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Expat wanderer

Shopping Rush Begins as Ramadan Nears

“What happened??” AdventureMan asks me on the phone from a nearby roundabout. “All of a sudden, it is traffic madness!”

I laughed.

The day before, Saturday, a day off coupled with a dust storm – the roads were empty, I found “rock star parking” at the Souq al Waqif, and breezed around town doing my errands in record time.

“I think it has to do with Ramadan coming,” I said. Ramadan will start on or about August 20, and the beginning of the month is payday for many people. My best guess is that a lot of people are beginning to prepare now.


Sure enough, today’s Peninsula is saying the same thing:

Ramadan shopping rush begins
Web posted at: 8/3/2009 2:54:31

People crowd at Souq Waqif for buying provisions and other things yesterday. ABDUL BASIT
DOHA: Despite the spiralling prices of basic commodities as the Ramadan season nears sales in shops selling essential food items are brisk as people prepare for the coming Holy Month, The Peninsula has learnt.

The long strip of shops in Souq Waqif selling spices, pulses and rice were yesterday abuzz with shoppers filling their shopping bags with basic food items in anticipation for the 30-day fasting period.

“Definitely there had been an increase in some food items specially spices and pulses,” said Mohammad Robel, one of the shopkeepers in the traditional souq.

Robel said price increase between 30 to 40 percent was recently witnessed, though he claimed the rise in prices varies from one company supplier to another.

“The company determines the increase in prices but fluctuation in the price rise from one company to another is not that significant,” he maintained.

Cardamom, which is popularly used here as spice for sweet dishes and traditional flavouring for coffee and tea, is currently priced at QR380 per five kilos.

“Previously five kilos of cardamom was QR290,” Robel said.

In the same way price of beans has increased from QR96 to QR115 per five kilos. A 20-kilo sack of staple food Indian basmati rice costs QR150.

Rice, beans, curry, sugar and salt are among the items in great demand these days and prices of these and other items are expected to increase further with just less than three weeks before Ramadan commences.

For those of you who don’t know what Ramadan is, it is the holy month celebrated by Moslems as the time during which the Qu’ran was related to the Prophet Mohammad. The rules are strictly enforced in Qatar – no eating, drinking, smoking or physical contact with the opposite sex from dawn to sunset. There are heavy fines – even prison time – for violators.

Non-Moslem women and men are being reminded to wear modest clothing that does not reveal the shape of your body, to avoid distracting those focused on religious thoughts.

Although a period of fasting, it is also a time of feasting, as the fast is broken when the sun goes down, and every night for the lunar month of Ramadan, special dishes are served, and parties are held. It is a month of religious contemplation, and also a month of religious celebration.

Here is what it says at Islam101:

Ramadan -a month of obligatory daily fasting in Islam is the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar. Daily fasts begin at dawn and end with sunset. Special nightly prayers called, Taraweeh prayers are held. The entire Quran is recited in these prayers in Mosques all around the world. This month provides an opportunity for Muslims to get closer to God. This is a month when a Muslim should try to:

See not what displeases Allah
Speak no evil
Hear no evil
Do no evil
Look to Allah with fear and hope
“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become God-fearing.” (The Quran, 2:183)

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: Whoever fasts during Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. Whoever prays during the nights in Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. And he who passes Lailat al-Qadr in prayer with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven (Bukhari, Muslim).

Ramadan ends with a day long celebration known as Eidul-Fitr. Eidul-Fitr begins with a special morning prayer in grand Mosques and open grounds of towns and cities of the world. the prayer is attended by men, women and children with their new or best clothes. A special charity, known as Zakatul-Fitr is given out prior to the prayer. The rest of the day is spent in visiting relatives and friends, giving gifts to children and eating.

August 3, 2009 Posted by | Community, Cooking, Cross Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Qatar, Ramadan, Shopping, Social Issues, Spiritual | 5 Comments

Seattle Copes With Record Temperatures

Last week, Seattle, that rainy-city-by-the-sea, had higher temperatures than Doha (we were covered by a dust storm, which held the temperatures down). The Seattle Times printed these hints on how to cope with the high temperatures.

