Ramadan seems to be coming along fine in the capital with men and women spending the day staying hungry, waiting patiently for the time the sun sets down so they can chow down the unhealthy delicacies waiting for them on their dining tables. The samosa and pakora manufacturers are having a great month by selling those onion, mince meat, and vegetable filled foods to all and sundry. Right next to them are the jalebi engineers, and the kachori developers. A typical marketplace, like the Melody Food Area for example, is a fun place to go minutes before iftari. All the fruit sellers are trying their best to sell all their rotting fruits so they pack up and go to the nearest mosque for the iftar. Eateries like the Melody Savor branch are thronged by people to grab a shopping bag full of their favorite pulao kabab (I personally find the act of stuffing a royal dish like a pulao in a transparent polythene bag quite disgraceful). Everyone is in a hurry to run back home before the sirens go off, and before the muezzins in every mosque in Islamabad announce the time to break the fast.
There are people, like yours truly, who enjoy wandering around right at the time of iftar. Walking down in the middle of the erstwhile busy roads at iftar time can be delightful. You can see all the policemen huddled up under trees and behind their concrete barricades with disposable plates full of the aforementioned delicacies. Yet there is always one of them standing guard, just in case a truck full of explosives with two euphoric men would happen to go by. There are also small time fruit sellers standing at street corners, and one of them was kind enough to offer me five dates for free at the time of iftar (I accepted two though, ate one and shoved the other one deep into the unforgiving bowels of my bag, probably to be eaten up by a cockroach or something).
Oh, by the way, on my way back home I noticed this new development in the Super Market. Can anyone guess what this little black mirchi means?
Anyway, the blessings of Ramadan are endless. Here are a few of them for your reading pleasure:
1) You get to have more food than you usually have.
2) You get to have more unhealthy food than you usually have.
3) You learn that food is the most important thing on the planet, and that Ramadan is all about the food.
4) You shove non-fasters behind embarrassing enclosures where they can have their happy time and have a bite or two to satiate their hunger (Poor souls! They should demand their rights).
5) Sexually active couples get to spend less time in bed together, and hence contribute in the noble cause of slowing down the population growth of this deprived nation.
6) Medications like Gaviscon and the white Milk of Magnesia have increased sales to help their consumers break down the large bubbles of gas in their intestines into smaller more manageable air packets.
7) And so on and so forth…
But seriously, without taking the ugly head of Ramadan commercialism, the political disturbances, the price hikes, and the religious complications, there are a few things about this month the make it the most important month of the year for a persons physical and mental health. Without Ramadan, the little social ills that plague our society would become something normal, and there would be no question of whether the ills being practiced are right or wrong. This the only time of the year when people abstain from things that are considered wrong, and they develop the patience and strength to do that. Ramadan is not about praying five times a day, or getting up early in the morning to eat paratha, or reciting the Qur’an, or staying hungry throughout the day… it is only about the well being of the spirit, and it is our job to learn how to keep our spirit happy and healthy during this holy month, and for every other month of the year.
It is also mainly about love and compassion, just like the compassion shown to me by that poor fruit seller standing with his cart in the corner of the street at iftar time by offering me dates with a smile on his face.
So Happy (belated) Ramadan everyone! And I hope you spend the rest of what remains of this Islamic month contemplating over the little ills inside you instead of worrying about staying hungry and thirsty.