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     Volume 2 Issue 86 | September 14, 2008|


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Time Management in Ramadan

Sarah Z H

Time is the one thing that almost everyone, even the most efficient among us has trouble managing. Now that it is a special part of the year when time management needs a little extra consideration, we often feel the need for limitlessness to allow us to be more in control. Keeping to your schedules during Ramadan is not quite the easiest job if you are a full time student! Although I am perfectly aware of the fact that God is not open to excuses neither, does he like whiners then again I cannot help but point at the woes of students who balances between their highly demanding educational lives and the stringency of Ramadan as a whole. The month of Ramadan thus is particularly challenging for students who are constantly required to perform in pop up quizzes, sit in tests or assignments in nastiest cases despite the difficulties of sleep deprivation and the weariness caused by fasting. Let us start with Sehari to see how it revolutionizes our regular lifestyle by making us sacrifice something as precious as sleep! Often it is seen that young people tend to skip Sehari just to avoid waking up in the dead of the night for a much-detested meal. The habit adds to the exhaustion Later during the day when students are likely to continue a very busy class schedule. I think the most impressive side to the month of Ramadan would be the routine of praying five times a day for many of us who feel otherwise throughout the rest of the year. Those of us who smoke, at least muse over the smoking act once before lighting a cigarette. Iftar significantly means everything to us when we're fasting. We wait with joyful eagerness for the moment to turn up. However, it is the post iftar ordeal that makes life incredibly hard especially when you have a midterm and ironically enough you find out that your entire system is not functioning the way you would want it to.

Eating out somehow goes on in the form of iftar at food courts or restaurants that offer feasible packages, which are wallet friendly and more then enough for your appetite. Shopping gains a complete new height for girls. The majority of young people are not familiar with the idea of giving away a flat portion of your earning to the neglected mass so that they are able to celebrate their Eid in abundance. I believe most of us earn our own pocket money. We can all make our contributions to make this Eid equally happier for the less fortunate people.

Save the denial that has been portrayed in my writing regarding Ramadan, I have only tried to make the students look glorious as they pass with vast abilities the trial of showing perseverance and power. I can only hope that God feels the same about students!

Iftar or Indulgence ?

Nazia Ahmed

Dhaka City during the month of Ramadan is as festive as it is on Eid itself! Don't believe me? Just look around an hour before Iftar. You'll find the Bengali way of indulging. One word for it “Food”.

We started our venture towards the Old town on a bike as it was impossible to get through this crowd on a three wheeler, let alone four! "The street becomes off limits for any traffic during this time. This area would become a place full of small iftar sellers and people from all over the city come to buy the special iftars of Chawkbazar," said the Cashier of Alauddin Sweet Meats, shortly after we reached the venue. Now I have to warn you to get ready to get squashed between the crowds as you holler your way towards the screaming fellow calling out all sorts of scrumptious names to attract you. The boras are worth 60tk per Kg. Halim in various flavours like chicken, beef, paya (broth) is another common but never-too-stale item sold in the market ranging from 75 tk, 100, 150, 200 and 300 tk. The most popular and spicy iftar items at Chawk Bazar included jali kebab, Irani kebab, haddi kebab, shami kebab, gurda kebab, suti kebab, nargis kebab, fish kebab, beef-kima, Kashmiri paratha, nan-khatai, nan-ruti, bakarkhani, moghlai paratha, beef-kopta, jhal kochuri, shingara, nomok para, faluda, makhna, shahi halim, polao, bundia, kalia and korma. The chicken and lamb roasts were 150-250 tk per piece, which wasn't too low, compared to the Baily road Iftar bazaar prices. As the crowd parted before us, the mighty huge Jilapees were revealed. And even though the price of Tk 80 was tempting enough, the flies sitting on them shooed me away.

“Boro Baper Polay Khay, Thongay Koira niya zay”. Whether it's for the name or for the seller, this item was the biggest attraction in the crowd. This particular item consisted of pretty much all the other items mixed together with Ghoogni and chira and has been popular for more than 100 years! Well all the glitter somehow did not quite taste like gold in the end compared to how those items tasted individually. Maybe it's an acquired taste, meant for rich sons!

