A Third Qatari Travelogue



Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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77 Responses

  1. Avatar Kazzy says:

    I was in Istanbul during Ramadan in August 2011. It was brutal for those observing… 47 hours of daylight and pretty hot (but at least dry heat). But as Istanbul is (or was, at least… No idea the setting now) one of the more secular* and moderate locales with approaching 99% Muslim locals AND a major tourist destination, they were accommodating to those not observing. In fact they competed for our business; we were just reminded to consume our food in the restaurants and not on the street.

    Because of the warm weather, when the locals broke fast, it was AMAZING to see… The square between the Blue Mosque and Haggi Sophia filled with families deep into the night. One of our favorite sights — which naturally occured the one night we ventured out sans camera (neither of us had a smart phone back then) — were some young men gathered around a portable projection screen they setup to watch the national soccer team in a big match… Just steps from the Blue Mosque. If you framed it right, you’d have these gleeful young men cheering and reveling, the glow of this modern tech overshadowed by the beauty of a centuries old mosque. Amazing.

    By the way, where are you getting your Halal food stateside? You can get good street meat in NYC for like $7 and great stuff for $9. The takeout joints are a bit more ($12ish). There are some high end spots but they’re usually serving high-falutin’ stuff.


    Also, how far are you from Boulder? I’ll be there Sun-Weds.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Colorado Springs has a bunch of food trucks helped by legislation that says that breweries (even microbreweries) cannot serve food. So the microbreweries in town sell beer and have tables and there’s a food truck in front of each one of them. They seem to rotate around different breweries through the week, though. The guy in front of Red Leg on Monday night will be somewhere else on Tuesday (but back again on Monday).

      The food trucks are generally pretty good, but their foods run the gamut from “Jamaican” to “Mexican” without hitting “Middle Eastern”.

      Sunday Night, sadly, we’re booked and Mon-Wed are the proverbial school nights. Boulder is between 90 and 120 minutes drivetime, depending on the insanity of the roads (after rush hour, probably a lot closer to 90)… I don’t know that we could make it… Jeez. How often do you come out? I can ask for a day off next time and not worry about making it back to bed in time.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Yea, I should have told you earlier. I’m sorry about that. I am visiting a school (Boulder Journey School) that is a leader in the approach my school utilities (Reggio Emilia). I don’t have specific plans to return but imagine I will be back at some point. I’ll keep you updated. Enjoy your week… and the food trucks!

        By the way, what a dumb law. Some bars in NYC don’t have kitchens for one reason or another and will usually let you order in. Brooklyn Brewery turns their warehouse into a makeshift bar some days and lacks kitchen facilities so food trucks setup outside and deliverymen drop off menus. It’s kind of cool but lame if that is enforced by what I assume is a law drafted for lame reasons.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Wait, maybe it’s legislation that they cannot serve beer unless they also serve food (and that entails separate kitchen facilities).

        In either case, they all have a food truck in front of them.Report

        • Avatar Autolukos says:

          Having eaten dinner in a CSprings brewery in the last month, I’m quite confident that they’re allowed to serve food 🙂Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Yeah, I just remembered that there was something about how food trucks were a way for microbreweries to technically achieve some law or other. Without the food trucks there, they wouldn’t be able to do… something.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              There is probably an interesting (series of?) post(s?) about laws surrounding alcohol and food delivery. Many NYC brick-and-mortar restaurants were pursuing legislation to cut back on them. They didn’t mind the hot dog vendor or chick-and-rice guy. But when the gourmet empanada truck setup down the block from the Mexican restaurant… well, now we have an issue with how sanitary they are or something or other.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck says:

              It probably has to do with the particulars of the building that they’re in. There are similar establishments in San Jose (and, probably, most major cities these days) where the brewery will be just a rented warehouse space that someone set up brewing tanks in (next door is an auto-body shop, down from that is a kids’ bounce-house place, and at the end of the row is a place that sells fancy paper in bulk quantities.)

