And then Ramadan ended

M’barek went across the street for the night prayer and came back with the announcement: it was Eid al Fitr. Ramadan, the month of fasting, was once again over. We’d done it again, this time with a strong showing by both Meryem and Noah. The self-mortification rituals were over and the celebration was to begin!

But, what celebration? We hadn’t bought any gifts for the kids. No new clothes. We had no plans to go anywhere or see anything, and we had no family or friends to visit. How to celebrate the holiday?

We began be allowing the children to sleep in. Back home, we would all get up early and have breakfast, then pile into the car and drive off to prayers by 8:00 A.M. Here, prayers are at 6:21, and I was not going to subject myself to the fun of waking, washing and dressing two children so they could walk across the street and stand in the rows, then listen to a sermon they can’t understand, only to be home again within half an hour. So, they slept in.

I awoke for prayers from an anxiety dream–about being late for prayers, of course. Showered and walked over alone, since the mosque is split with a totally separate entrance and room for women. Did my best to be friendly, greeting the women on either side of me with congratulations for the Eid holiday. They responded in a friendly way, and I returned home to make myself a luxuriously day-lit cup of coffee. It was delightful. I was so tired, I fell asleep shortly after finishing my coffee.

We all awoke again some time shortly after noon, packed into the car and drove–yes, you guessed it–to the Mall of the Emirates. It was pleasantly empty, and it was rather a treat for me to walk through a mall that wasn’t bustling with throngs of ambling, strolling, aimless-seeming people. I don’t shop; I am not a shopper. I go to stores with objectives in mind, and the idea of shopping as entertainment is abhorrent to me. But I did enjoy walking and checking out the fall window merchandising displays. It’s funny knowing that it’s 105F outside and the high-end designer displays feature tall boots, sweaters and knit scarves. I ate Chinese food in the middle of the day, and then some mango ice cream, and then we went home and napped again.

The best part of our day, though, was back in our own neighborhood, where we visited Jumeira Beach Park, and then the stretch of beach across the street from our block. Throngs again, entire busloads of people hauled in from the labor housing, and crowds of people (mostly men) enjoying the rare freedom of a holiday. There were families, too, and it was nice to be out, all of us strolling and sweating in the fading sunlight under shade trees and along beaches. The breeze off the Gulf was like heaven.

We stayed on the beach, with everybody else, from seemingly everywhere in the world, and watched the sun set. Then we went home and once again invited some men who otherwise wouldn’t have any Eid at all, and cooked out. I finished the evening by finally breaking in the hookah I got for my Ramadan birthday, enjoying grape shisha and near beer on my little villa’s patio until well into the wee hours. It was an Eid unlike any other I’ve had, but it was memorable enough. I’m just as happy to see it come and go, another milestone, proof I’m beginning to transition from surviving here to making my own way, and proof that time passes and the world continues to turn.

A refreshing break in an air-conditioned Dubai bus stop

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