By Maya Lau
By Maya Lau
August 15, 2011 huffingtonpost
For any type of traveler in a Muslim country during Ramadan, it can be hard to experience things normally. Businesses are closed or have unpredictable hours, making breakfast and lunch hard to find. People expect modesty, so engaging in vacation behavior like tanning on the beach is tricky.
The best way to participate in Ramadan as a non-Muslim is to restrict yourself from eating or drinking publicly during the day. You feel how challenging it is to ride a bike uphill or take an all-day dusty car ride with locals when you can’t sneak even a sip of water. You may feel, even if artificially, the sense of community during Ramadan, of everyone around you sharing the same physical torment. Later, in the safety of your hotel room, you can scarf down a few Clif bars and realize what a fortunate experience it is to eat.
An outsider is bound to notice the distinctness of Ramadan–its odd schedule, the special foods eaten, the way it’s the subject on everyone’s lips–and walk away with this memory from their travels.
I’ll spend the rest of the month hiding my eating habits. I’ll be crouched on the floor of my hut, cracking open cans with my Swiss Army knife for my one-woman lunch. I’ll be at the 9 p.m. dinner bowl for the odd ones out: the kids who are too young to fast, the menstruating, the ill, and me. Maybe that puts me at the right distance.