Starting at 16

I finally managed to quench my thirst for a real Ramadan last night. “Real” – is to me the observation of doing things way beyond fasting and daily prayers, and trying to do a bit more than the usual. It was my first terawih prayer for the year, the first done in Canada and how sweet it was that it was also the first time that DH and I are able to go for terawih prayers together. All these years, we have been observing Ramadan in different parts of the world – all 18,000 km of it, and made do with our own little spiritual journeys. We don’t have the luxury of going for terawih or qiyam together as a couple, hand in hand in Ramadan, as we keep each other posted about our spiritual investment via long distance phone calls.

Anyway, my first 2 weeks of Ramadan flew past me in a whiff. I was caught up in work and my colleague from the SG office as in town. In between – I was in Toronto too. In Toronto, I found out that some halal restaurants are opened till sahur, how cool is that. In this industry, most meetings are done over lunches, coffees and dinners and I had to endure quite a few of those while fasting. It was me (and my colleague) who insisted that the meetings will carry on anyway, regardless of the fact that we won’t be eating. We both felt the same way – it is us who are fasting, not the broadcasters or other non-Muslim producers. We should not impose on others.

So a few meetings went by with us sitting across the table, – while the others eat. It was a funny scene to say the least.

My first terawih prayers was beautiful. We prayed at Richmond Mosque, which I think is the first mosque ever built in Vancouver. When we were finished, I walked slowly to the mosque entrance looking for DH and it was then that it hit me – this is the first time we go for terawih together after 4 years of marriage. In a typical setting, some people may feel sad but yesterday, I felt blessed. Vancouver was windy last night and the sky was exceptionally bright. I love windy nights and with the Autumn leaves falling, everything was perfect.

I don’t wish to look back and see how my last 15 days of Ramadan was ‘wasted’. A casting agent friend called to check if I was going to the film festival’s gala last night, and I proudly said no. When he asked why, I said : “I am not going, I have a lot to catch up. You have no idea.” He must have thought that I am buried in budgets and treatments. All I had in mind is I need to race for what’s left for the holy month.

I may have not started Ramadan this year with a pole position, but I am not disheartened. My real Ramadan is just about to begin, even if it was a tad late – starting at 16*.

nb *: 16 being the 16th day of Ramadan

Falling in Sequence

I never had a Jewish friend, neither do I know much about Judaism. Yes, shame on me. I feel that I should know the basics at least of one of the 3 monotheistic religions in the world , but I don’t. There is so much about comparing Christianity and Islam that I tend to ignore, the third.

Well, that changed since I met AG. A fellow producer, we have much to talk about. He had some difficult times lately and a month ago, he moved out and is in a new apartment in the same neighbourhood where we live.Two weeks ago, I made a humoungous amount of mee goreng and dropped a pot for him. Told him it is a Malay thing. And he walloped it all.

Anyway, today we decided to meet so he can pass the pot back to me. It was during the queue at Cafe Artigianno that this conversation happen.

AG: So is Ramadan today?

ME: Huh? No..if not why would I be queueing for coffee with you?!

AG: Oh yeah

ME: I want to eat something…hmmm(looks at lemon muffin)

AG: You know today is our Rosh Hashana

ME: Rush what ?

AG: Rosh Hashana.

ME: What’s that?

AG: Its our New Year.

ME: Oh really?? So why aren’t you celebrating?

AG: Because it starts tonight. At sunset.

So that was my AHA moment. At sunset? Rosh Hashana? Isn’t that the same time as when Ramadan sets in?

I have never heard of Rosh Hashana before so there were quite a lot of questions that AG had to answer. Poor him. But I was intriqued. Rosh Hashana never falls on a definitive date. Like Ramadan, it is a lunar sequence. The Jews celebrate it in prayer and by blowing on the shofar, a special horn.

Apparently, Rosh Hashana has been coinciding with Ramadan for the past 3 years, a rarity says the experts. Masya’allah only Allah knows the secrets.

Ramadan Mubarak everyone. May this year be a better reflection of ourselves than the last.