilet paper left... I had to get it myself!!  May need to get an Attendant for home...


Anonymous said...

yes isn't it grand that we don't have such things here in Australia.

something to be proud of the fact that we don't have an underclass being exploited.

Anonymous said...

yes isn't it grand that we don't have such things here in Australia.

something to be proud of the fact that we don't have an underclass being exploited.

- OB

Clay said...


Yes, its something we living here have to grapple with. For every rich Arab there are 10 dirt poor Indian / Pakistani / Bangladeshi migrants.

I find what these men (there are no women) do amazing but incredibly difficult and sad. They come to a country like the UAE and support their families by sending money back home.

They live poorly but their families are way better off apparently than if they stayed in their home countries.

We have an Indian chap living in our maids room, we charge him nominal rent and spent about 6wks of that rent yesterday buying him a bed and drawers and a TV receptor.

My post was tongue in cheek and comedic, but we (Niki & I) do what we can to help the migrants. It is true (and sad) that a number of people exploit, but we don't.

Until you live here, its hard to fathom.


Moonstone Momma said...

Until a person lives in a different culture for a certain length of time it is hard to fathom the way things work...
Clay, I believe that by paying the people in your employ a decent wage for that particular country then you are doing the best that you can and let's be honest - that's all anyone wants isn't it - a decent pay for a decent level of work...

Anonymous - I think you are joking when you say Australia doesn't have an underclass being exploited - or was that the point?? Badly veiled irony??

Clay, keep on doing what you're doing... I for one enjoy hearing about the culture differences and how you explore them!!!