The Ramadan Diaries (Day 29)

The Ramadan Diaries

Vat deh hale is dat? 

  • my written thoughts — every couple of hours upon waking up to those final hours before breaking fast and on as much or little as I please
  • how people are behaving (host family, students, teachers, neighbors)
  • how activities or lack thereof are altering the community’s overall atmosphere,
  • what I’m doing to stay active
  • capturing photos and videos of what’s going on
  • for example, the other day, two female neighbors come over to my house with two plump chickens. I knew what was going to happen and surely those poor chickens knew they wouldn’t live to cluck again. I proceeded to capture a video of my host brother slowly sawing at the chickens’ throats with a very dull knife (poor things), blood squirted everywhere, the chickens tried to escape, I could barely watch, but in a sick-twisted-experimental-documentary-non-PETA-approved-kind-of-way, I’m glad I captured that moment. That’s just one unique Ramadan moment in my village.

I plan to create a short about PCV in Indonesia’s Ramadan experience. 

Enjoy and if there’s anything you’d like to know about this time or that you’d like for me to record, please leave a comment. I’m very open to developing this idea into something bigger! See how other PCV’s are tracking their Ramadan experiences, check out: PCV Jay Wellik


Day 29: Saturday, August 18th 

3:00a: ibu knocks on the door, I say ‘yahhhhhh’ but go back to sleep.

7:00a: wake up, mandi, and start doing various errands. Finish watching Good Will Hunting.

10:30a: Go to school to send out some e-mails and read articles to mask hunger.

2:33p: Go home — nap time.


Day 28: Friday, August 17th

Wake up at 3:30a and don’t return to sleep.

Independence Day, happy 67th, Indo.

Flag ceremony, nothing too special. Just an ordinary day.

This is the first time I haven’t cheated with eating behind closed doors in a while.

12-3:30p: Epic nap. Dehydration is taking its toll on my skin again, apply face mask. Phone catch up with Deeps until maghrib.

6:15p: Nis and I sit outside and look at my photos from the past few days.

7p: go to Tarawih for the first time in my village, with Nis. I borrow her rukuh. We head to the mosque. On the way over, she says wanna take some photos, I whip out my camera only to find that I forgot to put the battery back. We go back to get it. I ask her how to say the equivalent of ‘shit’ in Javanese. I have already forgotten it. Tarawih is full of little kids running around, they’re extremely noisy and no one can concentrate. The ibu’s are constantly hushing but no one seems to be getting angry like they would in the US if a kid didn’t shut up during prayer time. The kids continue yelling during prayer. I watch as a little one pees on the floor and on the prayer rug in the front of the room. His mother catches him. Takes his wet pants off next to me and rushes him over to a bush to finish his business. I find all of this to be hilarious. Make an awkward ‘Tarawih’ video with Yeyen, my 14 year old neighbor. It’s epic and will find its way into some future video project.

8:00p: return home, phone chat with Nicole and then MEBS, before retiring to my room to watch Good Will Hunting for the first time at DP’s suggestion. Don’t finish the movie. Fall asleep at 11:30.


Day 27: Thursday, August 16th

3am: wake up for sahur, but my eyes immediately gravitate towards my host sisters room — mbak Nur is puking into a black plastic bag, as her husband stands over her holding it. What a gentleman. The bag looks quite… full. I lose my appetite. Ibu asks if I have any kayu putih (menthol-y oil that I love) to make mbak Nur’s nausea dissipate. I give it to her and she tells me ‘masuk angin’. NO DUDE IT’S PROBABLY FOOD POISONING! THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS ‘WIND ENTERING’ YOUR BODY!!! I go back to sleep but for the 30 minutes leading up to me dozing up, I can’t stop thinking about how full that bag of puke was. BLEGH.

6am: Bu Endang’s husband picks me up in his new Suzuki with a/c and he drops me off at the terminal.

7-8isha: wait for John at the bus terminal. They’ve moved some benches for the police to set up a ‘holiday travel data collection’ however from what I can see, the police men are conversing with toko people and watching TV.

9:30-3ish: cluster powow. Joey’s brought spaghetti and guacamole, his bag seems to be an endless pit of goodies. Bless him.