Nowadays Iftar at downtown is in competition with the ones in uptown. Restaurants like Efes, Topkapi, 101 Buffet, Pizza hut, and the huge bazaar in Banani11 come up with new and delicious menus every year so that the city dwellers have a different taste each day. "As the variety of iftar items entice fasting people, the selling of iftar becomes a reasonably profitable business," said an owner of a restaurant at Dhanmondi. The “happy hours” at Pizza Hut and Pizza Corner stand as a must-have among all the young crowds. Apart from traditional chola bhuna, piazu, beguni, halim and jilapi, delicacies like moghlai, shahjani and different types of kebab are available at some Gulshan, Dhanmondi and Baily Road.

Mughal handi kebabs, lamb roast, Pakistani tawa gosto have gained popularity, said owners of restaurants in the areas.

Items like jali kebab, vegetable shami kebab, chicken shaslic, mini shikh kebab, tikkah kebab, chicken patties, tropicana pizza, fried prawns, fried chicken wings, spring roll, mughlai parata, potato chop, kema samosa, vegetable samosa, paratha and jafrani firni have also been added to iftar items.

An Iftar bazar has been set up at Dhanmondi Rabindra Sarobor beside the Dhanmondi Lake. Popular iftar items of Chawk Bazar are selling at these stalls.

I am a huge jilapee fan, and affordable or not, I vote for the jilapeez at Sonargaon. You can actually smell the ghee!

After the daylong fast, city dwellers depend on the iftar markets of the city to break the fast as dusk draws into the night and prepare for another day of fasting. I don't know about others, but at iftar I would like to indulge. With some dates to begin with, a refreshing lemon juice, a bowl of Mama Haleem or Bong, some beguni, and mouthwatering Jilapees with my loved ones.

A Students' Ramadan -On The Streets

Mahdin Mahboob

The Holy Month of Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic Calendar, a month of religious observance and fasting. Over 90% of the population in Bangladesh are Muslims and hence the month Ramadan means changed lifestyles, changed eating habits and changed timings for most of the people of the country, including students!

Most of the university students fast and during this month, many are seen to have become more religious than they usually are during the other eleven months of the year. This would mean waking up early (read very early), and after the Sehri in the middle of the night, a little nap and then heading off to university and work. And with changed timetables at office and the educational institutions, everyone is bound to get more done in a shorter span of time, that too with an empty stomach! But before Iftaar, everyone is seen to rush back home, unless of course you have an Iftaar party to attend. During this month, while having Iftaar with other members of your family, the family values do get relived and rejuvenated. In other times of the year, we barely are able to reach home before sunset given the hectic life that most of us have to live today.

Amdadul Huq / DRIKNEWS

But before reaching home, all of us have to deal with the unbearable pain of waiting for hours in the crazy traffic jams of Dhaka and other metropolises of the country. In Dhaka, traffic jams seem to increase ten folds during Ramadan, especially before the Iftaar hours. Everyone seems to be in a mad rush to return home and there doesn't seem to be enough roads and streets to fit everyone in! It doesn't help one ounce, if you have to look for a public transport to reach home before the Iftaar. None of the three wheelers seem to be empty, and the ones which are, would only go to destinations of their own choice! One out of every hundred of these things would eventually agree to take you to a place of your choice (that is, your home), only if you pay them three to four times the regular fare! The buses are crammed to the brim and there is an apparent scarcity of rickshaws which are otherwise available in plenty.

During Ramadan, hundreds of small Iftaar shops spring up in all lanes and alleys of Dhaka. All of them however, seem to know the 'secret' recipes of Shahee Haleem, Shahee Jilapi and Doibora. Though the festive look of all these Iftaar shops does look tantalizing, the quality and hygiene maintenance of many of these shops are not up to the mark.

Another interesting feature of the Dhaka streets during Ramadan is its hyped up people. From rickshaw pullers to three wheeler drivers to car drivers and chauffeurs, almost everyone seem to be on the lookout for an opportunity to fight. Not just verbal fight, many people are seen to go physical, which then proves to be a great source of entertainment for the passers by! I find this phenomenon extremely ironic since the act of fasting is meant to teach us patience, sacrifice and humility.

