Thursday, August 20, 2009

'Tis the Season

The good news is that Mr. Muscato and I are still speaking; the bad news, fortunately behind us, is that we've done our last big pre-Ramadan shopping.

Buying groceries, you see, in the days leading up to the Big Month, resembles nothing so much as braving a continuous six o'clock on Christmas Eve at Macy's, with the heaps of pre-wrapped gloves and desk sets replaced by mountains of oversized bags of rice, dessert mixes, and - everywhere - Everests of Tang, mostly mango-flavored. As Angry has pointed out in her evocative Ramadan-shopping roundup, it's not exactly a health-foods time of year.

The whole shebang gets under way in a day or two, and people are, as always, stocking up. Whole families shop together, and since the usual local approach to child-control is to send them as far away as possible until Mom and Dad have finished at the checkout, the chaos level is high. Expat shoppers steer their comparatively empty carts around ones piled so high they seem in danger of toppling over right there in the freezer section, and trying to reach some items, nearly entirely obliterated by twelve-foot high pyramids of special-offer gallons of cooking oil, becomes an art.

At least we have a festive evening lined up, a last little flurry at one of the hotel buffets and then maybe a pub or two before it all shuts down. Yes, children, our part of the world is about to go dry and me (more or less - I cheat a little) with it. It has not historically had a salutory effect on my mood, although - unlike any of my fully fasting friends - at least I usually drop a pound or two before month's end.

Wish us luck.

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