Sunday, October 16, 2005


Having lived in Dubai most of my life, I don’t really find it weird that everything almost stops working during the holy month of Ramadan. But for people who are new to the country, I guess it is kinda amazing. My manager (a Brit who has been in the country for about 6 months now) was shocked!
"All businesses close early for a whole month??!"
“ Closed during the day, yes!
“And you’re not supposed to eat outside until…what’s it called? ”
Iftar? You’re requested not to, yeah.”

It’s no big deal really. I love Ramadan! So the restaurants are closed during the day. So what? You can still buy food from any of the hyper-marts and eat at home if you don’t wanna cook. And they really aren’t as strict as in Saudi Arabia or anything. Cos here, nobody forces you to fast. If you do, well and good. If you don’t, that’s ok too. Islam is not like the terrorists make it seem. Ramadan is the month of tolerance, charity and understanding.
This Arab client came to the office and I wasn’t sure whether to offer him something to drink or not, so I asked him if he was fasting, he said yes, but he also said if I wanted to have anything, he’s ok with that. I didn’t even drink a glass of water till he left. That’s what Islam is really about! All religions say the same things anyway. I feel they just have different practices cos of geographical differences.

Anyway, back to Ramadan. Work timings are cut to a minimum. Which is great! My dad works for the govt and his timings are from 8: 00 am to 2: 00 pm! School timings are cut short too. I remember when I was in school, each class lasted hardly 20 mins!

The best part of the day is Iftar of course! Even if you’re not fasting! *grin*
The food is awesome. Dunno the names of the food, but what does it matter, it’s all delicious! Of course, if you’re fasting, you can’t really start eating everything all at once.
My sister was invited for an Iftar party. She told me everything about it. The traditional way is to start with dates and sherbet. More fruits follow – apples, grapes, pomegranates etc. Then you go onto bigger things like samosas, cutlets, puffs, strudels, pies and loads of other stuff. This is then followed by dinner which can be biryani or harees and other traditional dishes. She came back from the party with food coming outta her ears! Why the hell don’t I have more Muslim friends?? Oh right! I don’t have any friends! (Not in this country anyway) Going out is like torture now. My conscience keeps shouting dire warnings about my ever-expanding waistline, while I’m assaulted from all directions by traditional Iftar food just waiting to be picked up and devoured by my greedy self.Groan!

Can’t. Say. No.

And then there’s Eid!

Sigh! I guess I’ll just have to exercise.

Ramadan Kareem!


ToOothlEss WOndeR! said...

hey but i heard they're really helpful if you want to eat during the day..
i mean someone told me you eat in an arab's vicinity, they cut your head off so you can do away without the trouble of opening your mouth, chewing your food et al.

Kahini said...

It sounds lovely. The respect, I mean.

Jithu said...

if such a harmony can exist, dreaming of a world with only one religion rather with no religion. eating away to glory huh! :-)

Sonia said...

tooothless wonder!: that's only in saudi arabia. the cutting head off and all. in dubai, it isn't like that. they can't be that way here, cos this is a tourist destination.

kahini: ??

jithu: there are religions of course, and i'm not dreaming of one religion. i'm saying that in the end, all the books preach the same thing. unless you're into scientology of course!

and yeah, i'm stuffing my mouth with food, but not as much as my sis though. she just left for another iftar party

Rahul said...

I have to admit that until recently, i had a slightly negative view of Islam. I could not figure out, how it could reconcile its principles with the modern world. But, fresh people and ideas are diluting it, much to my pleasure. I even considered fasting for Ramadhan, but backed down on the very first day wathcing the guys eat pizza at the campus centre. Have fun sonia, and iam sure you can go unnoticed if you gatecrash on some iftaar. There will be hundreds of people, right??

hotICE said...

I remember my days in Abu Dhabi during Ramadan. Ramadan is festive time in the Gulf. The dullness of the day is compensated by the an extended night life. Food and leisure all night. I know a few non Islamic families who observe fasts in Ramadan. And the best part is that the neighbours share their delicacies at the time of iftar and there is a whole atmosphere of compassion in the month....

I miss Ramadan in the Gulf...

Happy Bloggin

Lost in trance... said...

Now I'm all J and thinking abt all the yummy stuff I used to devour back home...Waaaahh...:'-(

But cant complain too much...My roomie is fasting, and she makes all kindsa yummy stuff in the evenings when she aint too tired...Count your blessings(See I'm getting there)

lazydad said...

hi sonia.. that a very nice write up on Ramadan..
Ramadan Kareem!!

Rhyncus said...

And I had some haleem yesterday, don't know if it classifies as traditional iftar food (i had it in a small pakistani dhaba, so there), but yeah well, Ramadan's a funny time for a newbie.

Rhyncus said...

OK, just realised (after basic research) that what they call haleem is what you know as harees...or close enough.

Sonia said...

rahul: glad that you're veiws on Islam are changing. it is kinda sad that people do crazy things in the name of religion and gives the religion itself a bad name. People are crazy, not the religion. If Bush said watever he's done so far was for Christianity, I'm sure a lot of non-christians wud say that it's a crazy religion. But that's not true is it? it's the people that's crazy! we're all reading the same books, but understanding them differently.

Sonia said...

hotice: yeah, i know what you mean. anywhere else in the world, it's just like any other month. you don't even come to know it's Ramadan.

Lost in Trance: wow! you saying " count your belssings"! that is GREAT! you ARE improving! good good! guess it was that virtual rap on the head that did it! ;o)

lazydad: thank you! :o)

rhyncus: so finally got to Muscat huh? what're you're first impressions? how was harees/haleem? I've never had it myself.

jaguu said...

Trust me getting invited to a lot of Iftar parties is not that good a thing either especially if one vegetarian.But I generally go as I know refusing an invite is considered impolite out in this neck of the Woods.Also have to include the expense of getting Ramadan platter of sweets in to that months budget;).Ramadan Kareem.Ensoi!! Cheers!!

lash said...

hmm.. secular !!!! i had a fren in college who used to fast and he was so thin that by evening we had to carry him to the bed...:-) but the next day he wud again ve it..

Sonia said...

jaguu: i'm not a vegetarian, so no problems there. and since i'm not getting invited, i'm not gonna have to buy sweets either. although i don't really mind that.

lash: we used to have girls fainting in school all the time. in india or elsewhere i can understand. but here, where everything slows down just cos you don't eat during the day, i think if they faint, it's cos they're spoilt.

leela said...

I haven't been invited to an Iftar either :-I Guess I'm just going to have to Iftar myself.

Sonia said...

leela: :o| you and me both. guess we'll just have to make the best of it aye?

First Rain said...

What you say is so true about people from different faiths - after all good food is good food - let it be cooked anywhere in anybody's house! I have had a good Iranian friend for quite sometime now, and due to my conversations with him, my views on Islam have... broadened to say the least.


and feel very very guilty about that expanding waistline :P

Lazith Aziz said...

Not many understands the real Islam. Felt good reading about Islam from seomeone who is outside our religion....Sonia try fasting for a day ...It makes you feel great , you stand out from rest of the pack... and best part you atleast feel that you have lost some pounds though you never cause we make it for the entire fasting once we open it... :-)