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By the Reluctant Rozdar

I shouldn't be saying this, but fasting is such a cliché' now. Writing about is more of a cliché. Nevertheless…. I am supposed to so here I am, writing about stuff you probably have read and will read again. However, this Roja is interesting. I have been hearing rumors that 'keeping roja' is now the in-thing! Believe me, this girl actually told me this "Ami Roja rakhbo…ami bhalo hoye jabo…..shobai amake bhalo bolbe! Guys are gonna line up to ask me out!" Haha….oh boy……okay, so here we go again.

Is Roja all about food? Yeah…partly but food will always remain a huge part of Roja.

One thing which immediately comes to mind are the "Iftar parties", taking place in restaurants all over Dhaka- specially in Pizza Hut! Just five years back, pizza in iftaar was almost unthinkable! That's not all. The whole Iftaar menu is changing. From begunis to spring roll and piyajus to chicken fries. And muris to noodles. The modern era seems to be pushing out the tradition- as again…
What is infinitely worst however is the fact that in some circles the art of Halim eating is almost disappearing - being replaced by Thai Soup! Okay, so I made that up. But wait till you hear about the the luminous Halim which is rumored to being sold at Chadni Chawk; what the hell do they put into those things? Radium?

Anyway one might think that the assault of the mobile courts will stem the flow of Iftaar sales but the restaurants have come up with a new and innovative way to get around it, promoting their food as: "Rong and Chemical Free Iftar'!

Ramadan is also infamous for being the time when the temper level of the average Dhakaiya rising to extreme levels. Whether it is the hunger or the five hours left till Iftaar, people tend to go crazy and do all sort of crazy stuff, like beating up people and fighting over practically nothing at all. Although people try to avoid using obscenities, swearing is surprisingly common. To the mild criticism coming from angry motorcyclist to the vulgar extremes best not mentioned, Dhakaites do display their foul mouths despite their best efforts to keep it shut. You only wonder what God must be thinking….

And who can forget the price-hikes! I kept pondering as to why in the world Roja time is specially lucrative for all businessmen. The answer, I realize was not the shortage of food bullshit, or any other absurd reasons they come up with. The answer lies more with their wives. Yeah…wives and mothers. It is a well-known fact that wives like to shop and we know how much they love to shop during the Rojas. Starting from the "Zakaat' which goes out to almost everyone in the immediate, extended and far-off family instead of the poor who really need it; to the voluminous amount of clothes that is apparently required for Eid day. Ahem… so you see, businessmen have no choice, they are forced to raise prices and make a few extra bucks; otherwise how would their kids actually buy the three pairs of Punjabi's they need for the Eid?

The same fate doesn't escape the policemen. Poor hardworking struggling police people. Imagine how hard their work must be standing under the Grameen Phone Umbrellas all day and watching the traffic without falling asleep, or competing with RAB to catch criminals. Life must be hard, and so they deserve a break and the right to earn some extra cash. Sure its illegal, but so is everything else in Dhaka.

Among the many cruelties of Ramadan, another one is obviously the Tarabih prayers! Of-course none of us here really pray during Ramadan, so in effect Ramadan has particularly no meaning at all. However the daddies and uncles all drag you off to pray for three hours right? Assuming you do pray, instead of falling asleep, you are doing a great thing. In fact going to heaven is no problem for you now. (Yeah I know I am going to be crucified by Musullis after this article is published)

The Sehri however is an awful mess nowadays. Previously I used to love getting up during Sehris! There was a different joy in waking up at post-midnight, early hours of the morning and looking outside the window to see the stillness and calmness. You felt mystified and thrilled. However, after O-Levels and A-Levels all-night study sessions, the night loses its charm and then waking at 4:00 O'clock or something, is like an extra hour's loss of sleep.

I saved the worst for the last, schooling and roja. Nobody said Roja was easy, but as far as I knew back in my mom's days schools were closed during Ramadan; a big relief, as going through school without eating was unthinkable! Imagine how it feels to give the A2 Level Economics test with your stomach churning with the thought of food on the evening table. You know the major source of 'adda' for normal people, (I however refrain from addaying) is when eating, so during roja the level of cafeteria activity also falls. The feeling of hollowness seems to persevere in the air as well as the stomach.

Okay, in conclusion, forgive my um…arguments. Ramadan is great. There's something in the air and in the atmosphere, which makes it so. You feel different and want to act different. Above all, it's a time for cleanliness as you kneel before Allah, trying to heal yourself and start all over again. A great time for soul-searching and spiritual discovery. Take, care and happy Ramadan!

We received the article without any by-line but the writer's perspective was so interesting we decided to publish it anyway. The opinions expressed here are solely of the writer.


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