I have a love hate relationship with Ramadan. I love it because throughout the year this is one month where I am guaranteed a home cooked meal around a dinner table with family. It’s also the only time in the year I actually stay home and chill out. Me and my mom have iftar together every day I am not out doing random stuff in the community, and that’s actually nice. However, I hate how isolating that time of day is in Ramadan if you are on your own or without family. Everything goes quiet. The silence is so deafening after the magreb call to prayer. If you are alone during that time of day it is a piercing sense of isolation.
I love the atayef, and if you follow my facebook status then you will definitely notice the atayef mania. This year I have decided to come up with crazy combos- I’ll be posting the 30 days of atayef at the end of the month for those that missed any. But I really don’t like how we are wasteful, over indulgent and excessive in our foods. Why? We don’t eat like this on normal days, and this “reward” only means belly aches and increased waists. Cant we make do with simple meals. I personally like soup and salad and maybe a few hours later something more substantial or nothing at all. How can an empty stomach take so much.
But my biggest gripe with Ramadan is TV you have three types of programming in Ramadan: Religion, Food, and Entertainment. I love learning about religion, I’ve always been curious about Islam and how it is interpreted, yet you will never catch me watching one of these shows. I refuse to be abused by these TV Sheikhs who invariable have one of these techniques when talking about religion: They either scream and shout and try to scare you into submission; or they over dramatize, and want to cry and have this image of repentance and sorrow and faked humbleness that they get on your nerves. Why does religion have to be either be a wagging finger in your face or a tear rolling down your cheek? There really was one great religious orator who I loved to hear: Sharawi- he was witty, funny, entertaining and made his point! From a purely public speaking perspective, he was fantastic! I even use him as an example in my Public Speaking Trainings and everyone can relate.
Moving on to the food shows, my mother is a great fan and over the years I have seen some fantastic recipes gone bad by modern intervention. I am a traditionalist in very few things, and food is one of them. Don’t mess with my grandmother’s recipes. Every time my mother or aunt tries to pull on over on me and say this is a new way to make an age old dish I ask “Is this how my teta would have made it?” If the answer is no then they know what I think already. This doesn’t mean I wont try new dishes- just don’t mess with my Magloubeh! And all these shows do is pass on the “new” way to make these dishes. I’ve seen wheat instead of rice in some, I’ve seen lemon replaced with onion and vinegar, I’ve seen short cuts and replacements to key ingredients and condiments and I say enough. TV food has made my mothers kitchen go 21st century and I hate it! So you can imagine my anxiety every time my mother writes down the recipe to some weird connotation been conjoured up on TV during Ramadan. Ramadan is about tradition as much as religion so please leave the funk till after Ramadan. (Yes, yes I know I am doing the same with atayef… but you will always find atayef biljibneh right next to them).
And finally the entertainment. I remember when I was a child there was one channel with one set of Fawazir which you had to mail in and find out if you won after Ramadan, there was one or two shows everyone watched and that was it! Today you have all these silly call in shows that offer nothing really but big prizes, you have some other silly show full of bad comedy that is supposed to fill the time between Iftar and digestion and then the marathon of TV shows begins. One after the other, after the other, after the other… I am sure you get the picture. And even if you try to escape and go out for the evening you are bombarded with the shows in all the cafes and they turn up the volume and everyone is glued to the show and their argileh! If you really don’t want to miss it- stay at home! I guess you’ve guess I am not a fan of the TV in general, let alone during this month.
However despite all these gripes after more than three decades of dealing with this month. I have come to terms with all these things and others. I respect what it is and what it means to people, whether it is about religion, tradition or spirituality or none of these even. I tolerate the crazy traffic and bad tantrums or just avoid them. I enjoy the food and tune out the TV. And say to everyone Ramadan Kareem- after all its only a month and we are more than half way done!