Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Ramadan In London

As the last nights of this year's Ramadan come upon us, I am strangely nostalgic about all the Ramadans I have spent in the U.A.E.

It is so weird for there NOT to be 'Ramadan Kareem' plastered on every shopfront, for the senses not to be bombarded with neon coloured signs proclaiming special Ramadan promotions, for there not to be 'Ramadan Timings' on the door of every establishment.

Bizarre and disorienting, to not see restaurants closed during the day, to not see reminders in the papers that it is forbidden to eat and drink in public during daylight hours,
How strange, the absence of the pre-iftar rush to the small cafeterias for samosas and pakoras and chholay ki chaat.

How different these hushed streets are to those from the home of my childhood; where the city slept during the day and awoke with a vengeance at night. The extravagance of dining and long drives and entertainment a perfect oxymoron to the piety that is supposed to be the blessed month of Ramadan.
How deafening is the silence without the constant sound of prayers from mosques booming in the neighbourhood, how empty of the hustle and bustle of namaazis as they rush to Maghrib prayers, then back home, then back for Isha and Taraweeh prayers.

Spending my first Ramadan in London since moving here, I wonder at how odd it is that everything is so...normal. As if Ramadan weren't even a thing. (And yet, Sainsbury's have a special 'Ramadan' shelf complete with overpriced halal non-vegetarian items and an elegant banner proclaiming 'Ramadan Mubarak').