On Sunday Dad and I had lunch at Vapiano and then he had a few errands to run. He left for Jamaica that evening. I finally had the place to myself, even if it was for just a couple of weeks instead of the couple of months I’d hoped for. Something is better than nothing!
I woke up to silence on Monday. It had been a long time since I’d experienced that. I decided I’d go see a movie at the Dubai Mall while I could still go in the daytime and have popcorn! Once Ramadan started I knew my options would be limited. I went to see The Heat – I’d heard it was quite funny but I still wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised – if it hadn’t been for Melissa McCarthy, the movie would have been terrible but she made me laugh out loud. It was surprisingly crowded for a 1.30pm show on a Monday afternoon! I was also relieved to see quite a few other women sitting on their own too.
I had a piano lesson on Tuesday afternoon but apart from that I was at home, enjoying the peace.
Ramadan began on Wednesday. It was my first Ramadan and my first summer in Dubai both rolled into one. I wasn’t sure what was in store for me. In the run up to Ramadan, I’d been seeing advice regarding appropriate behaviour for expats during Ramadan. I compiled this list from a couple of websites:
- Do exchange Ramadan greetings during the Holy Month (‘Ramadan Kareem’)
- Do get into the charitable spirit by donating to Ramadan camps, care packages and other campaigns
- Do listen to music quietly through headphones if you wish
- Do show your respect to those who are fasting, and check if someone is abstaining before offering food
- Do be mindful and consider whether you have Muslim friends who are fasting on Facebook or Twitter before using strong language or sharing images that could be revealing
- Don’t eat, drink, chew gum or smoke in public during the Holy Month (including in your car as this is considered a public place) – you could be fined or even deported
- Don’t play loud music as it may offend those who are fasting
- Don’t wear tight or revealing clothes during Ramadan and dress conservatively when in public
- Don’t get into debates or arguments or pick fights – it is the month of peace and serenity
- Don’t leave dinner reservations to the last minute
Quite a list, isn’t it?
So on that first day of Ramadan I was walking across our driveway to the gym for my session with Randy when a woman (I thinks she was Indian) told me to cover up my water bottle. I wasn’t drinking from it, just holding it. She made me wrap it in my towel. I thought that was going a bit over the top! If I’d come home from the supermarket would I have had to cover up all my shopping bags?
On Thursday I went to the Dermalogica store at the Dubai Mall to pick up a moisturiser that I sometimes use. The therapist in the store told me that the one I wanted had been discontinued but that she had two left and would give them both to me for the price of one – bargain!
That evening a couple of friends and I decided to have dinner at Trader Vic’s at the Madinat Jumeirah. I expected it to be quiet, no music, not very crowded. I was wrong. It was packed. We had dinner and then moved to the bar. They were playing music, not as loudly as it would normally have been but you could still hear it. We had a couple of drinks at the bar and then decided it was too crowded so we went to The Agency. It was also packed! We waited a few minutes and were able to get a table. At about midnight I went to join some other friends at McGettigan’s at the World Trade Centre. Also packed and the music was even louder than it had been at Trader Vic’s. Ramadan? What Ramadan?
I unintentionally fasted on Friday (although I did have some water). I was so hungover from the night before I spent most of the day in bed and couldn’t bear the thought of eating. I went over to a friend’s place in Downtown that evening just before 7pm. He had booked a table at Loui’s, a restaurant near his place, for Iftar for the two of us and another friend. Soon after 7pm I was standing on his balcony on the 30th floor when I heard a loud booming noise echoing through the buildings. ‘What the hell is that?’ I asked. ‘It’s the cannon,’ he replied. ‘Are we at war??’ I wondered. Well, no. There are six cannons around Dubai that go off to announce the Iftar time and one of them happens to be Downtown near the Burj Khalifa.
I went to my first Iftar that evening, an all-you-can-eat buffet for AED89. There was a selection of sushi, Arabic and Italian food. I had some sushi, hummus, moutabbal and fatoush to start with. Most of the main course dishes were huge platters of different Arabic ‘biryanis’ with grilled meats and seafood. There were a couple of Italian main dishes but I didn’t try them. Dessert was all Arabic – and far too sweet for me. After we’d stuffed ourselves we went back up to my friend’s place for some wine and sat around until midnight.
I was home all day on Saturday, catching up with work and taking it easy.
I love my life.
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