Read Me/Disclaimer

Read Me/Disclaimer: This is a non-political/socio-political blog. It's a running tale of my Saudi Arabian adventure, great, good, bad, and ugly. It is uncensored, and I don't really care what you think of it, read it or don't. I don't care. I did not decide to do this as a means to an end, but rather to document the means with which I occupied my time while waiting for my end... All that being said, I'm an American Expat in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The opportunity to help build this system and the salary that accompanied it were to good to pass up.-Geoff

"The views presented here are just the views of some asshole named Geoff, they are not necessarily the views of my employer, my co-workers, my family or anybody else. First hand knowledge and second hand accounts were used to compile the information. These are not scientific facts and figures. These views are not necessarily supported, endorsed or even appreciated by the KSA the USA or any other country for that matter and the author makes absolutely no claim that they are."**

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ramadan "oopses"

So anybody who knows me can attest that I am walking, talking proof that: "the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry".  I think that over the years this has contributed to my spontaneous nature.  I go to bed expecting nothing, wake up happily surprised and quickly, without thinking too much, devise a plan of action.  However, the world we live in doesn't exactly reward this kind of spontaneity.  Every now and then, you just have to formulate a plan.  Soooo a couple of days ago I decided that I would not only follow the rules of the Ramadan fast and only eat or drink or smoke in private from dusk till dawn, but I would go one step further...I decided that for 10 days, I would TRY it.  I figured "what the heck?"  "why not?""Muslims do it for 30 days, if they can do that, surely I can do it for my last 10 days before vacation".  Effectively what this means for yours truly is that: no morning coffee, no smoking, and no food or water until 6:30pm.  It also however has a spiritual component though, one that I discovered when I did some quick research.  It essentially boils down to: hear no evil, speak no evil and do no evil, think pure thoughts (I'll try), no sexual gratification (no problems there), and hold no ill will to others (I never do, at least not most of the time!).

So the Crescent moon was spotted late Thursday and Ramadan therefore started on Friday.  Friday morning I got up with a slight hangover from the party I'd been at the night before and lit a cigarette, walked into the kitchen and put the coffee on, took a shower and started my normal weekend routine of emails and news and blah, blah, blah.  About noon it occured to me that I've already blown my first day of Ramadan fasting with cigarettes and coffee-shit, now I've blown it with swearing, damn it! There I go again!--OK I'm just gonna try it fresh tomorrow. 

I woke up early Saturday and laid in bed wanting nothing more than a glass of water or a smoke, not for any real reason, but just because I couldn't!  The morning sun had already begun to shine through the curtains, so there was no trying to convince myself that maybe it wasn't dawn yet.  Still I mustered all of my strength and brow beat myself into the days mission.  Nothing by mouth until 6:30pm!  I got to work and found the building nearly empty, students have pretty much already completed everything and there is little for me to do other than prepare for the upcoming semester and grade some final assignments as they come in, none made it in today.  About noon, I made myself a deal-I'm not a Muslim, I'm just doing this to see what its like and get the experience, surely a small glass of water can't be bad...and with my water, maybe 1 cigarette, it has after all been at least 9 hours since I've had either...And there went my resolve, before I headed home at 3:30 I'd had 3 small glasses of water, and 2 cigarettes.

On the way home, I was happy to see that the grocery store was actually open, I popped in to get the can of tomatoes I needed for the chili I was making (yes even in this heat!) and decided to get some fresh bread and fruit to go with my "Break Fast" meal.  I thought, I'll head home, get the chilli simmering go to the Gym and by the time I get back I'll be all set for a well deserved "break fast" meal!  Except that apparently most of the people in the store didn't get the spiritual fasting memo, in fact I think they got a memo that said be the biggest ass you can be, Go Crazy!  The pushing and bumping and Queue jumping was ridiculous, it was at least double what it normally is.  Needless to say I was secretly wishing ill will on people. Finally though, after fighting my way through the line and having only 1 person jump the cashiers queue in front of me I was ready to head home...except that I didn't actually bring much money, apparently I had forgotten the bulk of my money when I left home and only had the usual loose bills.  I owed 40 SAR, I had a total of 36 SAR, I tried to tell the cashier to just take the milk off the bill but he didn't understand.  The bagger, who actually spoke some pretty good English decided that the problem must be that I was retarded and deaf.  He started by coming very close, less than 10 inches from my face and saying very loudly and slowly "YOU PAY 40 RIYALS".  To which I immediately replied, "yes I know that you f-ing idiot", "I can't, I forgot it I only have 36 Riyals!".  Then I realized what I had said, and how angry I'd become and that I was missing the whole point of this thing.  I calmly (forced) said "move the groceries to the cart, I will go to the ATM machine".  As I walked away, I glanced back and saw the still shocked expressions on the faces of the other patrons...great.

