It’s Ramadan again–time for reflection, prayers and fasting for our Muslim friends. Last year Ramadan didn’t really affect me because I just had Jasmine and was home most of the time. This year is different because I’m working and therefore need to follow campus rules.
Dress conservatively. I do this anyway so I haven’t really changed the way I dress at work.
Muslim employees work 8:00 am to 2:00 pm while non-Muslims work 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Doesn’t affect me.
No eating, drinking or smoking in public places. Now this rule kills me because I constantly need to munch on something and drink water at work. Yesterday my stomach was grumbling loudly and I couldn’t find a suitable place to eat so I headed to the bathroom and secretly ate my snack there. The campus diner is always open and we can eat there but I didn’t feel like going there to eat quickly and then go back to work. Eating during fasting hours is actually illegal in Saudi Arabia and you could get fined, jailed or even deported for that. I’m not sure how much that punishment is enforced within the walls of KAUST but I try to be sensitive to other people’s customs and avoid offending them.
Ramadan time is evident in the yawns and glazed eyes of otherwise alert co-workers. Muslims celebrate after sunset (when they can eat again) and stay up for a prayer at around 12:00 am and another one at 3:00 am (I think). They they have another prayer at around 6: 00 am. They can sleep in between but that’s only about 3 hours of sleep in between prayers. Basically it’s hard work for them so they are allowed to go home early and rest. Some non-Muslims fast along with Muslims as a show of support I suppose but I don’t think I could ever do that. Just thinking about it makes me want to eat a chocolate chip cookie hehe.
Anyway since it’s Ramadan I want to give thanks for all the blessings I have: a healthy family, a roof over our heads, 3 square meals a day, friends, extended family, a good community.
Ramadan Kareem to everybody.