Ramadan and Family Cooking

This is the first month of Ramadan when I haven’t had a job to go to every morning. The trick to Ramadan is developing a rhythm and then staying with that. My rhythm has always centered around work. This year, I’m working around my family’s rhythms. It’s a new experience.

One of the things that I love about Ramadan is the way that it works to bring the family together. We have one of those fusion families that work on an ethos that is a blend of the American and the Indonesian. Generally, we tend towards the Indonesian side of the scale so folks eat when they’re hungry, and family meals aren’t really an issue for anyone but me who would like to have everyone together at some time during the day when I can catch up on what they are all doing.

Curiously enough (well for me anyway), Ramadan has provided the structure for the family meal. My wife has been away a lot recently tending to business in Sumbawa so I have been tending to the children here in Bali. I wake up at 3:30 to make breakfast for all the children who are fasting – all of them except for the youngest.  Everyone is still asleep at this hour of the morning so the meal is eaten in silence. As soon as the children are done eating, they go back to bed for an hour before they have to wake up again to get ready for school.

I do a few dishes while I wait for the last of the children to finish up in the bathroom. No one wants to be alone downstairs because of ghosts. Once the kids are in bed, I make my way up to the third floor to sleep for an hour before I need to arise and wake the children up for school.

The day passes without event usually. The children come home and take naps. I work on  my writing. I come down around three o’clock to prepare dinner – chopping up vegetables, cutting meat, slicing and dicing garlic and chilies and onions.

Around six, as the sun is beginning to set, I come downstairs again to get dinner ready. The children appear out of nowhere. Mercedes cuts some more vegetables, Rebecca starts the water, Sam sets the table. I supervise all of this while doing most of the cooking. It’s a family effort to make dinner. The kids tease each other; one of them asks me to explain how the moon affects tides. I ask all of them about homework.

By the time that the evening prayer call signals that it is time to break the fast, everyone is ready to eat. Dinner is more enak when everyone is involved.

I still get asked by people why I gave up a job that paid so well when I am obviously not living high on the hog (so to speak). This is why. Money can’t buy times like these, and when the kids grow up it will be too late. Like somebody said once, “Love is the thing that money can’t buy.”


~ by drbrucepk on September 16, 2008.

3 Responses to “Ramadan and Family Cooking”

  1. Sounds like you are happy. Good. I bet fasting is easier not having to be at work too. Yes there are many things money cannot buy!

  2. I enjoy your writing, being about to enter somewhat a similar world (I hope). I do feel that you write like Robinson Crusoe: I guess it’s the strong diary form.

  3. Happy? Yes! Right now, very happy.

    Thanks John. Best of luck with your move (if that is what it is).

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