Though it’s technically my second Ramadan in Indonesia, it is actually my first. Same time last year I was mostly in Manila taking care of decorating our flat, however since it was my birthday I returned to Jakarta for a week to celebrate it with my hubby. Little did I know that my real birthday present was 4 days in Bali. Hence I barely noticed Ramadan last year.
The day before Ramadan started this year, there was crazy traffic after work. According to our Muslim friend, they had to be at the mosque by 7pm that’s why it was grid lock. The days after were marked by a change in rush hour traffic and fasting for muslims.
Some personal observations during Ramadan:
- Normally rush-hour traffic starts at 5pm onwards. During Ramadan it starts at about 3pm and by 6pm it get’s pretty light because everyone is inside breaking their fast.
- We have a mosque in front of our place and because reading of the Quran is also done every night at mosques, the street in front get quite clogged with double-parked cars. Sometimes cars can barely pass between without scratching them. *Side-note: That’s another thing we notice about living in Jakarta, there is a mosque everywhere with loud speakers announcing their call to prayer. For us non-Muslims it would not be very nice to be woken up before sunrise everyday would it? And to hear the load sound 4 more times throughout the day. Surprisingly enough, despite living in front of one, we don’t hear it. I guess their speakers are not so loud.
- Most shops (except malls) close early as well. And offices allow the muslim employees to leave by around 3 pm so they can get to wherever they plan to breakfast. And the contractors repainting our place also asked to leave by 4 pm instead of 5 pm. *Translation: they plan to leave at 3 pm because they usually leave at 4 pm despite the 5 pm agreement.
- This is not my personal observation but that of my friend. He said that the thing that bothers him most is the bad breath because some Muslims believe that one should not even swallow their saliva during fasting, so the saliva gets stale in the mouth. (I assume that the excess is spit out.) I asked our Muslim friends about this and they said not everyone practices this.
- In food courts in the mall, we notice that there are a lot of people sitting in tables already even before 5pm. Before 6pm they have their fastfood fare in front of them already and when it hits 6pm, they start eating. Same thing applies for restaurants. Smart move don’t you think?
- My hubby noticed that his female colleague was eating during Ramadan. Upon inquiring he was told that she had her period so she was exempt. That makes sense to me because I can only imagine If I were in her place! Period + fasting = I’d probably bite someone’s head-off! *Note: according to a friend, children before 6 years of age, the elderly, mentally/physically ill, pregnant and breast-feeding are also exempt from fasting.
- I also have to call for a cab earlier these days because the taxi-stop near our place is always deserted. One day I went down to grab a cab only to find it was almost empty of Blue Bird cabs except for 2! This is where they usually stop to take breaks and rest. Silly me! Of course all the little eateries were closed! And the 2 cabs that were there refused to take me because they were napping.
DID YOU KNOW? Muslims are also not allowed to be angry or think impure thoughts during Ramadan.
One thing we wonder about are those people who work for restaurants in the malls that have to stay open during Ramadan for non-Muslim clientele. How do they do it? Cook the food, smell and serve it AND not eat it?!? HOW?!