              So, since it was built as a warehouse, it won’t have a kitchen that meets all the requirements set by regulation about “kitchen that makes food for the public”. That sort of kitchen costs lots of money and isn’t useful for the “warehouse” function. Therefore, the place can’t serve food, beyond pre-made bagged snacks.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                When my friends opened a creperie in Boston, they hit all sorts of snags. They tried (and were somewhat successful) to get around certain codes because they didn’t use oven or friers or anything involving gas… just those little electric crepe stones. But… they still served food that was prepared on premises so they did still need all sorts of things that made no sense for a place that ONLY made crepes but the laws weren’t written for people trying to skirt certain codes by ONLY using crepe stones.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                They should have pulled an Uber; put everything in the kitchen on wheeled carts and claim that they’re operating a food truck!Report

              • We are disrupting the crepe industry!Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain says:

            It’s a matter of how the business is categorized and which licenses must be obtained. Being a “taproom” is much easier than being either a “restaurant” or a “bar”, but you can’t serve food or wine/liquor. The one in Olde Town Arvada (recently closed, to my regret, because they made some fine beer) had a deal with a bunch of the little restaurants within a couple blocks. You called the restaurant and ordered and a delivery guy showed up with your meal promptly.Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        1) Agreed on taking a day off to eat ice cream if we get a couple weeks notice, that would be great.

        2) There’s no law about breweries either way, it’s just that a) it’s a lot cheaper / easier to run a bar without a kitchen and also cheaper / easier to run a food truck without a liquor license, so b) the food trucks and smaller breweries have developed a symbiotic restaurant.

        3) I’m pretty sure the little Egyptian place that sprung up recently (which we really like) is Halal (the owners are practicing Muslims) but around here, it’s not super useful to advertise that. Ah, Colorado Springs.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          The little Egyptian place is good, but not “top three meals I’ve ever had” good.

          Neither are they “walk away bursting at the seams for $10”.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          I should probably clarify, too, that ’round these parts we typically use “Halal” to refer to the types of dishes served and not necessarily the food routines/procedures. I mean, all the “Halal” trucks I referred to sell Halal food… but Halal food can take many forms and most of these are pretty standard lamb/chicken/falafel-and-rice.

          Do you have any Israeli joints? For some reason (well, I’m pretty sure I know the reason), I can convince people to go to an Israeli restaurant but not a Halal or ME restaurant… even though the cuisines are nearly identical.

          All-you-can-eat Indian buffets are another great way to stuff your gourd for cheap. The cuisine is different but is also rice based and super rich with all the sauces and spices. Those tend to be weekday lunch specials but every now and then you find one that is open weekends and BAMMO! Also, get the rice pudding. You probably think you’ve had rice pudding. Then you eat Indian rice pudding and you realize your grandma was wrong.

          I’ll definitely be better about advanced notice. I think I mentioned it to our other local Coloradan (Alan Scott? Maybe? I don’t know who people are) but should have reached out directly. If I make it back, the ice cream is on me.Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            “All-you-can-eat Indian buffets are another great way to stuff your gourd for cheap”

            *remembers the one good cheap Indian place that used to exist in the Springs*

            Colorado Springs is pretty much a cheap delicious food *desert*. Lots of places like you describe in Denver, but by the time one drives > 100 miles to go to dinner, it stops being cheap…Report

            • Avatar Fortytwo says:

              There’s a great middle eastern place downtown. Jerusalem, I think.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Heart of Jerusalem evolved into Taste of Jerusalem. Or maybe it was the other way around. One of those.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                Also, in the last… year? it underwent a shift in philosophy and became a more expensive sit-down place.

                And the Algerian cheap crepe place went away.

                There are some relatively inexpensive cheap gyro places all over town but they are not very good, REALLY, only by comparison to the other options.

                I was last in Montreal in 2012. They still had (delicious) 99c pizza slices and falafel sandwiches. And 10 bucks or less fill your plate to overflowing with amazing food places. I WANT THAT. *looks wistful*Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                That fits the Tyler Cowen restaurant life cycle… The clientele being shoved out by “beautiful people”, changes in branding, and the waitstaff being replaced by Anglophones – these are all signs that quality is inevitably going to be dropping (because maintaining it affects the bottom line, and the restaurant is transitioning to the “cashing in” stage).Report

              • They don’t want to drive to Denver, and you’re recommending places in downtown Jerusalem?Report

        • Much as I enjoy ice cream, spending an entire day eating it seems excessive.Report

    • Avatar J_A says:

      One of my favorite Ramadan stories is in Istambul (a place I used to visit 4-6 times a year). We are walking along Istiklal Av (a pedestrian avenue with the finest shops in town, visited by up to 3 million people a day) close to noon during Ramadan, and there comes two young women wearing black chadors (a very strange sight in itself in Istanbul, particularly in the modern, fancy, districts)

      These two women were religious enough to wear the full chador with only their faces showing, but not religious enough to stop them from walking along Istiklal eating a roasted corn cob each (a popular street food).

