(Sorry for not posting this sooner!) Ramadan has obviously ended, but this gives some good insight into the life we lived for a month with no food in public during the day, crazy mall hours, etc!
So we marked the halfway point for Ramadan this week, which is exciting for both ex-pats and Muslims! There is a celebration called Garango that is sort of like Halloween for the young kids. They get dressed up and go to malls/hotels and other assorted places to receive treats. CMU had a celebration that we attended and it was a lot of fun! They had treats for the kids, henna for everyone, and some other things. It was a neat experience.
After that, I asked a good friend of ours about finding some good falafel, since I am recently addicted and have not had any since we got here. She suggested a place close to Education City called Petra, and we headed over there after the Garango celebration. We got there, and you order and pay first, then take your receipt to the cooks. We were amazed at the prices. One falafel sandwich was 3 rials, which equals 0.83 cents. It was crazy! We could not believe how cheap and delicious it was! They even added hot sauce for Dave, so he was excited. Then they kept teasing and asking if I wanted hot sauce. 🙂 The falafel was green, and delicious! We will definitely be heading back to Petra 🙂
Ramadan has been an interesting month for us as we adjust to life here. It is strange to be out at malls during the day and see all the restaurants/food courts closed, especially when you are hungry! You cannot even bring food or water with you to eat/drink in public. You could get a ticket for having a bottle of water in your car and drinking from it!
Also, the malls are open crazy hours during Ramadan. Grocery stores remain open all the time, so that is helpful. However, most of the malls are open in the morning and close around 1ish, then do no reopen until after sundown and Iftar (breaking the fast meal) around 6 or so. And once it gets to be 7:30 or 8, the malls are absolutely packed! The one across the street from our house is the biggest one in the country, and it is ALWAYS busy in the evening. People actually park on the street by our apt building, and then cross a 6 lane highway to get to the mall. It is insane.
We learned to never order anything during Ramandan. We ordered a TV from Carrefour, and they said it would be delivered between 6-10 PM on Sunday. (Sunday is a working day for us!) I won’t bore you with the details, but I will tell you the TV showed up at 12:30 AM. And I had to drive to the mall to find them, and lead them to our apartment because they could not find it. It was a LONG night. So we decided never to order anything during Ramadan again! But the TV is lovely. Dave decided to splurge on a 50 inch plasma, and it is huge, but we definitely plan to enjoy it over the next few years.
We have been busy with many new friends that we have made, going out to dinner and shopping and all that normal stuff that people do. We feel lucky to have met so many nice, wonderful, social people to hang out with. It really helps us to start feeling settled and really at home here in Doha.