Ramadan: The Little Challenges
The beautiful and sacred month of Ramadhan is now upon us and as fellow Muslims, we have all been looking forward to this special time. I relish and welcome the opportunity to bring myself closer to God, but as with everything that is worth doing well, the journey that is Ramadhan is not without it’s minor hardships.
I’d like to share my own personal experiences with fasting as an office worker and the little challenges that I face, plus some humble tips on how to get through them. Do take note that some of my advice below is filed under humour and flights of fancy, so please be selective about which ones you plan to implement!
8.30am – Energize!
Yes, I did have my morning coffee at 5am but by 9am, I’ve used up all of that mileage on trying to shove myself into a crowded MRT via previously unexplored body contortions and untangling my earphones, which is basically one of the world’s greatest trials on human patience.
By the time I plop myself at my desk, I’m feeling sleepy all over again. This feels like the perfect time to start staring blankly at my computer screen, trying to recall every halal restaurant within a 3km radius of my office and mentally adding items to my wishlist for checkout time.
My solution: Stretching exercises! I used to dismiss the whole idea of stretching at the office because I genuinely believed that it would make me look silly and I wasn’t ready for people to start questioning my sanity on a daily basis since it’s common knowledge that crazy people rarely get promoted. But I soon realized that most of these exercises can be done sitting down and they focus mainly on my upper body.
So go ahead, try googling “stretching exercises in office” and you won’t believe the number of discreet little exercises that are available to you within the comforts of your own little cubicle. Trust me, ten minutes of silent stretching is all you need to have your internal hard drive purring back to life and roaring to take on the day of work ahead. Just one tip though – you can save the eye-roll and jaw exercises for when you’re stuck in a super long meeting with your boss.
11.30am – “Oh sorry, you’re fasting ah?”
If you’re working in a multicultural office, you’ll probably get this a lot. Sure, your Chinese and Indian friends are sweet and nice, and they respect all your halal sensibilities but when it comes to Ramadhan, you find yourself having to constantly remind them every day that you’re fasting. And it’s completely understandable since they’re not going through it and you’re not the centre of their universe, so you let it go every time but wouldn’t it be nice to settle this once and for all?
My idea: This is actually pretty simple for the ladies, just wear less make-up or none at all. Your colleagues will take one look at you and right after their eyeballs return back to normal size, they will just walk away without saying the usual, “Eh let’s go for lunch?” This is probably the best form of shock therapy to remind people that you’re going through a slight deviation from your normal routine.
For my fellow menfolk, I would suggest choreographing a song-and-dance routine adapted from your favourite Hindustan movie. Trust me, nobody will ever forget the day they were late for lunch because they had to hear you sing a song about fasting, with the fax machine as your unwilling back-up dancer. The fact that you are indeed fasting for this entire month will henceforth be permanently burned into their subconscious.
I admit, these aren’t very practical so if you have any other ideas, share them below!
12 Noon – Surviving your lunch hour
Now that you’re all alone in the office, what do you do? I know what you’re thinking and yes, normally I would advocate all forms of self-entertainment such as adjusting the heights of all your colleagues’ chairs so they’d spend the afternoon wondering if the bean sprouts they had for lunch were displaying magical side-effects or changing everyone’s desktop wallpaper to your face, but a big part of Ramadhan is about discipline and refraining from acts of mental abuse.
My idea: Take a walk! Leave all your credit cards at the office (special emphasis on this part because a dulled sense of taste can result in a heightened sense of shopping) and browse some books at the bookstore or watch little kids playing at the playground. You might even be motivated to do some light gym exercises to wake you up for the afternoon ahead.
You can also just take a nap (if this was your first instinct anyway, then welcome to my life) but please don’t forget to set your phone alarm clock unless you want to log into Facebook later and find yourself lovingly tagged to 527 pictures of you drooling on your keyboard.
7pm – The Iftar crunch!
Sometimes, the greatest challenge during fasting can come at the part where it ends. Which is so ironic, because that’s when you get to empty out your entire wishlist for the day and finally press the checkout button, just by opening your mouth and allowing free entrance to all foods. It should be pretty simple, but we live in Singapore, where every single halal restaurant is packed by 7pm.
My take: If you’re working late and you need to eat out, bear in mind that the crowds will probably disperse by 7.45pm because people need to do their prayers anyway. So why not prepare yourself with a few pieces of kurma and a bottle of water for when Buka time comes, and proceed with your prayers first before having your dinner? I can’t think of any better solution for this final problem so please comment down below if you have any!
I’m sure there are many other professions that hold much greater challengers at this time but alas, I can only draw from my own personal experiences. Do you work in a different environment and face a different set of challenges? Do you have any further tips you’d like to share or would you like to add on to any of the points above? Please comment below and tell us your story![divider]
Rafiq is the resident funny guy at Muzlimbuzz.sg. A big fan of movies and television, he is a freelance writer who blogs at www.omgsianz.org