Thursday, September 25, 2008

The "Fast" Life

It's Ramadan time. Dubai, being less Middle-Easty than most other Middle East type places, has free zones, such as where my office is, which allow restaurants to serve food during the day though in a place like Saudi Arabia you wouldn't even get a drink of water if you asked for it (which you shouldn't).

Apparently police vans patrol the streets and you can be unpleasantly reprimanded if you are seen eating or drinking in public, even in Dubai. The food court near my office has set up cane screens behind which it's business as usual. As you walk through suddenly narrower corridors, you can catch glimpses of people eating, of hear the clink of cutlery, smell food being cooked, but it's all covert, so you are not seen to be eating, drinking or smoking in public.

I have always known I could never fast. It definitely wouldn't bring me closer to my inner soul or to God or anything but starvation. But I respect people who can do it, even if I haven't always noticed them. Growing up as a majority member in India - a Hindu - in a big city like Delhi, I never had to adjust or accommodate another culture's constraints. At least, it never inconvenienced me before. Muslim friends have fasted around me. Christians have given up a favorite item during Lent. Hindus have gone vegetarian during Navratra. Life just went on.

But being in Dubai during Ramadan, you cannot miss what's going on. Restaurants are closed outside the free zones. There are smoking tents set up in the public areas of the free zenes so that can puff away without offending others. You can't drink water in public or even chew gum. At iftar time it's impossible to get a taxi because most cab drivers are eager to go and pray and then break their fast. There are huge Ramadan tents set up across the city where iftar banquets are served up daily. And when I go for my daily (okay, okay, weekly) evening walk/jog, I work up a sweat even as my nostrils register grilled chicken and french fries cooking at the nearby Ramadan tent. Work ends at 4 instead of 6 and everything is slower because you can just say "Ramadan timings".

Anyway, I type all this as Ramadan goes into the last week of fervour and excitement. It's Eid on the 2nd I believe, and the city is gearing up for a week of holidays. And, I am gearing up for vacation! This post is being written from the AbuDhabi airport, where I will shortly board a flight to Sydney. After 15 hours of non-stop flying while my knees get bent at a 90 degree angle for eternity, we will be welcomed by Anando's brother and family for 10 days of fun, camping and sight-seeing. And of course, food anytime, anywhere. Let the fun times begin. I AM ON VACATION!!!

9 comments:

D said...

Quite an insight into the cultural ethos of a place!

And hey, Sydney is fab. Having a great time!

Goofy Mumma said...

Happy Holidays!

Aunty G said...

Oh goody, you're on vacation || And, delightfully, changing location || Have fun with family || Get rested/refreshed heavily || When you come back, voila, fasting cessation!

Distar said...

have a fantastic time! Sydney is gorgeous.

Suku said...

sydney and delhi?? you will all over the place missy! have fun!

A Muser said...

Woohoo! Enjoy! Hope you see some kangaroos :)

OrangeJammies said...

I've wanted to rant about this for the longest time. It's seriously offensive to me that somebody should force their cultural/religious beliefs on me. Whatever happened to "to each his own". And what kind of worship is forced anyway? If you're not doing it voluntarily and it has to be enforced by a moral police, it's a pitiable situation. I walked into a little fast food joint near my school during the Jain period of Prajushan recently and was told sorry, you can only eat ice cream. We're fasting so there's no food. "But I'm not Jain!" I replied, to which they merely shook their heads and said I could only eat icecream. WTF!!! Don't eat if you don't want to but how dare you force your ridiculous beliefs down my parched throat??? THIS, I believe, is real intolerance, and the worst bit is, it's all perfectly culturally acceptable. Grrrr!!!

eve's lungs said...

Yaaahooo for that junket ! Now tell me , are you carrying your laptop and will you sms me on landing in Kolkata ? Otherwise I'm gonna use your skin for a new strolly .

Thinking Cramps said...

Hey al: Vacation's going great :) Thanks for the comments. And Eve's Lungs - leave me my skin..I will get in touch!!!

OJ: I completely agree. If you don't have the will-power to control your urge to eat/drink/whatever, then you're not that close to God anywya. And what are a few temptations, really? I have this aunt who eats only veg food on Thursdays but if there's ever a family gathering or a wedding where there's sure to be good food she always complains about how it's Thursday and so she can't enjoy it! I just don't get it!!!