Friday, 5 September 2008

The Ramazan Fast - Harder Than You Think

My husband James loves eating. It's one of his favorite pastimes. Aside from when he's asleep, he eats at least every two hours. From time to time James decides to fast. His idea of a fast is to abstain from all solids. Liquids such as water, milk, juice, fruit shakes, protein shakes, root beer floats, steak and potatoes blended to a fine puree, these are okay with him. He'll consume them at least once an hour, probably more. . . . Okay, so I'm embellishing a teensy bit, but the point is that James likes to eat and never completely abstains from it.

So, this past year when James decided he wanted to get to know, understand, and identify with our Turkish friends and neighbors a little more by fasting along with them during Ramazan, I was a little surprised. James wasn't doing the fast for religious reasons. He just wanted to try it out and see what our friends go through. He never had the goal of fasting for the whole 30 days, just a day or two in order to experience it. Here's how his day went:

4:00 am - The drummer comes by and wakes everyone up so that they can eat a morning meal before the sun rises. James stays in bed.
5:30 am - James wakes up and eats a light breakfast. This was already cheating a bit as our neighbors were up eating at least an hour earlier, but James figured it didn't matter that much since he was just trying to get the general experience. He was going to abstain from all food and drink for the rest of the day, until he broke the fast at sundown along with everyone else.
10:30 am - James, low on energy, has a hard time being civil toward a certain member of the family (me).
11:00 am - James says he has a headache and starts getting sniffy even toward the little members of the family.
12:00 - James goes to take a nap (which somehow got him started down a slippery slope).
1:30 pm- He wakes up.
2:00 pm- James decides he needs to break the fast just a little bit by having a glass of milk.
2:30 pm- James reasons that since he already broke the fast, he might as well snack on a few pieces of dried fruit.
3:00 pm- James fixes himself a sandwich.
3:15 pm- James is in the refrigerator eating leftovers from the night before.
3:30 pm- All food in the kitchen (with the exception of a few raw potatoes and the soy sauce) has been devoured by James.
3:45 pm- James takes another nap.
6:30 pm- Our family (including James) eats dinner.
6:40 pm- The cannon shoots off. We can hear our neighbors chairs scooting and creaking above our heads as they have their first bite of food and drink of water since dawn.
6:45 pm- James decides that one day of the Ramazan experience is enough for him. He doesn't want to try it again the next day.

Wow.

A few things we learned:
1. We have a little more understanding and pity for the angry drivers who honk at everyone and are always shouting. Those guys aren't just tired, hungry, and thirsty. They're also having withdrawals from smoking.
2. The Ramazan fast is HARD. We've come to respect people who set out to do it and actually stick to it the entire 30 days.
3. We also have more understanding for why we can't find anyone who is actually getting anything done during Ramazan. It's hard to find a plumber, repairman, etc who will get a job done during this month. One year our toilet flusher broke about 3 days into Ramazan. No matter how many plumbers we called, we couldn't get anyone to come. We ended up flushing by pouring buckets of water down the toilet until well after the month of Ramazan ended. People are either sleeping or wishing they were sleeping during all daylight hours. Since they're not eating or drinking, everyone wants to expend as little energy as possible.

1 comment:

This is the story of a girl said...

Jamie! you're so funny. I've learned so much about Turkey through your blogs, how awesome is that? Well i can identify with your husband. I'd probably be looking for food as well especially when being awake since a really early time! Good blog. Maybe you could write a book on your experiences, you're a good story teller :)

There was an error in this gadget