Today is (maybe) the start of Ramadan.
As an American, I feel that the World Cup and Ramadan have played about the same role in my life. Both are major world events, in which almost every country except the US is fastidiously involved in. Although aware of the event, the majority of Americans are unsure of the dates, foggy on the details.
In the past two years, I’ve taken two major leaps into the real world. First, I lived in the country of the World Cup champions during the world cup (and was made a Spanish soccer fan for life). Now, I am about to dive into living in a country that is 86% muslim for the month of Ramadan.
Although I am not a follower of Islam, this tradition is suddenly going to affect my life in major ways. Living here, I cannot eat or drink in public during the day. Stores may open later, close early, or simply not be in business at all. Traffic around Indonesia is worse, workers disappear, and schools shut down for 2 weeks.
Today is the debated upon date for the beginning of Ramadan. Ramadan is traditionally based on the phases of the moon. The predicted date was today, and therefore it is the time marked out on the calendar. However, the moon-watchers stationed around the country (true story) have declared that it is not, in fact, the proper time for the fasting to begin. People are disagreeing on the proper reasoning, and the community has entered a state of limbo.
I’ve entered a bit of my own limbo. See, this is starting to make my eating difficult. Eating out here is very cheap ($2 sit down dinners), and with such a community to immerse oneself in, dinners tend to be a communal outing. This is beneficial to me, as my oven is synonymous to a bomb in my mind. I am excited to do some cooking at home, and will probably be forced to as the month of fasting begins, but I am absolutely terrified of this monster in my kitchen.
It’s a gas stove, but here’s the catch: it needs to be ignited with a lighter. The stove and the oven. Which would be fine, if any instructions or labels were written in English. For now, I’m stuck with a mysterious source of an unknown amount of gas in my kitchen, and I’m supposed to go light a fire to it. Wish me luck.