      On a separate subject, Turkish beer (Effes) is greatReport

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        You remind me I never closed my asterisk…

        Yes, Istanbul is secular enough that the only people you see with head coverings are tourists, generally from other Muslim countries, visiting the major Muslim sights. I understand there isn’t necessarily hostility towards them, but they are definitely regarded as extreme by the locals.

        @j_a Why were you in Istanbul so often? You have me jealous! Easily in the top 2 for cities I’ve visited (Florence is the other). I’d love to go back but fear that may not be possible for a while.Report

        • Avatar J_A says:

          Our company owned a power plant in European Turkey, about 100 km away. I was a member of the Board of Directors and we had quarterly meetings. We also had a lot of (unsuccessful) business development initiatives there.

          I miss going to Istanbul. It is indeed one of the greatest, bestest, ausomestest places in EarthReport

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    With Islam, I think its a bit more complicated than Islam is strictly immune to modernity or Islam is prone to modernity as any other religion. Islamic traditionalists were able to watch how Christianity and Judaism were transformed by modernity and developed a strategy against Liberal Islam from appearing. It helped that the Wahhabis were able to team up with the Saudi Royal Family after the struck it rich with oil and had a lot of disposable income in their hand to spend on this project.

    Liberal Islam is slow to appear in Western countries because the social forces that led to Reform and Conservative Judaism becoming widespread no longer existed by the time Muslims began to live in the West in significant numbers. Non-Orthodox Judaism became widespread because it was a method for Jews to acculturate and assimilate into Western society without having to become fully Christian. Going full non-religious was not an option at the time, the 19th century, By the mid-20th century, Muslims who wanted to acculturate or assimilate could just become fully secular rather than having to develop a less traditional form of Islam to accommodate this. The problem with this is that while this strategy works for created modern Muslims individually, it isn’t an effective modernization for large groups of people.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      developed a strategy against Liberal Islam from appearing.

      The strategy seems to be to send the reformers out and away. “Go reform over there.”

      So the reformers were out and about next to the ones most likely to secularize due to cultural cross-contamination.Report

      • Avatar El Muneco says:

        Arguably, something similar happened to the Church of England in the 18th Century. There’s a viewpoint (I tend to subscribe to it) that the major spark of the religious divide between Europe and the Americas is that from the 18th Century on, all the rabble-rousers ended up over here, some of them even voluntarily. So now we have a concentration, and they have a paucity (fridge logic – this might affect the difference in how well seriously religious Muslims assimilate here vs. there, since we have centuries of experience at dealing with lunatics).Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          England kept a decent portion of what we would call Evangelical Christians until recently. They were seen as weird people by most other English people but there are some differences. Evangelical Christians in England were seen as part of the Left rather than the Right. They formed the back bone of the Labour Party for decades. The joke was that British socialism owed more to Methodism than Marxism. Many of the early founders of the Labour Party like Kier Hardie were lay Ministers. The leaders of the Labour Party before Tony Blair came from this milieu. The last two Labour Prime Ministers before Thatcher, Wilson and Callaghan, were from deeply religious Evangelical families.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      @leeesq @jaybird

      I think there are plenty of secular people who are Islamic. They tend to immigrate or keep it under wraps.

      A few years ago I met a guy from Saudi Arabia. He was here because his sister was studying in San Francisco and Saudi Arabai demands that all unmarried women travel with a male relative. Including international travel. He said his family was completely secular, he was drinking beer and liked to read the New Yorker. In SA, they just kept it at home.

      The same thing happens in Iran. Lots of women were designer clothing including skimpy clothing underneath the religious garb. Partying tends to happen at home.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        When it comes to the phenomenon of people who are publicly something but privately something else very different, that’s a phenomenon that doesn’t seem to be particularly sustainable.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

          I am not so sure, it feels fairly common. Everyone has some kind of different persona. People have their work personalities and their off-work personalities (also supposed to be psychologically hard).

