Hiding In My Car: A Ramadan Thing

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38 degrees Celsius.  101 degrees Fahrenheit.  I am in my car, bent over the passenger seat, attempting to enjoy an Egg McMuffin sandwich (made with pretend ham–no pork here in restaurants as the UAE is a Muslim country).  

It is quite a challenge.  

My cheeks feel like they belong to a squirrel preparing for winter, swollen.  Mine are not filled with nuts, but the intense heat has turned them red and they feel hot and enlarged.  After about 15 minutes, the beads of sweat started forming at my hairline, and now, about 30 minutes in, my back is wet.

I can hear you in my mind saying:

Jen.  WUT are you doing?  Go inside somewhere there is air con.  Don’t be silly.  

And then I reply:

Yo friend.  I totally would.  But all the chairs are leaned up against tables, because it is Ramadan and all the Muslims are fasting, so all the restaurants are open for takeaway only, and I only managed to get a small cup of (my beloved) kopi into my system before rushing the kids off to school this AM, because I stayed up a bit too late last night enjoying a glass of grape with the hubs and pretending I could go to bed when I felt like it, LOL. 

(Hang on, I need another sip of my iced latte, I need to contort myself flat below the car windows……okay, I’m back.)  
Let me explain.  When the month of Ramadan begins (it follows the moon cycle, and creeps earlier in the calendar each year), all the restaurants sort of shut down.  They put big screens up to block anyone from seeing the food usually displayed in glass cases, and all the chairs are put up like the place is closed.  Most places won’t even let you just sit there.  The awesome part of Ramadan is the little, decorative lights and lanterns everywhere, the moon and star decorations in the malls, and the giving that everyone is doing all over to care for the laborers and the less fortunate here in Dubai.  I also am very interested to learn more about the spiritual discipline involved in the month of Ramadan, but I am just not on top of it all this year.  Next year, I will get going on that and maybe participate.

So my usual AM plan, of dropping the kids at school then waiting out the traffic by writing and working for awhile at a coffee shop before doing some grocery shopping then heading home, has been stymied.  My usual morning is different in a few other ways as well due to Ramadan school hours.  Normally, we would leave the house around 6:50am or 7:00am to reach school early enought that the kiddos could play at the playground with their friends for a bit and I could stare blankly into space wondering how I forgot to make coffee that morning, or chat with a fellow mom.

School starts at 8 now instead of 7:45, so we leave a tiny bit later.  Kiddo 2 starts 30 minutes later, so he and I run to the store where he helps me shop and entertains the staff there with his volatile toddler personality and habit of wearing his sunglasses upside down and slightly askew.  

Then I drop him off and have to decided whether I should go home where I will clean (AKA procrastinate and not get any work done that might flesh out a semblance of a career one day) or go to a coffee shop and work happily.  The main issue is that my habit is so ingrained I keep trying to find a place that will let me sit down at a table and work (none will).  Plus today I have a meeting, so I didn’t want to drive all the way back home.  There really is nowhere to go.  I could sit on a toilet in the bathroom (another place to eat breakfast) or sit on a bench and try to balance my keyboard and phone (how I roll these days for working out of the house).  

Sigh.  

I figured the car would be better, and hoped against hope I would get a cross breeze through the car (nope).  But at least I wore deoderant today! SMH, fingers crossed they don’t smell me at the meeting.

I have to laugh at myself really.  Phone perched on the steering wheel, keyboard in my lap, actually quite ergonomic really.  Every time I take a sip of my latte I furtively glance left and right to make sure no one who might be fasting will see me, then I dip quickly to sip.  I have heard that it is illegal to eat in public during Ramadan if you are not a child.  I don’t know if it is true, but I am a born rule follower no matter what.  I sweat in my modest (covering shoulders and knees) clothing and I only eat at home (or hiding in the car if it can’t be helped). 

But hey!  At least I wrote something. That is a total coup these days, and I promise to write again soon.  Life has been thrown up in the air for a lot of reasons, but I have to jet in a minute so I can’t talk now.  I am going to finish my latte Mission Impossible style, then get a move on.

Jennifer Jasensky is a Dubai resident, United States transplant, former mathematics teacher and dancer/choreographer. She is an outgoing homebody and perpetual idealist whose love of learning knows no bounds. She is most happy enjoying a good book with a plate of kaya toast, runny eggs, and kopi-c peng siew dai, but now that she has moved from
Singapore to Dubai, drinking an iced latte in the ocean is fast becoming her happy place.

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