Ramadan started a week ago and I am sure those in the GCC countries, must be enjoying themselves, as it’s the most favourite time of the year. Firstly the shorter working hours and secondly the ‘goodies’ galore on offer!
Office hours are shortened, so you get to be home around 3ish or 4ish in the afternoon. Most people would take this time to enjoy their afternoon siesta, which is usually reserved for weekends, or catch up on housework or TV shows/movies and yours truly usually ends up as a couch potato 😊.
Most restaurants and cafeterias would have on offer, all kinds of goodies which generally would not be available otherwise. The small cafeterias would start displaying the goodies around 4pm and trust me, they disappear very fast! I used to grumble that we tend to put on weight during Ramadan, but that didn’t deter me from having them almost daily – rather 5 days a week! You may wonder why 5 days a week? That’s because on weekends, we would be too lazy to go out and buy them…. ha ha. Of course, over the years, I tried my best to restrict having these goodies to a couple of days a week, instead of having them on a daily basis. Had the ‘weight factor’ in mind! 🙈
‘Iftar’ time is a huge occasion, as that’s when families/friends gather together to break their fast. All neighbourhood shops will be temporarily closed, as the staff would be sitting around a large plate filled with fruits, dates and laban (fermented milk) to break their fast. Eating and drinking is strictly prohibited in public during Ramadan and most restaurants are closed during the daytime. If they want to sell food during that period, they would have to take a special permit from the municipality and it would strictly be take-away only. Of course, the food courts in the various malls and free zones would be open to cater to those who aren’t fasting, but the entrance to the food court would be cordoned off. All other restaurants that close during the day would open for Iftar and close only at Suhoor. Nights are very vibrant during Ramadan.
So in following the culture, we too threw couple of Iftar parties at home. I insisted that everyone fast before coming over and no late comers, as we all had to break fast together on hearing the calling from the mosque. Our friends were really thrilled and what tickled them most is that we would serve shandy and dates to break the fast, followed by serving all the favourite goodies which we would buy from outside. One of the rare times when I didn’t really have much cooking to do 😉 ! And if one was hungry after all that feasting, we had nothing to worry about, as almost all restaurants would be open till the wee hours of the morning.
Here in Singapore, one can go to Geylang Serai to enjoy the light-up and the annual Ramadan Bazaar, which is a unique ‘food culture’ event, showcasing both traditional and modern street food.
But saying that, I truly miss Ramadan in the UAE!!