Here's a Ramadan story.
We took our dog on a spur-of-the-moment evening walk in Ghubra Beach Park. It was 44 degrees. There's a limited extent to which you can cool down by immersing your steaming ankles in tepid surf, but this is Carmen's favourite park so we were there for over an hour. Being a dog, she was able to drink the ice cold water we had brought for her; being humans, and therefore subject to the social and cultural norms of our adopted country, we couldn't hydrate ourselves. So by the time we were back in the car, we were sweaty and knackered and parched. No, not as parched as people who had been fasting all day, but pretty much at our own personal limit.
It was time for Iftar when we drove home, silently, panting like the dog in the back would have been had she not been well-watered. We hit red at traffic lights, and cursed them. There was a gentleman on the road leaning into the window of the car in front. (I don't know how, after eleven years in Oman, but my first thought was that we were witnessing a car-jacking. Maybe by one of the South Central Bausher Crips? Of course it wasn't that at all.) The man came up to our car, we wound down the window to see what he wanted, and gave us each a cold carton of water! He had dates and laban too. He progressed up the queue behind us and distributed his gifts to the occupants of each vehicle.
Not being a Muslim, I feel a bit disconnected from all the good stuff about Ramadan - not just the religious side, but the families coming together, the celebration, the spirit of the whole month. This gesture made me so happy. I was beaming all evening. What a thoughtful and kind thing to do. Apparently, this is an Omani initiative called Feed The Fasting, aimed at all those people still on the road when it's time to break the fast. It's compassionate and practical too - fasting that long, and in this heat, you wouldn't want to miss a moment before taking that first sip of water or nibble of a date, so it's natural for people to rush to their homes or the mosque and that means the roads seem much less safe at sundown. The ROP also hand out Iftar packs, for the same reason. I really loved the fact that the young man taking his time to do this didn't ask whether we were Muslims, or fasting - we were just included. And very grateful.