This is the time of year when I need an extra bit of patience and a game plan to get me through each day here.
I’ve gotten into the routine of wearing an abaya, not being able to drive and at the mercy of some scary taxi drivers. I’m used to not being understood, constantly repeating myself and speaking in three languages just to find a spray bottle in the supermarket.
´Spry? Ah, you wanting Sprite?´
´No, I don’t want a drink, I want a plastic, you know, um, Choof! Choof!Choof!´ (as I pull an invisible trigger and make a fool of myself in aisle 3 ).
After three months I also got into rhythm with prayer time and kind of knew how things worked around here until Ramadan came along.
My choppy sea existence turned into a tsunami.
Everything around here opens and closes at will.
If you’re like Jarir Bookstore (the local haven for expats needing a good read and more art supplies) you have a website with Ramadan timings posted.
If you’re a small business, the corner shop, pharmacy, mall, I may not know when you open because there are no White Pages and if I do have your number, you can’t see my sign language when I try to explain what I want.
It’s easier for me to just sit at home and wait until 7pm when Riyadh comes back to life but by then Wallace is home, he’s hungry and just wants to settle down for the evening. In my other life I’d just hop in my car and go where I want when I wanted to but here I’m not going out on my own after dark.
This is also the time of year when expat clubs close down over summer and any friends you have made are on vacation. I’d go on vacation too but Wallace doesn’t get any leave before September (Greece, here we come!)
You get to feeling lonely and out of place while everyone around you is having a good time.
So I’m hibernating.
Meanwhile the locals are having a ball!
It’s like Christmas for 30 days around here for them.
There’s food to prepare for Iftar, houses buzz with family and friends and after dinner many gather for an evening stroll through a park or down the shopping mall. The shops stay open till 1am and cars toot and children play below while Wallace tries to sleep.
Many restaurants, local businesses and all the malls put up beautiful decorations and hang fannous (brightly coloured lanterns).
Everywhere you see the sign Ramadan Kareem ( I’m guessing it translates to ”Happy Ramadan”), the prayer calls last longer and the locals become more devout.
Wallace has to hide to eat or drink while at the office and his fasting work associates get extra snappy and moody from low blood sugar, no doubt. They’ve most probably been up half the night, have indigestion and need a good sleep. It’s hard for him to satisfy all their work requirements as it is, he can do without the extra aggro.
I’m stuck in the middle of Ramadan and I’ve got Steeler Wheel’s song going around my head..
”Stuck in the middle with you and I don’t know what it is I can do……..”
Maybe I’ll just download the song and dance around my hotel room till this blows over.