November 16, 2004

De We Ne Tti!

(Good year and many more).

To which you respond "Fe Kel De We Nee" (and you too).
Then of course, you feel obliged to say "Bal Ma Akh" (forgive me for all the wrongs I have done to you), which prompts the response "Bal Na La" (you are forgiven). This is the intricate greeting pattern that one must use after Ramadan.

Of course, I'm relieved. Relieved that I can drink a glass of water in public again, relieved that the taxi men will be less impatient now (ya right, I'm just dreaming), relieved that the traffic will be lighter as people are not rushing home before 6:45 (time when they can finally eat again after a whole day of fasting).

I celebrated Korite on Saturday, which marks the end of Ramadan. Some people chose to celebrate it one day later as this should coincide with the first showing of the moon--although I suspect that it's more about One Upmanship: showing how strong you are for having fasted one more day. This Ramadan period was particularly rough as the weather was unusually hot each and every day.

While I find the idea of fasting beautiful and spiritual, I am troubled by the construction workers that have to lift and tug cement block in the noon sun all day. As they are drenched with sweat, I shake my head thinking that surely it can't be good that they can't even indulge in one little meager glass of water. But no, Ramadan is very sacred. To the point where one should not use eye drops or this would spoil the fasting. As a matter of fact, one should not even swallow one's own saliva. Doesn't this seem a little rigid? I don't know.

I celebrated Korite with a colleague. Korite usually consists of eating a huge lunch with friends and family, preferably with some nice grilled meat on the side. I had BBQed sheep liver. Yum (I swear I am not being sarcastic, I love liver). Then you should don your best regalia (in the Muslim tradition, these are long flowing pants and shirts and BouBou's for women) and go around your neighborhood shaking everyone's hands and smiling a lot. The children go around collecting some coins. It's like Halloween without the chocolate. Or the costumes. Or the fake blood. Sigh, I miss Halloween.

The end of Ramadan also means that all but two of the beggars hanging out by my neighborhood Mosque are gone. I'm going to miss them dearly. De We Ne Tti!

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