September 28, 2007


Friday September 14th was the start of "Ramadan".
Below is an e-mail that was sent to the staff at Compass........

This Friday, (give or take a day depending on the shape of the moon), the month of fasting of Ramadan will commence. It one of the 5 pillars of Islam & is mandatory to Moroccans.

Muslims will fast from sun-up to sun-down, in the midst of festivities & family reunions. Most will wake up to have a religious washing & breakfast before sunrise. They will then break the fast (Ftur) as soon as the sun disappears, at this time of the year, around 5:30pm (this will change every day, with days progressively lengthening). The fast includes not drinking anything during the day. You will note many become more religious during this time, like wearing a scarf or praying 5 times a day. Women will not wear makeup, perfume, jewelry or immodest dress. When there are health reasons that require eating, one will make up fasting after Ramadan.

Some Muslims might eat/drink a little here or there, in hiding. Many families will eat huge meals through the night, favorite shows/sitcoms are on during the night & those who don’t work will sleep during the day. In Morocco, more food is sold during this 9th month than any other.

So how does this affect you as a foreigner? First of all, simply knowing what’s going on and respecting the religious festivity will help as you interact with society & the Moroccan employees. For clients, all restaurants except those catering to tourists (meaning maybe only Sofitel, McDonalds & Pizza Hut) will be closed for lunch, most even in the evenings. Birjiss a.k.a. Shawarmaville will be open for lunch but you must sit inside the Monochrome CafĂ©. There is no smoking or drinking of alcohol, so Marjane might not have these stocked up. The hanouts (little neighborhood stores) will be closed in the mornings & will open at 2pm with bread being sold before fast time, so buy next day’s bread & goods then. You will notice what we call “the hour of death”, an hour before Ftur, when people are racing home in their vehicles or on foot, so be careful as drivers do get impatient at this time. Once the break of the fast happens, signaled by a call to prayer from the mosque or TV, the streets are virtually empty & everything is closed. This is not a safe time to walk alone on the streets. As the month progresses, you will see people become more impatient and lose their tempers as Ftur nears.

The closing office kitchen can provide a spot to eat a sandwich or drink a coffee or a smoke, out of respect for the Moroccan employees who cannot eat or drink.

If you are invited for Ftur (breaking of the fast), you will be served harira with Moroccan pastries & goodies (shbakia, sfuf, dates) & milk. If you are to stay for the next meal, this could be around midnight. If you want to make a treat, Moroccans love zucchini bread or an American date or dried fruit cake.

After Ramadan, there is a 2 day feast called the Aaid Seguir, when Moroccans gather with family & give presents & clothing to children.

This past Tuesday Compass hosted a Ftur at the Sofitel Hotel after a staff meeting. Some very interesting food was served. A lot of meat which I passed on but I tried just about everything else. I stepped out of my comfort zone and had a bowl of Harira Soup which is made of Lamb, Chickpeas, Tomatoes and Spices. It was very tasty.

It's a quiet weekend here in Morocco and at Compass. 12 of the staff have left for the UK to attend "Place In The Sun" Birmingham Show. I was left behind..... but not to worry I get my dose of the UK next weekend.

Jess, Carla and I are headed to Surrey for "The Homes Worldwide Show"

It's being held at "Lingfield Park Racecourse" Saturday October 6th and Sunday October 7th.

If your in the area stop by!!

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