          Our religious hardliners seem to have public and private issues as well. How many evagelists get caught watching porn, having affairs, cruising for gay escorts, drinking and having drugs? Ultra-Orthodox Jews are known to cart out a TV when the kids are asleep and watch all the secular shows.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        I concur RE Iran. I dated a woman “fresh off the boat” and she was pretty damn secular. She ate non halal meat, drank alcohol, etc. She did have some “traditional” ideas/restrictions on sex though. I can understand that especially given her comment that “if they find out I had sex outside of marriage, my parents will kill me”. Kinda puts a damper on the ardor.Report

        • Avatar El Muneco says:

          Back in the 90s, I worked for a Persian guy who had a lot of connections into the Iranian expat community in Southern California. I’m trying, and failing, to think of a single person I met due to that association that didn’t give off a “secular” vibe. Most of them weren’t first-generation, but still – that entire community assimilated damn easily.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        In iran partying happens in underground establishments in the cities.Report

      • Avatar El Muneco says:

        Ironically, noted conservatives P.J. O’Rourke and Jeremy Clarkson have also both specifically mentioned this (and, because of who they were, been hooted down).

        Hell, it’s not even incongruous – it’s explicit (heh, explicit) that modest clothing on women in public is specifically and only so that (positive) they are seen as people, and not sex symbols by men, (negative) that they don’t tempt men they are not attached to into an occasion of sin. Nothing is said about what you wear when only your partner can see you.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      Also modern liberals are a lot more respectful to Islam as an orthodox religion. I suspect 19th century liberals were more encouraging of modernizing the old parts of Judaism that they found weird.

      Now you have Buzzfeed making listicles about what its like to be Muslim during Ramadan in the West in the cheery buzzfeed internet lingo way.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        That’s true to. It’s part of the changes in liberalism and some anti-colonialism. Assimilation was perceived as the Jewish price for emancipation.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Secular Islam was often pushed and shoved on people by various dictators which sort of poisoned its appeal to many. The Shah was very pro western but his harsh tendencies paved the road for his opposition to be reactionary and oppose all he stood for.Report

      • Avatar Aaron David says:

        Yeah, I remember reading The 9 Parts of Desire, and the author spoke to many women who were going from secular Islam to religious Islam in part due to a backlash against the feeling that western culture was being pushed upon them and doing things such as taking the veil was seen as asserting their own culture.Report

    • Avatar scott the mediocre says:

      It helped that the Wahhabis were able to team up with the Saudi Royal Family after the[y] struck it rich with oil

      The alliance between the House of Saud and the Wahhabi movements dates back to 1744, although the religious element in the second Saudi state, the Emirate of Nejd, was rather a lot weaker than in either the first or the present state, and, arguably at least, not particularly unusual for the Arabian peninsula during that period.

      But yeah, the extra petrodollars have certainly helped export Wahhabism off the peninsula. According to a not necessarily objective Shia acquaintance of mine, the biggest “lay” wheel in my local liberal Shia mosque/Islamic center, the Saudis in specific (e.g. versus Qataris) are basically buying control of the primary Sunni mosque/center in the same area.Report

  3. Avatar North says:

    Yeah we never really dwell on how, in the Protestant schism it was the Catholics who were being schismed from who were the liberals. The Calvanists, the Protestant Pilgrims, the Lutherans, they were the strict harsh sects horrified by things like indulgences and dancing (and also corruption and the like).

    I would agree that the renaissance, enlightenment etc aren’t necessary for modernity in Islam but with a caveat. An Islamic enlightenment isn’t necessary because there’s already been a Christian one. So they’re importing a foreign enlightenment with their foreign modernity. I agree with most commentators who say that Islam itself will probably need an enlightenment of its own in order to cope with modernity. That said I would put my bets on modernity over Islam in the long run. For all the little spats of terrorism the fact remains that it is Islam that is fighting and flailing on its own home turf against modernity, not the other way around. The fulminations of immigration conservatives notwithstanding modern societies have not been sliding back into fundamental religiousness.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      In a history of Iceland I own, it pointed out that the Reformation increased the application of the death penalty. The Catholic Church was fine with some prayers and some money to atone for sins. The Protestsnts were not.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Yep. Once upon a time the rebels were conservatives.Report

      • Avatar El Muneco says:

        Similar to what happened when we eliminated “pork” from Congress. It was grease in the wheels that allowed people to get on with business. Now it’s the province of True Believers(tm), and no one is happy.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          Many political systems need to require a certain amount of corruption to function. Getting the amount right is difficult.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Yeah, when there was tension between the princes and the peasants, the Catholic Church took the side of the peasants from time to time. Something something Jesus something.

      When the princes and the peasants had tensions and the princes asked Luther about it, Luther’s famous quote was “Frogs Must Have Storks.”

      As for Modernity, I suspect that Islam had the choice between forging its own Modernity or importing the Modernity of others.

