Ramadan: on

So here it comes. Just a month after we have been here, the most cultural experience kicks off – Ramadan is on. It is a month (9th in the Islamic calendar), lasting 29-30 days observed by Muslims worldwide, and dates change according to the moon. The exact date is only known a day in advance, so this week we didn’t know whether it will be Friday or Saturday just before late Thursday when they said Friday is a no-go (apparently too clouded?!). I heard there is a special committee just looking at the moon (I wonder if this is easier job than making financial forecasts…).

I have heard so many things about this Ramadan month before it actually started. The best material thing is actually huge discounts. You can get 50% and more off of the big ticket items like cards, furniture… and in general Ramadan deals are everywhere, feels like a Black Friday…for the whole month. I started to get special offers blinking on my phone the night before Saturday. Bring it on!

The *bad* thing about Ramadan is that things slow down quite a bit. The locals pray and follow the fasting routine – no food and drink before sunset and sunrise. Work hours in all places have been adjusted accordingly, cutting a few hours off daily work. The places where they serve food are covered during the day. At work, no more coffee delivered to your desk – there is a special place to go and eat, and hope that you don’t find yourself with locals in the same elevator while carrying a take-away food up. Most worryingly, I am told of many stories where people get angry, tired, fall asleep behind the wheel…just before the sunset where the food finally comes.

Talking about food, we decided with my husband to try fasting. Seriously 🙂 With one adjustment: since we want to do heavy sports, we have to take in water. So Ramadan on.

First day. Saturday. Last meal on Friday was ice cream with cherries. We sleep longer on purpose – after all, no need to do breakfast. Out of bed just before 8am.

9.30 am we have a 60-min spinning class in Zayed Sport City. 20min drive in a cab.  Feels awesome, full of energy.

11.20 am back to the hotel residence. Rest and read. Still full of energy but stomach starts making noises. It’s okay. The brain works extremely fast.

12.30 am head off to Marina Mall. I got nails appointment at 1pm and my husband walks around to see Ramadan deals and how things are different. They are – the food court is covered totally. I am wondering, why do they do this – those who fast shouldn’t be bothered, of if they are – this is a greater challenge to overcome?

2.20 pm nails are done and my husband stands outside waiting and listening to an audiobook. I was listening to RealVision podcasts while being serviced too, and the senses feel very sharp. My husband complains about a bit of a headache, I am ok just a bit sleepy, hunger has disappeared as the taste of food is well forgotten (19 hours!).

2.50 pm we hit the Carrefour – the huge grocery store. Oh my, how many people. Trolleys are full of food, while the tech section feels somewhat more empty.  People are somewhat careless, somebody stepped on my husband’s foot, another guy tried to step in front of us in the queue for cheeses. Got an Iphone 7 cover for my new phone. Food shopping – here we go. While we try to get veggies and fruit fill most of our basket, we finish our tour with a pack of ice cream, Turkish delights, dates and pistachios….For a rainy day 😉

4.00 pm we are back at the hotel. Feel sleepy. Go down to the beach and rest on the (what do you call them? Memory gaps…) sunbeds. Body feels light and so does the head. Let’s do some reading here, work computer on. I ask my husband what he will have for dinner, he says – a lot of meat. I say, “I will have seafood”. He then says, “I will eat your seafood too”. 🙂 Not sure about that.

On the way forth and back to different places we were discussing were to eat tonight. What usually happens after 7pm when the sun sets, is Iftar – breaking fast with a buffet party, local food ad libitum, as much as you can fit in in your squeezed stomach. I am not a fan of this, but will give it a try.  Just not today. We decided to go for local – Lebanese a la carte – …and it is as much as it can get close to Iftar.

7.04 pm – the sunset. Iftar. We are at the restaurant so ready for the dinner.  We order the food and it is difficult to choose. We get a mix of things. We wait a few more minutes until we are informed by waiter that the prayer is done (somewhere) and it is time to break fast. We start with the traditional – a date and lemon water. Then the salads, hummus, labneh…seafood and meat.  Ant thanks God we didn’t order more, as we simply couldn’t eat more. For a cost of around DKK 140 (EUR 19) per head this is cheaper than what you could get for this in Denmark.

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7.55 pm – off we go for a 2km walk, brain totally off and we are speechless. It took some time to get the stomach going 🙂

Don’t remember much after all, just that we decided to have some ice cream for dessert at home a few hours later, and that I couldn’t finish my portion. Sleep, as tomorrow 6.30 we have a spinning class. My husband mumbles that he will have breakfast tomorrow (before dawn at 4am) – I say, good luck, just don’t wake me up.

He didn’t wake up for breakfast. Best sleep in a while.

5.30 am alarm off.  Up full of energy, dancing off we go to the spinning!

Our Ramadan journey will continue.

On June 6th we are going to Iftar to a special place – Grand Mosque – and we were told to put on special clothes on. So last week we got some shopping done – I bought a brown abaya and my husband got a white kandura. Just for that one dinner. It is going to be fun 🙂 Will show pictures later.

Stay tuned.

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