I hope you had a nice Eid. And, if you are Jewish, Rosh Hashanah is just around the corner. Christians will have to wait a while for our next religious holiday!
So, Ramadan is hard, really hard. Fasting from food is doable if difficult, but not drinking anything is nearly impossible, at least for me. However, millions of Muslims world wide do it successfully. I find it very difficult to get up before the first prayer to eat the Suhoor, so I usually sleep through it. I admire the discipline which lies behind Ramadan, and I like the idea of remembering the hungry, so relevant this year as the famine in the Horn of Africa wears on. It has been very very hot in Egypt lately, which makes it even more difficult to fast.
Ramadan ended this week. Eid Kareem! Where I live, in El Rehab City, the Mosque near me spread out persian rugs, and beautiful tapestries to create extra room for people to pray. Ramadan brings out unusually large crowds for prayer. In the evening, people break fast with dates and milk. Some neighborhoods share candy, or have food outside. Tragically, mine was not one of them.
In my neighborhood, people decorated their porches and trees with flashing lights of different colors. People shot of fireworks for eid, and many people had parties to celebrate the breaking of the fast. People stay up late at night, and kids play until midnight. Last night, some boys were still busy with the firecrackers. I guess it is hard to let go of the fun.
I celebrated Eid ul fitr with my Sudanese colleague, Hamid Ali and his family. They are from Darfur. My children and my nanny,Feba, who is from South Sudan, went to Hamid's house on Tuesday. The end of Ramadan is determined astronomically and it ended on about August 30, 2011 this year. Apparently, there has been some controversy this year, as some say Saturn was seen, not the moon, and Eid did not really end on August 30th.
At my colleague's house, there were about 40 to 50 Darfuris present. I love the women's dress. I think I could wear it. They have colorful, very light cotton cloths which they tie around their shoulder and wrap around them, creating a built in, but very relaxed hijab. Some wear a separate piece of chiffon as hijab. I wore one to fit in, but my five year old daughter told me I looked weird. Then she tried one on herself.
We ate tripe carefully cleaned and chopped and mixed with onions. I think that they had soaked the tripe with salt to clean it, because it had no smell left. Of course, Mexicans love tripe. They call it Mondongo. My husband loves tripe. In Kenya, we call it Matumbo, which means stomach, in Swahili. The tripe is cleaned overnight, and then boiled. It is then chopped into small pieces. It was mixed with pieces of chopped stewed sheep meat, and some strange element of the sheep anatomy that I am not familiar with, and then the whole thing tossed with raw onions. I am not a fan, but this version was okay, and fairly neutral. We had a nice salad of tomatoes, cucumber and lemon juice. We also had some tasty stewed sheep which was served on a bed of torn pita, with stew poured over it, and red pepper on the side.
The men sat in the living room. Most had on white galabeya and white round turbans on their heads. Some had more (to my eyes) African looking white long tunics with white long pants underneath. The women sat in a different room together and discussed jealousy and children. I did not understand that much due to my poor Arabic, but my nanny translated. The house was full of children, and they had a grand time running around and screaming. When we women were not discussing ladies matters, we were in the kitchen cooking. When the tripe was prepared, there was a moment of gender mixing, as some men came in to clean and cut the tripe and help prepare it.
Anyway, as today is the last day of Eid, we can expect politics in the region to really pick up. WMB