Saturday, November 13, 2004

Ramadan 2004 gone & Eid Mubarak

Im writing this as the sunsets for the last time in Ramadan (eid is tomorrow in our part of town). What a month. definitely a Ramadan to remember. One of the worst I’ve ever lived through. The Arab world self-esteem is rock bottom. The re-election of Bush, the deaths of Sh. Zayed and Arafat, the full-on military strikes in Felluja massacring over a 1000 and our own domestic problems, a tortured Khawaja languishing in prison with his supporters, and what looks like a government clampdown on freedom of speech. So much future uncertainty, so much hostility and not much peace or tranquillity this side of the world. As if that was too much to bear, we then had to cope with the worst Ramadan TV entertainment that i've witnessed in a lifetime.

Since today, half of Bahrain were celebrating eid and the other half fasting. The second group spent the last day of their ramadan depressed and in doors (talking of myself at least), waiting for sundown so that we can go celebrate too. I spent the whole day watching the final episodes on TV as programs reached their final closing chapters. I now need a good dose of prozac and a few consultations with a shrink. The only comfort is that i've got tonights catwalk parade in Seef Mall to look forward to.

Ramadan being our 30-day version of Boxing Day in terms of viewer ratings, this is the month I switched off Aljazeera and turned on Qatar TV. The latter channel pumping millions in drama series that show everyday during this month. If the BBC is dumbing down, then Arab TV can’t get any dumber as it wallows in the deepest gutters of dumbness. Not having any expectations for any programs that might kick-start my brain activity, I opened the TV on day 1 with the expectation of at least being entertained like a monkey. It was The Road to Kabul that was set to rock the boat this year. But Qatar TV after investing over 2 million dollars in its production decided to pull the plug after 6 episodes under highly suspicious circumstances. Unfortunately, what was left on offer didn’t live up to our expections not by a longshot. Most programs were as dry as a my gran's privates (mind the phrase). I'm not an expert in film production but is it that hard to digress from a linear storyline??

Despite all this, Ramadan just isnt Ramadan without the cheesy musalsalaat. One series that seemed to have an iota of meaningfulness was ‘ba3d alshataat’ with a story revolving round the problem of women in the Gulf who marry non-GCC citizens and the difficulties of being treated like a foreigner in your own country since your kids are denied citizenship. I gotta admit my eyes did moisten when the son was chucked out from Qatar on a one-way ticket after being convicted of harassing a girl. This particular series also used no-shit style of language, one of the husbands kept referrings to his wife as the ‘chalba’ (dog) quite rightly – what a bitch. You were mistaken if you expected a happy ending though.

In the end the brother ran off with all the money, the brother got addicted to drugs, the girl became a prostitute, the other sister got divorced, the father went bankrupt, the drug-addict strangled his sister's son-in-law. I mean you just can't do all of that in the last 45-minute episode. We are all in desperate need of rehabilitation now. Is life in the Gulf really this tragic? I dont know about other people, but I dont hear that much violin music in the backround where I live.

The other series was in classical Arabic- Shahrazade. We all know the stories of a Thousand and One Nights, so for me I watched this just to listen to the dialogue in classical Arabic. Way7ak, Mowlay alsultaan, ajunninti ya imra’ah? I9muti. This was great- set in a scenic part of Jordan, beautiful instrumental music, good acting. It was reallyyyy slow in taking off in the beginning. It took like 15 episodes before it finally got round to some action. I think its just the image of sword-waving Arabian men riding their horses through the desert as the sun sets that does it for me. But even that gets boring after a while.

Public warning number 1- never go to a salon the day before Eid. This year I heeded my own advice and went on Thursday. With Eid announced last night unexpectedly, most Bahraini women went into immediate panic and im guessing half of them drove to the nearest salon. My friends were telling me all hell broke loose as you had to wait for over 3 hours to get a blowdry. On Eid, you have to look your best, even if that means going to the moon and back to get your manicure done.

I'm at that funny age, where you’re slightly too old to be given an eidya (money) but slightly too young to start giving it away. So I formulated a robin-hood style strategy- take from the old and give to the young. The same amount of eidya I get, I then give away to the younger ones. I estimate this strategy will work for this year and the next. But the year after, money is gonna have to start coming out of my own pocket.

