I just finished eating. My stomach is full and I’d like to just lay down and stare at the ceiling but that’s about all I’ve been doing for the past several days so I thought I should do something more productive – so here’s a blog about how Ramadan has started for me.
Yesterday, today and tomorrow there is no school. So I set my alarm, get up at 3:30am, eat the food that is left out on the table from the night before, drink as much water as I possibly can, pray for the people I said I’d pray for and go back to bed.
It’s noisy at night so I don’t sleep well. There are fireworks and prayers on loudspeakers and in this neighborhood someone gets up at 1:30am and plays a “musical” instrument made out of bamboo pipes and also something metallic.
Around 5:00 I wake up for good and go for a walk around the neighborhood. I walk until 7:00 on non-school days. Then I come back, take a mandi splash bath and do some laundry, check my email, read books, play sudoku, read the holy Qur’an, check to see if my laundry is dry, iron a few clothes, rearrange my closet, spend some more time staring at the ceiling and thinking about being hungry, check the internet about the trip to the turtle hatching beach that I’m planning for September, think about how other people in this world have it a lot worse than I do, visit with some students who stop by and lay down again.
Hunger feels like a hot feeling in my belly. Not awful, just warm and a little achy. I haven’t felt very thirsty this year because it’s been overcast the last few days and I walk early in the morning when it’s cool and because I’ve been able to drink almost 8 cups of water every day. The only thirst feeling is a slight headache as it gets close to late afternoon and evening. There is a word in Indonesian that I really like – pusing – it means dizzy but it’s what people say you feel when you fast, also what you feel if you can’t have a cigarette when you want one, or what you feel when you’re tired. It’s kind of a general expression like “I feel spacey.” Or “I just don’t feel well.” Or “I’m nauseated.” Or “I ‘m a little disoriented.” Sometimes I feel that if I get up too quickly from a laying down position.
As soon as the 5:35pm magrib prayer sounds, my Ibu-mama says, “Oma, please eat,” and I start off the meal with a drink of cool coconut milk with sugar and chunks of coconut, watermelon and jelly in it. Then I eat a plate of whatever food there is.
Then I go back to my room and read some more and drink some more water. I usually lay down around 8:00pm but I wind up getting up several times in the middle of the night to recycle all that water. Oh well, as they say…It isn’t easy getting old, but it beats the alternative. And every time I wake up I drink a little more water and if I feel like it, I eat some beef jerky or some cashews that my daughter brought me.
My host family is not fasting. So during the day when they are cooking outside my window I sometimes just walk out there and inhale deeply and tell them how good it smells.
I have one more “do nothing” fasting day and then I get to teach for several mornings. Yea!
I do meditate sometimes, or maybe I spend a lot time in that quasi-aware but not really paying attention state. I would say I feel more peaceful.
I don’t pay as much attention to the food, eating quickly becomes something to get nutrients in as fast as possible. My stomach feels full fast so I try to make sure there’s some protein in the first few bites before I give up and say, that’s it. I just can’t put any more in.
I've learned a little bit about Muslim teachings. Humans are made from clay. Angels are made from light. And Jinns are made from fire. They are a lot like humans because they have brains and emotions but not bodies. The brother of one of my students told me that the good Jinns are Muslims but then I think he felt bad because he realized I wasn't a Muslim. I told him it was okay. I gave him a Readers Digest in English and he told me that if I have any questions about Ramadan or Islam that I could ask him - so if anyone in America (or any place else) has any questions, let me know.
In my own little realm of experience "Jin" is my sister in Texas. Hi Jin!