Amateur poetry Sunday, Richie’s spaghetti extravaganza and Ramazan Day 5…

two cats screaming

in the shade of apartment blocks and fig trees

-sweltering day in August

Well, here is my poetic effort for the day. I’m sitting here at home in front of the fan after a short but sweaty walk back from work. I arrived at work at about 8.30am and finished at 6.30pm. Long day. It’s not too bad, but I do find having two four-hour classes to be a bit much. But on the other hand, I guess it’s good to get a big chunk of work done all in one day. It’s six of one, half a dozen of the other.

So, Richie is currently in the kitchen making his delicious pasta speciality with red peppers, tomatoes and onions, as has become our Sunday habit. I like it. Yesterday was yoga day, which was fantastic as usual. Then a friend of ours, Sohye, came over for dinner last night! It was great because we haven’t seen her for weeks and weeks.

And the only other interesting thing is that Ramazan (aka, Ramadan) began last Wednesday. Long ago, I had aspirations to at least try a couple days of fasting to honour the spirit of the month. I really don’t feel up to it now. Maybe this means I am weak and pathetic, but Ramazan fasting means not eating OR drinking anything during daylight hours. You aren’t supposed to smoke either, but this wouldn’t really effect me. Not eating during the day is one thing, although I must admit am a big wimp when it comes to not eating regularly. I get headaches and feel terrible and all that. Basically, I’m a big baby. But not drinking. I can’t imagine. In this heat, with all the sweating…. sounds unbearable. And yet, tons of people (with far more discipline and determination than me) manage to do it every year. I am honestly very impressed by their commitment and strength of will.

So, in Istanbul many people fast and many people don’t. From my impression of things, most Turks are not puritans when it comes to their religion. For instance, most Turkish people that I know drink alcohol, which is forbidden in Islam. I think most of my students, who come from the wealthy, more Western-oriented sections of Turkish society, are not fasting at all. A friend told me her sister’s family, who don’t fast in the technical sense, make a point during Ramazan to abstain from alcohol to honour the rules of Islam a bit more for the month.

On thing that’s interesting about Ramazan though, that I never considered before we came here is that it seems to be a mix of fasting and celebration, for those participating. Yes, during the day it’s tough- no food, no water, no cigarettes. I’ve been told that the beginning of the month is the worst, as people are adjusting to the hardship of it all, and everyone can be cranky and irritable, which is certainly understandable. But then in the evenings, after the sun goes down and the day is officially over, people eat and sit on their balconies and enjoy themselves. During the night you can eat and drink to your heart’s content. So, the deprivation and repentance of the day is balanced by the enjoyment and feasting of the night.

So, that’s about it for now. I’m just looking forward to reading a little bit before dinner’s ready, then stuffing my face, and then maybe playing a game with Richie. Sounds like a great Sunday night to me!

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