Friday, August 3, 2012

The Fast and the Furious


Last week, I attended two iftar dinners: the meal which breaks the daylight fast during Ramadan. In spite of eating breakfast and lunch, I managed to eat more than everyone else at the iftar dinners, making me feel slightly gluttonous. This Tuesday, one of my Bangladeshi co-interns planned to host all the interns at her home for an iftar. Because of my remorse from last week, I decided I would try fasting. I also wanted to understand just how great it feels to gorge all night after starving oneself all day.
A typical iftar feast complete with fresh fruit, fried vegetables, rice, mishti (sweets), and so much more.
Surprisingly, I made it through the entire day without much pain. While the time did pass more slowly, my stomach only grumbled once. To truly test myself, I even sat with the other interns while they ate lunch. I didn't even have the slightest urge to grab their food or drinks. So I successfully went without food or water for 17 hours. 

When the time came to break the fast, I was not dying to eat something because I was hungry. I was dying to eat because I had not allowed myself to all day. Simply having the freedom to eat excited me more than satiating my appetite. I furiously tried every dish on the table, unable to stop myself from indulging in Bengali food that would soon be gone. After dinner, I was absolutely stuffed, more stuffed than when I had iftar after breakfast and lunch. 

The month of Ramadan is incredible to me, particularly when I compare it to the American holiday season. A daily shock to the metabolism causes many to gain weight during Ramadan, just as Americans gain weight during the holidays. However, Americans do quite the opposite of fasting. After surviving the fast, I felt a strong sense of pride in my self-control.  I wonder if this is where the holiday spirit during Ramadan comes from; everyone feels the pain of fasting during daylight for an entire month together, which creates a strong camaraderie. From my perspective, the Muslims almost earn their holiday spirit.

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