Yep, once again, it has been a while since I’ve written. I wish I could tell you I won the lottery and took off on a long vacation. Nope, I think that I started getting used to Bahrain with all of its quirkiness and lost inspiration. Then, Ramadan started, and I realized once again, that I’m not in America anymore.
I marked the start of the holiday by digging all the warm, half-filled water bottles out of my car so I wouldn’t be tempted to take a desperate swig out of one while idling at the latest highway back up. I confess I still have a bag of peanuts crushed at the bottom of my purse, but I probably would suffer through random hunger pains during my 20 minute drive around town before pulling them out in public.
You’re probably thinking I’ve taken to embracing the local culture just a tad too much. Have no fear. While is has been an embarrassingly long time since I stepped foot in a church, I have not converted to Islam. I’m just trying to not get arrested or otherwise embarrass #1 by breaking the Ramadan public fasting laws that are part of life here for the next month. Yep that’s right. While Muslims have to fast from dawn til dusk- no food, water, tobacco, or sex, no matter where they are,- the rest of us can’t do it in public. So, no more sipping, snacking, smoking or sex whilst driving down the road, strolling in the mall or sitting on the park bench. As a nod to the even more conservative tone set this time of year, I’m working hard to keep my shoulders and knees covered, which should insure I don’t have any public sex, or get arrested for looking like a loose woman. We’re on day two. So far, so good.
I’m trying to convince myself that Ramadan is fun, as one of the common sayings we’re encouraged to share with our Muslim friends is “Ramadan Kareem!” Basically- “Happy Ramadan!” Right now I’m feeling sorry for everyone fasting for the 12+ daylight hours between daybreak and sunset. I’ve been told it can be a very spiritual time, a time of reflection, tithing, kindness and doing good deeds for the less fortunate. Evidently they’ve never heard the term “Hangry” around here, ’cause that’s about all anyone would get from me if I went a day without food or water. They deal with it for a month.
I have heard of the tremendous Ramadan buffets and other food orgies that are enjoyed after sunset and hope to go to one. The decorating is supposed to be amazing, the food divine, the prices-eh.(it IS all you can eat, and they’re feeding a hungry crowd) Here’s a picture of what it looks like at a local hotel when they celebrate the end of Ramadan.
And, one of the early dinner buffets during Ramadan:
Called Iftar, it’s designed to gently help you break your fast by starting you off with dates and tea, as well as some traditional foods. It runs until about 6:30-9:00 pm. Then comes Ghabga, which starts after the last prayer of the day, and can run into the wee hours. The buffets can be grand, there is shisha smoking available and I’ve heard it can be quite the party. Here’s a photo:
I’m not holding out much hope of getting to one of these late night shin-digs. A little research shows that they don’t really start until “9:00 pm, onwards”. Translated into #1 language- “I’ll already be in bed so forget it.” In Lori language: ” No way I can eat that much food so late at night.” It’s obvious we aren’t meant to be Muslims…
Until next time- Ramadan Kareem!