Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Waiting for the Eid

Less than a week to go before Eid Al-Fitr ushers Ramadan away. This is a 3-day celebration after the one month of fasting. Eid simply means Holiday and the word Fitr is the antonym of Seyam (Fasting). So an approximate translation is the "Holiday of the Breaking of the Fast = Holiday of Eating".

Indeed many people start eating with a vengeance. There will be one feast per day for three consecutive days. Normally, and as far as I'm concerned, we would have lunch at my dad's on the first day. It's always Wara2 3inab (Stuffed Grape Leaves, I will try to post a recipe of this majestic dish in due time). On the second day, we go to my mother-in-law's. There, it would be Kobbeh Meshwieh 3al Fa7em (Barbequed Kobbeh), and a fish feast which includes Samak Meshwi, Samak Me2li and Samke 7arrah (grilled and fried fish and a specialty called Hot Fish: cooked in a hot & spicy sauce along with walnut). On the third day, we would normally go out for lunch in some restaurant near or around Tartous.

Basically speaking, most Levantines (Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinians and Jordanians) celebrate Eid Al-Fitr in a very similar fashion to the above with minor variations in the menu details.

But what had gotten over me to start all this talk about food one week early, you may wonder. The truth of the matter is that the last week of Ramadan for all the fasting kids (and on this point I'm still a kid) goes by very slowly. Time seems to stand still. The irregular eating habits have taken their toll by now. The sleepless nights, the protracted TV watching, the somber moments of reflection, the deprivation of being alone have all conspired into making one act more like a zombie in the morning and a stick of dynamite in the afternoon. There's only Food on our minds. One hour before sunset and it becomes dangerous even to argue with one's own kids. They might attack unprovoked. One must also avoid saying "hello" to the stern faces passing the streets. Even if one knows them well and thinks that they are really nice folks, they should be avoided at all cost during these last days of Ramadan. If one feels the urgent need to socialize, he or she must wait until after Iftar.

It's also the peak of the shopping frenzy by now. Clothing stores are crowded with women shoppers and this time they are not just looking, they are serious. A nice garment, if picked by two hands simultaneously could be the bell needed to start a round of fighting. There will be hair pulling, biting, kicking and mud wrestling (the last one is just a personal wish). "Avoid the crowds at all cost and don't buy anything that needs standing in line" is my motto for this period. Truth is: Don't go out anywhere and don't stay in either. Strangers are as dangerous as wife and kids these days. If I can't go to the beach as is the case today due to weather, I hide in my office. I sometimes dread that a client might walk in and ask me to actually work!

There's one more person sharing the office with me and that is my secretary. I can write books on the subject of secretaries but this is not the time or space for that. Sometime in the future, I promise. Suffice it to say that I'm getting along very well with mine during Ramadan. I just took her picture (this minute) and I'll post it along.


This will give you an idea on how and why we are getting along so nicely. A little bit more than three hours to go before Iftar. With no football game on TV until 6:30PM it's going to be one hell of an afternoon for me and for anyone who crosses my path.

20 comments:

I love Munich said...

I am still laughing tears!!! Are you serious?? You took this picture just before you posted that .. and she didn't wake up from the "click" of the camera?? She much have a GOOD sleep ... maybe you'd have disturbed her in her REM-phase (Rapid Eye Movement .. which is the period when people are dreaming)! The gal has hell of a nerve ...

Ramadan really seems to get to the people (and you) during the last week ... but another few days and it'll be all over .. till next time!

Thanks so much for this GREAT post and the superb picture which indeed speaks volumes!! It all together did activate my tear-glands .. but in the most happy and positive possible way!!

abufares said...

Karin
When I first started writing this post I didn't have any idea that it will contain this or another picture. I left my desk to stretch for a couple of minutes. And, there she was, Sleeping Beauty! I couldn't resist the temptation. I made sure to turn off the AutoFlash function and shot a couple of pictures of her. I was very considerate, I really didn't bother her at all.
Thank you for dropping by:-)

Chet said...

Good post and like Karin, I can't help but laugh at the picture of your secretary being sound a sleep. I can only imagine what she would have thought had she known you snapped that picture of her.

I will try and get around more, I had let someone get to me for awhile but have worked through it. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, five more sleeps for Eid. You are right, towards the last few days it really gets to you if you are not careful.
Anyway, Eid would be as you described at my parents. For us, in the land of down-under, in most cases you forget about it after the first day!! Sad, but true. On day one, we go to the mosque, and then go visit a couple of relatives (the eldest in the family) and then late in the afternoon we normally go to my sister's house and stay till late. Next day, all back to school/work!! We do try and go to some restuarant later in the week along with some friends/relatives.
This year though there will be a slight change. The Eid gathering is going to be at my place because my sister is having a BIG iftar at her place on the last day of Ramadan. There will be more people (specially kids) and hopefully a few fun activities, and a BBQ. The only bad thing is that I won't be home till after 6pm because I have a shop and I close at 5pm.
Abu Abdo

abufares said...