Unfortunately, I also failed on my ‘spiritual insurgence’ I got caught up reading the English translation of the Qur’an and all the footnotes and didnt manage to finish it on time. At best I appreciated the different perspective it offered, at worst I thought it was a completely different book!! But I only managed to get to page 486 of 1798 pages. Im up to Surat Yousif, my favourite part…!! Yousif, what a prophet, he’s da man. That particular chapter is so action-packed it makes a Hollywood thriller movie seem boring, especially the way he tries to resist the seduction of the lady. I also wanted to try camping at the mosque. Every year in a couple of mosques around Bahrain some very devout muslims (mostly the older generation) go to the mosque with their sleeping bags and spend the last few days of Ramadan in total prayer and meditation- it is called i3tikaaf. I thought this was bizarre at first. But now it seems like a great idea. Take some time off life and just try and improve the relationship between God and yourself. Immerse yourself in supplication and higher awareness. Didn’t work out this year, but next year I’ll be down there, I’ll throw in a couple of free yoga classes if anyone is interested in coming along.

Those were my scattered very rough thoughts regarding Ramadan. With this Eid, I hope we can rejuvinate our senses and optimism in anticipation of happier and more peaceful times.

عيدكم مبارك و عساكم من العايدين و السعيدين

Posted by BB @ 11/13/2004 09:15:00 PM

Read or Post a Comment

Just wanna tease u a bit...
1. How did you know that it is Eid if you wrote this while sunset? You wouldn't know so soon!!

2. Are you saying that Suni are 50% and Shia'a are 50% of population? I thought Shia'a are more!

كل عام وأنتم بخير

Posted by Blogger Haitham Sabbah @ 11/13/2004 10:01:00 PM #

What do you think about this chick yesterday who put on a false beard and attempted to read Friday prayers at the Al Fateh mosque?

Posted by Blogger Scorpio @ 11/13/2004 11:41:00 PM #

Did she? I mean, even if she did, she must have had a motive.
I think that the media didn't uncover the complete story. So until then, all what can be said is that she must be crazy!

Posted by Blogger Haitham Sabbah @ 11/14/2004 01:45:00 AM #

Haitham, thanks for your interest and intense scrutiny :)

1. Two school of thoughts on the moon-sighting issue. One camp (Fadlallah crew) believe that astronomical calculations are enough to identify the birth of the new moon, which means Eid is tomorrow. Another school of thought necessites the direct sighting of the hilal - so there is a chance Eid can even be on Monday.

2. Thanks for the correction- THREE-QUARTERS of Bahrain.

Scorpio, I swear it wasn't me!!!

Posted by Blogger Bahrania @ 11/14/2004 03:11:00 AM #

3eedech Mubarak Bahrania! I enjoyed this post, because so many of the same things went through my mind. There is a small salon close by to where I live, and after Eid was announced when I drove past it sometime after midnight there were still about 10 or so cars parked outside, and women running in and out of it. I've never seen anything like it! I bet the rush inside the salon was even more of a sight.

And I've always been amazed by Surat Yousif. It's got layers upon layers of meaning waiting to be unravelled. And I really love the way Marcel Khalife sings about him in his song (for which he got into alot of hot water also). The refrain is particularly haunting: "ya abi, ana yusif, ya abi", and especially the final verse (which he quotes from the quran) "ra2aytu a7ada 3shara kawkaban w al-shamsa w al-qamara. ra2aytuhum li sajideen". The way Khalife delivers the verse is haunting.

Anyways... Eid mubarak! Oh and could you let me know when and where the eid festivities will take place in Duraz? I'd really like to check it out. Thanks!

Posted by Blogger Chanad @ 11/14/2004 04:04:00 PM #

Hi Chan'ad,

Allah ibarik feek. Its on now. Head to central Duraz.


Posted by Blogger Bahrania @ 11/14/2004 04:10:00 PM #

It seems like you're trying to get me in trouble! I headed out as soon as I got your reply, only to find that I had arrived during the women only session :((
I guess I'll have to be happy with these pics:

Do you know if it's gonna be held again tomorrow by any chance? I forgot to ask over there.

Posted by Blogger Chanad @ 11/14/2004 07:07:00 PM #
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