Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Eid Mubarak

Ramadan, helas – Ramadan is finished and now it’s time for Eid, 3 days of feasting, eating biscuits and dates, drinking guava juice and visiting everyone you know. There seemed to be some confusion about when Eid actually started, some people had seen the crescent of the new moon and some people hadn’t yet, so the end of fasting varied slightly, either yesterday or today. In the morning the prayers started as usual at 5.30ish but with a little more fervour than on other days. Then at about 7am (on both days), to celebrate the end of Ramadan, it was all guns blazing, for about an hour. I heard a variety of gun shots, the single sporadic shots from handguns, and then the machinegun rounds chuddering into the air. 7am strikes me as a funny time to want to shoot in the air for joy; you know, you’ve only been up a couple of hours, maybe you’ve been praying, maybe you’re drinking some tea… and suddenly you feel the urge to grab the gun and fire rounds into the air. The kind of release, and violence, I associate with gunfire seems totally inappropriate at 7am. Obviously not. The atmosphere is so festive that gunfire is starting to sound like exploding fireworks. Of course the only really scary thing is that you realise just how many of your neighbours actually have guns.

The bustle in the market just before Eid felt like Christmas Eve in Europe. I went shopping to prepare for everything being shut for a couple of days. By the time I got there, on the morning of Eid-eve, there were no eggs left, for example (bit of a shame seeing as eggs are about all I eat, still, I’m making up for it in biscuits). I feel sorry for the only guard who is working here today, sitting in the courtyard, all on his own. He came into the office this morning with a big smile and a glitzy tray of sugary biscuits and insisted on spraying us all with strong perfume every time we took a biscuit. Things are quiet now, in fact I’m the only one in the office so it might be time to call it a day and try and Eid it with someone else!