Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Why Ramadhan is causing some sleepless nights

It's Ramadhan people. The Muslim's holy month of fasting, purifying their lives, focusing on being good, and getting back to Allah.

Before living in Mombasa, I had never experienced or even heard of Ramadhan but, let me tell you, it affects our lives big time here. Even for those of us who aren't Muslim.

A few things that change during Ramadhan:

- all our favourite restaurants close down for the entire month.
- many shops change their hours in accordance with the prayer calls and fasting.
- muslims make a special effort to dress in their religious attire.
- all of our drunkard friends stop drinking for the month.
- there are a lot more beggars in the streets knowing that muslims give more during this month.
- even though Muslims aren't eating, they are cooking in the streets all day long. And they cook some pretty delicious snacks if I do say so myself.
- our tv programs take breaks to notify us when fasting begins and stops for the following day. Everyday it changes and its different in every city. For example, today in Mombasa, they had to start fast at 5:00am but yesterday they started at 5:01am. However, today in Nairobi, they started the fast at 5:09am.
- our boys stop practicing and most of the leagues we are in take a long pause.
-the general feel of the city changes. People move slower, the mosques are constantly going, no eating, and lots of women wearing black and men wearing white makes for a change in the atmosphere.

Most of these things are easy to manoeuvre around however, this Ramadhan, I have been having a hard time sleeping. In the evenings, the mosques have special prayer calls that go for hours, literally. They just happen to go for the hours that I want to try go to sleep.

Since I have been home, I have had the hardest time sleeping. At first I thought it was jet lag but it didn't really feel like it. With jet lag, I am usually wide awake in the middle of the night or up early. I am not finding myself wide awake. I want to sleep. My body wants to sleep. But those prayer calls are just a touch too loud to allow me to pass out.

They do stop at some point in the night, usually around 11pm I think, but then the Christians step in. Yes, us Christians. I say 'us' knowing that we are all one body (one family) whether or not I really want to be in those moments. The churches around feel like, if the Muslims are praying and fasting, we should do the same. Not a bad idea, but must you do it at night, every night? Yes, they have keshas all night. A kesha is an all night prayer service with lots of singing, praying, and general loudness. They rent sound systems and play tacky keyboard music all night.

They also stop, just in time for the morning prayer calls. Because all the Muslims have the same set time to open their fast, the prayer calls are now all at the same time. A melody of eerie music at 5:01am. They usually eat right before that time in the morning so you can hear they bustling around outside at 4:30am making their meals.

Prayer calls stop and we get about an hour a peace before the construction workers arrive behind our house to start their work. That's usually the start of our days.

I am trying different tactics on getting to sleep. Closing the window is good but then it gets to hot in the room for us to sleep. I turn on the fan but then it gets just a touch too chilly for me and we both wake up with stuffy noses. I have some ear plugs I might try tonight or stuff a pillow over my head.

I just need a decent night sleep.

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