The Ramadhan Diaries

Fasting in London and beyond

Archive for the day “July 21, 2012”

Almost there….day 2

So there’s about 15 minutes left before the ‘iftar’ which translates as breakfast in Arabic. That’s the rime when you can break the fast. Today it happens in London at about 21.08. Mum has been cooking for about three hours now. The smell has been wafting up the stairs. I am guessing there is rice and some curry with meat. The clan have arrived. That’s my sister, her husband and their four little kiddies. Maryam the youngest munchkin is making herself heard. She doesn’t sound like she’s in a good mood. She’s only 2 but she know’s what she wants.

And even though its Ramadhan the atmosphere might be tense as my sister and I have had another ‘incident’. It was pre-Ramadhan but associated with a stressful time at home. She did what she normally does, which includes biting my head off. This time it was classy as it was done in front of my consultants at work. All they heard was a screaming woman projecting out of my iPhone straight onto the shop floor. Yep-just a little mortified. It ended up with me having to hide in the doctor’s room to recover from the embarrassment for about half an hour.

So will Ramadhan offer a chance for sibling animosity to be resolved? Will let you know. But am thinking that being hungry on top of angry might not be a great mix. As you can see I have yet to reach my spiritual high.


Day 2

A very lazy day today. But I am making myself feel less guilty about things because its Saturday. I have been working 6 days flat of 11 hour shifts in Queens Hospital Emergency Department so I am attributing my almost full day on-line to that. Catching up. But sitting for huge periods is alien to me and I am becoming a bit uncomfortable at the rear.

Well here I sit listening to radio 4 and the news is all about the fierce fighting in Syria. It looks like it’s coming to a head. The intensity seems huge. I wish I was there with them. The plan had always been to get my Libya film finished and then work to getting out there. Hasn’t quite worked out. Fasting in Tataouine last year was that much more poignant.

I have got a shed load of admin to do and must get on with it.

I know I have to give a whole host of time to prayer and reflection during this month to make sure I get the maximum out of this spiritual experience but in truth I always need to acclimatise to the lack of tea and coffee over the first couple of days.

Mum is not fasting because of her diabetes. She has such erratic blood sugars there’s no way she would be able to cope with the length without going into a hypo. My dad is doing fine despite his weird asthma, ischaemic heart disease and  constant back pain.

I can smell the cooking from up here-something with curry I think and rice. It’s amazing how sharp your senses become when you haven’t eaten all day.

I am contemplating going to the gym. My sister managed it yesterday and she says that the lean, mean fighting machines at the Lion’s Den Gym in big bad Essex are still working out even though they are fasting. Khaled our local hero mixed martial arts monster is working out as before.

So I need to stop feeling pathetic and get off my backside. It’s time for the mid afternoon prayer anyway.

Gazel – Ramazan

<a href=”” title=”Gazel – Ramazan”>Gazel – Ramazan

Ladies in pink from Bosnia singing about Ramadhan. Different.

What not to do during taraweer prayers

What not to do during tarawer prayers

Oh so funny and oh so true

So what are Tarawer prayers? Well some of you may know that Muslims are obliged to pray five times a day. Kind of takes about 5-10 mins out of the daily grind to break away and connect with the spiritual. You have a before sunrise prayer, a middle of the day prayer, one in the mid afternoon, one at sunset and one after sunset. Then you get the extras. In Ramadhan, the Arabic name for the month when Muslims fast there are a further set of prayers that are performed. They are normally done as congregational prayers and vary in length. Prayers are broken down into sets of twos. Each prayer has a different set of ‘twos’ to perform. The Tarawer prayers are not known to be compulsory but are highly recommended to perform and most people do perform them, especially if they have been fasting.

Now there are disputes about how many should be performed – is it 4 sets of 2 or 10 sets? I go with the flow. And if I feel I am going to keel over then I stop earlier. There’s not much praying going on at that point-only a focus to keep upright.

If you want to know more-here’s a link.

Day 1 It’s started

So the anticipated start of Ramadhan 2012 has begun. Day 1 is over. The fast broke at 21.07-that’s about 18 hours of fasting.

Some are apprehensive about the length of time. I am. It’s more about missing the tea and coffee more than food. But everyone is positive about it. Most see it as a time to make up for things gone wrong spiritually, or a time to refresh those religion based batteries.

I can’t help but think of it as a time to go hungry! And get a headache. And that funny fuzzy head when I can’t  concentrate. That’s what happens physically. But spiritually-sometimes it feels as it should and sometimes it’s an endurance test. It depends on where I am and with whom. I want to be honest about it. I see it as a challenge and one that I am more than  happy to accept.

About 30 years ago around this time of year, I did my first ever fast. I was 11. I remember it so well. I had been bugging my parents to let me fast and then one day they did. I remember also watching for the clock for it to get to 9 o clock – it seemed to move so slow. And then when it did come I got a special dinner all for me-some lamb kind of pot roast and chips. It was such amazing food to eat after my first ever day of fasting, of going hungry that I can still remember it today.

There were only three of us at that time-the younger three siblings had not yet arrived. So me and my brother and sister settled to watch Alien 1 for the first time. I still can remember the shock at seeing that creature burst out of that poor man’s stomach. My mum’s pot roast lamb now is associated with that scene even after all those years.

Bringing us up to 2012-I kind of lay around today. I wrote one effort-far more funnier and much more hungrier before I had broken my fast but the blog gremlins took it away and I cant get it back. This laptop has slowly driven me insane-so much for Apple sorting my life out. There has been a delay in me getting back to Stratford Apple Store after the eyebrow raising encounter with the ‘genius’ who told me there was nothing wrong with my laptop. Grrrrrrr. So the TimeMachine doesn’t work, my photos from Libya are scrambled and I have to run to the little computer shop on the corner if I ever want to attach any documents on my emails. My £1000 worth laptop is not able to do it. And Mr ‘Genius’ from the Genius Team  has the audacity to tell me there is nothing wrong with my laptop. He then went on to tell me he was not arguing with me. By this point I think I looked a bit dangerous. If he were to come to my place of work and I was to ignore his list of symptoms and tell him nothing was wrong with him he’d be writing to the Evening Standard. So until I can be bothered to cope with unhelpful comments from the unsupportive support team – I will just cope. But that means loosing copy and banging my head against the wall. I am going to learn how to be patient this Ramadhan-and then when I am feeling saintly and composed I will go back to the Apple store and smile as I thrust my ill laptop into their care, with little confidence they’ll fix it. I am writing from experience.

It’s late and nearly time to stop eating and drinking – soon last slug of water and then am off to sleep.

See you later on fast day 2.

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