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Ramadan

The fasting month of Ramadan has finally arrived, and here in Jogja, everything seems to be moving at a more relaxed pace.  People wake up later, the streets are quieter, and life just seems to be slower.

During Ramadan, the day starts at 3:45 am for Sahur, the morning meal.  At 3:30 sharp, my Ibu comes into my room and wakes me up by saying, “Sayangku, sahur ngak?” (Do you want to eat or not?).  I (usually) say yes and lazily get out of bed. I down a glass of tea, a couple of glasses of water, and eat a plate of rice, chicken, and Tempe.  Right as Shubuh, the first call to prayer starts to boom from the mosque (apparently the mosques dial the volume up during Ramadan), I excuse myself and go back to sleep.

My family’s life also becomes lazier during Ramadan.  If we get hungry, we just take a nap. If we get thirsty, we shower, brush our teeth, and then also take a nap.  Starting around noon until 3:00 pm, there is always at least one family member fast asleep.

My favorite part of the day starts at 4:00.  After the midday heat subsides, the streets of Kotagede starts flooding with food stalls advertising everything from jackfruit juice to kebabs.  At this time, an hour and a half before the break fast, the city reawakens and people start shopping for their feast.

At 5:00, just 30 minutes before the fast, I somehow feel dehydrated yet refreshed at the same time. I shower, put on my favorite sarong, and head to the Mosque with my family.  Every day, the Mosque near my house hosts almost 100 of my neighbors for break fast. I say hello to the people I recognize, then move inside with my father to listen to the Imam’s service.  If it’s in Indonesian, I can usually get the gist of his lesson. If the service is in Javanese, I’m out of luck and don’t understand a thing.

The longest part of the day is 5:20 to 5:30, the last ten minutes of the fast.  I usually spend these staring at the Mosque’s clock, or just staring longingly at the cup of tea sitting in front of me.  At 5:30 sharp, the Imam leads everyone in prayer, and we dig in.

This last part of the day always feels so special.  Spending every night sharing a meal with my neighbors has been such an amazing experience.  Back home in Brooklyn, there isn’t a chance to interact and eat with my community this regularly.  I don’t even know most of my neighbor’s names. But here in Indonesia, my neighborhood community has become such a source of joy for me.  After a tiring day at my NGO, I can always count on Syifa for a warm hug before our Arabic lesson, or Adzril, the chubbiest baby ever, to cheer me up.

Since this is the last week of the program in Jogja, I’ve been making a mental note of everything I am thankful for, and everything that has brought me joy. I’m going to miss my community and the bonds I have created with them here, but I know that they will welcome me back with open arms when I return.