So you remember yesterday when I said that being out at Ramadan is like being out at Christmas amd that we couldn’t possibly miss out on the experience? Well, if 25 adolescent boys with big sticks and enormous non-foody appetites make an amazing cultural experience, I’d be more than happy to stay on my grandmother’s sofa eating Yorkshire puddings for the rest of my life. Alice and Charlotte promised to come back bearing great and exciting tales. But they came home shaken and abused, and yes, even with bruises. They had taken a wrong turn up a darkened street, and before they emerged onto a lighted way again, this pack of boys had surrounded them and begun slapping and pinching and grabbing. Chaos ensued, with several men looking on, shocked, and literally thank God for the woman driving down the road with her baby, who told them in swift French to get into her car so that she could take them home safely. So, in the end, little damage was done. But genuinely, on the first night of Ramadan, ‘shomma!’ (shame on them). For those parents and friends reading, we are all still safe and secure, and going especially carefully after our well-taught lesson.

So after the ‘excitement’ of the early hours, today has been back to mediocre. I was telling Charlotte earlier that I feel like I’m running dry on all the insights we had when we first arrived. But I suppose that just means that we’re getting gradually used to life here, and are beginning to fit in and understand a little more. This in mind, it’s maybe a shame that there’s so little time left for us here. But nevertheless, there are maybe one or two more things to see and know.
We spent most of the day nursing our sunburn (there are still sting-y bellies and ankles in the house) and feeling a bit worse for the wear of a dehydrated beach day yesterday. So this evening after class, not feeling up to going out again (especially after last night), we went straight to Pizza Hut in Agdal to get takeaway and rushed home to watch a movie snuggled on the sofa (yes, we are absolute girls). Since there was still about an hour until Iftar (the Ramadan evening ‘break-fast’), as soon as we walked out the door with our pizza boxes into the almost-deserted street, we felt as obvious as a Tellytubby in a business meeting and as rude as thumbing your nose at the Pope. Suffice it to say, we got a taxi the three blocks to our apartment. Sadly for us though, the taxi driver was also observing the fast. We had been told in orientation that most people can get cranky and bad-tempered after no sustenance during a hot day, and this turns out to be absolutely accurate. Although we didn’t really have much of a choice, imagine how you’d feel if you were tired and hungry, and still settling into the pattern of being tired and hungry for the next month, and two people sit in close proximity with none of your sympathies, smelling out the whole cab with fresh pizza when there’s another hour of your shift before you can eat. Yeah, maybe I wouldn’t be that happy with those people either. Who can blame him for calling us infidels with drastic hand signals and zooming off into the ether, leaving rubber marks outside the entrance to our apartment block? After we’d paid him of course.
Well, with only three more days to go, tomorrow we visit the Challa (pronounced ‘shella’) with school. Hopefully this time I’ll be able to say more than “it’s the ruins of something old”. Goodnight all – more insights tomorrow let’s hope!


I am a final year BA International Relations student at Sussex University, and I'm also studying the Arabic Language Elective Pathway. Alongside this, I am acting as a Student Language Ambassador, in hopes of convincing the world that a language is a beautiful thing :)

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One comment on “Shomma
  1. Amira Mills says:

    Hannah, gosh, this was scary. I cant wait to hear the whole story of what happened in detail from Alice and Rebecca. Very sad that such a good experience should be tarnished with something like this. But brave girls x

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