Well I’m over half way through the Holy Month of Ramadan and to be fair I’m loving it. I approached the season with a sense of dread; fed by established ex-pats with tales of extremes – “everything is shut, it’s unbearable hot, the laws are even stricter with regards to clothing”. Whilst all of the above is true I have played the game with regards to costume – long sleeved cotton shirts have become my uniform, I’m keeping the volume of music down in my car, I am not a ‘shopper’ and I am always in air-con.
Once I got my head around the no eating or drinking in public during sunshine hours I settled into a nice rhythm.
The ease of the month, to be honest, has largely come from the fact that my work hours have been drastically reduced, 8am-5pm has given way to 9am-2pm – I have always wanted to work part time – and I have been happily pottering; dyeing, spinning fleece and silk, baking bread, boiling jams and swimming laps. I finally finished the Zwarbtle project that I started many months ago and in my search for buttons wandered off to the oddly named Taliban Store (photo’s below).
My one small gripe is that the only place they have given us to eat and drink at work is shared with the smokers – a prefab hut in the corner of the carpark. My colleagues in my office have given me permission to drink water at my desk as long as I am discreet.
One interesting skew is that the playing of music or dancing in public is prohibited. I have found some cheap salsa lessons during the month and we have to be careful to keep the blinds down as to not offend. The salsa dancing is fun – I haven’t had a formal dance lesson since I was 14! I have to wear something cut a tad higher though – one Filipino boy I was partnered with could not take his eyes off my cleavage – I was amused rather than offended – he look so wide eyed and almost in shock – poor love!
Some practical things are difficult – like getting to a bank – they are open from 9.30-2.00pm (I am at work) and then open from 8pm to midnight – I can assure you that going to the bank at 9pm is the last think I would think of, but it is a night culture here at the moment. The traffic at 10.30pm is like the normal AM peak hour. I have been told by many people to keep off the roads between 6 and 7pm to avoid crazy drivers who are hungry and dehydrated on their way to prayers and Iftah (breaking of the fast) – too be honest I have seen none of this. Some of my colleagues were a bit green around the gills on day one, but for the most part those that I have observed fasting have a serenity and seriousness about them.
Today I went to a beach club that I was told about at a party last night. It’s far cheaper than anything else I have heard off and consisted of a large deep pool, a beach looking across the bay, umbrellas, banana lounges and a kiosk serving food and drink – almost unheard off during the holy month. It was an excellent find and one I plan to keep tight lipped about. So much of that kind of stuff here is over the top posh – this was a tad ‘old raj’ – run down and nothing fancy – just my cup of tea. Four hours of sun, swims, a good book and a club sandwich once a week is all I’ve been wanting. I have the week after next off for Eid – so I know where I’ll be!
I leave you with a pic I took of kitty Carla – her yawning meets my flash was the method – the result something a tad more sinister!