Friday, September 22, 2006

Happy Ramadan!

Well Ramadan just started, one lunar month where the Muslims fast during the day, pray more often and have banquets/feasts at night. Because the start of Ramadan depends on when the Moon (in a certain phaase) is sighted locals can't give an exact date for when it starts - best they can do is +/- 1 day.

So we figured it would start on Saturday night so a bunch of people from work all met up at a bar around 8pm and just as I got there the bar announced that Ramadan had started, therefore no more drinks could be served. None. Zero. No more alcohol for the next 28 days. So my co-workers that had arrived a few minutes earlier managed were holding on to the last beer that they were gonna get at this bar. I tried calling the others who hadn't arrived yet to warn them but they didn't believe me! They thought I was just joking so showed up anyway. Surprise, no more liquor!

We called around and found one bar that was serving for one more hour so it was a mad dash to get there before they closed up. In the end we all got one or two drinks so the evening wasn't a total wash. Looks like parties at compounds if anyone wants drinks now.

Because during Ramadan Muslims are required to fast during the day (no food, no water, nothing) the Government has strict rules in place. No restaurants can be open, no eating in public (including in your car while driving). I've heard hotels keep a room out-of-sight open so that guests can eat something but otherwise their restaurants are closed. Even at the office we can't eat lunch at our desks, but the boss said that from 12-1 we could eat in one of the meeting rooms. I have to figure out what to bring for lunch now - I always ate out but since nothing is open I can't do that anymore. Oh well, just another interesting thing about life in the Gulf.

On the plus side our working hours are reduced during Ramadan. I get to go home at 3pm for the next month instead of 5. Yay!!

Ramadan Kareem everyone! (I hope I got that right).

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