From Iftar to Suhur

You can feel the hustle and acceleration … It’s almost 6:15 pm and people are mobilized to some place to break the fast with food from the “Iftar” (the first from the “suhur” 3:45 in the morning). The sun still burns but the worst hours have passed. Sweat runs down the front of a woman who carries packets from the Bakery & Candy store and her children. A man continues in his corner offering fresh fruits shouting loudly . The sound of speeding cars and the “BiiiP BiiiiiiP” makes you deaf .Clothing and phone stores, and pharmacies are lowering their blinds … The minutes seem to run and give volume to the sounds. No shortage of altercations and misunderstandings because everyone wants to break through and reach their destination … thirst and hunger makes people blind and direct the crazy steps of many who don’t look right across the street … A microbus slammed on the brakes, the driver, gesturing and making all kinds careless gestures insults… while passengers descending, slowly, the vehicle resumes motion. Viewed from any of the many bridges in Cairo people looks like ants! Hurry to save on the mound …

Finally we arrived. The doors are opened and from the house  comes a woman with her voice: “Ahlan Ahlan!”(Welcome)I quickly head for the kitchen to help the women: the table should be ready in 5 minutes … The “Adan” is coming and with it you can drink and eat as you please …

We are sitting on the carpet watching the food … Thank God there is everything in the “table”: Mahshi, chicken, tenderized meat, salad, rice, shorba, molokheya … The drinks at a nearby table, different kinds of juices, fresh water and “BIBSI” (Pepsi). It is a real feast, as I read in The Arabian Nights …

In general, people leave the TV on to hear the call to prayer and to know when you can finally take the first sip of water … 6:40″Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) … That’s all that can be heard …we start to drink and eat …”ASHHADO AN LA ELLAH ELA ALLAH” (There is only one God) … “ASHHADO AN MOHAMAD’N ASHHDO RASOUL ALLAH” (And Mohamed is His prophet) … “HAYA ALA EL SALAH ” (Come to pray) …

The silence that comes after this call to prayer is compared to the silence of the baby who leaves to mourn because he is suckled by his mother … It’s a beautiful silence …

After the banquet the sweets and the tea are coming. Children go out to play with fireworks …The men meet at the coffee shop talking, drinking AHUA* and smoking SHISHA* … Some women are watching the series that this month brings … are very entertaining, chapters last half hour so that  you can watch several chapters per day. The one I’m watching starring : FIFI ABDO. Who makes a defiant and bold woman… Other women get their children to see prices in the shops because the “Eid” is coming and with it the end of Ramadan, the celebrations last three days …

The next meal should be before 3:45 because then “the Adan” announces not only prayer but also the beginning of fasting until the next day … So the last meal must be strong to whet the appetite and promote sleep: mashed beans in a sandwich or platter served with eggs, cheese, potato batter … No kidding these foods promote good sleep, I remember having slept all night in one sitting the first time I ate the famous sandwich of beans …

The mound again tomorrow … trouble again and again the anxiety … but say the reward is great.

* Ahua: ground coffee and water with an intense aroma.

* Shisha: also called narguileh, hookah, hookah, bong, shisha or water pipe,usually special flavored snuff.

* Hours of Iftar and Suhoor may vary. This year the time change was not made so many find it more extensive fasting.

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