Hi Chet
Thank you for dropping by.
Her sleeping on the job and my taking of her picture sort of cancel each other out :)

abufares said...

Hi Riad
Glad you've already made arrangements for the Eid. It's kind of tough to get in the mood when nothing around you is encouraging. I hope you and your family make the best of it in Melbourne.
Take care.

Yazan said...

LOL,

Amazing abu fares,

You must be running some serious business there arent you?!

brilliant... I'm still laughing.

You reminded me of my mom's secretary, she had the same stereo and the same napping style... lol

[sorry the last comment was me, but I was in my friend's ID, managing some stuff on his blog cuz he cant access it from syr] Damn that was some long explanation.. ;)

Ingrid said...

And as with anything that is challenging,it is always good to treat it with some great humour! LOL..so I guess the loneliness stems from playing it safe and not addressing anyone right? too funny..ok, tick tock..soon it'll be over and you can feast like a mad man!
Ingrid

abufares said...

Hi Yazan
Serious business indeed. During this last week of Ramadan, I really can't stand to work. I can't even stand myself. The funny thing is that this the time for most people I know to say something like: "It was really easy this year. We didn't feel a thing. We wish Ramadan never ends". I hope one day, God grants them their wishes and make a whole year a perpetual Ramadan.
I enjoyed the holy month as a much as any normal Muslim person would. But I really feel it's about time to move one.
Thank you for dropping by.

abufares said...

Hi Ingrid
Thank you for dropping by.
It's always smart to face a challenge with a laugh, or at least a smile. Eventhough we'd be really laughing at ourselves, it's still refreshing and keeps our mind off the loneliness or the fact that there are too many people around.

Arshad said...

Salamalykum and Ramzan Kareem
It has always been my dream to go to Syria and visit those fabulous sites in Damascus etc....
May I kindly invite you to my blog http://justlybalanced.blogspot.com
where I try to look at issues through an Islamic perspective.

abufares said...

Ramadan Karim to you too Arshad.
Thank you for passing by.

Anonymous said...

Abu Fares,
You wouldn't believe how slow and mild things go round here during Ramadan.
Apart from the reduced working hours, the lack of coffee has had its toll on me during this month.
It took me three weeks to finish a proposal that would usually take 1 week otherwise.
I excuse your secretary, looking forward to read your upcoming blog about secretaries! and yes you are right, her being asleep in the office and your taking of her picture while she was so, have cancled each other out!
Eid Mubarak in advance...

abufares said...

Hi Dubai Jazz
I'm very lucky indeed that today, a Friday, I find myself with a heavy workload. Usually Fridays are the toughest in Ramadan. Staying at home, abusing and being abused by family is a nightmare. I have to handle a big batch of correspondance which might take me just till sunset. Being all alone in the office is a great plus and as I've said, I'm enjoying the solitude and working (for a change).
Thanks for passing by.

Shannon said...

That picture is priceless!

abufares said...

Hi shannon
You know I still haven't told her that not only did I take her picture but that I posted it as well. What do you think, should I?
You know that I didn't wake her up afterward. I think she remained asleep for a good 20 minutes. Somebody walked in the office later and obviously disturbed her. Very inconsiderate:)

Highlander said...

Eid Mubarak ya Abufares you post was sent to me by a good friend and I found it priceless.
I hope you are not having an indigestion now from all the food lol :)
Inshallah you will continue to have family gatherings for a long long time.
H- from Libya

abufares said...

Hi Highlander

So nice of you to drop by.
I am really walking on thin ice this Eid. On one hand, I am trying to fulfill my culunary desires, while on the other, I'm trying not to let things get out of hand. So far, so good. One more day to go.
Thank you for your visit.

Anonymous said...

hi all
finally, i could manage some time to stroll down my bookmarked web pages.After a LONG time, i decided let it happen.
what i read about ramadan, especially the last few days before EID, touched my heart. it reminded me of the very very short and distinctive time we spent with you and your family when we went to visite during our stay in lebanon. eventhough you forgot "?" to buy us kharnoub on the way back home, after you took us to your summer house in bmalke, 'never mind'.
also, about the SOUK in ramadan brought back to me some memories. i bought a shirt for my son, and every time i see it either in the washing or on my son, i remembre you and maha.
after all, this is joumana (riad's wife) writing to you to say SALAMAT

abufares said...

Hello Om Abdo (Joumana)
So glad to hear from you.
We all remember very fondly your one and only visit to our home in Tartous and Bmalke.
I look forward your next visit one one these days Inshallah.
Rgds to Abu Abdo & the Kids...