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Monday, August 8, 2011

thoughts with an empty tummy

Arabic calligraphy that reads "Ramadan Kareem" shaped into a woman in supplication. Image from the gallery of Khaleelullah Chemnad


**Tea** I'm sipping now: Chai from Twinings with Rainbow Evaporated Milk. So far, I couldn't find this milk in the States, so I had my family, who were visiting me this summer, get me some ;-)

What **tea** would you like to be served?

As some of you may know, the holy month of Ramadan started in the first of August this year and, as practicing Muslims, me and some of my family members are fasting from sunrise to sunset until the end of this month. To my Muslim **tea mates** and **tea guests**, I'd like to wish you all a "Ramadan Mubarak" (I don't think it's ever too late to say that :-P).

**The Hostess serves everyone tea and dates** Enjoy :-) For those of you who are not so familiar with Ramadan, please consider taking a look at these and these to get an idea about the diverse cultural manifestations of observing this month though we Muslims share the same faith.

Although Boston currently lacks this "Ramadan feeling", especially with the absence of family members (aside from my brother and my mother who is visiting) and traditional meals to break my fast, I find that fasting here is more rewarding than it is in Dubai. I say this because I can actually feel the challenge of fasting in contrast to my spoiled life back home. The summer days of Boston are much longer plus I tend to walk outdoors more often here as I go through my daily routine (afterall, it is known as the"walking city" among many names). Those of you who've been to the Emirates or anywhere in the Gulf must know that this is all in stark contrast to being smothered by ACs 24/7 and to the shorter work and school days that are meant to accommodate for the fasting during this month.

With a busy schedule and the process of moving into an off-campus apartment with my brother (which I'm almost settled in), I would feel extremely fatigued and starved throughout the day. By the time I break my fast at sun down, all I want to do is SLEEP...

However, there are moments when I remind myself that there's a point to all this fasting and that feeling the drain of energy and the hunger are part of the process. Firstly, I feel like fasting helps me to practice mindfulness over my states and experiences. The hard part, however, is to practice being an observer rather than attaching to these states and experiences.

Aside from practicing such mindfulness and freeing up time to meditate upon oneself and the Divine by abstaining from food and drink, I believe that fasting also helps to show how privilege blinds us from other's experiences. If I feel like my mind has shut down this month because of fasting from sun rise to sun set while running many errands, how is it like for those who are suffering from the recent famine in the Horn of Africa and are traveling great distances to find food? Speaking of which, please consider reviewing this and this for easy ways to help out or to at least spread the word about them. We cannot be sipping **tea** while denying basic necessities from others through our apathy!

 As I think of this famine, I can't help but go back to an a past blog post of mine to ground myself rather than drowning myself in hopelessness and powerlessness because of not being able to help in a major way.

To end this post, I'm wondering if those of you who fast or used to fast can share your experiences with us here. I'm sure that each of us will benefit from immense spiritual treasures through this sharing :-)

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B.

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