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Ramadan Kareem!

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Jul. 7th, 2014 | 06:44 pm

Iiiiiiiiit's Ramadan! Ramadan Kareem! (Have a Bountiful Ramadan) The DJs on the radio say this a lot. And it's all over billboards and mall banners.

Which is weird, to see commercialism in another religion. (Ramadan Collection? Really? You're making this religious holiday about fashion?) It's actually considerably more subtle than Christmas, but it shows up a lot because it's not what I'm used to.

Also in Ramadan - it's a fasting holiday. Between sunrise and sunset, no eating, drinking (including water), smoking or gum in public. Or in your car. Or in view of a window. No music (softly in your car with the windows up is OK for non-Muslims). The grocery store is open, but don't eat anything before you get home. I went shopping after work the other day and got a bottle of mango juice for the ride home (I was starving) and then got into a taxi and realized, 1) I am still in public and 2) the drive is almost certainly Muslim.

At sunset there's a short ceremonial meal of a few dates and water, then prayers, then iftar. Iftar used to mean the dates and the water, and in more strict Muslim countries it still does. But in the UAE, there's the ceremonial dates, a prayer call, and then the iftar buffet. Often in a tent outside the hotel or restaurant (tradition!) but as lavish as a Las Vegas buffet. As if you were eating at the Aladdin and it actually had a connection to Middle Eastern culture.

Here's a nice little blog post about "waddling away from iftar to the mosque".

I'm not a Muslim, and I don't mind eating inside or waiting until dark to go to dinner. But as a writer who writes best in the coffee shop, I am screwed! There is a list of open restaurants--the list fits on one page. I'm switching to night shift writing for awhile.

About an hour before sunset today, I went to a restaurant I had heard was open. Every window had a shade down and the outside patio was packed up and the doors were closed. But a little sign outside said, "Ramadan Kareem! Please be aware that food and drink are served inside this building."

Inside, the place was dim (shades) and dead silent (no music). But they had coffee and they had mango splash (fresh mango juice with mint) and they had unlimited wifi, so write I did. At ten minutes after sunset, the shades went up and the music came on, and in the street outside there were phalanxes of waiters moving to their now-open restaurants.

It was a cultural experience.

That I will continue having for about 21 more days. So much for getting over jet lag.

Ramadan Kareem!



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Comments {4}

drwex

I've read about these things

from: drwex
date: Jul. 8th, 2014 08:32 pm (UTC)
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There's an interesting analogy to Jewish observance that makes an exception for doing certain things on the Sabbath inside the home. This results in some very silly behavior where a boundary is placed around a large amount of outdoors and then people get to pretend that inside that boundary is "home". Likewise (I have read) in some Muslim countries if it's dark enough inside, it's "dark".

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i_17bingo

(no subject)

from: i_17bingo
date: Jul. 10th, 2014 07:18 am (UTC)
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My schedule has been in upheaval so far this month, so I haven't noticed the coffee shop problem... yet. But I will. I've been dreading it for a while.

And the no-drinking-in-the-car-or-even-after-a-workout? Ugh.

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Rebecca

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from: beeker121
date: Jul. 10th, 2014 05:05 pm (UTC)
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This is a slightly odd question but how long are the days there right now?

I could learn to not eat from sunrise to sunset, but I'm not sure I could ever handle the no water. I assume you're not supposed to drink in the daylight, but is the idea that in the privacy of your home you're at least not offending anyone else who is observing?

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similiesslip

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from: similiesslip
date: Jul. 12th, 2014 03:29 am (UTC)
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I'm so glad you found a place to write.

The mango drink sounds delicious. Is it? :)

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