So I decided to try Ramadan for a day for a few reasons. Firstly I think it will be an enlightening experience, to appreciate another culture. Secondly, I'd like to gain an appreciation for what my students go through every year, not being able to drink water on the hottest days of the year. I'd been thinking about doing it since seeing Amjad Ali (@ASTsupportAAli) #sharemyramadan on Twitter. I just needed to pick a day. I'm in Malaysia at the moment teaching, a Muslim country, so a lot of my students are fasting. It's also hot, very hot; 35 degrees most days with no air con. I finally settled on today as it's a holiday here so there's no possibility of me passing out during a lesson!
My main worry when I started this was water. I do get migraines when dehydrated so I was very concerned about dehydration. But, if millions of Muslims do it for 30 days every year, I really hope I can do it for a day. It also just so happened that last night another 2 volunteers arrived, one of them was fasting. I asked advice from a few different people, drink lots of water before and during the night, eat early and then keep busy. So last night I started drinking water like it was going out of fashion! I must have drank 3 litres before bed and another litre during the night. I woke up at 3am to drink more then got up at 4.30 to eat with my new roommate. In Malaysia the timings are different to the uk, we fast from 5.30am to 7.30pm. Considering some countries fast for 22 hours, I've ended up on the short end of the scale, but I'm thinking the sheer heat evens it out. I was told porridge and raisins, fruits and nuts are good, but I'm working on limited resources so I only had porridge and raisins with jam. It was definitely nice to have company at the very early hour, but I struggled to eat so much so early! It wasn't until I was nearly finished that my new friend said a light meal was better. Oh well! At around 5.15 I collapsed back into bed to sleep again.
I'm used to drinking a lot of water throughout the day so when I woke up I immediately went for my water bottle (usually by my bed), but fortunately I had hidden it this morning after breakfast! After the initial want of water, it passed and I got on with chores and lesson planning. It wasn't until around 11.30 that I began to feel a bit hungry. Hunger though I can deal with. The being thirsty is new to me and was the hardest to deal with. I kept thinking of that quote “water, water, everywhere yet not a drop to drink”. I'm exaggerating I know but at some points this is actually how I felt!
I started to get bored not doing anything and it only made me think of food and water so I decided to do some light yoga and then mediation. It definitely too my mind off it but the yoga may not have been the best idea, it made me more thirsty and a little light headed.
Lunch was another story. I think this was obviously going to be the hardest part but I forgot about a few key things.
I retreated to my room while everyone else are to spare myself having to watch them eat, but oversee I could still smell it and now my stomach was rumbling. But the worst part was the running water while washing up. I never realised I had such a fascinating with water, I mean I've always loved it, from waterfalls to swimming pools to the oceans, but just a running tap captivated me for far longer than it should have!
I spent the rest of the day in bed, trying to pretend I wasn't hungry or thirsty. Part of me felt like this was cheating as I slept and surfed the internet, but I honestly didn't have the energy to do much else. I felt slightly better that the friend also doing it spent the afternoon in his bed. I eventually found things to take my mind off it at towards the end I began to really look forward to breaking the fast. My host even offered to cook a special meal to break our fast, I was very excited to say the least. But most importantly, I wanted that cold refreshing glass of water!
Finally 7.30 came around! I can honestly say no drink has ever tasted so good! I tried dates for the first time, and although I've always thought they were for old people (I just associate them with my Nan) they were quite nice! Dinner was also fantastic and tasted even better as I thought I had really earnt it. Though I did make the fatal mistake of over eating and I devoured 2 and a bit plates!
Now with a full stomach and a happy feeling inside, I can say that I really enjoyed the experience and I'm glad I gave it a try. Perhaps had it been longer it would have been harder and no promises but next year I think I may try a few days if not a week!
So I must say a massive thank you to Amjad Ali for sharing his Ramadan! A true experience I think we should all try, if not for the students then for ourselves to gain a real appreciation of another religion.