Monday 23 July 2012

Algerian Ramadan seen from space

Pre-Ramadan rush; is a bit like when they announce a meteorite is set to collide with the Earth and provisions must be made, shelves are emptied, car parks heaving, beaches overpopulated, everybody is going for the last swim before showing giblets becomes haram(1) and the burkinis go back in the wardrobe. I did a count and I found that the burkini is overtaking the jebba(2) three to one. Fascinating!

The town is on Zlabia(3) overdrive; all shops turn to Zlabia parlours! The newspapers have found a hot topic for the month, Zlabiation of all business and prices going up by 100%. Ramadan business opportunism at it’s best.

Rush hour changes from 4pm to midday. Those who were getting paid for sitting in the office talking on the phone and discussing the latest recipes will now be paid for doing the same from home. It’s even legitimate for the month and you know bad habits die hard, so some will try to milk it into Shawal(4).

The offices empty of their workfoce, they are all out there buying food or stuck in traffic on their way to the newest supermarket, presumably to devour more shelves and stock up their freezers before the prices go up!

With all the people in their cars lining up the roads, who’s running the country?

The fast starts, some escape to Europe for a month, some eat in the cupboards, some judge, others point fingers and mumble prayers under their breaths whilst others rejoice and mind their own business.

It’s a weird feeling, time seems to slow down, people seem to remain cheery, though admittedly it’s still early days, must be the effect of sugar residue. Let’s give it a week.

It talks of food and evening plans at the Pool with Dj Iamtoocoolnot and evenings at khaima(5), no not for Taraweeh(6) it’s for sipping tea and smoking chicha, yes this long tradition we have.

The build-up to iftar is intense; a race against the clock, even though time is all we have with over 17 hours of fasting time, talk of food and of recipes from the Middle East and others seen on Nessma TV. For those of us who don’t have to cook, the local DVD shop has almost every pirated movie ever made and some that weren’t. meanwhile the Chorba(6) is cooking and the tension is building, building and building…a fist fight here, an accident there, the bread is sold-out and the butcher has ran out organs! Then comes the Adhan(7) and it’s like the pressure cooker has been released, the end of the war. Ahhhhhhh

Gluttony makes that you’ve most probably over-indulged and are holding your stomach in pain, so you watch TV to distract yourself from the agonising pain in your gut.
Post-iftar TV is where comedy goes to die, soul destroying recycled comedy for the insane and recently lobotomised but totally realistic, only adds to your anguish but you can't put your finger on it, trust me it's the TV.

Then comes S’hour(8), the only thing that has the power to separate a man from his bed.
Ah the love story between the Algerian and his food is everlasting; you can hear your neighbours running around chasing time again, engorging on more food before the fasting resumes and the continued wishes of saha this and saha that start and end never.

The magic of Ramadan measures only to its long days, to kilos gained, to food ingested and footnotes(so many) and countdowns.

Dz-chick...back in London where we work longer than we fast!

(1) Sinful
(2) Long house dress
(3) Ramadan special, extra painfully sweet confection
(4) The month after Ramadan in the Islamic Calendar
(5) Bedouin tent
(5) Ramadan prayers
(6) Tomato based soup
(7) Call to prayer
(8) Time to start fasting at dawn, a lot of people wake up to take a dose of their favourite toxin, coffee, cigarette, food etc…

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