      By exporting its antithesis, it chose the Modernity of others.Report

    • Avatar El Muneco says:

      I’m not exactly an expert on the religious, but for a while it’s been in the back of my mind that Islam also needs part of Protestantism to survive long-term – namely to back off on the authority (and therefore the authoritarianism) of clerics to at least the point the modern Catholic Church has, if not to go whole hog and let everyone interpret for themselves. There’s an inflexibility as it is now that allows the religion to by hijacked for temporal political purposes, particularly since the two authorities are so intertwined in practice in so many places.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I think that part of what is getting in the way is the fact that Arab Muslims still read their holy book in the original language (which is somewhat close to the same language they use in their day to day lives). (I got into that here, as well.)

        Protestantism can say “well, you have to understand, if you read this in the original Greek, you’ll see that it says…” and next thing you know, you have a lot of squishy room to move around.

        Not so for Arabic-Speaking Muslims.Report

    • The Calvanists, the Protestant Pilgrims, the Lutherans, they were the strict harsh sects horrified by things like indulgences and dancing (and also corruption and the like).

      And Jews, all very not fond of Jews.Report

  4. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    Idlewords describes this as “Judaism and Islam have problems at high latitude due to an unhealthy preoccupation with sunsets. Christianity works right out of the box.”Report

  5. Avatar J_A says:

    In my former company we had a one week due diligence trip in Cairo in the middle of Ramadan. It was about 20 of us, and being a sensitive multicultural company, we knew about Ramadan going on.

    The process was we would all 20 come to a conference room in a big hotel (paid by the counterparty), and the counterparty upper management would be there together with the middle management that corresponded to the subject of teh day (Tax and Accounting, Legal, technical, etc.)

    When we walk into the room the first day there is a massive table with tons of sweets, pastries, juice, coffee, tea, soft drinks. Enough for all twenty of us to gorge. As befits traditional Islamic hospitality

    We excused ourselves out of the room, gathered together and discussed: what would be less rude: ignoring the food they were offering us, or eating and drinking in front of hungry, thirsty people? We opted for completely ignoring the food.

    At noon, we excused ourselves, went to the hotel restaurant (all the windows and doors were covered so people walking past it could not see who was inside).

    When we returned for the afternoon session, all the untouched food had been taken away, and replaced with a completely new display of afternoon snacks, more drinks, more food. Which we absolutely ignored.

    This went on for a week. They spent enormous amounts of money paying for food that we never even acknowledged, as if it wasn’t there. We only thanked them for the hospitality in general (we honestly expected that after the second day they would reduce the display to a minimum, to keep the symbolism that they were offering food and drinks while minimizing the waste)

    To this day, even though I was one of the most vocal supporters of “ignore the food”, I’m not sure if we handled it as well as we could, but I could not have been able to look at the hungry person answering our questions while I was stuffing a cream eclair in my mouth. At the same time, the idea of telling them to stop bringing food felt terribly patronizing. Letting the food be the elephant in the room was the solution we opted for.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      If my experiences are any guide, your hosts were more confused than anything else. Of course, you recognized the hospitality they were offering. You are westerners, so of course you need not fast. We want you to enjoy your time here and feel comfortable as our guests! Why don’t you eat? Maybe we need to offer you more and better food next time.

      Had you been visitors from another mostly Muslim part of the world, they’d have held out on offering the food until after nightfall so you could have a nice iftar. But you were from the west, so by all means, eat now, and hey, it’s Ramadan, so have a nice iftar also!

      Just a guess.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      I consider not communicating to be a pretty horrid solution.
      Aren’t they grownups? Can’t you at least explain why you aren’t eating?Report

      • Avatar J_A says:

        Believe it or not, we felt that to tell them that we would not eat would be also offensive, as if we didn’t like their food or something (like Burt says, as if we were expecting BETTER food).

        We were very uncomfortable with the whole thing, and we didn’t felt there was any way not to cause offense. We though this was the least rude we could be. By the way, there was a (very secular) Pakistani in our group. He agreed with the Don’t Eat, Don’t Tell, policyReport

    • Avatar Maribou says:

      As someone who was raised in a fiercely hospitality-oriented culture myself (a secular one), I feel for you. I also think that not eating the food AT ALL was a terrible choice. (So terrible that I bring it up instead of not butting in – only in case it comes up again, though, because I’ve found that my hospitality culture assumptions are the same as those of other people I know, cross-culturally, not EXACTLY, but pretty close. Including those of my Iranian uncle.)

