Ramadan Foreigner Faux Pas

Jessore city street.

Today was the first day of Ramadan in Bangladesh, so pretty much the entire country started their ritual fast. I was asking one of the guys in the office about it and he told me, “In a few days, we will be used to not eating, but today is the first, so it is the hardest.”

I can imagine. I’m pretty sure I’d be a grumpy bumbling mess if I had to go 12 hours without food or drink.

So, while everyone around me was beginning a month-long endeavor to cleanse their bodies and avoid temptation, I was on a mission to get my fix of diet soda, or as I like to call it, “my crack.”

My crack. Oh how I love thee. Especially because you only cost 30 taka (about 36 cents)!

I’m not quite comfortable braving the streets alone (something I hope to change soon), so I asked Aziz, one of the assistants in the office, to accompany me.

We went to Hut Bazar, the only store in town that sort of resembles a Western-style market. I was afraid they wouldn’t have my crack in stock, but my worries were for naught. They had a bunch! (Which in Bangladesh means about a six-pack.)

Hut Bazar also has decent ice cream bars, so I bought one of those, too. My intention was to eat it in the rickshaw on the way back to the office, but Aziz had another errand to run, so we walked a couple of blocks to a shop that sold accounting ledgers.

As I stood on the side of the road waiting, I was afraid my ice cream would melt, so I opened it and started to enjoy my treat. I felt like people were watching me, which is pretty normal, but I started feeling really self-conscious that I was eating in public. Was it ok to eat on the street? Was ice cream a weird sign of privilege or something? And then it dawned on me: Everyone around me was fasting and probably SUPER hungry and the last thing they wanted to see was some blonde foreign chick flaunting her ice cream in their faces. I tried to make myself inconspicuous, but that’s impossible, so I just finished my treat as quickly as I could.

Ah well. I have 29 more days to TRY to be more tactful.

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4 thoughts on “Ramadan Foreigner Faux Pas

  1. Yowza! I’ll bet that ice cream was good! Maybe it’s a “When in Rome” moment… Like, “When in a country where everyone is fasting, HIDE when you eat.” LOL!

    I love reading these posts. =) I’m so proud of you stretching ALL your comfort zones and soaking up so much culture while also teaching and helping others. You’re amazing, Ang. xo

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