Wednesday, September 03, 2008

On the first day of Ramadan...

... I was woken up at 2am by a text from my colleague, who is staying on the second floor. 'R U awake? My place full of sand.' I had been vaguely aware that there was something going on outside, but my place was not full of sand and I had not investigated further. But it didn't sound good, so I called her.
Turns out that there was a massive sandstorm happening. Trees and powerlines were coming down -- one of the reasons I hadn't heard anything was because my room is right next to the generator, and when that's going you can't really hear anything else. 
And it is also on the ground floor, the smallest and gloomiest one, at the back -- probably because I'm not staying long. But this saved me from my colleague's sandblasting -- the top floor is a sort of hasty add-on, and the windows blow open and let in whatever's going around. As she is Muslim and had to get up before sunrise to eat, and everything in her kitchen was an inch deep in sand, her Ramadan didn't get off to the best start. As I didn't have to get up before sunrise, and indeed have given up on breakfast altogether, all I had to contend with was a gritty bathroom. It was a bit of a mudfest by the time I'd finished. 
We all got picked up at eight as usual, but it was like driving through a ghost town. There are no shops or food places open during the day, so I'd been warned to bring my lunch. Which I did, but I wasn't sure where to eat it. In the end I shut myself in an empty office. By the early afternoon people were yawning (I was also advised not to try and have any meetings after 11am), and the local staff left at 3 -- I can see why, but it can't make for the most productive month. We hung on, but nearly missed the lift home, which also runs earlier, just nobody told us. 
Returned to find half the guesthouse still with no power. The guards gave a sort of *you* try finding an electrician during Ramadan shrug. My room was one of the lucky ones (I am getting fonder of it by the day) but the ground floor kitchen was not. This meant that the fridge had been off for about 20 hours... which in 40 degrees is not pleasant. I held the milk and various other things at arms length while pouring them away, and discovered that my pan of leftover spaghetti, which had been destined for the next day's lunch, was full of oily cold water from the rapidly defrosting ice box. It was dark by this time, but my Kenyan colleague bravely cooked dinner for us, wearing my plumbing head torch, which luckily I had the foresight to bring. Me, I was too hot and premenstrual to do anything but feel oppressed, read an ancient copy of OK magazine that I found in a cupboard, and eat Cheetos. With extra sand. 
Around 10pm someone twiddled the right wire and everything came back but the TV receiver and the top floor. L moved down a floor for the night and the day closed.  
joella

1 Comments:

Blogger Spine said...

Over here, Ramadan is not an excuse to knock off early. (How's the work ethic in the Hot Place?) In Ankara at least they put in a full day's work.

Ramadan is, however, an excuse to be grumpy and smelly. It also allows you to drive like a maniac from work to home for your dusk meal.

9:44 am  

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