      In my culture, if the host feels that you are in a situation where they should offer food, and then you refuse to eat/drink anything (not even a cup of tea!), under any circumstances, the host is pretty much constrained to keep offering. And keep offering MORE and BETTER. Because the ONLY reason (short of your own religious reasons) to not eat SOMETHING is if they are failing to be good hosts and you are (as, in said culture, you should be) too polite to point out their failings.

      As soon as you agree to eat SOMETHING, anything at all – or even drink a cup of tea – the host can breathe easy and move on. And it really *doesn’t matter* what you want, or what the host wants, or what else is going on… hospitality not being given and received is… like wearing shoes in the house (oh wait, you all do that too, and that would actually be less bad) … it’s like… I can’t even conceive of what it’s like. Stepping on an American flag in front of people who revere it, maybe? Hm.

      I think you should’ve symbolically each eaten something small on the first day, had a cup of tea, exclaimed at length about how delicious it was (yes, even though they were hungry and thirsty), and said, “We so appreciate the care and respect you have for us, in providing this amazing food. It’s absolutely delicious. But we also have care and respect for your culture, and your fast. Would it be possible for us to put this food aside for later, so that we can enjoy it in a more respectful way? And perhaps instead of these splendid lavish feasts that we can’t possibly be so rude as to eat in front of you, we could arrange to spend an iftar with some of you?” Or something like that. (I would expect them to insist it was fine, and you to insist that you appreciated that, but you REALLY couldn’t possibly be so rude, until one or the other of you gave up… but that’s part of the hospitality-culture general script.)

      I think don’t ask don’t tell is a rarely a good cultural answer when you don’t know what to do, especially when it possibly leads to greater offense. Playing the ignorant foreigner is awkward, and you have to be careful not to be the DOMINEERING ignorant foreigner, but it’s more honest, and more effective.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      So you were in a due-diligence trip–a possibly sensitive situation, if you found something that wasn’t quite right or looked a little shady–and they did something that made you feel incredibly guilty and obligated?

      I’d say the food was worth the price. Besides, after you all went home and the sun set, they chowed down.Report

  6. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Well, that commercial for internet service is a fine example of the art of the very short-form motion picture to transmit an emotion — in this case, a heartwarming vignette. Aren’t you proud of Aisha and her grandmother? I am. Commercials are very good for that and I think they must be one of the most demanding forms of storytelling imaginable. So, well done, anonymous directors from some Qatari advertising agency.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Yeah, there are entire essays that could be written about that commercial (which I *LOVE*).

      First off:
      It’s obviously a Ramadan commercial but it makes the iftar the centerpiece of why you know it’s Ramadan. The importance of making a good meal and they only have a half hour and they haven’t even started dessert!

      Grrl Power: the youngest wants to help her sisters and they completely underestimate her. HA! IN YOUR FACE, SISTERS! I HAD THE POWER OF GRAMMA BEHIND ME!

      The fact that the kiddo who showed everybody up was named “Aisha” is one of those things that might be lost on most Americans but is about as obvious a reference as a Christmas commercial that has, as its centerpiece, a very, very pregnant young woman named “Mary” going about her business.

      It’s a very, very secular commercial. It’s a very, very religious commercial.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        I confess that I missed the significance of the character being named Aisha until you pointed it out, and then gave myself a forehead-smack. Of course.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          And now allow me to get all Comic Book Guy about the commercial.

          Here’s the recipe.

          As you read that recipe, what do you notice?


          Anyway, luqaimat is absolutely delicious and wonderful and we totally need to make those a lot more popular over here.Report

          • Avatar Barry says:


            Are you denying the reality-altering powers of Grandma?!?!?!?!Report

  7. Avatar J_A says:

    I have a Malaysian friend in Oslo. They agree Ramadan is brutal there. They barely have 4 or 5 hours to eat and sleepReport

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      That’ll change in 4 or 5 years, right, as the lunar calendar migrates through the seasons?Report

      • Avatar Guy says:

        Does the islamic calander not have solar corrections like the jewish one?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Nope, not as far as I can tell.

          From the Wiki:

          An Islamic year will be entirely within a Gregorian year of the same number in the year 20874, after which year the number of the Islamic year will always be greater than the number of the concurrent civil year. The Islamic calendar year of 1429 occurred entirely within the civil calendar year of 2008. Such years occur once every 33 or 34 Islamic years (32 or 33 civil years).