Of course the first ATM was broken, why wouldn't it be? It accepts the card, but immediately it asks if I want more time, when I say yes, it tells me that I've exceeded my time limit and to please try again.  I stand there getting angrier and angrier, completely blowing my "spiritual fast" out of the water and ended up trying this thing 3 times before I just said to hell with it and decided to go find a different ATM.  Easier said than done.

This was my day folks...try do something good, and look what happens.  I did finally find a working ATM and I did go back and buy my tomatoes and bread and other assorted goods.  I did finally make it home as well, (not before 2 cars almost ran me over), but I did make it home.  When I reached the safety and comfort of apartment and more importantly its air conditioning, I had my 3rd cigarette.  Then I made my chilli and headed to the Gym, where although a little tired from no lunch, I managed to perform acceptably without killing myself. All I can say about today is that Steinbeck knew what he was talking about.  I'm better behaved when I'm not trying to be good!...Maybe I'll give it another shot tomorrow, then again....maybe not.


  1. I still am, but the second day seems even harder! I really want a cup of coffee! :)

  2. You're one up on me. I've never tried, never even contemplated it.

  3. you have been - or still is - a US marine this should be a walk in the park for you, but you are over thinking it. most Muslim players have been known to do their best in time of fasting and this is said by their team managers. so not eating should do more than acceptable in the gym. but if you keep reminding your self that i haven't eaten or haven't had my cigarette, there is your problem, as for the spiritual fasting, i think it takes more than a try to perform it.
    eating or smoking in public shouldn't get you into trouble, but thank you for respecting the religion
    keep us posted on your fasting experience

    1. I found that going to the Gym got even harder as time went on, I've now completely given up on the idea, but will try this again for health reasons later on. I've done a little bit of research on fasting now, and I might try and start with 3 day juice fasts and then move into three day water fasts before going any further. There is a lot of "new age" stuff in the west that claims it successfully detoxes your body from all the preservatives and toxins that we put in. My experiences have shown me that it might be worth a shot. As to being a Marine, yes, it is a title that implies once=always. I can assure you though that when it comes to physical and even mental toughness; Active duty guys keep their edge honed through strict discipline, insanely high exercise routines and denial of pleasurable things. It keeps them lean, mean and ready. I'm ready, but no longer quite as lean or as mean, and therefore no longer quite as up too the challenge! Put me next to a pure civilian in the West though and I stick out like a sore thumb, we all do! As always, thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. I think they are just turning their world upside down. They are just changing and doing their usual daytime routine on night time. You don't see them splurging food on public during daytime because you see them sleeping by daytime and partying wide awake at night. Hey, I'm not against anything on their way of celebrating Ramadan. In fact, it can be useful and helpful at times for me. It's funny sometimes, when a patient or their relatives wanted to curse me like there's no tomorrow, I'll just smile and say "RAMADAN KAREEM". And just like magic, they will try to take it all back and will even say sorry. Well, it is when during those times, I'm wishing and hoping Ramadan will be longer. -portia

    1. I love the idea of using it towards your patients! That's a great one. I've found over the years that when it comes to patients, and convincing them to comply with treatment or just be tolerable often involves whatever means necessary. The fact that you can use something like "Ramadan Kareem" to convince them to be better behaved is great!