Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Humidity has arrived...

Humidity had come to Doha and set up residence. Everyone told me the humidity would come, but I did not think it would hit one day with full force. A few days ago I went to work and it was hot as usual. When I left work, the air was thick and wet and hot. The humidity there is worse than I have ever experienced in Ohio or Michigan. It is hard to breath and in when you leave a building in less than a second your sunglasses are fogged and your skin is damp and clammy (strange because you are still really hot). Thankfully I do not spend much time outside.

In addition to adapting to the humidity, I am mentally preparing for Ramadan. I know it will not be drastically different than the rest of the year, but I want to avoid as many cultural mistakes as possible. Beginning Friday the majority of my students and many of my colleagues in the larger Office of Faculty and Student Services will be fasting from sun up to sun down. During that time all others should not eat or drink in public or in front of those who are fasting. It will be interesting to see how Ramadan impacts the start of the school year and student issues. I have been told that students stay quiet during the day and life really starts when the sun goes down. I am really excited to experience all of this while in an Islamic culture. I have talked to others about Ramadan before and know people who fasted, but in the US Muslims adapt to the dominant culture and I was not forced to see it in detail. Here, Muslims are a part of the dominant culture and the holy month takes a completely different form. (meaning most Muslims in the US continue to work a full work day, while here the work day is shorter, and in the US they are surrounded by people eating and drinking in front of them with no regard for the fact that they are fasting, while here the rest of the community adapts to show respect for their fasting). I hope that after experiencing it this year, I will be able to understand Ramadan better.

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