Ramadan, the holiest time of the year for Muslims is upon us and it has been conveniently preceded by a security warning from my embassy.
This is no surprise as there are those amongst us who would think they’d be doing a higher being a big favour by knocking off an infidel or two during High season. It has happened and will continue to happen and all you can do is not be at the right place at the wrong time. The Rock Monster is probably preparing his arsenal as I write this and no doubt I will hear of his handiwork along the expat grapevine. It has taken three months but yesterday the British Embassy confirmed the victim of the last rock assault was one of theirs…perhaps I need to wear a helmet as well as my veil when out and about. Yeah, hidden under my abaya I can have the whole Lara Croft thing happening…cutesy shorts, black singlet, boots and a bullet proof vest.
Ramadan means no eating, drinking, smoking or intimate relations with your spouse once the sun rises but I suppose everything is possible behind closed doors if you are not a follower of the faith.
Restaurants and coffee shops remain closed throughout the day only opening after sunset then many stay open till sunrise next morning.
It’s the time of year when everyone stacks on weight as you stuff yourself at a variety of buffets put on by family, friends, hotels and restaurants.
The fast is traditionally broken with fresh dates which are in abundance right now. I think I read there are over 100 varieties: each one better than the last and some are as big as your thumb and a meal in itself.
When we lived in Abu Dhabi, we ate at a Turkish Restaurant that had a cheap but grand Iftar buffet (the meal that breaks the fast is called Iftar). The majority of patrons there were single guys with big appetites who piled two to three plates of food then sat down and waited for the official call to start eating.
They would stare at their plates, stare at each other to see if anyone had jumped the gun, lick their lips, adjust their plates, fill their glasses, fidget some more then dive in when the call was given-beamed live from Mecca on overhead TV screens.
It’s the time of year when mega companies and various charities feed the poor in huge outdoor tents or simply open spaces. I watched this happen in Qatar in the park opposite our apartment. Strangers coming together in circles of ten or so who were handed plates of food by workers from the local mosque. You could tell by their different dress, some were Indians, others Pakistani, Afghans and Sudanese. They also fidgeted and rearranged their plates, paper this time, until the call rang out from the adjoining mosque.
Come to think of it, I don’t know where the women and kids were eating because the park was constantly filled with men.
You’ve heard of the Red Cross?
Well, it’s called Red Crescent here – and they do a fine job looking after the needy.
Time will tell how Ramadan pans out for us here,
I’ll keep you posted