Yes, my long-dormant alter ego springs back to life for a moment. For two things. Firstly, I'd like to say hello and thank you for reading over the last couple of years, and also to explain myself a little. I've been a bit busy, but also (in sha' Allah) finding some more effective ways to get the things on my mind heard by people who might be able to do something about it. I can't say much more about that, only that "real me" is trying to do more of what "TLS-me" is, I feel, unable to do. Anyway, I might still post once in a while, and I'm really grateful to everyone who'e read, commented on and shared anything I've written. You are good people.
Secondly, a ramble along more traditional lines: I'm wondering why food outlets close during the day in Ramadhan. Half the adult population of Oman are not Omani, and I would estimate that half of those are not Muslim. That's hundreds of thousands of people who can't buy a sandwich, for reasons I can't really fathom. Of course, eating and drinking, or worse, smoking in public might be irritating for those who are fasting. But as a father who's often cooked for his children while fasting, or been in an environment where he's the only Muslim and happily watched others eating and drinking, I'm wondering: what's the big deal here? This is not just pandering to non-Muslim readers, but also recognising the reality that for one week of the month, Muslim women don't fast either. Neither do nursing mothers, small children, pregnant women, ill people, or in some cases, travelers. So why make a regulation that denies them the perfectly reasonable freedom to go out for coffee or lunch?
It's not as if the average Muslim would or should be offended by watching someone else eat. As most people in this society live in large extended families, I'm sure the vast majority of fasting Muslims today will have a child, a woman, someone in their house who is not fasting. So would it really be so awful to drive past a restaurant and see some people having a meal? In public, perhaps it's inconsiderate (and I hate to smell smoke when fasting, especially), but the blanket regulation of closing food outlets until just before dusk, is silly. And bad business. Also, I wonder what tourists (Oman's priority diversified industry, remember) make of it.
Anyway, rant over. And I have one crumb (literally!) of comfort to any of you who are wishing they could get some lunch. I don't normally do this, but as I know the owners to be good people and I eat there myself from time to time, I will. Anyway, it was a message from them that made me think of this:
Cafe Glacier (that's the one at the back of Zakher Mall in Khuwair, behind "Best Burger"), is open for takeaways during Ramadhan, from 12pm until 3pm every day, for light meals only i.e. soups, salads and sandwiches. Call up on 98007111 to order, and collect. Or course, you still need somewhere to go and eat it as you can't stay and eat in. But I can't do everything for you, now can I?
Oh, and just for completeness, if you are fasting, then you can go just before iftar time, order from the full menu, grab a complimentary laban, water and dates, and pray in the Zakher Mall prayer room while they cook. So if like me you're not always breaking fast at home, Glacier* are catering for us too and not just the chicks and infidels. Ramadhan mubarak. And bon appetit.
*Other restaurants are available. And I wish they'd ditch that stale old popcorn and give you a cookie with your coffee like normal places. I do like the food, though.
Edit: just received corrected hours for takeaway/collection: 12-3. Full eat-in service from 6:30pm to 1am. And they also said their customers like the popcorn. No accounting for taste. I like the pressed coffee. And the grilled fish. But not the popcorn. Just saying. I'm not doing this again.