Most of us know that Ramadan is a month of fasting, prayer and introspection. All of us know it's 30 long days of feeling pretty lethargic, and spending half your day wishing you weren't at work and the other half wondering how to stay awake after Iftar.
Starting this week, we bring you a full month of little tips and reminders to help you shake off the sloth and not only get on with the day, but try and make it a little more in the spirit of Ramadan.
The first day of Ramadan starts is arguably one of the most important days. Of course, the obvious thing to do is make sure you plan healthy seheri and iftar meals, a proper meal time routine and stick to it. But how about coming up with a seheri meal that the whole family can enjoy and that isn't just your mother slaving away in the kitchen to make? Instead of having a full meal prepared by the madre, stock up on healthy cereal, fruits, cold sandwiches or anything else you can make in a jiffy without putting in too much effort. And of course, remember to drink water.
I don't know why but for most people, the second day tends to be the hardest. One of the most common things we end up doing is losing our cool, especially in this heat. There's a lot a food and water starved brain can react to, so if you're anywhere close to seeing red, make sure your first good deed of the Ramadan is to step back. Once angry words have been said, they can't be taken back.
Now that you're just starting to settle into Ramadan and it's the middle of the week, how about spending the evening after the Iftar reading a good book? One interesting read you could try out is Theo's Odyssey by Catherine Clement, a great travel adventure that takes you on a crash course on the world's different religions and spiritualities.
Ramadan is also the perfect time to strengthen your bond with your family. It will probably be the middle of the week by now, and you and the family will probably end up seeing a lot more of each other, either at Iftar or after. Instead of retreating to your room and sleeping off the fast, how about spending some quality time together? You can watch a movie, play a game together or just have a good old heart-to-heart.
Since Ramadan is also meant to be the best time to feel connected to your community, how about actually investing in your neighbourhood? As we get more and more industralised, the 'elaka' feel of different parts of our city seem to be getting lost to us. How about playing a game of cricket with the neighbour's kids, or going upstairs to say hello to the elderly grandmother no one really speaks to? It'll only be a little bit of your time, but you'll be all the better for it.
A month of introspection and spirituality, to me, automatically translates into a month of feeling a kinship with all of Allah's creations. This will probably be the weekend by now, and you'll have more time to prepare your iftar meals. How about doing the animals a good turn and going for a vegetarian one? Most of our traditional iftar items actually tend to be meat-free anyway, like piaju, beguni and chola, and you can definitely make your own animal-free halim too!
Now that you've done a whole week of fasting and survived, how about starting on the more heavyweight resolutions? Ramadan is all about fighting your vices and breaking the bad habits, so what's yours? If you're a smoker and you're not smoking during the day, now is the time to really focus and stop lighting that cigarette at night. If you're lazy and a big eater, now is the time to drop the fork and pick up the weights instead. Remember, mind over matter, always!