Fasting and buffets-How to Lose Weight in Malaysia Part 21

Hello Everyone!

As most of you are probably or hopefully aware, Muslims around the world just finished celebrating Ramadan. This is a month of fasting from sunrise to sundown to reflect and pray, among other things, on the Koran being given to Mohammed by Allah. Now I am not a Muslim, but I live in a Muslim majority country and I teach Arab students so Ramadan was a part of my life everyday. Last year Iris and I moved to Malaysia at the tail end of Ramadan and made the decision that next year we would try fasting one day. I wanted to do it during a work day, so I could have some idea of what my students were going through. Well, we did it! We picked Friday July 1st, mostly because it was an exam day for me at work so I did not have a lot of actual work to do! Maybe cheating, but not really.

I tried to “live tweet” the experience on facebook for all to enjoy my ramblings. Here is just a small sample of my many fasting thoughts. (and just to make sure we are clear, the fasting includes NO WATER or liquids of any kind)

5:53 AM

The coffee has been drunk, the food has been eaten. Iris Heise and I have begun our day of fasting. We will break it tonight at 7:30 on top of a mall rooftop, watching old Malaysian movies and eating some great food. See you then, stomach contentment. More updates and commentary throughout the day from me. Since most of you reading this will be asleep it is probably for my own sanity that I will post these things.

7:03 AM

Again fair warning, there might be a lot of stream of consciousness stuff on here today. A friend made a comment on my earlier post and it’s good so I want to share it with the world. As Katherine Prince nicely put it, this attempt is out of respect. While my students this month annoyed the living crap out of me (Last month I had them for one class and had to break up a fist fight so yeah, they annoyed me when they were not fasting too) I do respect the dedication they are showing by fasting this month. So I am trying it for one day out of respect for them and all my Muslim brothers and sisters out there. I might not make it, but I want to at least try. I do not view the Muslim aspect of my country (Malaysia) as different because it is so very common and everywhere. When I went to the temple on the Hindu festival of Thaipusam I was amazed at the religious devotion shown. Yet I have not held the Ramadan experience in that same light because it exist silently, behind the scenes, and because here Islam is just part of everyday life regardless of whether you are a practitioner of the faith. It blends into the background the same way that Christianity does in America. I wrote a whole blog post about how beautiful Thaipusam was, so this day is in part about recognizing the beauty of faith that has been occurring this month here in Malaysia and throughout the world

7:56 AM

Well good start to the day: It’s freaking hot in my office. That really helps with the whole no drinking water thing

8:43 AM

Looking good!

Kevin Heise's photo.
(me wearing the traditional Malay outfit, minus the hat which my head is WAY too big for)
9:50 AM
When I walked into the classroom area today one of my students grabbed my hand and asked me in a very serious tone “are you fasting teacher?” It was funny and cute.
11:50 AM
Told a student not to talk during an exam. He says he is just asking for help on the exam, for something I explained to the whole class five times today. I tell him this is cheating. One minute later he turns around an asks another student the same question. So yell at him tell him to stop. Another student tells me to stop talking he can’t concentrate. Anger rising. Or maybe I am just thirsty and hungry.
12:10 PM
Okay, first real bout of feeling light-headed setting in. The food is not the problem at all, it is the water for sure. I would probably slap my mother for water right now…no no I wouldn’t…but I would think about it a bit longer than I should
1:06 PM
I just sneezed and it made me really hungry.
1:40 PM
Over half way through my day of fasting! As I thought, the food is bad but manageable so far. The no water thing is very difficult to handle. Maybe a bit worse is that when I break my fast tonight, I would love to do it with a cold beer. But Iris and I are going to buka puasa at a Ramadan buffet, which means halal, which means no alcohol. Oh man life is difficult!!!
1:53 PM
Oh there it is, my first big hunger pang…and it has passed. The biggest thing this fasting has done has broken my…….good song on spotify…..ability to focus. Obviously it has impaired my ability to make lame jokes
4:33 PM
Just had to walk through the food court of a mall. If this buffet tonight doesn’t have mee goreng I might become irrational
6:23 PM
Almost there. Waiting on a rooftop next to the Petronas Towers for food and drink. A lot of respect to my Muslim brothers and sisters. It is a beautifully devout thing you are doing this month
So we both made it through the day to the buffet. The worst part about that is that they make it/strongly encourage you to get food BEFORE the fasting is done, then sit and wait at the table with it smelling so good in front of you. This way, when the last call to prayer calls out everyone can take a sip to drink and bite RIGHT AWAY. Those last three minutes are just torture.
As you can see, the buffet is very very very big. And this is not even a particular big one.


We picked this buffet to break our fast for two reasons. First was the price but more importantly was the view!


I have said it before and I will say it again: The Petronas Towers never get old!

Unknown to us, it was not just dinner. There was a show!


And now the food!

Sarsi, the first think I took part in. That, and the two glasses of water unseen that I drank right away too!
Satay? Yes please! Briuyani rice and hummus
Roti boom in front, roti john in back
Not sure what it is called, but it tasted like roast beef but better!
Mee Goeng! I did not have to become irrational
Iris’s plate. She was a bit more restrained then me
Iris’s other plate…still more restrained then me and most people there.
Some little cakes for dessert! Unseen is the ice cendol we also had for dessert!

That’s it! I will wrap up this post shortly but I must add that fasting even for a day has given me a great deal of respect for my Muslim brothers and sisters in the world. I hold this respect for those who do Ramadan “right”. That is to say, I had a few students who had ZERO idea why they were fasting, just that they had to. And then I had a few students and co-workers who did the fasting as an act of prayer, meditation, and devotion and it was simply beautiful to be able to take part in that experience, even if just for a day.


Jumpa Lagi!




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