Monday 25 September 2006


Yesterday was the first day of Ramadan (or Ramazan as it's known here). I thought I'd get involved in my quest to become a fully qualified Turk.

The period of Ramazan starts with 30 days of fasting. Now my knowledge of this whole festival is almost nothing so I wont even attempt to speak about the ins and outs of it. All I know is that at 4am yesterday morning I was called for breakfast (seems strange to use that word as it should really be startfast). I woke and put on my glasses. I guess I must have fallen asleep again because next time I looked at my watch it was 5am and dangerously near to the start of the fasting which kicks off with a canon and the extinguishing of the mosque minaret lights at 5:30am.

I hot footed it down to my father's flat and passed a number of people along the way, in the dark, all rushing around to get ready for the hellish day ahead. The local policeman was taking out his rubbish from his little hut and said something to me and laughed as he saw me tripping over my slippers in an attempt to get eating as quickly as possible. I have no idea what he said but I replied "yes, that's absolutely right". Happy not to feel a bullet in my back, I continued up the stairs of my dad's block.

When I arrived, they had just finished putting the breakfast things away, but were so pleased that I was attempting to fast for the first time, they happily re-laid the table. And so, the feeding frenzy began. I was shovelling food into my mouth like a thing possessed. As the time ticked away, I had to find a efficient eating strategy. I discovered that black olives are quicker to de-stone in the mouth than green for example.

Before long the lights of the mosques went out and then ...silence. What happened to the cannon? I was all excited about that. Apparently non-fasters had complained about a cannon being fired in the early hours of the morning and the council decided to only fire the cannon the evening at the end of the day's fast.

So all was still and I headed back to bed.

I woke starving hungry at about 11am. I think that knowing you're not allowed to eat makes you hungry. Normally I wouldn't be hungry after such a large breakfast. But I pottered around the flat and tried to think of things to do to take my mind off the subject of food. By the way, there are other rules to fasting:

  1. You are not allowed to eat
  2. You are not allowed to drink
  3. You are not allowed to kiss
  4. You are not allowed to have sex
  5. You are not allowed to have bad thoughts about anyone
  6. You are not allowed to swear

There are probably other things but this was enough for me.

My dad called at about 2pm and suggested we go into to town to take our mind off things and get some errands done. I had to take a fake watch back to a shop as it had broken (stop laughing) and I so I decided to go along.

On trying to return the watch, the salesman told me that I had shaken the watch too rigorously and that's why it had broken. Now, note to all out there; don't say something stupid like this to a man who is fasting. It was like I had been taken over by another animal. I launched an attack at the man that even surprised my father. The result was, however, a repaired watch and two broken vows.

The time then moved along pretty quickly and soon we were gathered at the dinner table waiting for the cannon to fire signifying the end of the fasting period. With a loud boom (which has actually just happened here again today and scared the bejesus out of me) we began eating. Traditionally, you break your fast with a date (not the romantic kind as that wouldn't be a good idea). So I tucked into the best tasting date I had ever eaten. We then ate in silence as the sound of cutlery clattering was too loud anyway.

Apparently I have to do another fast in a couple of weeks time and another at the end of the 30 days. I'm allowed to do this as they go easy on first-timers. I'm not sure if I will do it again. I'm pleased I did it but I found that it made me even less productive than usual as the sugar levels drop.

Now please excuse me as I have to go to dinner.

No comments: