Ramadan approaches, and muslims worldwide are preparing for their annual (lunar) month-long fast.
To many non-muslims this may mean grumpy corner-shop owners, not being able to get an evening taxi for love nor money, or the almighty shopping exodus towards Eid.
And the not being able to get a restaurant table for love nor money.
But to many muslims, it is a time of reflection, inspiration, sacrifice, focus, family, and of God.
And so it will be for me again, albeit not with the full dedication it takes to not eat or drink (or for some orthadox muslims, swallow their own parched saliva) during daylight hours for a whole month.
My fast will include abstaining from certain food stuffs and drink stuffs, doing a liquid fast once a week (where I will only have fluids during the day), and during the last 10 days of ramadan will be hopefully fasting on alternate days.
Why am I, a non-muslim, doing this? Well for me, it is a time of relfection, inspiration, sacrifice, focus, family, and of God.
I hope to write about this, my struggle to resist that can of diet coke (cool, bubbly coke. Fresh, yummy coke...) , my search for meaning in my spirituality, my quest for a cleaner body and mind, and more focus.
Day 1 starts the day after tomorrow, so my first decision starts tonight at a meal out with friends... do I partake one last time, or get a good start on abstaining??
This time less than three years ago,...I also had the pleasure of being in Lahore, Pakistan just as Eid hit.
Staying in old Anarkali, with a room overlooking food street, I was nightly treated to the constant ebb and flow of people. Lahories love to eat. And talk. Men, families, arriving to eat at the tables set up in the street to meet, eat, and talk (I couldn't get that to rhyme). I roamed in the rush-hour safety of the Anarkali market, absorbed sights, sounds, smells, and sat in a confetti of flies during an afternoon watching families enjoying the Eid fair (to the concern of the hotel manager, Mr Anxious), shaking hands with shy young girls wearing a lot of make-up.
I watched Dawn news whilst escaping the pressing midday heat.
During my stay I experienced the overwhelming hospitalityof some of the locals, beautifully simple kebobs, oddly complex burgers, friendly locals, love-hungry yound men, and a wild west restaurant serving pasta. Was I confused? Yes, yes I was. (But being a bit of a perve, I was also very amused)
And as I explored that amazing city as much as a lone white girl can, perused Lahore fort and the museum, marvelled at shrines and red-brick buildings, dodged traffic, and met people. So with varied results and conflicting memories, I had to move on. But the memory of the Eid festivity on Anarkali and the life of Lahore has stayed with me.
Here are a couple of pictures, firstly one above of food street hazy with the smoke from taktaka pans and general heat.
And the next, one of my favourite ever. Local Muslims deep in prayer.
Please do not use any of my pictures without my permission, they hold some very dear memories and I'd hate for that to be violated. Thx.