© Anushka Bose. All rights reserved.*
Enjoying breakfast on a weekend morning in our home on Safaniya Drive , Dhahran. December 2013.
Breakfast is the meal that often commences our day. While doctors emphasize the importance of breakfast for maintaining our physical health and more recently also emotional health, I also believe that breakfast is the first fraction of our day that can be used as a hallmark to build traditions upon. Growing up in Dhahran, my breakfast on most days consisted of frazzled school mornings in which I expedited the speed at which I ate my oatmeal, put on my shoes, and was out the door to catch the bus. Moreover, my dad had already left for work, and my mom was just getting ready for the day upstairs. As such, the weekdays did not provide us with an opportunity to create a tradition around breakfast, and I suspect this is the case with most families and parents and children having varying commitments that begin in the morning. The absence of that togetherness and a delicious breakfast each morning left us all with a desire to enjoy the slightly later-wake up calls and serene, bright mornings with a cup of tea and toast.
Various fresh juice options during Breakfast/Brunch at the Dhahran Dining Hall. December 2015.
My family and I made our weekend breakfasts a tradition. My dad would often make us delicious omelets and announce at the tip of the stairwell with a kitchen towel on his shoulder “guys, come downstairs, it’ll get cold!” as my brother and I frantically laughed or irritated each other with some silly joke. Around 10 am, my mom and dad arguably already had their first mini breakfast with tea, or just tea and biscuits as they woke up much earlier than my brother and I, but they still enjoyed the “main breakfast” with us, whether that was around the table or by the TV with the gleaming sun shining into our living room in our home on Safaniya Drive, or while we watched BBC or CNN and discussed whatever political events were happening around us at the time.
The main breakfast aisle for omelets, pancakes, waffles, shakshuka, sausages, etc. Dhahran Dining Hall. December 2019.
On other weekends, my parents would often wake up and take a drive around town while my brother and I slept and pick up breakfast from the Dhahran Dining Hall, or we would all drive over there. Dining Hall had begun to hold a special place in our lives. We recognized the Bangladeshi, Filipino, and Indian/Pakistani men who would greet us with a smile, talk to us, serve us. I enjoyed seeing their familiar faces. The small doses of certainty that weekend mornings provided us with— breakfast, brief exchanges with familiar faces, a bright sunny morning — became a special memento that I still hold on to, a memory I revisit whenever I want to. At the dining hall, my usual was getting waffles with syrup, shakshuka, chicken sausage, and orange juice. My family and I would grab a seat by the window, eat, and talk about whatever was going on with our lives. We’d usually take a long drive back home after breakfast and chat and laugh in the comfort of our cars.
When my brother and I both left and would return for Christmas vacations, every day became our “weekend breakfast” day, with sentiments around togetherness, tasty food, laughter, and sunshine.
Breakfast at Dhahran Dining Hall. December 2019.
My point in recounting this memory is to highlight how a seemingly routine fraction of our day — breakfast — can begin to hold a special place in one’s life because not only does it highlight the importance of the meal itself, from a health standpoint, but it also signifies what it means for familial love, memory, and nostalgia. Even as my life has morphed into the happenings of a young adult, I try to enjoy my breakfast with a sense of tranquility, as well as plan brunches with friends over the weekends. Over the years, breakfast/brunch has moved from the periphery of my day to the center of my day, especially on the weekends, and I hope to keep that tradition, and all the memories that associate it with, alive.
With that note, I leave you with a few questions to reflect on: What meal evokes a particular memory for you during your Aramco days? Is there a particular meal that brought you and your loved ones together in the past? In the future, do you hope to center memories and togetherness around meals? Besides food, is there any daily or weekly ritual that has brought you close to your loved ones?
Anushka is a Graduate Student at Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. She spent her youth growing up in Dhahran, where she attended Dhahran Elementary, Dhahran Middle School, and Dhahran Academy. She loves learning about new cultures and is fascinated by the diversity that brings us all together, especially the expatriate community, where the only thing that is common is that we are all different, in culture, religion, and the perspectives we hold. One day she hopes to publish a book on the third culture kid experience. Dhahran holds a big place in her heart.
*Any reproduction or republication of all or part of any images and written material is expressly prohibited unless the author of the material has expressly granted its prior written consent.