Tuesday, October 11, 2005


I have to admit, I'm really impressed by the Ramadan fasting.

At the risk of sounding culturally insensitive, I guess I didn't really believe that a culture where 15 minutes means an hour, "God Willing" means "probably not" and smoking in elevators is still common practice, would really be strict enough to refrain from eating, drinking or smoking anything from 4:20 am to 5:20 pm every day for an entire month.

But almost everyone does it and they do it with notably little complaining.

True, the entire country gets a little grouchy around 1:00 pm (you don't want to have business meetings after noon) and the traffic is a nightmare (I've been walking a mile home from work rather than risk life and limb in a taxi). However, everyone still works (until 3-3:30 pm) and still lives pretty normal lives. And best of all, they have great parties and feasts every night for Iftar.

So I tried fasting yesterday. I didn't think it would be too arduous since I haven't been eating much anyway during the day (as it is common courtesy not to eat, drink or smoke in front of people during Ramadan and it's actually illegal to eat/smoke in public).

Anyhow, I did really well with my fasting until noon when I realized I had a big meeting with a potential sponsor in an hour and an enormous, pounding caffeine withdrawal headache. I tried to work through it, but with no food or water to compensate, I caved and drank a Nescafe. Instead of conceding defeat, I chalked it up to a professional necessity. Trust me, asking companies for money is bad enough without having a pounding headache to contend with.

My point is that fasting all day is not easy for 1 day let alone an entire month. I'm impressed how committed these people are to their God and also to a purification that they say allows them to feel cleansed and healthier and also helps them better emphathize with those less fortunate then they are.

I personally like the fact that our work day is short, I don't come home from work smelling like second-hand smoke, and I have great parties at night to attend. I feel kind of bad though, that I get all gain no pain. Maybe I'll try fasting again tomorrow...


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