Head back to Mojokerto from Jombang, the bus fare has doubled for the holidays. Rp30.000, ya ALLAH. I am exhausted. John sleeps on the bus. Take a becak to my principal’s house, rest up, the food at her home is always amazing. She convinces me to eat some fish. It’s delicious. We hang out and get read for Tarawih.


Day 25: Tuesday, August 14th

Skip sahur, sleep in until nine something.

Head back to site by angkot, it takes two hours to get back home. I spent those two hours covering my face with a scarf to protect my lungs from the pollution. I like observing passenger dynamic.

3:30p: Reunite with my bike, and throw all of the care package items into my basket. It fits perfectly! I start my ride back home. It’s quiet, cloudy, calm. I can’t wait to take a mandi. My back is absolutely soaking in sweat.


Day 24: Monday, August 13th

skip sahur for the first time. I don’t plan on fasting because I’ll be heading to Surabaya for a dentist appointment.

6:00a: I begin my independent journey to Surabaya, first by biking the 10km to the nearest market. I catch a green angkot. Several men try to talk to me but I’m not in the mood really – plug in earbuds.

6:30a-9:00: Finally depart for Surabaya (about 55km away). The driver turns out to be really nice. This proves to be wonderful as the traffic is absolutely atrocious. Too many motorcycles clogging up the roadways, blindingly weaving. The driver and I start labeling people who don’t use their signals or look before swerving around ‘BODOH’ and start saying it quiet frequently. At one point, I’m sharing the front seat with an older man who is a friend of the driver. He works at the shipyard and asks if I like these bitter crackers that he’s bringing with him to see his family. Yes, I like bitter crackers. I keep checking the time, nervously, thinking I may not make it in time for my 9:30a appointment. After all the ride usually takes about 2 hours. We finally make it in the Surabaya proper, but the normal route to the market is being held up by the police checking identification of all people trying to pass, which is thousands of people. It is a literal clusterEFF. The driver makes the sharpest turn on the narrowest/busiest road. I commend him. He can can sense my abrupt movements to hold on to the window when I get scared, explains that I need to stop being afraid, assures me he’s a good driver, and that I’m making him uncomfortable when I’m uncomfortable. Goooodness.

9:15a: I make it to Jl. Kartini, and get out of the angkot before it heads straight. I slip on some loose gravel on the side of the busy road. Catch my fall but still manage to scrape/bruise the same knee I fell on in Sulawesi. I rush into the PC office, grab my papers, ice my knee, and head to the dentist office by taxi.

11:30a: walk back from dentist office. I have four cavities. Thanks Indonesia. To celebrate, I mean, mourn, I head to McDonalds which looked closed from the outside. The shades are covering the windows — for Ramadan I assume. I go in and get the chocolate sundae of my dreams in my hands as fast as possible. I also order a chicken sandwich as I’ve only have a banana the size of my thumb since waking up. A CHICKEN SANDWICH?!! What am I? A monster, I don’t eat meat and now I’m going straight in for the weird Micky D’s chicken sandwich? I don’t care it’s delicious.

Time is spent with other PCVs, we find cheese that’s on sale, watch YouTube videos, and I attempt to do some grad school research. Erin finally makes it back from the States and we welcome her. She’s brought with her a massive care package my family has sent over. I feel terrible that she’s lugged it allll the way over here. How am I going to fit all of this into my bike basket heading home??? We share delivery pizza and American fudge. Life is good.


Day 23: Sunday, August 12th

It’s 3:25a and I’m sitting in bed with my window open. The air is crisp. I appreciate being able to open my window without having real clothes on, knowing no ones roaming around to see my bare shoulders and legs. I rolled out of bed at 3:08a to eat oatmeal, 2 bananas, and a piece of tofu for solidarity. The moments between when my ibu knocked on the door and when I actually rolled out of bed were an absolute struggle. I actually walked myself through a scheme to skip sahuur, it would go something like this – wrap blankie around my body to cover my bralessness, peek head out of door and tell the family I’m going to keep sleeping. But that’s weak sauce. I’d feel guilty for having already made all of that effort to avoid sahur that I should just eat, for goodness sakes! I got up despite unique dreams of ID6’s ETing and of friends seeking professional help for mental illness. As I sat down to eat, I stared at Nis’s backside. Every morning, she’s sat several feet away from ibu and I on a bed of baby stuff, with her back to us, instead of sitting at a small table. I think it’s weird but then again getting up at 3a to eat to bond with my family is equally strange. I have been trying not to be an a-hole about table etiquette but sometimes the clicking sounds and sucking food out of vacant spaces where teeth once stood  has been aggravating me. Gums smacking, ughhkfhksjhflskjfk! Only another week of this. I can’t wait to drink water openly and sleep regularly and not be a lazy blob.

