I don't understand Ramadan, truly I don't. I mean, for an entire month, Muslims can't eat or drink from sun-up to sundown. Nothing. Not even water. Not even if they work outside, and it's the middle of August, and the sun doesn't go down until 7:38 at night. I don't think I'd make it until 10 a.m. without becoming cranky, dizzy and generally annoying to be around.
But so many of the people whom I talk to are excited about Ramadan, joyful even.
Yesterday was the first day of Ramadan, so I brought some fruit, juice and water to our boab in the evening, at around 6:30. "How are you doing?" I asked. "Just one more hour until you can eat, right?" He looked at his watch and smiled the happiest smile I've seen him wear in awhile as he answered "One hour and five minutes!" How could he be so happy about his fast? Especially on day one?
My Arabic teacher only had a few hours of sleep last night. Her family all gathered at her mother-in-law's to break the fast, and she was out until 1 a.m. Then she was up again around 4 a.m. to have a quick meal before the sun came up. Yet there she was this morning, laughing and smiling and teaching.
We went to a happy hour party at the Embassy this evening. Bart planned to go home by bicycle, so he needed to leave before dark. We left with him - I loaded the kids in the car and followed him out.
I wasn't thinking: I shouldn't have left right then, because the guards were all sitting down to their first meal of the day, and I'm sure they didn't want to stand up to let me out. But they all waved in turn and said "Ramadan Kareem!" without complaint.
We drove home just after the sun set, with the sky glowing pink and deep blue. The streets were deserted. There were no people. There were no other cars. It seemed everyone in the entire city was inside, sitting at a table, joining their family members for a meal.
Some of the houses sparkled with Ramadan lights. On porches and balconies, you could see families gathered at their tables, eating quietly.
It all seemed so peaceful, so beautiful. It was a nice feeling, to know that the whole country had slowed to a stop so that people could gather and celebrate.
I'm glad I don't have to fast. But it is moving to be a part of the celebration, if only as an observer.