Wednesday, October 1, 2008
I woke yesterday at 6.50am to the sound of a sermon being blasted from the mosque near my hotel. I had left my hotel room window open the night before, so not only could I hear the whole thing, it was crystal clear. If only I spoke more Arabic than "Shukran".
"When is this thing is going to be over?" I thought to myself, grumpily. It took awhile. I really should have gone outside, because I would have seen people streaming to the mosque.
After all the new moon was spotted the night before, ending a month of daily fasting for Ramadan.
Eid Mubarak, as they say.
Until yesterday, Muslims would rise at dawn, eat and then go back to bed for a bit. That was it for eating and drinking until the evening prayer. Yesterday, people rose for the 4.49 Eid prayer (thank goodness I didn't wake up for that one) and then joined their friends and family for feasts. A friend said her husband took their little girl to the park at 630am and people were everywhere having picnics.
Today is the actual Eid, and the city feels empty. Except the bus station, that is, which was completely mobbed last night and this morning. And in Dubai they just had to close the doors to the Mall of the Emirates (the one with Ski Dubai attached to it) because there were too many people inside. It seemed weird to me, until I remembered Boxing Day in Canada and the security guard posted outside Aldo. However, it is a spiritual holiday today, so I find it jarring malls are open here at all.
Some friends and I had planned to go to Liwa, an oasis in the Empty Quarter desert near the Saudi border, over the next two days. The hotels there, of course, are completely booked up because only fools would not have known it's one of the biggest holidays of the year. We then considered camping in Oman, but settled on going out to a nice dinner at Hoi An, the Vietnamese restaurant at the Shangri-la Hotel. I guess I will see the desert later.
Anyway, back to the early wakeup call. One of the sermons preached that Eid is about being grateful. And I guess that means for everything, and I guess it was right.