The Ramadan diaries #2: A Manchester Muslim on Ramadanitis, hummus and torsos

By Iram Ramzan

It’s been seven days and MM’s Iram Ramzan has just about acclimatised to abstinence while putting up with strange cravings and accidentally groping strangers in buffet queues.

I’ve not slept well for over a week. As we have to eat at around 2am, I don’t bother going to sleep until 3am. Today I had to wake up at 8am. Ramadan this year has definitely messed up my sleeping patterns.

By day three I had become accustomed to not eating during daylight and was not feeling hungry at all. I’m sure the fasters out there are reading this with beady eyes and silently cursing me.  At one point, I was even craving salad. Yes, you read correct, salad! Those who know me, and my addiction to all things with sugar, spice and everything nice, must think I’m hallucinating, or off my rocker. This is called Ramadanitis: all things which can be consumed are suddenly desirable to all.  

I have a confession though – I haven’t been fasting for a few days. As a woman I have many reasons at my disposal: menstruation, pregnancy and nursing, as well as genuine illness. Isn’t it great to be a woman sometimes?  It’s the only time of year when men sometimes almost wish they could get periods, though they’d never dare say this out loud – except for this one honest man on Twitter. My 21-year-old brother, who should be aware of the facts of life by now, caught me eating last year when I was unable to fast and insisted it’s because I’m ‘a hungry fat cow’. Loyal readers, I assure you that while I may be rotund in certain areas, I’m certainly not fat.

They say, however, that more food is consumed during Ramadan than in any other month. Sadly, this is true, as I witnessed at a friend’s house last week. My wish to be invited to an iftar dinner was granted and off I headed. My brother almost leapt onto the table after seeing a dish full of chicken wraps as though he had never seen this delicacy before. I, on the other hand, was the model of restraint and humility, only nibbling away at the fruit salad and biryani, prompting everyone to ask: “Are you on a diet Iram?”

However, I pigged out at Nawaab restaurant (in Levenshulme) as they have a buffet system. Honestly, the amount of food laid on the table would have made the likes of Caligula proud. Asian people are notoriously bad at queuing up so imagine my surprise when I found myself in an orderly line along with over 100 other people. A few people grumbled (“Come on man, how long are they taking”-hello they’ve been fasting since 2am!) while most of us patiently waited, occasionally bumping into the person in front of us. A few times, I found myself in an awkward situation when I accidentally brushed up against a man’s backside in front of me. He didn’t even notice. That or he was secretly enjoying it… *shudder*. 

Their hummus was awful. I’m sorry, Nawaab restaurant, but I was a very disappointed hummus-sexual last night.

Apart from hungry mobs in restaurants, Ramadan sees the emergence of even the ‘bad boys’ being good, changing their avatars (probably of their bare torsos for the gals and dat) to something quite ‘Islamic’, e.g. crescent moons and Arabic calligraphy, and tweeting philosophical thoughts (Qur’an quotes) which they would never re-tweet at any other time of the year. What is more annoying are what I call the ‘seasonal hijabis’ – the girls that decide it’s ‘right’ to wear the headscarf during Ramadan but take it off once it’s Eid.  What’s the point? I don’t care if someone wears it or not if I’m honest (I don’t wear it personally) but why suddenly wear one for a month and then take a picture of yourself to upload for your Facebook/Twitter profile to show everyone just how ‘good’ you are? It’s like how some men say to naive women: “I’m a nice guy”. If you’re so nice you don’t need to keep going on about it.

I always say if you’re going to be good, do little but often, rather than one big spurt of goodliness. You can’t be a super-Muslim on day one of Ramadan (SuperMuslim – coming soon near you. Or not) and just your average Mahmood a month later. I haven’t been so wonderful this Ramadan either. I’ve not misbehaved or anything, but I’ve not taken the time to contemplate what this month means to me and about one billion Muslims around the world. It’s still a work in progress.

More related stories:

The Ramadan diaries: A Manchester Muslim on fasting, feasts and motivational texts

Related Articles