Monday, August 30, 2010

Ramadan Kareem

Ramadan is a month long fasting period when Muslims don't eat, drink, smoke, chew gum or have "close realtions" with the opposite sex during daylight hours. I think the traditions and ideas of Arabic and Islamic culture are fascinating. They run deep and are faithfully observed which I respect, even though we don't practice the same religion. Last Tuesday marked the half way point, "Garangaou" in the month of Ramadan. "Garangaou" is celebrated by children singing traditional songs and collecting sweets and nuts in little bags. The Arabic teachers at ASD went to all the classes and gave every student a bag of Skittles to celebrate at school. Nick also brought home this little bag full from a co-worker. Pretty but not our taste.

On Thursday night Nick and I attended his company Iftar dinner at the Ritz. The whole company gets together for a big dinner party. Iftar is the evening meal when Muslims break their fast together. Its usually an enormous spread of food no matter where you eat. The Ritz had very traditional Middle Eastern food as well as some international foods. Its a treat to say the least.
This was a Middle Eastern affair no doubt about it.

Outside the ballroom where the food was served.

Inside the ballroom

Juice Station with a wide variety of juices (none of which I was familiar with)
They were very very sweet. Juice cocktails are very popular. There are "juice stalls" on every corner of Doha. Alcohol isn't served because Muslims don't drink.

Local food station complete with Shwarmas, of course. Delish! Shwarma is probably the most popular food around these parts. Basically a middle eastern chicken sandwich. Arabic bread wrapped around chicken shaved off the skewer (pictured below) plus garlic sauce, lettuce tomato and a french fry or two (yes a french fry).

One of the dessert stations.
I didn't get a picture of the chocolate fountain, waffle station or ice cream bar...INSANE!

The Falcon is the treasured bird of Qatar. Used for hunting and associated with prestige and wealth. Falconry has been popular for thousands of years apparently and now its a huge business, plus a national symbol. The bird-hater in me was happy to take a picture.

Jennie and me loungin'
...not really, I just wanted a quick pic on the sassy pillows on the entry way floor.

Just 2 more weeks and Ramadan is over. A few random facts that affect me in a personal way both good and bad during the month.
  • No eating, drinking or even smuggling a Mento in public (inside the car is still considered public)
  • Children and pregnant women are excused from fasting (wonder if there's any exceptions for nursing moms :) ha! Its just too hot not to have a cold drink nearby at all times!
  • Restaurants don't open til 5:30pm and don't serve til the sun is down. (about 6:15)
  • Malls, grocery stories and local businesses each choose their own hours, nothing opens or closes at a set time but everything is usually closed for most of the afternoon.
  • Everything is open at night, which means complete chaos at malls and grocery stores. We just don't go.
  • ASD is the only school that started before Ramadan. Other students and families are still enjoying summer traveling, so there are a lot less cars on the road. = GREATNESS!
  • Those that are fasting - work half-days, stay home, take naps and mostly go out after dark...meaning even less traffic!
  • Since there isn't any traffic Nick has been able to take Brooks to school, which we all enjoy.
Ramadan Kareem!

1 comment:

Gayla Harris said...

I didn't see any baby camel. What's an Iftar feast without baby camel! I would love a schwarma with a few french fries tucked inside right about now.