Ramadan Kareem

Ramadan Eve – As we were waiting for the moon committee to either make their sighting (or make the call regardless, based on the Saudi decision) I thought to check with colleagues regarding the Ramadan dress code. Last year, working for a European company, I was told to make sure elbows and knees are covered. Now, working for the government, where I am in a very small minority of non-Muslims, I expected it may be wrist to ankle. They laughed at the suggestion and told me what I had on was fine – T-shirt, cropped trousers and sandals.

Ramadan 1 – Really struggled to fill my morning. Work hours shortened to 3-8:30pm. Made a mental check as I left the house that I wasn’t doing anything haram. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise I’d been chewing gum until I’d almost finished driving to work.

Ramadan 2 – The iftar buffet at work is pretty extraordinary. At around 6:30pm, those who are fasting (the large majority) make their way to the cafeteria to load up their plates. Then, in true TV studio form, a countdown ensues as we head towards 6:58pm (official commencement of Iftar – the breaking of the fast). One minute… thirty seconds… 15… 10 seconds, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!

Ramadan 3 – First weekend day of Ramadan (i.e. Friday). We were booked wakeboarding. I wore my incredibly long boardshorts in honour. They’re also too big for me and wouldn’t have been too demure had they come off and fallen down around my ankles. The Marine Club was happy to let us smoke outside. I guess there wouldn’t be too many devout Muslims at the beach on the holiest day of the week during Ramadan. Especially when swimming is forbidden during daylight hours for risk of letting any water pass the lips.

Ramadan 4 – Slightly dusty after last night’s house party at a friend’s place. There was plenty of alcohol flowing freely. And music. Went to lunch with a friend at the Media Rotana. The blinds were drawn and the door of the restaurant closed so as not to expose the general public to those eating. We could eat whatever we wanted however. They even brought us a wine list! The smoking room was the Iftar tent on the roof. No A/C…

Ramadan 5 – Sunday and back to work. Producing a 15 minute bulletin is only half the work. Still, it’s not very easy to come by local news these days. Interviews are tough as many have packed up shop for the Holy Month. It was Indian Independence Day today and despite a lunchtime celebration, by 3pm the Consulate-General was empty and the only person there to answer a phone was a security guard. Needless to say, he wasn’t able to help connect me to a media rep.

Ramadan 6 – I braved the gym today. I was slightly hesitant to go down there. Would I need to duck off to the bathroom to take a swig from my water bottle? Or, as a friend suggested, cover my head in a towel to have a sip. When I arrived it was empty save for a cleaner and I managed to communicate my concern to him and he said it was fine to drink water. Again, the only people who can view my gym are those making use of the swimming pool. Still, I wore a T-shirt and 3/4 trackies rather than a singlet top and bike shorts. I raced out to the mall without refuelling and realised I was very hungry. I had to indulge in my first clandestine sandwich eaten in the privacy of… the ladies loo. I was sitting there scoffing my sandwich thinking how dreadful the predicament was. One must plan ahead.

Ramadan 7 – Week One, khalas. There’s been a bit of a pattern set so far. I’ve been going to the bar at the hotel next door at least twice a day, during my very limited work hours. This form of smoko is even more sociable than it usually is. At any point in time there’s a whole congregation of my colleagues there, all getting a nicotine fix while topping up on caffeine or even a forbidden bottle of water. I may now be a daily regular at the Icon bar, but at least it’s not driving me to drink.

Ramadan 8 – Went out on the town last night. There is a common assumption that nightlife ceases to exist during the Holy Month. Not true.  Music is supposed to be more subdued (think chillout, not techno) and alcohol isn’t usually served until Iftar, but nightlife goes on. There are fewer punters around, sure, because many people take holidays as business is slow, but it’s certainly not difficult to find a watering hole.

Ramadan 9 – To drink or not to drink? I had to run errands for hours today, and drove 150km before going to work this afternoon. One task involved a trip to the Outlet Mall which is way out in the desert. I was parched. I avoided drinking water in the car, because I don’t have tinted windows but on relaying this tale to a mate he said that he drinks and smokes without restraint whilst in the car. Anyone else have any thoughts?

Ramadan 10 – I went for a wander around the Mall of the Emirates today and was surprised to see the number of cafes and food outlets selling takeaways. There were no tables or chairs setup, but lots of people were purchasing cups of coffee in cardboard cups,  and cakes and sandwiches in paper bags. I saw a couple of people downing their drinks in the middle of the mall and was pretty shocked. OK, tourists wouldn’t know they’re not allowed to imbibe in public during daylight hours, but shouldn’t serving staff make it plain that it’s only to be consumed behind closed doors?

Ramadan 11 – Headed out onto my balcony for a cup of coffee and a cigarette today, as I always do, because I have no one who can see in (unless they’re out on the golf course with binoculars). A chopper flew overhead and I had a sense of mild anxiety that I was being checked up on. As far as I know the only helicopters that are allowed in that airspace are police/military. Do you think they could be doing Ramadan rule-breaking checks? *Shiver*

Ramadan 12 – Back to work today. Going down in the lift to the car park I shared it was two Japanese girls. One of them was sucking loudly on a sweet of some kind. To educate or not? I’m not offended (I’m not fasting after all) but she clearly didn’t know that you’re not allowed to eat in public. I refrained. Must try to focus less on the restrictions to eating. Will get more cultural from now on, I promise.

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Comments

  • exploratrix  On 7 March, 2011 at 16:00

    Ah, I guess my daily Ramadan observations wore a bit thin, even for me!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: