Sunday, August 04, 2013

Ramadan ... your last week is upon us.

As I did in India, I am now counting the days to the end of the holy month and the celebration of Eid. Alas, it isn't the same here as it is in India. The Arabs call the Eid as the day of the Feast. They prepare their delicacies and they eat them in the afternoon of the first of the ensuing month after Ramadan (which is, by the way, Shawwal). In India, we prepare shirkhurma, a payasam-like dish with milk, dry fruit, dates and vermicelli, all cooked in pure ghee. A drink that I miss here in Saudi Arabia, although I did make it last year, and perhaps will make it this year as well. Let's see.

After the departure for vacation of my colleague Dr. Yasser, I am alone here in the department of Pediatrics. This means that I am continuously on-call, and cannot leave the village until a substitute is provided in my place. So far, it's not been a problem, since it's only been about 7 days since he left. However, as the days pass, I am surely going to miss a break. As employees of the MOH, we are entitled to 2 days' break every fortnight, but I would like to save my break until my need to go to Riyadh, which would be in the third week of September. 

So far, Ramadan hasn't thrown up many surprises. The fasts have been long, yes, as Maghrib is only after seven p.m. However, most of the time, we live in an air-conditioned environment, so thirst isn't a big problem. Hunger, sometimes, is. My being a diabetic has led me to a snack/mini-meal every three to four hours, and that creates a major hassle, especially when I am home in the afternoon and about 5-6 feet away from a well-stocked larder and a well-stocked refrigerator. 

For iftaar, I usually eat a dinner-like meal, though I did have stuff like samosas, sandwiches, burgers, etc. on those days when I could manage to cobble together the stuff, or buy it from the one and only snack shop in the village - this one is at the end of the village, next to the garden. It is managed by Yemeni cooks and assistants. Besides the usual fare of sandwiches, tea, coffee, "tamiya" and fruit juices, they make samosas in Ramadan. The entire group of Yemeni guys who work there are great to chat with. They are humble, friendly and cooperative. 

A few days ago, I was invited to iftaar with Dr. Emaam Sayed at his home. He had also invited Drs. Mohammad, Ehab and Ahmed Ouf. The food prepared for the occasion by his wife was great. There was Molokhia (which I finished an entire plate of, drinking it like a soup), foul (beans), rice, a beef kofta curry (that I avoided, as I have left eating beef since many years), salad, juices and other miscellaneous stuff, besides samosas and large pieces of chicken (roasted). I enjoyed small portions of all the items. This is the second consecutive year that Dr. Emaam has invited me to break fast with him and some friends, and I really appreciate it. 

I have just finished compiling the first issue of the Hospital newsletter, and submitted the same to the Medical Director, Dr. Ahmed Ouf. This being the first issue, the first page is full of congratulatory messages and an editorial by me. The second page will see short interviews by a doctor, a nurse and an administrator. This time, we have featured Dr. Moataz (our Egyptian anesthetist), RN sister Nouf (the Saudi in-charge Nurse) and Mr. Abdullah Qatthani (the admin in charge of house-keeping services in the hospital). On page three, we have a clinical case, a radiological quiz scenario and a small How-to section where we plan to explore the needs of the expatriate staff in the hospital. Finally, on the last page, we have put in place a section for jokes, classified advertisements and a feedback section. As the executive editor of the newsletter, I feel very possessive of my baby, but also excited to see it reach the end of a long gestation period and expect a normal, healthy delivery of the baby in this month.

That brings me to the end of this contribution. Do let me know through comments as to how you found it. Thank you.

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