On an ending note, I would like to remind that for those of us who are fasting it is important that we are able to carry the spirit across the other eleven months of the year, not just Ramadan alone. And to stay fit, drinking a lot of water during the non-fasting hours is really important since during the daytime, our bodies continue to lose it without gaining any. Before this article becomes an advising session, I'll end it here by wishing all of you an advanced Eid Mubarak!

Ramadan Flashbacks

Tawsif Saleheen

When I was a kid, Ramadan was more than just a month of perseverance. It was the ultimate test of manhood. I grew up in a neighborhood that had a playground adjacent to it. In the days of Ramadan all the eight-year-olds would gather around the playground and brag about fasting, while us six-year-olds would listen respectfully. They talked about how they woke up at four in the morning and how they spent the whole day without food and water. They told us scary stories about how they played cricket while fasting, and didn't give up no matter how thirsty they felt afterwards. They were the real men.

It so happened that on one such occasion, overcome by an acute sense of enthusiasm, I announced to everyone that I would also start fasting from the next day. My friends gasped, some out of shock, but most out of admiration. The eight-year-olds laughed and curtly pointed out that fasting was only for the grown ups. I, however, was resolute. I had a point to prove.

When I returned home that afternoon, I was a man with a plan. I knew that if I wanted to fast I first had to persuade my mom. I set up arguments on my favor, stressing upon the fact that I had finally grown up and it was simply blasphemous for me not to observe the holy month of Ramadan. I prepared enough counterpoints against whatever objections that she might have had. Finally I built up enough courage to approach my mom.

To my utmost surprise my mother gave me the permission without even listening to the arguments. She then went on to explain how fasting really worked. She told me that I could fast once everyday like everyone else, or if I considered myself really tough, I could fast twice everyday. When you fast twice in a single day, my mom went on to explain, you had to take your seheri in the morning and your iftaar in the afternoon. Then you had to take your second seheri later that afternoon and iftaar in the evening. Both my mom and I agreed that I was really tough and that I should fast twice everyday.

The next day, when I went to the playground, I was literally gloating. Everyone flocked around me and asked whether I was actually fasting. I gave them a smug smile and said that I was already into the second fast of the day. When everyone gave me the flabbergasted look I went on to explain the wonderful concept of fasting twice in a single day. What followed was a series of unbridled humiliation. I returned home feeling embarrassed and betrayed. I promised not to talk to my mom again.

The next day I woke up at 4 a.m. I had a face to save, an ego to mend, and I was going to fast no matter what. Surprisingly enough, my mom didn't try to stop me this time around. I wished she would, because I was waiting for an opportunity to pick a fight with her.

When I woke up the following morning, I felt in control. I was finally fasting. I felt chirpy. I kept bouncing around the house in sheer glee. I even forgave my mom.

Photos by Zahid I Khan

My mom was making lemonades for iftaar. I went up to her and yelled. “I'm fasting. I'm fasting.” I picked up a lemon and threw it in the air. I picked up a glass of lemonade and gulped it down. Then it hit me.

I slumped back into the chair in sheer shock. I couldn't believe what I had just done. The guys at the playground would tear me apart if they ever heard of this. For the first time in my life, at the age of six, I wanted to commit suicide.

Then suddenly my mom came to the rescue. “God ignores little goof-ups like this you know.” She said, “Technically you're still fasting.” “What if someone finds out,” I asked carefully. My mom smiled. “No one else saw, and I am not telling anyone. This will be our little secret.”

As it turned out, my mom not only kept the secret but she also invited all my friends for iftaar. That evening as I waited around the iftaar table with my friends, I watched my mom scurrying around the kitchen with all the dishes that she had been preparing for us. I felt a sweet sense of pride for having a mother who cared so much. At the age of six I finally seemed to realize what Ramadan was really about. It's not about proving a point or showing-off. Ramadan is about appreciating all the little things in our lives that we keep taking for granted.

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