My Turkish Ramadan is unfolding quite nicely even if I did hit rock bottom and lost all hope of survival after spending too much time in the blazing sun the day before. It was apparently the hottest day of the year so far in Ankara, hovering around the 34 degrees – people fasting in hotter and harsher conditions: RESPECT. It definitely made me realise that I need to slow down the tempo a little bit over this month rather than being the busy bee that I usually am. It would seem that the rest of Ankara have received the memo though, putting the whole city under a sleeping spell during daytime hours. The usual buzz of Kızılay, the city centre, has pretty much toned down with even the most popular shops and cafés struggling to find customers. That definitely says something since most Ankaranians can usually be seen sipping çay somewhere if they’re not indulging in their favourite past time – shopping.
Ankara at night though is a completely different matter. As we approach the time for iftar, the city gradually shows signs of awakening and the hustle bustle that I’m used to can be seen once again. Orders from the special iftar menus pile up as customers sit down in their favourite restaurants or cafés eagerly waiting for the ezan (the call to prayer), the time when they will finally be able to have that first sip of water – and everything that follows after that. Some mosques, if not all, have also set up designated areas where people can come and have iftar. Whilst I’m not too eager to go there as it’s usually very crowded, I do think I should go there at least once just to have a look.
For my first (and only one so far) iftar outing, we went to some open-air cafés just by Kocatepe Cami, the largest mosque in Ankara and one of the largest in the world, which is probably one of the most stunning landmarks in Ankara as well. I was quite shocked at myself that I have never been there. It is quite unlike anything you’d expect near the transport hub and city centre that Kızılay is. With the vine covered patios, lantern lights and garden swings, it definitely is somewhere you would go to cool down on a hot summer day – if you weren’t fasting.
It took us a
very long while to make up our mind about what to order which must have pissed off the waiter but ordering on a very empty stomach isn’t very easy, I can tell you that. We finally decided to share the Beyaz Menu (White Menu – which means chicken) among us three, which included an iftar plate with dates, dried figs, honey and other yummies including the famous Ramazan pidesi, a traditional soft Turkish bread. It was quite a struggle to finish everything, keeping in mind that we ordered food which is supposedly for one person although the waiter did say he told ‘them’ to fill the plate a bit more since we would be sharing. Yup, he was really quite nice and even gave us cay as ikram (treat). Looks like he wasn’t that mad at us.
It was quite a refreshing and much-needed walk back home after such amount of food, although when I think about it, it wasn’t that much at all.