The Ramadhan Diaries

Fasting in London and beyond

Default fasters

Thing is when you are fasting and other’s around you are not, they end up fasting by proxy. That’s because in general people are considerate to those around them and on an individual basis have respect for one another. Take the fourth day of Ramadan for instance. I was filming with two crew from the BBC – neither are Muslim. Our filming day was quite long and just a little challenging because we were filming in a hospital. Filming in hospitals is always difficult because the parameters of what you can get and what you can’t are quite narrow – practically nothing or no-one can get into shot unless they have signed two pieces of consent. Even the shoes of patients. So yes a challenging day but nonetheless good for the perspectives we got. After trawling through the camera shy staff, we found some doctors who were fasting to tell us about what working in A&E and fasting is like. They smiled and said it was fine and that actually it makes the day go quicker. I can relate to that. Although I dread the thought of a busy A&E shift, when I am in the middle of one I have to admit that it does make the day go quicker and I can forget myself in amongst it. Sometimes the anticipation is worse than than the fasting day itself. It’s the fear element within it – no-one wants to fail at their work and no-one wants to crumble under the fast. It’s all about fighting the urge to give in on both accounts. It’s mind over matter.

What was interesting to get was the consideration other members of staff gave to their colleagues who were fasting. One nurse said that her team were trying to avoid eating and drinking in front of their fasting nursing colleague. A group of male doctors said that they felt as if they were pseudo-fasting with their Muslim colleague because whilst they were around him they didn’t eat or drink and then they would find themselves too busy to eat when away from him.

In fact the two BBC crew who were with me all day ended up not stopping for lunch or coffee because time was against us. There were things they needed and we had to keep shooting. It was a busy day and quite intense. For me, I was prepared mentally and physically. I had begun to acclimatise to the fasting day and had anticipated it before the day had even begun. The BBC crew hadn’t envisaged that they would not be stopping for food – we were so rushed with the filming that I think they had managed breakfast and a hobbit style- small second breakfast before the shoot began but that was it for them until 7pm that evening. They looked like they were flagging. Filming is an intense experience.

I was fine as my adrenalin of presenting was keeping me going. It was only when I climbed into the taxi home after the end of the shoot and instantly fell into the blissful sleep of the exhausted that I realised that fasting and presenting can be a challenge. I was that exhausted I couldn’t even write this blog piece yesterday. I also naughtily ordered take away protein and salad of lamb cutlets and a mediterranean salad. Then I fell asleep.


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