• scissors
    February 20th, 2011adminIslam, Istanbul, Touristy Stuff

    Young German tourists and women in headscarves at Topkapi Palace.

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  • scissors
    August 15th, 2010adminFood, Islam, Istanbul, Religion
    Ramazan Bread

    Ramazan Bread, as seen from my bedroom window

    I worked today. During lunch break, I met with a teacher to discuss some things. So, I had a short lunch break — in fact, I rushed to a food stand, ordered my köfte sandwich for 3.5 lira (that’s $2.30) and headed to class, just as the bell rang. So, there I was, scarfing down my sandwich, shuffling my books around, and greeting new students in a frenzy. And, then, OOPS, I remembered that it is Ramazan (they say “Ramazan,” not “Ramadan,” in Turkey), all while I’m passionately devouring my sandwich. Of course, some people don’t keep Ramazan. And nobody cares if I don’t. But I felt a bit rude …because I was so involved in my sandwich. So single-mindedly devoted to eating it! But whatever. I put it away and finished it on break.

    To be honest, it’s funny I forgot! I mean, Ramazan is SO noticeable. There are posters advertising various Ramazan events all over the city — Ramazan Caz (“Ramadan Jazz”), Ramazan Osmanli History (i.e. an Ottoman ceremonial re-enactment with an actor playing Sinan, the 16th century architect!) and advertisements for Ramazan culinary specialties. One special food item is a bread, pictured above, which is chewy and pretty good.

    But the MOST noticeable — and, honestly, most annoying  — aspect of Ramazan is the A.M. activity. Often, I am woken up by a devastatingly loud drum procession (one drum, a few men, and a few stray dogs), accompanied by a baritone man’s voice, hollering something in Turkish, at 3:30 am. The drumming is meant to wake people up for breakfast before sunrise — like a “last call” at the bar (yes, I know that was a really un-Islamic reference). Then, I’m woken up AGAIN at like 4:20 am, as the muezzin delivers the call to prayer (an hour earlier than usual). It’s very hot this summer — the hottest in the last 20 years in Istanbul — so, I sleep with my windows open. Unfortunately, I hear the muezzin loud and clear. And the drumming loud and clear. And don’t even get me started on the gypsies’ roosters, which often hobble down my alley, and wake me up at ungodly hours. So, in conclusion, I wake up a few times every night.

    But, despite all this, I’m still much more energetic than many of my students. They are running all day on zero food or water. I mean, Jews just fast for one day (Yom Kippur) and water is allowed. And I honestly don’t know if Christians ever fast all. In short, this is pretty hardcore. Especially in the grueling heat. And especially in a modern city, with full work days and the demands of the office.

    Now, off to eating more food …and not keeping Ramazan.

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