The Ramadhan Diaries

Fasting in London and beyond

Archive for the day “July 25, 2012”

Calamari from Tripoli


I got sent this image from my friend and colleague from Tripoli, Dr Mostafa Al Jafari who works as a junior surgeon at the Tripoli Central Hospital. He is one of the hardest, most dedicated young surgeons I know-who made some amazingly brave decisions last year in his bid to support the revolution in Tripoli. He is a very inspiring young man indeed. We met on the frontline of the battle for Bani Walid as part of the medical team led by another very inspiring surgeon and clinical lead in the field Dr Mohamed Al Taib.
So this is an image of stuffed calamari – fresh from the Med sea off the coast of Tripoli. It’s an example of what they are having as part of their Iftar ( the meal to break the fast-also translates directly as breakfast).

Hello New Zealand!

I have had readers from New Zealand today. Thrilled. It’s a country I have always wanted to visit – ever since I watched the children’s series ‘Children of Fire Top Mountain’. I was hooked. Not quite made it to the region yet but insha’Allah ( God Willing) one day!

I had to laugh a bit yesterday watching BBC London News. There was an item about the weather and our current heatwave. Obviously it was tied in with the Olympics and the fast approaching Opening Ceremony. The news team were speaking to members of the public enjoying the afternoon sun, sitting in a London park.

One Londoner stated ‘We’ve got our prayer mats out for sun on Friday.’ His physical appearance didn’t suggest he was a Muslim. It’s getting a bit like food-you know how a couple of Britain’s top meals are imported-Chineese and Curry? Well it appears that spiritual reliance and wishful thinking are also.

So now everyone is using prayer mats! I though it was just us Muslim types. But then again I’ve seen some used as wall hangings and rugs in all sorts of places.

Made me giggle anyway. Hope the rain stays away for all you lucky buggers that got tickets for the opening ceremony!

Filmmaking collectives in Africa

Useful for filmmakers!

Africa is a Country (Old Site)

Theatrical release is the holy grail of filmmaking. Well, it was until relatively recently. But, since the internet, dvds, digital files and all the other ethereal modes of sharing and circulating became available to the masses, alternative modes of film production and distribution began to challenge the studio system, the distribution system, and perhaps even cinema itself. We’re all well aware of the nearing doomsday of celluloid, the ‘end of film’. Yet, this is only a fraction of what constitutes ‘film’.

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A Great American Journey

Worth sharing as some great pics with words!

Simerg - Insights from Around the World

Text and photos by Malik Merchant

If readers were wondering, I am making a 4500km road-trip across the continent, and will resume blog updates with highly interesting readings once I reach my destination – Vancouver. Starting my journey in Ottawa, Canada, I have covered about half the distance in just over a week. I am not rushing – enjoying the drive at my own steady pace, maintaining posted speed limits, staying overnight at various towns and cities, and taking the time to visit some important landmarks and highlights. And, of course, calling my parents and (texting) my daughter about my whereabouts.

I marvel at the excellent facilities provided at the clean “Rest Areas” just off the excellent four lane highways every 90 to 120 kms. They allow me to stretch my legs, review the town and state information panels as well as pick up brochures. Straight ahead of…

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Something about not liking food much

A useful post to help with the psychology of fasting!

Ramadhan Breakfast in a Tripoli hospital

From Dr Sami Negi – a friend and colleague who I worked with in the battle for Bani Walid, Libya last year. He sent me this to show what they are having for Ramadhan breakfast whilst on duty in the coronary care unit of the Tripoli Medical Centre.

Day 5 A Quiet One

It was a quiet Iftar today with just me and my dad. I didn’t realise everyone would be out. They were at my sister’s for a BBQ. I didn’t know anything about it. This is quite normal. We have our bust ups and then there’s the avoidance and cooling off period. And then I tentatively accept the invitations to come around in due course. Get lulled back into the fold-and then before too long we fall out again. So had I even known about the BBQ I wouldn’t have been going anyway. I know it’s not the ideal Islamic behaviour we are told to aspire too, especially during Ramadhan when we have to be extra good but this is a real family and these things happen. Avoidance is the lesser of what could happen-which would essentially be another huge row. It’s just got to the point where my level of acceptance for being spoken to in a way that I feel I’m a five year old has reached a peak and a new found confidence of not taking it anymore has surfaced. Wonder how long it will last before I go back to quietly sheepishly accepting it all in order to keep the peace? to be fair I know my bohemian lifestyle does drive my family a bit crazy and is the source of most of the upset, when my creative spirit gets in the way of admin or life in general – this is as grown up as I am ever going to be folks.

So I spent the afternoon and evening writing, researching and getting excited about the fact that I have a new reader from Spain and that today I had the highest amount of readers ever. I went to break my fast in the deserted kitchen at 21.03.

I had no idea my dad was in. Everything was so quiet. I think he must have been snoozing. The thing is there is no point in cooking if my dad is around as he is the Master Chef of the house. But I wish I had realised he was there-I could have at least thrown some  potatoes into the oven and done my famous jacket potatoes and baked beans. Well they’re famous here at home in that it was what we survived on when we were young and my mum was away in hospital for large chunks of the time.

So anyway my dad raided our somewhat sparse fridge and found some soup and bread. I found dates, two little pots of jelly-the strawberry one is far superior than the orange – and a stale croissant, revived after a blast in the oven. It was a feast and I was rather content. We say ‘Alhumdullillah’ which in Arabic means ‘Thanks God’. I didn’t get that awful bloated feeling or want to go off to sleep like I normally do after a heavy meal cooked by mum – amazingly delicious though they are. The Algerian way of breaking fasts is something I got accustomed to when I was married to a man from Algiers. The marriage didn’t last long and he is normally referred to as the ‘ex-monster’ but for the sake of Ramadhan and me trying to be a better person I’ll just refer to him as the ‘ex from Algiers’.  I still managed to hold onto the lifestyle though because I really liked it. It’s very Mediterranean and really healthy in my opinion. The dates and the milk to begin with are the same as what we have in our British Pakistani family home. And then instead of a full blown massive heavy course, they go for shorba – a form of soup with lamb and chick peas or whatever the regional variations are. Some cook it with tomatoes others don’t. And then there’s the bread-an essential with every meal-which did me no favours whatsoever. I gained masses of weight on the French bread diet. So that had to stop.

We would also have borak-a form of samosa-filo pastry with a variety of fillings like minced meat, or potato and cheese. Occasionally there would be couscous with lamb or chicken. That would be a heavy night. It would all be accompanied by fresh, minty salads. And then there would be as much mint tea or coffee to wash it all down after.

Well anyway that’s not what I had today. I’m currently sitting up watching a film about football hooliganism in London, starring my favourite Hobbit, Elijah Wood. I’m hydrating with a number of drinks on the go at the same time. I have my glass of water, kindly delivered by my little brother, a can of diet coke and a cup half full with cold tea. I’m going back to the kettle after this has been posted. It’s the habit of making the tea I find hardest to break. I often have my best thoughts waiting for the kettle to boil.

And if you are wondering where Day 4 went – well it was pretty uneventful, other than I hardly moved from my chair, writing, broke my fast with a chicken curry made without tomatoes. My brother with the medically directed diet restriction appreciated it and everyone else didn’t. I need a break from chicken curry. I then cleaned up the kitchen – it was a massive mess. I just don’t get how people can sleep with the kitchen dirty at night. If I don’t do it the dishes will be there in the morning  – it won’t get done. Drives me mad. But then again – it’s kind of my job now. I might recruit a sibling to help but then again I might not.  I do it listening to Radio 4 and the Book at Bedtime. Keeps me calm and inspired.

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