Sunday, September 16, 2007

Another Ramzan

Once more we arrive at Ramzan, the Muslim month of fasting. I immediately notice a shift in the rhythm of daily life. In the mornings things are languid, even relaxed. Many people sleep in a little, after having woken at 4am for their early morning meal, Sehri, before starting their fast. At offices, even the hardest workers glaze over occasionally. Energy levels reach their lowest in the early afternoon, when eyelids start drooping and minds start wandering towards visions of food and drinks. Then, about two hours before Iftar (breaking fast), things pick up again. Half the people in the city start thinking, "Can I get home in time for Iftar?" The roads start jamming up. Horns start blaring. Worst of all, people start losing tempers if anything gets between them and their Iftar waiting at home.

At a street corner on my commute, I see a normally placid policeman suddenly lose his cool at a bicyclist going the wrong way. He yanks the handlebar - from which dangles a bag of precious Iftar - and yells at the bicyclist. "Can't you see the jam? Why are you going the wrong way?" The bicyclist remains nonchalant - and picks up as soon as the cop's attention is diverted by an errant CNG.

I also realize the preciousness of life and the importance of little things that we ought to be grateful for, every day. From my fan-cooled office, I look out at the workers who have to toil in the sun and still fast. A bottle of water on my table beckons at me as I realize what an immense gift it really is.

For me Ramzan is the hardest month of the year, not just because of the physical hardships, but also because it forces me to change gears in my life, to contemplate all that is alive, and to appreciate our Creator's bounties. But for the same reasons, it is also the most rewarding.

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