So that’s the background about Ramadan in the previous blog- The reality on top of all of that is that the shops and supermarkets look like those at home a month before Christmas- non food stuffs are moved to the back to allow lots of space for dried fruit (apricots, dates and figs esp.) and nuts- every type! It is hard to believe when you see the shops that it is a time for NOT eating! However, Families will get up before sunrise to share Suhoor- a meal before the fast begins and each day at iftar (breaking of the fast) people gather together, friends and family and eat and talk and pray together. It is a very important time for Muslims for the social implications as well as the religious ones…
And talking shops- the streets are full of shiny glass and brass lanterns called- Fanoos. They are all shapes and sizes and families light them in their homes during iftar and throughout Eid.
This will be my first Ramadan in Cairo- so I have been asking everyone how it's different from the rest of the year.
Seemingly the roads are quiet most of the day but are at a complete standstill from 3pm until sunset with everyone trying to get home to break the fast. Also people can be more bad tempered (I suspect this time is especially difficult for all the chain smokers in Cairo!, not to mention those who can't exist without that first morning coffee!!!) I have heard of a British tourist, walking down the street downtown, during Ramadan who was sworn at and had the cigarette torn from his mouth and stamped on!!
Also the timetables of classes, schools even business opening hours change slightly to allow people less hardship through the day and so they can iftar with family. Often Mosques will open their doors each day at sunset to feed the poor…. It is also a time more than any other, of giving to charity….all the local magazines have articles and ads plugging one charity over another just now!
Oh and of course all the Bellydancers are out of a job at this time of year- unless they are lucky enough to be foreign- and working on a boat for tourists only- then they can still work. Most use this time to travel and to prepare their new show for after Eid.
So, these are just the things I have heard- I'll get back to you with my observations of how life changes in Ramadan in Cairo once I have experienced it!