Thursday, August 12, 2010


Dubai, Thurs eve

The sun is setting and the western sky is glowing clear and golden. Day 2 of the Muslim Ramadan 2010 is coming to a close, and people are rushing about to get to evening prayers and fast-breaking. The rules are simple: during the daylight hours no food, no water, pray, reflect, then sunset, eat, family, rinse and repeat. In this climate, it's an extraordinary achievement that lasts daily until the next new moon.

Working hours and routines shift at this time of year. Many people start work early and are off by 2pm. Today, at the office, by 4pm I was the last man standing except for the cleaning people.

BobOnARoll is not a model for religious practice. Once tried to be. Not now. But am always impressed with those whose spirituality and faith and respect for rituals bring them fulfillment, joy, and serenity.

OK so BobOnARoll is an infidel here. And in more ways than one ! The fun part is that, if the sun's up, every time you eat, you cheat. So they screen us off so the faithful don't see us munching on our Wheaties in the AM, or grabbing a sandwich at noon. To get to the goodies, one navigates through a double layer of curtains or screens, like entering a mysterious nightclub, and voila ! We ARE back in Kansas again.

The usual hospitality during business meetings of offering coffee and water to the visitor is suspended during Ramadan. It's a noticeable change.

The other day, during a pause after a dry and stuffy three hour meeting with our distributor about contract issues, the COO of the biz asked me to follow him into his office. We entered, he closed the door and motioned me to sit down. I thought this might be the moment when I get the big sack of cash if I agree to sign the deal. But, no, he reaches into a small chest in the corner and extracts....a bottle of water.


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