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  • September 2008
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Eid Mubarak!

I like to think of conversation starters each day to get the ball rolling with strangers I meet so I can practice speaking Arabic.  By strangers I mostly mean taxi drivers, duukkan (little shop) owners, the barber, and Eli the Wise-tire-guy at the corner.  (77-years wise and still  changing tires – but that’s a story for another time). Yesterday’s question was “Will tomorrow be Eid-al-Fitr?”  This may seem like an odd question, as most holidays back home have a definite date.  The dates for Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas are set months – even years – in advance.  Not so with the timing of Islamic holidays which depend on moon sightings to officially begin.

The common response to my question about Eid starting was something along the lines of “Bukra, Insha’allah, bas mumkin ba3di bukra.”  “Tomorrow, God wiling, but maybe the day after tomorrow.”  That said everyone was making preparations for Eid to start today (Tuesday, September 30th).  Schools and Government offices were scheduled to be closed. Most stores were going on modified Holiday schedules – many closing for the first couple of days of Eid.  People were out and about running errands before things shut down for the week.  This included stocking up on fruits and vegetables as fresh ones are apparently hard to come by during the week of Eid.

So Iwas wondering how we would find out in the morning if Ramadan had in fact concluded.  Well, there was no doubt as rolled over in bed at 6:30 AM that Ramadan had in fact concluded.  Listen to this sound file recorded from the roof of our building:


If you’re like me, based on that recording, you might imagine that the streets were thronged with people celebrating Eid – however, like me, you would be wrong.  The voices are actually 100s of muzzeins (the callers at the mosques), either live or recorde, from around the city.  For the most part the city streets were empty, pretty much like Christmas morning in the States.

The calls of “God is Great, Praise to God, Praise to the Greatest!” continued for over an hour as the city woke up.  I wonder if Christmas morning used to be that way in the States?  Well, with church bells sounding to welcome to holiday – not necesarily the calls of the muzzeins.

I am curious what life will be like over the next few days.  We have a break from school and we can now eat and drink in public during the day so exploring the city is back on!  Eid is typically a time for visiting extended family, going out, taking small vacations, etc.  so we expect a lot of hubbub. I’ll be sure to let you know.  In the meantime, here are some pics I snapped from the roof  this morning as the sun was rising over the city and callers were heralding Eid.  It was a particularly good morning for pictures as there were dark rain clouds in the west and sun dawning over the hillside in the east.  Click on the pics in gallery to get bigger photos with descriptions and a places for comments.  Enjoy!


5 Responses

  1. LOL – thanks for the car story Larry. It’s funny I have gotten used to the pre-dawn call to prayer for the first part, but this isn’t my first time in the middle East so that helps. I find I can sleep through it – however if I happen to wake up in the 10 minutes before it starts I can’t go back to sleep until its over. The kiddos seem to be the same way. Well S. anyways, N. sleeps through it like a rock.

    This latest recording was louder than usual as it was the end of Ramadan. It’s not usually that loud. Apparently it had been going on for an hour when I woke up and went on for another hour after!

  2. Then again, in retrospect (and sorry for double-posting), I did go to school for a couple years, living next door to a car-tinkerer, who would start his car every day at some ungodly hour, let it run for about an hour before he left (I never got that), and also there was always a strange sound that my roommates and I could never identify (and being that early, we never felt compelled to get up, put on clothes, and go outside to just say “oh, it was THAT”…).

    The best description of the sound was like rolling a wooden barrel down a cobblestone drive… Yeah, odd…

  3. I played my wife your sound clip and she could only look at me with this big “what?” face.

    Admittedly, I’m SO not a morning person, but I still cannot imagine stuff blaring at 6:30am every day… do you get used to it, or is it always jarring?

  4. Nice pictures, Brian. Thanks.

  5. I’ve found the whole uncertain date to be difficult to plan around. No one here could tell me when the holiday was. Very interesting social dynamic. This seeems particularly Eastern to me. Can you imagine a flexible date holiday in the states?

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