I first published a version of this post back in 2017 and thought it was time to revisit it. A warning for friends and foe alike, this isn’t really about food, rather the special place that Ramadan has in the heart and mind of this non-Muslim and long-time resident of Qatar.
I should again start this piece with what Ramadan is “not” to me. It’s not something I have to “endure”. Yes, it’s hot. And yes, the bars are closed. And yes, the driving is, at times, a challenge.
I have had booze free Ramadans and honestly they felt pretty good. This year I don’t know yet. On the plus side, I start work earlier and leave earlier – driving drama averted. The heat? We have aircon plus it’s April this time around and it’s actually quite lovely.
I have come to enjoy this time of year – primarily because it’s a chance to put the brakes on and catch up.
Ramadan has coincided with some of the most traumatic and life changing events I have faced. In 2015 my mother died. I don’t need to remind you about 2020 and 2021. This year, a unique and very unexpected series of life challenges. Not insurmountable but unpleasant nonetheless.
This year, like I did in 2017, I am hitting the hard reset function on Ramadan and getting back to basics.
While I am not a Muslim (I don’t even consider myself really spiritual in any sense), Ramadan is now part of the cycle of my life – no longer something I have to “manage” rather something I kind of look forward to.
One of my favorite Ramadan experiences is sitting and waiting each evening for the Ramadan cannon. It’s a set marker to end each day. Yesterday I discovered it was back! I took myself to Lusail for a walk along the promenade and there it was again at sunset.
The Ramadan Plan…
While back in the day I did try fasting, this year I won’t be – I admire those friends and loved ones who can. Again I have a trip planned in the middle of Ramadan, but I plan to take the spirit of Holy Month with me. You see, I have my own list of things to achieve this month:
- Move more: I say this every year but this year I finally have the time and the head space to do it and this weather, well it’s just perfect. I am planning to exercise every other day and be more consistent with my eating habits. My maniac dogs will love it.
- Complain less: Yep. I will. Ramadan is a time to reflect and appreciate the life we have. I am fortunate to have opportunities and a supportive network who are there when I need them.
- Plan better: Meals. Travel. This blog. Social media. Dog walks. Life generally.
- Waste less: Food and time. I have again become conscious lately of the amount of food I waste – those fresh veggies I forgot about because I ordered takeaway, the prepared lunches I didn’t eat because something more interesting came up.
- Try something new: A new cuisine, a new series, a new book, a new sport, a new podcast.
- Turn the other cheek: Yeah I’m not getting biblical, but there are people out there who don’t always see the good in others or in you. You know the ones, those who want to stand on the shoulders of others (or step ladders or even chairs) to advance themselves. Let it go (and they should too).
- Give more: Money, time, effort and love.
Ramadan is about traditions as much as it is about family and friends. This year I am going back to something I used to do – lighting a candle at sunset. This is my own little tradition I let slip in recent Ramadans. It can be as simple as lighting a candle or lantern at sunset. Sharing iftar. Reading that book I have been putting off.
While I have this post and a few in the works about Ramadan experiences this year, there are other bloggers and social media outlets who do it better than I ever can. Check out my friends at Marhaba and iLOVEQatar.
What about you? What does Ramadan mean to you?