About two months ago, we were sat on a train, embarking onto a new adventure in south east Turkey, and to be honest, that was one of the weirdest train ride I’ve ever had. We thought it would be good to finally check out the old Turkish trains, and it was also much cheaper that taking the bus but longer – yes they really are old. It was still Ramadan at that point so we had stocked up on loads of food to break our fast on the train, and off we were to Malatya, our first stop.
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.
Tomorrow marks the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims, the beginning of the annual month-long fasting which I, along with millions of others, will be observing. This year I did consider the fact that I might not be able to do it fully or even at all. I may come from a tropical country but it has a very mild climate and the temperatures we have been experiencing these days are definitely more than I am used to. I cannot spend five minutes without wanting to drink something and this is more or less the biggest challenge I will have to face during this coming month.
I’ve been asked before why anyone would want to starve for a month but Ramadan is much more than ‘starvation’. I’ve never felt more at peace with myself and with everything around me than during this month. It’s not only a physical but also emotional, mental and spiritual ‘training’ that we put ourselves through, which makes it one of my favourite religious ‘events’ and one that I willingly and happily participate in. If some of you are wondering, life goes on as usual except for the fact that we don’t eat or drink during the day, and we might need a power nap at some point.
I have to say Ramadan in Turkey is definitely going to be an experience like no other. For one, for the first time in my life I will not spending the month of Ramadan with my family. Last year, I did spend half of it in the forests of Mauritius (that’s another story!) but the other half as well as weekends were spent with my parents, just like the way we used to do it before I left for London, where I spent it with my aunt and her family.
We all got up together for suhoor (morning meal before sunrise) despite how sleepy most of us were and then later during the day, made preparations for iftaar (the evening meal after sunset). It also makes all of it easier when you have family around to support each other, not that I will be entirely alone here. I have to say, whilst I’m seeing this as yet another challenge I will have to go through – Dad isn’t going to be knocking at my door at 3 am to wake me up – I am not looking forward to spending Eid (Ramadan feast after 30 days of fasting) on my own. It will also be the first time that I will be spending Ramadan in a Muslim country. The anticipation is just so much – just the way a child feels while waiting for Christmas. I am definitely looking forward to the metamorphosis the streets of Ankara will go through during iftaar time. Cheeky me may even go up to Istanbul one day – just to have a look.
I just have to wait and see how this following month will unfold, as good or even better than I expect inşallah. Ramadan Kareem.