|click on the pic to read- temp walls blocking the food court|
|our iftar at the Oberoi hotel|
|box packing assembly lines|
While I wasn't up for the fasting (especially from water! It was June in Dubai!), I was pretty into the idea of doing some service for the season. We volunteered for a few hours one night packing boxes of foodstuffs for distribution to needy families. I got a kick out of the items included. Some staple goods like flour, sugar, rice, pasta were not so unusual. I also think many places in the world would find lentils, tea, canned tomatoes and a vat of cooking oil pretty normal. The regionally specific items were cans of foul (a yummy dish a bit like baked beans) and a bottle of Vimto which I just learned (from the Wikipedia entry on it) originates in the UK but is a big tradition at Ramadan. It's a bit like a fruit soda, I guess. I worked the lentils loading area mostly and because the workroom AC couldn't begin to deal with the open loading dock door and the hordes of hard working volunteers, I had a number of stray lentils from burst bags sticking to my sweaty arms!
|chairity box top- Ramadan Kareem|
I was only in the UAE for about 6 days of Ramadan this year before heading to the US for a conference and vacation, but the date changes and I suspect I might be around for a bit more of the holy season next year. The dates coincide with the Islamic calendar which has lunar months lasting approximately 28 days instead of the 30 or 31 most calendar months run so Ramadan moves approximately 10 day earlier each year. The actual start date, however, can't be known until it happens. There is an official Moon Sighting Committee whose members must actually see the moon in the proper phase and point in the sky in order to announce the first day of Ramadan. Cloudy weather can postpone things, luckily, there aren't so many rainstorms around here so there are some pretty good guesses about the start date before it's official but in the end, it's not about official moon timetables, it's dependent on actual sightings.
I really enjoyed learning more about Ramadan and I liked the slow pace and reflection on sacrifice that was a part of the experience for me. I might even try a modified fast next year to feel even more in the spirit of things.