22 October 2005


As usual Tray has impeccable timing, I was intending to write a little about Ramadan here, with this job and being away from family. So I hope this answers any questions and gives an account of Ramadan here.

Just a quick note on Ramadan for those who don't know. It is the holy month in the Muslim calendar in which Muslims fast, that is, they don't eat or drink or smoke anything from sunrise to sunset. At the end of Ramadan there are 3 days of celebration or Eid.

I'll start with work. Just before Ramadan started everyone received a general memo about Ramadan telling a little about what it was and social expectations (like not eating or drinking in public during daylight hours regardless of whether you were Muslim or not) and changes to onboard services. An additional announcement was added for guests arriving here so they were aware of the practice, an additional type of meal was provided and wines or any other alcohol were not to be displayed on carts but still could be served. As for the FA's themselves, some wanted to swap layovers for turnarounds others simply did not fast during long trips (and there is a provision for travelers for this under Islamic rules where you can eat when traveling and the day(s) can be made up at a later time) and others did. Me personally, I have fasted on long trips when I felt I could and on some others when I was particularly tired or such I have not.

Being a Muslim country, Ramadan and fasting is practiced everywhere. Hardly and food outlets are open during the day, nobody eats or drinks in public and shopping hours are even more altered. It is normal here for business hours to operate between 8.30am to 1pm and then from 4 or 5pm to 10pm. On Fridays this also varies. During Ramadan the evening hours are extended to cater for the shoppers who choose to stay home during the day to prepare food, or rest and conserve their strength. All the major shopping malls are decorated with both an Islamic and local culture touch. The restaurants and hotels also participate by catering for Iftar (the breaking of the fast at the end of the day), they offer an open buffet for a set price per person or provide Iftar tents which can be booked for a family and is catered or is shared with others.

As for being away from family, for me this is the most difficult. Similar to Christmas and the idea of spending it with family, Ramadan is also like that. Iftar is taken with family and close friends and for me this is the first time I have spent it with just friends alone. And as grateful as I am for that at least it is not the same. Thankfully during my short trip home I twice broke my fast with my family, Ramadan wouldn't be the same otherwise. I also have to say that being in a hotel doesn't help. I'm used to talking to my mum about what we should have this night, helping her prepare the dinner, or cook for everyone myself, setting the table, watching the sun go down...even Suhour (which is the early morning meal before sunrise) was different, waking up to the smell of fried eggs, or toast or something similar...mmmm :) Ahhh seems like I might still be hung up on home...heehee. Of course not all of Ramadan has been spent here, some of it has been spent on an aircraft, some in Munich and Frankfurt....now that is a new Ramadan tradition I can get used to!!!!

But for now id best be off and ready something to eat as the sun has begun its descent. I'm on my own tonight which I don't mind since the past two nights I've been out with friends, plus I have a good book I'm eager to get stuck into reading...so Bon appetite!!!

A very hungry and thirsty,
Vanishing Point.

No comments:

Post a Comment