First off, let me just say that being pregnant during Ramazan is fantastic. Visibly pregnant, that is. For I can eat and drink whatever/whenever I want wherever I want without receiving the eyes of shame. In fact, the only glances I’ve encountered so far (while sipping water on a stroll) were those of longing tinged with envy and occasional sympathy.
Approximately 60% of Ankara’s population fasts during Ramazan (and approximately 90% feasts). Due to the ruling party’s religious politics, even though Turkey is constitutionally a secular state, it’s considered rather rude to eat or drink in public during the entire month. Unless you’re very old, ill, very young, or [jackpot!] pregnant/breastfeeding. I don’t think a single person in my husband’s entire extended family fasts (they, like me, don’t quite see the “pious” nature of fasting when daytime abstinence is followed by nighttime gluttony buoyed by a month-long obsession with food, nor the practicality of the matter when it means everyone fasting walks around like zombies in the summer heat, and productivity falls to a yearlong low).
In Kyrgyzstan some people celebrate…some don’t. Kyrgyz are generally a pragmatic people, and Ramazan/Ramadan in summer (when fasting can stretch from 3:30 in the morning to 8:30 at night and temperatures can soar above 100F) is just generally not very pragmatic. But some people still fast, and attending university employees walk around like the living dead and snooze behind closed doors the better part of the day. The most ironic part of Ramazan in Kygyzstan? Pre-teen kids out on summer holiday hang around grocery store parking lots all day banging on car windows and doing the “Ramazan chant” clamoring for money (a tradition apparently unique to Bishkek). Coins clasped, them scramble inside the air conditioned store to buy whatever sweets they can – and then sit outside eating them in broad daylight, hours before the fast-breaking coming of dusk.
Here in Turkey all the stores have been stocking “Razaman supplies” for the past few weeks – mostly meat and cookies and 25 kg bags of sugar and sweet fizzy sodas. Not unrelatedly, most people gain weight during Ramazan (because how much can your body digest in those 7 hours of darkness?), and I wouldn’t be surprised if blood sugar levels were also at an all time high from all the desserts consumed (maybe ensuring the sugar crash has more to do with the zombie effect than the heat?).
But anyway, an uneventful holiday for us. Here the streets are almost empty, first of all because it’s Monday (and everyone who works is at their offices), and second because the people who stay home (housewives and retirees) are also the most likely segment of the population to be fasting, and thus either napping or food-preparing. I’ll wave my (still not very significant) bulk and merrily munch along.