We Four in Egypt

Now back in the US!

Iftar

Tonight I left work later than usual, at 5:30, right at iftar, when the Ramadan day of fasting ends and Muslims celebrate with a meal. Most folks try to get home for iftar, where they break fast with family and friends.

But some people are stuck at work.

Tonight, I passed several groups of working people enjoying iftar. The guards (the men who function as security people at the gates to my employer’s compound) were outside, gathered together around a table, sharing some bread and other food. I passed a few groups just like this. And then, on the way to the metro, I saw a small convoy of military-style trucks pulled over, and several men were together on the sidewalk, hunched over a small stove, warming bread and eating. And the men who sell metro tickets were also enjoying some food in their office.

In the low light of dusk, with the streets and sidewalks mostly empty (in a city where quiet moments are rare), these were lovely scenes of community and fellowship.

We went to a large iftar ourselves last week. Some people at work arranged to rent out a banquet room (think low budget hotel wedding) on a boat permanently docked at an island in the Nile. We arrived just in time for iftar and ended up a table with other Americans who were equally clueless about the food, but we sampled some delicious finger foods and meats. My stomach was a bit rumbly, so I ate lightly, but did enjoy some savory rice.

The highlight of the evening was the band. Perhaps a cover band? They played an array of delightfully cheesey Arab pop music, primarily with a synthesizer. But the real fun began when one of my Egyptian colleagues wrapped a long, thin white scarf around her waist, over her clothes, and belly danced. She was a middle aged woman with a few extra pounds, and she looked amazing. Apparently this woman has been in movies, and I believe it. She could move!

We were here only a few weeks before Ramadan began, so I have to reach back into my memory to recall days when stores didn’t close around dusk, when I didn’t feel the need to sneak my snack at my desk. Those days will end sometime this week, depending on the moon, and probably on Friday.

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10 October 2007 - Posted by | holidays

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