Ramadan is here again and like every year it means the rules for eating around town have totally changed. Kabob guys no longer stand in the middle of the street during the day wafting the smell of barbequed meat at passerbyers, noodle carts are tucked into the corner allies out of the main line of vision. Since fasting is suppose to last from sun up to sun down, the middle of the summer is the hardest time of the year to properly abide by the call to abstain from water or food. Right now our sun is rising before 4am and setting after 7:30.
I have a few neighbors who are trying to be faithful in the fast, but the longer I am here the more I see the smoke and mirrors which is many peoples dedication to Ramadan. Tonight my friends and I went to a nice Uyghur restaurant by her house… we wanted to sit outside on the patio under the bright stripped canopies. The waitress’ first question was: “Are you wanting to eat right now?” When we said “Yes”- and answer that indicated we were not participating in the fast, she motioned us to move indoors. “These seats are only for those eating after iptar a word used to describe the evening breaking of the fast).” We stepped into the restaurant only to be met by a wave of hot sticky air. The cool almost night air seemed much preferable to the stuffiness of indoors. I checked my watch, iptar was only 20mins away. “If we promised not to eat until afterwards can we sit out there?” I asked hopefully. “Sure, no problem if you are willing to wait you can sit there.”
We sat outside enjoying the cool breeze, even though they knew none of us were fasting they still brought out the required nan and melon to eat first to help us digest our food. The whole thing was just an act to save face. Our waiting until the sky was dark, and starting with a piece of watermelon made the restaurant look like it only catered to the most devote.