Friday, July 27, 2012


By day the city is empty, quiet, and hot. The busy, crowded streets are suddenly devoid of cars and nearly all the stores and restaurants are closed. If they can, people sleep late or stay inside. Taxi drivers going are grouchy because they can't smoke. You have to hide your water bottle inside your purse so no-one sees.

But by night, Amman is transformed into a bustling, exciting, food-filled place. I'm almost sure if you translated "رمضان" (the word for Ramadan) into English, it'd be spelled "feast".

The fourth pillar of Islam, Ramadan is a sacred month of fasting based on the lunar calendar. From July 19th until August 18th, all participants are required to fast from sunrise to sunset; no food, water, or smoking. You start your day with suhoor, a pre-dawn breakfast of usually dates, water, breads and nuts. Once the sun rises, the entire city fasts until around 7:30pm when iftar finally comes and you can break the fast. All the restaurants are closed and many shops wait until night to open. Because water is forbidden, people stay in their homes to conserve energy. And since smoking is also off-limits, everyone is on-edge, from the taxi drivers to our doctors in the clinics. Patience levels are low. But after iftar, everything changes. People can eat and drink, shops are open, there are fireworks everywhere, twinkly lights hang from windows and doorframes, and people are whistling. It's eating, drinking, smoking, singing in the streets, and happiness till dawn.

Most of us aren't fasting, but we joined our friends from SIT, one of the directors from the Ministry of Health, the chief of UNRWA's field health program, our professor, and all their families at a fancy restaurant for iftar. It was delicious and there was so much food. It's bad, nearly every night of Ramadan, we all are in serious food-coma.

Which, speaking of food-babies, I'm gonna go waddle to bed. Ramadan kareem!
!رمضان كريم

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