3:35a: lather lips in chapstick. They’ve been so dry. Go back to sleep.

10:00a: take my room apart to clean. I wash my mosquito net for the first time in months. It ends up becoming a sud explosion in the back of my house. I am soaked by the time I rinse it out for the 5th time. Hey why not wash my clothes too instead of taking it to the laundry lady? I haven’t washed my own clothes since September! Boredom will lead one to do strange things to feel ‘accomplished’.


Day 21: Friday, August 10th

I’m going through my new tube (whoa I originally spelt it ‘toob’) of toothpaste at an alarming rate, thanks Ramadan. The dentist should be happy to know that I’ve been brushing approximately four times per day — bad breath is a pet peeve. Everyone’s breath during this time is kicKIIIIN’, lemme tell ya.

I’ll be honest. I haven’t been writing any notes worth recording here. The days have become quite mundane. I’ve been very lethargic. Every morning when my host mother knocks on my door for sahuur, not a day goes by that I don’t think ‘just today, I’ll tell her I’m going to pass and continue sleeping’ — but I don’t. I’ve learned to eat as fast as possible, and to return to sleep while I’m still in a daze. It hasn’t been difficult to fall asleep after eating. I wake up a few hours later for my classes. School’s been going fantastically. I pass time in the afternoons by reading in bed which devolves into 2-hour long naps. Sometimes I find my fingers in my jar of peanut butter. Perhaps it’s happened more times than I’d like to admit. Since I’m sleeping three times a day (at night, after sahuur, and afternoons) it’s been hard to keep track of my recent dreams in my personal log. My physical activity has been kept to a minimum, just biking to/from school or to run errands. Lots of laying around because there’s nothing else to do and no one else is doing anything either — doing as the locals do.

I’ve been invited to several homes now to break fast with other community members and that has been a Ramadan highlight. Every family has different rituals and habits, and the foods different from what I eat with my family. At my house, breaking fast isn’t anything too special, in fact, everyone just gathers in front of the TV, which is something I dislike. At other peoples’ homes that I’ve visited, we sit on the floor (with no TV) and enjoy one anothers’ company and then talk to each other. My family rarely breaks out of Javanese, which makes it hard for me to want to speak with them.

Generally the morale’s been high however this week has been incredibly dull, 12 of my 20 normal teaching hours were canceled for ‘pondok Ramadan’ which is like a series of al-Quran education and other sessions on how to be a good Muslim. For example, the wife of the mayor of our regency, Mrs. Bupati, came to speak at our school. The entire school, teachers and students a like gathered in the aula to hear her talk… about FREE SEX which I REALLLLLY wish Indonesian’s would start referring to as ‘pre-marital sex’. I wasn’t surprised at the lack of maturity on both the students and teachers in the audience, laughing during certain points in the presentation. The bottom line is that nothing makes me angrier than someone (usually of power) giving misguiding information especially about sexual education to young people. That day my morale was… low and I couldn’t wait to go home and nap.

A reporter came to my school when Mrs. Bupati came to speak — of course he interviewed me and yesterday an article was printed in the 2nd largest newspaper in Indonesia. Unbeknownst to me, the reporter made up a few direct quotes about how I didn’t know where Indonesia was on a map or didn’t know Indonesia had electricity before coming here, both VERY MUCH FALSE.

A couple of minutes ago, I got a phone call at school from ‘a friend in California’. A ‘friend in California?’ I don’t really have any ‘friends in California’ that would call my school. Turns out it was an Indonesian man who had read the article about me, he lives in Indonesia but is visiting his family and wanted to meet me in Surabaya. I must say, I’m not too keen on meeting strangers like that.


