I have lived in Oman for two years this September; despite this, this year was my first Ramadan, as last year we were in lockdown at home.
I thought it would be interesting to see how long I would last fasting for Ramadan, and immerse myself in the local culture and traditions here in Oman. I will admit I was drinking water as I am on medication which requires me to drink double my normal intake of fluids. I expected to last two days maximum, but somehow, I made it through for the 29 days of Ramadan in Oman.
I learnt so much; starting with greed, I went to an iftar at The W on the first weekend and found myself being sick in the toilet once I got home, [classy I know] because I had overindulged on all the delicious food and my stomach couldn’t handle it. A few weeks later I went to an iftar at The Chedi and the waiter asked me why I wasn’t eating very much and I replied “because I don’t want to be sick”; the fear was real.
I also learnt how important family and friends were; it was lovely breaking fasts out at the weekend with my friends, but during the week I was in the radio studio, and by the end of Ramadan we had the curfew so I was eating alone and it made me very homesick pining to share a meal with my family.
I think one of the most important lessons was understanding my privilege; some days come 9pm I wasn’t even hungry and didn’t even fancy dinner but I would eat food regardless knowing I’d need it for energy the next day, whereas some days I was craving for food so much that I was an emotional wreck, ‘hangry’ was the perfect way to sum me up.
I sadly learnt some news that my grandpa had passed away in the UK during Ramadan, meaning I would also not be able to attend the funeral due to COVID-19 restrictions. Lots of people told me I could take the day off to mourn, and this is where the privilege realisation truly kicked in, because a homeless person with no money for food wouldn’t be able to cheer themselves up with food when they have bad news, so I soldiered through.
I found if I didn’t get up early for a sun-rise hike I wouldn’t eat Suhoor, as I didn’t see the point of waking up to eat and then go back to bed, so most days I would only have fruit and nuts for iftar and then one meal at around 9pm. You’d think I’d have lost weight but there were a few late-night chocolate binges before bed, whoops.
At the end of Ramadan, I calculated how much money I saved by not eating three meals a day and decided to send that money to a charity helping families and hospitals in Palestine.
It truly was a tough challenge for me, teaching me self-control and showing me how strong the human mind can be when you set your sights on a goal. I just wish that self-control would have remained throughout Eid, we don’t need to talk about how much I have eaten since. Whoops!