I wake at 6.30 and am immediately calmed by the coolness and dull looking weather outside. Yes I know, us Brits would give nothing more than to be basking in 20C sun considering we are half way through June, but for Ramadan, the cooler weather is a rather warm welcome.The rest of the house is in silence. As young children rush to the windows on Christmas Day to see if the world is covered in a blanket of snow, I half expect the same kind of magic. Not necessarily snow, but for a good minute, I just sit there and take in the moment- the journey has begun and I feel like I’m ready to embrace it all!
My husband and I run our own cafe and so ironically, we make our money from selling pork. My first morning of Ramadan is spent setting up at work and part cooking bacon and sausages and I can’t help but have a giggle.
I look outside and see a runner sprinting along. Running is a big passion of mine, and I can hear myself saying ‘you go girl, go do a mile or two for me!’. Of course, it will be the best pat of two months before I’m back out running. I could try, but unless I have an escort with me at 3am, or a set of blades to help me along after the evening meal, I think I’ll just stay put. The heat in Turkey over the summer could be useful if I wanted to melt away the calories, but I think I’ll just have to grit my teeth and stay patient (will be getting a lot of practise with that this month!) I have however, snook in a set of 20 squats whilst I have the energy to do so!
I read an article a week or so ago which states that despite belief, people do not lose weight throughout Ramadan because of how much they eat once they’ve broken their fast. I know myself that I will feel full this evening after a small plate, and by the time I’ve eaten, it won’t be much longer before I’m in bed! So for the sake of this experiment, I now weigh in at 64.7kg. Lets see if the theory is true.
By 9am the kids are at school, I’m back at work and it has dawned on me that I still feel half asleep. I’m not hungry, as I don’t usually do breakfast early on anyway, but I am certainly missing my usual caffeine shot! The customers start to flow into the cafe, and despite what people think, cooking food all day whilst I’m fasting doesn’t really bother me. I remember on my experience of Ramadan when I wasn’t fasting, that my husband asked if I would mind eating away from his parents as a sign of respect. His mum kicked up a fuss and told him I was fine where I was, and that is exactly how I feel- seeing other people eat doesn’t bother me at all. However, the big slab of chocolate cake in the fridge did look appealing mid-morning!
My husband and I will be sharing our shifts in the cafe, and so he took over my role at lunchtime. Normally I would like to have grabbed a small nap, not because I’m tired, but because knowing my habits, I would become fidgety and start doing a spring clean on the house because I don’t have it in me to simply ‘sit back and relax’. Today my youngest daughter and her reception class took part in the schools annual tradition of celebrating weddings. There is both a Christian and a Hindu celebration with ironically my daughter playing part of the chef who, with others, was responsible for the making of the wedding cake and the traditional sauces found at such occasions. It felt like somebody, somewhere was having a good giggle at my expense, when on entering the school hall, I was met with the biggest aroma of herbs and spices, and I daren’t even look at what they had laid out on the tables. It was a fantastic afternoon with lots of music and dancing, and knocked a good couple of hours off the countdown to Iftar.
I volunteered this evening to go and do the wholesale shopping for the cafe. May seem like a crazy idea, considering at this point I hadn’t eaten or drank for 13 hours and I would be lifting heavy loads. However, believe me, heavy labour tasks such as those seem minor in comparison to having to play cook/nurse/referee/teacher/cleaner to three children. I was on my own with just my music and thoughts for company. A bit of Uptown Funk sent the energy levels going, albeit every so slightly, and I actually enjoyed a calm and peaceful few hours. My last stop on the way home was to an international supermarket, known particularly for stocking Turkish food. To me, this was the bit of magic I had been waiting for. I was faced with fruit and vegetables all the way from Turkey- and for a small moment, it was like I was back ‘home’. My husband had told me to call him when I got there so we could compile our list of what we both wanted. By this point, hunger had taken over, and I think I would have been happy with a bag of dried pasta. ‘Jam’, I told him. ‘I want jam’. Don’t ask, but I had a huge desire for something sweet. We had already decided that we would have ‘Turkish breakfast’ for our evening meal. Something simple and easy, and I was determined to have jam on bread to go with that. I walked to the back of the store, and there, lined up in perfect uniform, was the freshly baked bread. If you read yesterday’s blog, you’ll know why it really did feel special.
My shopping was complete and it was time to head home. It took me a good couple of minutes to register that I was in fact putting my seatbelt into the ignition and struggling to understand why the car wouldn’t start. At least I had an excuse for it not to be another ‘blonde moment’. By the time I arrived home, the kids were fed and almost ready for bed. The in-laws in Turkey were on Skype and already sat enjoying their evening meal. We still had a three hour wait at that point. My mother in law filled the room with prayers of how she hopes our fasting will be accepted by Allah, and that she is so proud of us for what we have done. She then gathered with the neighbours and went to the local mosque for more praying- a ritual she will see every night for the next month. May Allah accept her prayers.
So, there is now less than one hour left. I’m not thirsty, I’m not particularly ravenous, I just feel content. I feel a small sense of achievement that I have managed to get through the first day, and I feel at peace. Fasting isn’t sadistic, or a way to make us suffer. It is a way of teaching yourself that yes, you have the power to be in control of your thoughts and actions. Well, I may have to rethink that theory when I go for that slab of chocolate cake at midnight.