I can't believe that it's already day three of Ramadhan! (day four by the time I hit "publish") This is the first in Jordan. In fact, the first Ramadhan in the Middle East since 2009. I'm looking forward to it. I've heard a lot of people say that it's gonna be hard, fasting till about 8pm. So I feel compelled to say, no, it's going to be fine. Especially since my current job lets me go home at 2:30pm.
You see, in 2011, the UK experienced a nice, hot summer comprising of long, hot summer days. If I remember correctly (and with a bit of Googling to revive my memory), this meant that I would be fasting from approximately 2:30am until approximately 8:30-9pm. I'll do the math for you: that's about 19 hours of fasting. 19. One. Nine. I can't begin to imagine how difficult it must be for those who have to fast longer than that.
During that time I was working full time as Legal Assistant for a hu-mungous law firm. Meaning, I was working pretty long hours. My commute was 1.5 hours (each way). And did I say it was hot, hot, hot? Knowing it would be a difficult month, I'd requested to take off each Friday from work, to help me recover from the other four days of work and get some sleep. The Universe had other plans though and I was asked to work for 3 Saturdays of that month. Luckily, I got paid time and a half so it worked out...
So Ramadhan started. And there are many people who will tell you "oh you get used to it after a few days". Yes, you do. If you're at home and/or get naps and/or have someone cooking/cleaning/generally taking care of house stuff. But not if you're working full time and more often than not overtime too.
My month went something like this:
First week or so, you're tired, but you're ok, because you still have energy from the past 11 months. I managed to go to sleep around 12am each night, and wake up around 2am to eat something and have a drink. I would literally force myself to sit down and have a bowl of porridge.
By about the second week, your body is thinking..what the..?! You see, I would eat dinner at about 9ish and then I would be literally dying to go to sleep (because I had to wake up at 7am and I'd have been awake since 7am) but I had to digest the food I'd just eaten. So I would try to stay up. But not too late, because I had to wake up again around 2ish to eat and drink and generally stock up. On the days I had to work late, I would break my fast at work and just figure out the rest when I got home. And although the days were so long, there was no chance of napping.
By these calculations I generally slept about 7, broken, tormented hours before being rudely awaken by my alarm. While at work, my Egyptian colleague and I would reminisce in the corridor about how we took coffee for granted.
By week three my body was exhausted. I was so tired that when my alarm rang for me to wake up to eat and drink, I would just dismiss it and go back to sleep. Which meant I was starving and thirsty the next day. But when sunset came along, I was too tired to have a big dinner. My body couldn't handle it anymore. My concentration at work dwindled. I would dream of swimming pools and just dunking my head in water. I was just tired all the time. My body went into a state of shock I think. (I'm no doctor so please don't quote me).
I'm not sure how I survived week four. I guess pure adrenaline that Eid and that cup of coffee I so craved were around the corner. It was the hardest month of my life. I honestly believe that my body did not get used to it. On the contrary, with each passing day, it just became more challenging.
I'm not gonna lie. Every day of Ramadhan that year, I woke up with an intention of breaking my fast. Every. Single. Day. But it'd get to 12pm and I'd think, "oh I have 8 hours to go..." Then it'd get to 3 and I'd think..."oh I have 5 hours to go". And, somehow, I managed to do it.
I'm not trying to boast. I just want to say, to all of those people fasting crazy hours this year, you are incredible. It's no easy task. Just think of how you'll be laughing when Ramadhan comes around in December :D
And if someone tells you that "oh you'll get used to it" then just tell them that, until they've fasted 18 hours whilst working full time, then unfortunately, you'd rather formulate your own opinions ;)
PS I found this article the other day, which, had I found it two years ago, I would have definitely only fasted 12 hours instead of about 19!