Day 13: Thursday, August 2nd

2:56a: woken up by ibu, wondering why I’m the only one she’s woken up so far? Usually she doesn’t knock on my door until 3:15a. For the company? I ask why no one else is up — because she hasn’t woken them up yet. Both host sisters are menstruating  but they are still fasting to an extent, and apparently waking up for sahuur — I don’t know. Ibu and I eat in silence. I find seeds in my banana and I don’t wanna finish it, so I don’t. Ibu is chewing very loudly and smacking her gums — the sound reminds me of how Gao licked his chops (so loudly) after drinking a lot of water.

3:13a: back in bed — hoping a zombie pee will hold off until I’m ready to naturally get out of bed. I don’t teach until later in the day.

7:30a: slowly wake up, trying hard to recount dreams.

8:40a: arrive at school ready to teach.


Day 12: Wednesday, August 1st

3:16: is this real life? The knocking on my door take me a while to get up. I shout ‘YESSSS’ to make it stop. Really groggy this morning. Can’t wait to fall asleep again.

6:30a-noon: teach 5 classes non-stop. Bu Dian is grumpy because one of our students doesn’t have a notebook dedicated to English class, his notes are all jumbled, Arabic class mixed with algebra, algebra with history. She makes a comparison in the front of the class ‘Do you want to wear your younger sibling clothes and your father shoes? NO!’ Absolutely exhausted by the end of the day but I stick around to suck up the internet.

2:30-3:45p: nap. Wake up. Oh shit, is it Thursday? Relieved that it still is indeed Wednesday afternoon.

4:30-5:30p: go to Silvia’s house for LES. We practice making flashcards, review days of the week, indicator’s of time, and clothes. They have trouble remembering ‘skirt’ but have NO TROUBLE remembering ‘underwear’ or ‘under clothes’, which they say and we all giggle together.


Day 11: Tuesday, July 31st

12:56a: wake up. My bed is so cozy. My pillows are positioned perfectly to cradle my head in a way that I’ve been sleeping really well recently. I roll over and check the time. Good, still a little while longer. Zombie pee. I startle a rat hanging out in the cooking area. It runs along some pans and knocks something over. Back to sleep.

3:05a: awoken by SAHUR SAHUR SAHURRRRRR SAHHHHHURRRRR. I throw on some clothes and walk out of my room. No one’s up yet, but my ibu shortly follows. If I’ve learned anything during Ramadan, it’s how to eat quickly. When your mind is still cloudy and consumed by the thought of returning to bed, I guess that’s enough of an incentive to do anything quickly. I scarf down my meal (banana, oatmeal, some dates, chug water). Mbak Nur and her husband haven’t gotten up for sahuur in a couple of days. Back to sleep.

1:23p: I taught 4 classes today. My mouth is incredibly dry. I’m ready for a cold mandi and a NAP. I haven’t cheated or snuck any food since the ‘Sunday Incident’. Pats back.

1:30p: rode bike home from school. The streets were empty. Everyone’s napping. Though the sun was beaming that day, I embraced the calmness and fresh air that is a rarity in the afternoons. There weren’t any kids around to yell my name. They weren’t any neighbors to wave to. All of the doors were shut. I liked it that way. Just a calm ride.

1:45p: cold mandi was COLD, it seems like whenever it’s chilly in the mornings, the mandi water is always warmer. Maybe the baren-looking concrete basins do serve some kind of thermodynamic purpose. My stomach hurts, not in the usual hungry way. It aches in my lower left side, kind of like I’m so hungry I’m feeling bloated, but not, because my stomach is empty! On my way back to my room from the mandi, I grabbed my bottle of cold water from the freezer. As I head for my room, mbak Nur peeks into the hallway from the living room and giggles at me. ‘Apa?’ I say with a guilty grin, the lower half of my body wrapped in my pea-green towel — ‘aku dengar pintu [kulkas].’ (I heard the fridge door). We both laugh as we peer down at the bottle of frozen water in my hand. I think to myself ‘I’m gunna grab some bananas when no ones looking’ and so I do. My body’s giving me signals to a little bit – so I do, and then I finish the tempe chips that I opened on Sunday afternoon. So much for not cheating, but I don’t care, the point isn’t to torture myself, I’m still listening to my body.

