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Before and After

"One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life." - Chinese Proverb

For the past week, my colleagues and I have referred only to two points in time as of any importance. Before Ramadan and After Ramadan.

Ramadan is the month of the lunar calendar in which the Qu'ran was said to be revealed. For this reason, Muslims fast for the 29.5 days in order to practice patience and humility. Ramadan begins tomorrow at sunset here and began in the Americas this evening.

We arrived here in Dubai the first week of August. There is much ado about everything when one is settling into a new country and here is no different. Thankfully, the school cuts through much of the red tape for us, otherwise I imagine it could be much worse.

Because life changes here during Ramadan, our goal was to complete logistical tasks related to residency, transportation and communication before Ramadan. I just made it. I have my residency visa, my driver's license and my mobile phone. I have my Salik tag, my wireless Internet and my bank account. And now, I finally have my automobile. After Ramadan, I will consider acquiring my M card, a license one must have to purchase spirits. It is not a primary concern.

This weekend, people made sure to go out, for it was the last party before Ramadan. Folks made their runs to buy alcohol, for it was the last chance before Ramadan. I made a bigger trip to the grocery store, as hours will change and some food etiquette will too in the days between before Ramadan and after Ramadan.

We are supposed to have a gym in our building, along with the pool. The pool was finished about one week ago, but the gym remains unfinished. I ran into Binu in the parking lot Friday. "When will the gym be finished?" I asked him as he began to simultaneously tilt his head and grin. "Before Ramadan or after Ramadan?" He did the Indian head bob. I made a face. "After Ramadan?" He did the move again. I nodded my head. "After Ramadan." He nodded as well.

During Ramadan, many people here will work for six hours a day. Most schools, except ours, will have a shortened school day for the month. From what I have heard, people will work during the morning through the early afternoon, and then again in the late evening.

I was speaking to a woman at school about the hopes of getting my car before Ramadan. "InshAllah," she said. "Don't get your hopes up." She let me know that if I didn't get it before Ramadan, I probably wouldn't get it until after Ramadan. "People work during Ramadan, but they're not really working," she stated. I bit my tongue. My hopes were still up.

Also per rumour, is that driving is particularly dangerous in the evenings, when people are trying to get home to break the fast or Iftar. This is all second hand. My colleagues said it's a good idea to be home by 5:30 in the evening, so I will aim to do so. After all, I don't mind being home. Sometimes I jump up and down when I get here anyway.

Right now I am sitting here with the door open to the balcony. The music I often associate with the call to prayer has been playing throughout the city for over thirty minutes now. I can only assume it is because Ramadan begins tomorrow evening. I am faintly looking forward to this time. There will be no pressure to go out to smokey bars where ex-pats wear too few clothes. We will take our meals in private and sitting down, as opposed to on the go and in public. I will come home from work at a decent hour and grade more and write more and reflect more. And I too, perhaps will practice a little patience and humility.


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