Eid Mubarak to you and in the timeless words of Adele, ‘hello from the other side’! To those have spent a month not eating, I offer you my deepest congratulations. You should be smug and taut and now reward yourself by jumping headfirst into a pool of fat. I too went hungry most of Ramzan, less for reasons of piety than body dysmorphia, but I feel we are basically on the same page. By six o clock my stomach would growl, and I would look at my swimming trunks to maintain my resolve. Things did begin to get a little out of hand, though. Towards the end, people stopped eating around me because I would look at them eating carbs and turn into a really creepy voyeur. “Mmmm…yeah, you bite into that samosa. Just like that. Yeah. Does it feel good? How good? Is the crust…flaky? Can you taste the…oil?” It got legitimately weird.
Timing my return to the Land of the Pure during Ramzan wasn’t my brightest moment, but the nation-wide drop in blood sugar levels did allow me to get lots of work done. Very few in my circle were here for my visit and other than the occasional invite to an iftar party (a contradiction in terms if ever there was one) I have been left largely to my devices. When you stop eating dinner, your social options diminish as quickly as your waistline. The camaraderie that Ramzan inspired has been heartening in its own bizarre way. I was taking a domestic flight the other day around sunset. A few minutes after takeoff, the air hostesses distributed little boxes to everyone, which they accepted without comment, placed dutifully on their respective trays and then stared at them furiously. It was a very intense scene. I was in the middle of three seats, and did you know that the middle seat is given the responsibility of pouring out water into three cups for the fasters? I thought the air hostess was just giving me a big bottle of water for free, but the guy next to me was horrified when I tried to take a sip. He explained the protocol, wherein the novelty of the situation inspired me to become Jesus-like, and I think I even said ‘bless you’ as I passed the cups to the passengers on the right and left, which they places next to their unopened boxes and now, spoilt for choice, stared at one or another.
I’m told modern Athens is more third world that ancient world, but I don’t care. It’s a pilgrimage of sorts
I was watching the movie Gods of Egypt on my laptop (in retrospect not the most monotheistic choice), and so I couldn’t hear the pilot announce whatever he did that made 450 people pounce on their boxes in terrifying unison.
But it is here, on the precipice of the return of Lunch, that I must away and leave you. I know, my heart breaks but not as much as my neck sweats. This is partly to avoid the visitation of the Ghosts of Extended Family, note-taking spectres that descend in depressive droves during the holidays. But quite honestly my schedule has worked out this way. I am off on an adventure of sorts and am thrilled to announce that work is taking me to Europe for a few weeks and so for about that time I will be regaling you with stories and musings from my impending trip to Italy and Greece. I know! I’m jealous of myself too. The thing is, despite all that I have read and seen about Greek mythology, sculpture, philosophy and, more importantly, olive oil, I have never actually been to the place myself. For years in college I studied in minute detail the proportions of the Parthenon’s supporting columns and the mythologies behind various friezes, and imagined the toga-glad Athenians as they lay against the piecing blue of their perfect sea.
People who have been there tell me to lower my expectations, that modern day Athens is more third world that ancient world, but I don’t care. It’s a pilgrimage of sorts, and one that I consider long overdue. I had initially tried to plan a sort of Troy inspired cross-over, one where I went by boat from Turkey to the Greek islands (which, upon reflection, is also quite topical, migrationally speaking) but that couldn’t work out. Perhaps this is for the best, given the recent blast at the airport in Istanbul, but it breaks my heart that one of the nicest cities I have ever been to (and one of the most welcoming to us Pakistanis) has become the latest casualty in the war on cities.
But I don’t want to leave you on that slightly damp note. It’s been so nice to be back home and be one with Pakistan again. It’s was also heartening to see my house standing despite my absence. Well, other than the wall. So maybe it was nice to see it kind of standing, but that’s better than nothing.
I’ll see you from the other side. Eid Mubarak to one and all, and please write to me about how your samosas taste. For real. xx