2:00p: I plan to sit in my room without pants on. That’s right, I said it, without pants on. As the fan blows directly into my face, as I watch the new season of Weeds (I can’t believe no one’s told me about it!). I miss walking around my house without real clothes on. So free. Let’s close the window.

4:00-5:05p: I nap or at least attempt to. The last 25 minutes, I finally fall asleep, but know I need to wake up.

6:30p – on: lay around reading, baby talk and cooing is starting to get really irritating. I suppose this is something I won’t understand until I become a mother myself.

sidenote: I’ll be honest. With trying to rush directly back to bed after eating while my body isn’t yet fully functional, I’ve been neglecting the task of writing my thoughts directly as they happen at the wee hours. I’m going to try to get into the habit again, it makes reading these entries more exciting (maybe, if you like being inside of my head at 3am).


Day 10: Monday, July 30th

3:06-3:34a: eat as fast as possible. Man, I’m really getting the hang of eating fast. Go back to sleep — I have dreams of teaching my students London Bridge (which is what I plan to do).

6:30a-now: teach three classes, catch up on e-mails and lesson planning.

2:30-7p: intense migraine, try to rest it off. Thoughts are fuzzy. I’m not even thirsty or hungry, but I try to consume fluids with the hopes of my migraine dissipating. It eventually does.


Day 9: Sunday, July 29

3:13a: wake up, eat as fast as possible and go back to sleep. I’ve started making the sour/stank face when emerging from my room

8:47a: jolt out of bed because I think I hear a knock on my door. I jump out of bed, still in my bed dress, wrap a blanket around my shoulders and open my door. No one is there. Ibu is in the back, Nis is hanging out with a neighbor in the front. I startle her. No one knocked on my door…

9:30a-afternoon: attempt to put up hammock, straps are too short for area, fail. Clean room, change sheets, lay around, watch a Spike Lee film, and read. Oh and I ate some tempe chips. Yep it happened. I almost finished the package but stopped being a monster.

4:30-5:30p: catch up with MEBs on the phone until I get an SMS from one of my former students, she’s on her way to my house, to take me to another teacher’s house to break fast together. I rush and change my clothes, yellow top, black Audrey pants. My family has already bought pecel for me but I have to go, the car is waiting.

6:15-8p: arrive at the house where my entire XI IPS1 class has convened. They welcome me warmly, Joko pours me some es garbis and all of the students tell me how much they miss me. My blouse keeps succumbing to gravity’s yank and I keep having to adjust my shirt to keep it appropz. I eat some soto without the chicken. Everyone has already finished eating by the time I’m starting (I had to wait for them to finish frying tofu). Everyone’s watching me eat, and while it bothers me, I don’t get as anxious or annoyed as I would have a year ago. I hang out with the students for a bit, take a group photo, and then they head home. I hang out with Pak Buchori’s family, his desa is so quiet. His family keeps trying to make me eat more but my stomach is already feeling a little funky. They love hearing me speak the little Javanese that I do know, we all keep repeating how ‘warek’ or full I am. His mother in law is so old, she comes out and I greet her. She grabs my face, and if I didn’t know better, I’d think she was trying to peel my face off with that grip of hers, yanking at my skin telling me how beautiful I am. I enjoy being with his family but my face hurts from continuous smiling (and the pinching), I’m tired and ready to go home. His 18 year old son drives the car, veryyyy slowly through the night. I think if I was on my bicycle, I could go faster. But I enjoy their company.

10p: admire Paul Farmer’s work and then fall ASLEEP


Day 8: Saturday, July 28

The sides of my mouth are raw from dehydration. The night before, I had yawned, a big big yawn and the side of my mouth tore. OUCH. I’ve been lathering my lips with Burt’s Bees chapstick, haven’t used that stuff in a year!

3:13a: startled by knock on door, was deep into my dreams. Moved around slowly, remembered I could be slow to eat because I had planned to watch the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. The bananas that I plan to mix in with my oatmeal have gone bad. I go to park myself in front of the TV for the next 3+ hours with Nis.