Staying healthy in hot weather
Public Health — Seattle & King County provides these tips to stay healthy in the hot weather.

Public Health — Seattle & King County provides these tips to stay healthy in hot weather.

At home:

• Spend more time in air-conditioned places. If you don’t have air conditioning, consider visiting a library, mall, movie theater or other cool public places.

• Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun.

• Dress in lightweight clothing.

• Check up on your elderly neighbors and relatives.

• Drink plenty of water or nonalcoholic beverages.

• Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.

If you go outside

• Limit your direct exposure to the sun.

*• Do not leave infants, children, people with mobility challenges or pets in a parked car, even with the window rolled down.

• Avoid or reduce strenuous activity.

• Limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.

• Avoid sunburn. Use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor) rating.

• Check with your physician if you are concerned about heat and the specific medications you are taking. Certain medications may increase sensitivity to the heat. Do not take salt tablets unless directed to by a physician.

August 3, 2009 Posted by | Doha, Health Issues, Qatar, Seattle, Weather | 3 Comments

Kuwait Dailies Publish ‘Imaginary Information?’

This tiny little “Kuwait Crime News” article intrigues me. Recent visitors from Kuwait told me NO WAY the religious Kuwait businessman Hazem Al-Braikan would have committed suicide, that it would mean no chance of paradise, eternal life in hell. They say he was murdered. That’s what I hear from most of my Kuwait friends. So this continuing investigation intrigues me.

From today’s Kuwait Arab Times

US summons Kuwait scribes in stock trading inquiries – report

KUWAIT CITY, Aug 1: The US authorities investigating the case of suspicious stock trading at the US stock market have reportedly summoned a number of journalists working for local dailies in Kuwait for alleged malicious reporting, reports Al-Shahid daily quoting knowledgeable security sources. However, this report could not be independently confirmed.

The dailies had reportedly published what the Al-Shahid said ‘imaginary’ information that a consortium in the United Arab Emirates and a party in Kuwait were competing to purchase a US company, sending the share prices higher by five percent.

It has also been reported some of the journalists who were involved in the scam reportedly left for their home countries and others failed because a travel ban has been issued against them by the US authorities in connection with the interrogations surrounding the death of a Kuwaiti businessman Hazem Al-Braikan.

August 3, 2009 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Crime, Cultural, Financial Issues, Kuwait, Law and Order, Work Related Issues | 7 Comments

Happy Birthday, Mom

“You make me sound so OLD!” my Mother scolded me, when I wrote about how she was 85 years old and still living on her own. Mom keeps active. She can’t do all the things she really wants to do – travel, mostly – because she can’t manage a heavy bag or standing too long – but she keeps up her own place, fixes her own meals, goes out with friends, exercises, makes and keeps her own appointments. We should all be so fortunate, when we hit our 80’s.

(This is not my Mother’s birthday cake, but when I looked up cakes I found this on Kay’s and knew it was a cake my Mom would love, if she loved cake. Actually, she loves Lemon Meringue Pie, and that is what she really had at her birthday party.)

My younger sister has shown her a couple really nice places where she could have more assistance on a daily basis, beautiful places with activities and transportation for elders.

(I can already hear her wincing at using the word ‘elder’)

She doesn’t want to be surrounded by old people. She stays young by being as active as she wants to be.

She has signed up for a three-day mini university course at a nearby university, where they use the college facilities during the summer months to offer interesting mini classes. One of the four classes that she has signed up for is Early Islamic Spain. I’m impressed, Mom.

She keeps up with the news, sends me clippings, reads books we tell her are worth reading, and keeps up with her friends. She is good at managing her money, and researching her investments. She does better than most women half her age.

Happy Happy Birthday, Mom, and many more to come.

August 3, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Biography, Community, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Generational, Living Conditions, Seattle | 9 Comments