just another day in life
So, this time of year (it changes, depending on lunar, Islamic calendar), is filled with inspiration, hope, dedication, ritual, family happenings. There is high energy nightly just before iftar- the breaking of the fast (after this light meal, a while later a feast ensues). People that devote to the fast have been doing their thing all day from sun-up to sun-down all the while not letting food nor drink touch their lips.
Women, perhaps bear some extra highlighting here because through all of this, many are at home preparing fresh foods daily for iftar. This involves a lot of time in preparation, all the while smelling the food.
As well, it's family time- especially at the beginning and end of Ramadan. Laylat is the 1st night, and Eid al-Fitr comes at the end- the 3-day celebration for breaking the fast.
Each country I've lived in, I've noticed subtle differences. Mostly, I suppose this can be due to environmental factors: the intensity of the fast in the Middle Eastern dry heat; the wet humidity of North Africa added to a furious sun; and the sheer size and energy of Istanbul makes the occasion especially 'electric' in feel.
A friend out on the street yesterday in the late afternoon greeted me in a typical 'day 3' fashion; tired yet already getting used to the schedule. A ravenous appetite, and anticipating an abundant iftar surrounded by family and friends. Joyous occasions that turn yearly ritual into family oral histories to weave down through the generations. :) I wished him well and went on my merry way, en route to the sahil (coast road) to take in sunset. Sunset strolling in full effect, I noticed the overwhelming obvious- most consisted of groups of men. Having little to no responsibilities of kitchen duty for the enormous task of producing so much food, that are able to divert their attentions more easily and, likely choose not to stay at home and smell the food cooking. So guy-gangs sauntered by for the entire 2 hours I sat and reflected. Currently, iftar breaks at around 8:30 PM.
Of course, the time of year that Ramadan falls on also influences. My first experience was in Tunisia in 2010. In the heat of summer, with the wet heat searing my back, scorching the earth unrelentingly, I took the sights/vibes all in. You definitely, instinctively understand that you should try to be respectful and take your own food and drink in privacy. It is appreciated, although not expected.
Right now in Istanbul, the weather is fabulous- perfect iftar weather I'd say. Spring has been hanging around very late this year. Temperatures hover around 22º to 28º (mid 70s to low 80s). I have heard that winter time can be a little easier in effect because of not only weather, but days are shorter as well.
Okay, that's it. More later. Back to sleep...