PAT – The fasting business

The fasting businessIt’s two o’clock in the morning. Hearing the distant thud of the Ramadan drummers, I amble out onto my terrace and perch on the wall.

In the silence of the night I hear bat squeaks, a chorus of dogs barking, the odd raised voice of a late-night reveler The drums are far away and I look around, remembering how once I would have seen lights come on in upstairs windows as my neighbors woke up and prepared for breakfast. Now, the only lights are those of the hotels.

A trio of cats meanders across the patch of wasteland beside my house. Then two young friends jump into a car and roar off in search of late-nightearly-morning pide.

Half an hour passes, but the drummers come nowhere near my house. I assume that the anti-drum brigade has won the argument about disturbing the hotel guests.

Downstairs in the kitchen I turn on the light and start to prepare sahur, the special pre-fast breakfast eaten during Ramadan. Today, I’m planning to find out what it’s like to go without water for 17 hours in the summer heat, but first, I must do what my neighbors do and eat a slap-up meal even though it’s the middle of the night.

As luck would have it, today is also the day that the gas bottle that fires my cooker has run out of oomph, leaving me just a single electric ring to play with. So, instead of a nice firm soft-boiled egg, I must make do with a runny, undercooked mess, while being closely observed by three suspicious cats who presumably fear that this break from normal routine presages my running off and leaving them in the care of a strangerAt 3:45 am the ezan (call to prayer) announces the start of the day’s fast.

To get into the spirit of things, I go upstairs and watch a documentary about a crazy Frenchman who chose to run across the Sinai Desert during Ramadan. Then, at 5:30 am, I retire to bed, read until 6:00 am, then go to sleep.

Later in the morning, the cats get me out of bed to feed them, and then back I go again, having taken care to pick a day for my experiment when there’s nothing pressing to be done.I’m lucky in that I’ve also picked a relatively cool day, not one of the awful scorchers of last week.

In mid-afternoon I potter around the garden, deadheading the flowers and feeling my determination flagging. It’s not the food — it was never going to be the food.

No, it’s the dry mouth that nags away at me. Up I go to my bedroom again where I let Donna Leon distract me with her latest Venetian-based crime caper Only as the sun goes down do I venture into my relatively hot office and settle down to some work.

Rather to my surprise, by then it doesn’t seem quite so dreadful to be going without liquid. At 7:45 pm I head back down to the kitchen to prepare an iftar meal, half-wishing I’d invested in the handy app some of my friends have that tells them how much more time there is until the ezan, down to the second.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman