Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ramazan Log Moondate June 17th, 2015

It's been a long time since I've written anything here. I just looked through my posts and saw that I have at least two posts from the past six months that never made it to the publication stage.

To briefly explain my tacitness, I want to refer back to something I wrote in a blog post last fall or so: No news here is not necessarily good news. Over the past six months I have developed a dislike for certain aspects of life here in Turkey, and each time I've considered blogging I've realized that I don't want to publish my growing frustrations. Sometimes it's tough to cut through that layer of emotion.

This change of attitude of mine coincided with Jena and my decision to leave Turkey for the next academic year. In a sense, suspending my disbelief that we could make a pleasant life for ourselves professionally and personally here became too difficult.

In any case, at the moment, here on this summer night, things are looking a bit brighter for us. We're working on getting jobs lined up in Thailand next year. We think that the culture, geography, and attitudes toward education will be better suited to us.

As far as work is concerned, Jena and I basically have had nothing to do at work since the end of May; yet, we're still required to be there to earn our keep. It's really quite bizarre. In our time we have chatted a lot with our friends; we have volunteered to help a committee with one of its projects; we have taught a short summer school class for local high school students; and I, in particular, have done such notable things as fixing a dart board in the teachers' lounge and playing games of backgammon and chess with my friend Paul. It's a wild ride, I'll tell you what.

The good news is that this free time also gives me some spare energy which I'd like to use to get back into blogging. And I believe I have the inspiration as it happens to be the eve of Ramazan (yes, they spell it with a z here). Over the next thirty days, it is my intention to fast along with the Turks. Not because of any interest in the religious aspects of Islam, but simply to see whether my will-power can get me through it.

For those who don't know, the general gist of Ramazan is that it's a month during which Muslims are not supposed to consume anything while the sun is up each day. During the night, however, water, food, smoking, and sex (I think) are all fair game. There are a handful of reasons for this practice, but I have very little technical knowledge of them; besides, these reasons are not my focus. I just want to know whether I can do it. C'mon, no water during the summer for 14 hours and 53 minutes each day. That's crazy, right?

I did fast for one day in Ramazan-style in Flagstaff a little over a year ago. I thought the experience would be interesting, and it was. The thirst didn't get to me--it was the hunger. So, while my aspirations this year are a bit more grandiose, if I make through two days, I'll be on to a personal record.

To contextualize Ramazan a bit here, we've already heard the call to prayer at some irregular times this evening, and the calls have been longer and have been sung on a lower musical scale than usual. (To me this scale variation is a welcome surprise since many of the calls to prayer sound very strained when sung.) Additionally, Jena and I took a walk tonight around the local neighborhood. Maybe it was just us, but we sensed a collective feeling of anticipation. People were out, walking places with a sense of purpose. I saw at least one guy hurrying home with a large bag of Ramazan bread, which I think holds some significance during the month.

This coming morning at some hour Jena and I will probably wake to the banging of pots and pans-- and drums if they have them--which will wake everyone for the call to prayer and one last meal (usually soup) before sunrise. I vaguely remember reading that this takes place at around two or three AM. If I happen to wake up, I'll probably pound some water and get back into bed.

I guess you could interpret my actions as sacrilege (which is why I haven't told any Muslims that I'm doing this), but I'm curious to see how it goes. At the least I hope to develop some compassion for my Muslim coworkers during this time of abstinence. My hope is that I'll update this blog throughout the experience. Hopefully it won't degrade into sentences saying only "I'm hungry. I'm really damn hungry."

Let this experience be known as Alan's Ramazan 2015. More entries to come.

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