Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ushering in Ramadan

By Emil
Photo: STAR

The month of fasting hails to the desecrated city of Dhaka many things, good and bad. And we can't help but feel a sense of likeness for this holy month of Ramadan. For horizontally challenged people, it gives them an excuse, an incentive to keep to their diets. And for the horizontally challenged people of the other axis, it gives them an excuse to keep to their diets, too. A month of self-reflection, devotion to God, and giving back to the community- it's the time when the gates of heaven are opened, the gates of hell are closed and the demons are all chained up.

'Tis the month when people of all ages, shapes, size and colour try to become better human beings- offer prayers, charity and all that. Everyone has a sudden irresistible need to fulfil their prayer quotas every day. Nearing the Iftaar time, Maghrib, the streets are flooded by people in mostly white panjabis and toupees making their way home from some odd place or the other- added to this the usual but severe affliction of trafficitis that Dhaka suffers from every day, you can imagine the horrid outcome. Not so awesome, if you ask me.

Those bipedal little monsters with faces of black, brown and white wandering around the streets like little ants crawling out of their antsy holes. You wouldn't think that so many of these things live RIGHT next to you, but they do. Oh, how they do.

But, what exactly is it about this month that makes it so awesome? Kind of obvious, isn't it?

Food. Spicy food, sweet food, sour food, semi-exotic food. Food of all variety, shape and sizes. Food that makes you go eek and food that makes you go mmm. Any self-respecting food store will start selling their variation of traditional iftaar items. Wherever you go, you will not be short of muri, piyaju, bora, bundia, jilapi, and all the other items commonly associated with Iftaar. Iftaar packages and an endless number of buffet offerings- all you can eat deals and bottomless soda drinks. Pretty annoying how there seems to be an amazing lack of these cheap and wonderfully tasty foods during any normal day when you could just swoop in, take your pick and quell your starving stomach. Brings to mind thoughts of Temptation and the Devil…

There's something about keeping fast that tickles our happy bone. Maybe, it's not having to bother about food, no matter how awesome it is, because let's be honest, it's a messy business- not having to bother about food for 14 hours, only to end up breaking the long and somewhat agonizing fast with a feast of unimaginable delights and delicacies. Sometimes, hunger really is the best sauce.

Maybe, it's the fact that most schools have reduced timing. Or the fact everything seems to have a certain extent of allowance attached to it- it's less likely for kids to get in trouble during Ramadan; everyone's a little lax. Could be the friendly get-togethers everyone enjoys during the month, sitting around the dining table, waiting for the Azan to mark the break of fast, gaily enjoying the sense of companionship and conversation that floats around.

There's some subtle change in the air that affects all of us, makes us slightly happier little buggers, as if preparing us and getting us ready for the real festivity ahead.

Sazzad Ibne Sayed

And then there is the promise of Eid. No matter how much abstinence we might indulge in during the month, a small, nay a sizeable part of our minds is adding up the totals to Eid 'bokshish-es', wondering if the money should be better spent buying clothes… or on that awesome cool graphics card. Only you're parents probably won't allow that.

Even if you don't really look forward to Eid and think of yourself among the jaded few who can no longer enjoy the occasion, at least you can take heart that the city isn't as congested as it normally is. Come Eid, just roaming the streets is enough to lighten the mood.

Here's to Ramadan. And Eid…



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