Sunday, August 28, 2011

The end is near

Tomorrow is the last day of Ramadan. Here's a final (?) installment of Ramadan observations from the UAE.

First, the traffic. When it's not Ramadan, the roads are congested for a good chunk of the day and some of the night, too. But the peak traffic hours are at least predictable - you can plan your errands and outings for the times when the roads will be relatively clear in the direction you need to go. During Ramadan, however, the predictable patterns fall apart to the point where there somehow manages to be horrendous traffic all day long, with most of the drivers battling low blood sugar along with the usual road rage. Then, right before iftar (around 7pm in the UAE), everything clears up all at once. I drove down Emirates Road (an 8-lane freeway that is usually chock-a-block with Ferraris and Porsches and dump trucks and buses and huge SUVs barreling along at 120+ kph) the other night at 7.05pm and I saw about five cars on the road, total. It was the eeriest thing. There were plenty of cars pulled over by the side of the road, though. I have to wonder if they were breaking their fast on the go.

If they were, well, I hope they picked up an Iftar Pack at Carrefour before heading out:

If they happened to BE at Carrefour when iftar hit, they would be treated to complimentary dates and water at each entrance:

For anyone who's not fasting, it's possible to get takeout from Subway during the day as long as you're discreet about it:
But you'll have no problem dining in at FOUR O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING. (The restaurants in the malls are open until 3am.)

You might have a little more trouble getting your banking done, since the hours of banks and other businesses take a decidedly nocturnal tone during Ramadan:
(In case you can't read it, that's 10am - 2pm and then 8pm - 12am. For a BANK.)

There's one thing that's been absent during Ramadan that I can't say I'll be happy to have back - loud background music in the stores. You know how when you shop at H&M or wherever, there's always peppy, loud music piped in through speakers in the ceiling? Well, since it's against the spirit of Ramadan to listen to loud music, they simply turn it off. I was at H&M today and it was absolutely silent in there. It took me a few minutes to figure out why I wasn't getting a headache as quickly as I usually do when shopping for clothes, and then I realized it was because it was so peaceful!

One thing I will miss about Ramadan is the facetious sense of daredevil excitement Jeremy and I feign whenever we eat food during the day, even in the privacy of our own homes.

Next up is the twoish-day Eid holiday on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then it's back to real life. Ramadan will end and take summer with it.


Liz Johnson said...

I'm so glad you survived! What other major holidays are coming up?

Crys said...

Wow that went by so fast ;)


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