Tuesday, October 9, 2007
The sun sets. You eat. And then you talk about the fast. Out pours a day's worth of lamentation, and wisdom cooked in the depths of empty stomachs:
"You know, I swear, it's harder this year!"
"Why are we not allowed to drink water? Your body needs water! Surely, god understands that."
"The prophet said this religion is supposed to be easy. It's not supposed to be torture."
And there are the sheepish admissions:
"I'm just pretending now. I go to work, skip lunch, and nobody knows."
"My assistant was so energetic the other day. I asked her, 'Are you skipping the fast too?' And she started to giggle."
Among elites and expats in Cairo, this is the great Ramadan Conspiracy. And a tremendous source of Ramadan Guilt.
At recent iftar in a posh neighbourhood, our non-Muslim expat host held court on his balcony. He needed a drink. But he was surrounded by Muslims who had just broken their "fast." And Muslims who do normally drink, tend to give it up during Ramadan.
So, we talked. Conversation about global and regional politics raged until it came to a logical end. A few seconds of silence, and then...
... "Alright, who would like a drink? We've got juices, water. We also have some gin, and wine."
Silence... hesitant looks...
"Ya'ni, it's Ramadan... er... but sure I'll have some wine."