Author Topic: Ramadan. A time for thought. Or Not.  (Read 587 times)

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Offline EC

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Ramadan. A time for thought. Or Not.
« on: June 28, 2014, 12:38:15 PM »
This is just a bit of fun brought on by being co-based right at the start of Ramadan. Holding on to the copyright to this one, but please link to if you reference it.

Ramadan is one of those things most people never think of. Basically the Lent of Islam, it's a time for reflection, penitence, charity and prayer. A noble enough thing to do, and one that can be respected.

It causes huge headaches, in practical terms.

People get irritable when they are hungry, and this is a time when you can't just give them a Snickers and a bad meme. From sunrise to sunset - no food. At all. Even water is to be taken in moderation. This may be all good and well in town, but it's a freaking nightmare on a military base.

First off, wake up time for the "day shift" is bumped backwards an hour to allow people time to stuff as much food as they can in before the sun cracks the horizon. God help the cooks if the food isn't ready, hot and plentiful. The chaos you get when day and night shifts collide has to be heard to be believed, and most of them are armed and on a short fuse from lack of sleep.

You'd think Westerners, or non-Muslims in general, would have it easy. Just wait until the sun comes up, then go and eat. Peaceful, no rush, no crowding. No food. Not if the cooks are Muslims. Or the food can be there but it's cold, since the people preparing hot foods are not allowed to taste it after the sun comes up. After a couple of "interesting" experiences with bad spicing, you resign yourself to joining the scrum, overdosing on fruit salad, dry bread, and dates, or hiding in your bunk eating field rations and quietly weeping. Everyone quietly weeps at having to eat an MRE.

Still, they are all fed, and how bad can it be now? It's only 16 hours until they can eat again, not unbearable. Each of those hours feels about a decade long. You start guard duty, for example, with a very full stomach. Digestion - that miracle of converting dead animals and vegetables into energy for you doesn't stop just because you have gone from four meals a day to two very large ones. If anything, it tends to work faster and more efficiently, meaning that by about noon, you need to be relieved for 10 minutes before you explode in a nasty smelling pile of poo and goo. A wise CO will issue shovels and water bottles by about the 3rd day, and the base perimeter becomes a minefield in more ways than one.

The night workers get it worse though. Since, in normal months the latrines tend to be used at night or early in the morning, night workers bunk nearest to the latrines. You try sleeping with flushing noises and various stenches all day long. Never mind the flies that congregate and get through the tiniest cracks.

Finally, it's sunset. Sunset is defined as the time you can no longer tell the difference in color between a white thread and a black thread. You can eat! Um, hold on a second there - the cooks need to start cooking first. They've done the prep, sure, but the cooking only starts when they are given the OK. The deepest black sunglasses are very popular in the kitchens - it's either wear them to check the threads or have several hundred hungry, armed, fit, and pissed off people waiting for food. The opportunists and rules merchants ply their trade, swapping a small bag of mixed nuts for less duty. The night workers are furious about the useless daytime lot clogging the lines - they only have 30 minutes before heading out. Fights are not uncommon and are dealt with ruthlessly by onlookers. After all, moving up two places in the queue is well worth the effort.

Finally - food. It's good. Plentiful. You are not restricted to a single portion, you can go back and do so until your stomach rebels at you. Fall out, fall into your bunk, comfortably sated. Then about 1 AM your digestive system kicks you out of bed again.
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