​Day 1:

Who we should really be asking?

Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was because I was worried about the day ahead. I don’t know. But for some reason I was awake at 4am, Friday morning. Not being able to go back to sleep, I stayed awake and caught up on a few shows on my phone before my alarm for 7am went off. A team memeber was away on a trip so I was assigned as cover for the day at a different campus. 

A colleague went to Comic Con so I asked him to pick up some Pocky for me (pre-Ramadan treat!)

Long story short, by the evening I was tired, but I knew I couldn’t go to sleep. As you might already know from my previous Ramadan Diaries, I am the ‘bell-ringer’ of the family. Come 2am, I was half dead and bumping into furniture as I woke everyone else up. After sunrise, I hit the pillow and was gone. Finished. Goodbye.

Knowing it was the weekend, I didn’t set my alarm and thought I would be up by maybe…11am. You know, the usual. My nephew walks in and says “I left home and came back and you’re still in bed!” It was 1:20pm

I turned on my WiFi and responded to the string of Ramadan messages from people. Some were the usual celebratory photos and some were personal messages. I prefer the latter so I responded mostly to them. 

***DISCLAIMER for the following: I mean no offence and ask that you understand that this is my opinion. Please, stay away from the comments if you understand this***

And then there were those messages that are a little deeper; the ones that ask for forgiveness. Those are the ones I struggle with.

There are different types of people that will send these messages:

Long lost friend:

These ones make me laugh most the time. And I either respond in 2 ways; acknowledge them, or poke them.

The message will always say “Please forgive me for anything I may have done intentionally or unintentionally”. When I’m not really bothered, I simply respond in the affirmative and ask for the same in return.

But at others times…this happens:

The relative:

These are ones you have to respond politely to. Even though I want to remind them also how many years it’s been since I last saw them and that I’m no longer studying – because that’s how long it’s been – I accept their apology and sincerely hope I didn’t do anything all those winters ago.

This is the one that’s either harder or easier. Depending on who asks. These are the people you’re around all the time and it’s because of that that it makes more sense for them to ask than others.

Islamically, we should ask everyone for forgiveness and forgive others as well. But if I think about it, the people I have probably upset or hurt have most likely been my family (I’m too much of a hermit at work to have done anything to anyone other than be too quiet). For one reason or another, I’ve said harsh things, ignored a request, forgotten to do a favour or been unkind. These are the people I need to really be asking for forgiveness.

I used to occasionally put out a message on Facebook and and ask people there. But let’s be real, even if friends and family are on there, it’s not really the platform to be using to ask. Fb isn’t life. Rather, I think we should be asking people personally and specifically. Facebook isn’t my family. I don’t use it to do much except put up a few funny memes and re-share previous posts from my time line. 

I’m not knocking those that do want to put up those messages on fb, because maybe they use it to share their opinions and those opinions have caused enough conflict and upset to have led to the modern ‘fb wars’ I hear so much about. 

But what I basically, and very humbly, mean is that we should consider if we’re all asking the right people for forgiveness. 

Very traditional and basic: kisuri with chickpea baji and a massive dhal puri

Day 2

When dad’s decided…

Dad’s an interesting character. I’ve still not entirely figured him out and I think that’s just how it’s gonna be! But one thing we all know; once he’s made his mind up, that’s the end of it.

He was chilling downstairs and we were all discussing what to have for iftar. 

Dad: We’ll have paratah with halwa 

Me: OK. So what’s the main dish? Meat or egg with paratah?

Dad: No, that’s it. 

Me: …

Dad: And I want to give it to all the neighbours on our street. 

Me: OK. So what else will we give with the paratah and halwa? 

Dad: Why do you keep asking me the same question? That’s it. Just the halwa.

Me: Ey? 

Everyone else: But we can’t only give something sweet as an iftar meal. We need to give something savoury.

Dad: But the paratah is savoury!

Everyone else: Right. So…what else will we give-

Dad: What don’t you all understand?
And it continued like this for a little longer till we realised that dad had spoken to us just last week about how he had had halwa with paratah and really enjoyed it. So he was clearly in his phase of recreating that experience and going overboard on it. And if he likes something at someone else’s house…it’s always better. So with our pride a little hurt and our minds on autopilot, we conceded about prepping a very sweet iftar.

This halwa is a very Bangali kind (me thinks?): tushar shinni. When I asked mum what tushar means, she said “I don’t know. Our people have just always called it that.” The shinni means nothing in particular – a food offering/something to celebrate. 

Tushar shinni is simply made by adding melted sugar and ghee to flour and then adding spices for aroma and taste.

I’m not too keen on this halwa and never have been. So the idea of only having that with paratah was weighing heavy on my mind.

But then mum started ordering me to chop a dozen onions, potatoes and a cabbage for pakoras. The evening just got more intense!

There were 4 of us in the kitchen it wasn’t pretty. Knocking elbow is hard when tempers are flying and we still have a lot to do. Dad was stressing out about plating up for the neighbours, my sister was burning the pakoras whilst she tried to deal with heating up the paratah. And mum and I were throwing back instructions – pretty much charades – over all the noise. 

Let’s just say by 8:45 we were still distributing food to the neighbours and the table hadn’t yet been set properly for us. Eventually, no one really had the stomach anymore for the halwa and we all just devoured the pakoras.

The top photo shows that we used the Eid/special occasion biryani pot to make the halwa. Still don’t know what dad was thinking…

Although we gVe most of the tushar shinni away, we still have about 800g of the thing left in the fridge. It could easily last till Eid -_-