Huda A. Ahmed

It’s that lovely time of the year when family and spirituality become the focal point of life as we know it. Preparations are made in the days leading up to the awaited new moon: mint is dried and minced, pantries are stocked with ingredients of the most favoured Ramadan recipes, and when it finally arrives friends and family congratulate each other on the arrival of Ramadan.

Ramadan is a welcomed visitor in Libya, and as our guest we adapt our daily schedules to it. Life in Libya during Ramadan is drastically different than the average day in every other month, and this becomes tacit by keeping a close eye on the streets.

Usually bustling with traffic, the routine of street life in Libya is unique to any other month. Traffic surges at different points in the day, and rush hour begins after midnight.

Traffic also heightens in the minutes leading up to sundown with those who are out shopping for last minute items on grocery lists or those rushing home from work in what is also known as the soup race or the final moments of fasting standing between the drivers and their bowl of soup.

Sleeping schedules experience a spin, allowing life to squeeze itself in Ramadan’s busy schedule. Despite the lack of food throughout the day, people find hours in the night to do everything from exercise, to visiting family and friends, to going holiday shopping for the upcoming Eid celebrations.

And while people have found a relatively smooth transition in adapting to the ‘Ramadan schedule’, the number one Ramadan challenge on people’s list has been the electricity cuts that, among many things, interrupt the flow of Ramadan life.

Losing power is a shared experience throughout the country. In Tripoli, districts take turns in losing electricity for an average 2- 4 hours each day. Though the term speaks for itself, it is important to note the duality of meaning – as the systematic loss of power has a way of making people feel power-less.

Housewives rush in cooking their meals hours before sundown fearing that any minute, the leg of lamb slowly roasting in the oven will stop turning and soon turn cold, or that the washer now rinsing the t-shirt that the husband likes to wear to prayers will remain lathered and wet, or that the kids who are watching television will soon have to resort to playing outside while the sun is at its strongest.

This article is not to analyse the effects that the regular electricity cuts has on the flow of life in Libya. We all have experienced this frustration first-hand.

However, there is something to say about patience in Libya, or is it people’s innate ability to adapt to their living conditions? Whichever it is, it is what helps life move on in Libya. And, sometimes that is all we can do, is look forward.


Huda A. Ahmed, a full-blooded Libyan who is experiencing what it means to live in Libya for the first time

This article was first published in the ‘Tripoli Post‘ under ‘Bifocal‘ on July 21, 2013

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