8:20a: haven’t gone back to sleep and wondering if it’s worth it. I’m going to Mojokerto in a few hours to shop with my family for Idul Fitri food for the entire village. Last year it was mayhem. The grocery stories, MAYHEM.

noon-2p: read and nap, gosh I feel lazy

2p: head to Mojokerto with host family. We’re on our way to pick up Idul Fitri goodies for our entire immediate village. When I did this last year, it reminded me of trips I’d take with my mom, we never bought one thing, it was always in BULK. The my host family borrowed smell like someone had dumped a tank of gasoline all over the interior — there we were, my sister holding their jilbabs to their noses and I tied a scarf around my face. We looked like bandits. Wow. The government has finally put in some money to make some repairs on our road! Still not close to being repaired, but I’m thankful.

3p: arrive at Sanrio grocery store. It’s not as busy as I remembered last year. I stock up on oatmeal, dates, milk and shampoo then head to the fabric store by myself while the family does their thang. The streets of Mojokerto are still quiet. I spot a lady selling juice. There’s mangoes! I order one but tell myself I can’t drink it until after buka. I stick it in my bag.

4:30p: my family and I get read to head back to Dawar. The streets are crowded with motorcycle fumes and people rushing to buy gorengan and drinks. Everywhere I look, I’m tempted. I want gorengan. I want juice. I want slimy drinks!!!!! My family buys es dawet to take home but they INSIST I drink mine now… so I do. SO GOOD.

7:30p: after eating and everything, we are finally back at home. I am too full to think. All I want to do is finish my book and go to sleep. I forget that I had bought mango juice.

8:00p: in bed.


Day 7: Friday, July 27

physical changes I’ve noticed: I’m losing weight, my skin is becoming VERY dry. My nail beds have begun to peel. There are stress marks on my nails. A blemish I took care of isn’t healing as fast as usual. I’ve upped the amount of vitamins. Even when I do rehydrate, it’s like my body is overwhelmed, it doesn’t retain for too long, I immediately must pee it all out. During the day, I’m feeling great but when 4p approaches, I feel pretty crappy and worn out and light headed, blood rushes happen frequently. 

3:07: I hate waking up at this time. Eat two bananas and oatmeal with honey as fast as possible so I can return to bed. My eyes hurt.

5:49a: wake up, I stand up too fast. Eyes blurry. Cold mandi wakes me up real good. I do however contemplate taking a fake mandi and just washing my face. But I still love my cold mandi’s.

Amazing photos from AP on Boston Globe’s ‘Big Picture’ page on Ramadan 2012.


Day 6: Thursday, July 26th


I am starting to wake up on my own now. Immediately need to go to the bathroom — alas, it’s occupied. This seems to be my least favorite Ramadan occurrence. I’m the first to wake up with my ibu, however I’m under the impression that she get aways with only napping to stay alive. A few minutes later, Nis, 19, emerges from ibu’s room, her hair is looking CRAY. We smile to one another as I pour hot water into my oatmeal.

3:05a: the bathroom is finally free. Upon getting situated, mas (how we refer to host sister’s, mbak Nur’s husband, who forgets that I’m in there, accidentally turns on the light. There I am, squatting in a pitch black baren bathroom, where spiders the size of my hand like to convene, no biggie. A few seconds later, he remembers I’m there and flips the switch back on. Alhamz. Family takes the tiniest sips of water from the same bottle. I don’t know how they survive throughout the day. I resume eating and I can see mbak Nur still laying in bed, her entire right arm is hanging off of the bed like someone’s about to inject it. She finally emerges — again, ultimate stank face (confession: I look forward to this every morning) and excellent bedhead. The smell of the meat (what smells like it could be goat) curry ibu is eating, wafts my way as I am eating a banana with honey. The smell makes me a little bit nauseous.

3:20a: VICTORY BITE! Nearly the entire surface of my spoon is covered in oatmeal. Seriously though, it was a big spoonful.

3:35a: I am back in bed, sleeping like a fat baby.

6:42a: wake up feeling rested, get ready for school.

3:30p: I brush my teeth just to taste something. Yes, this is how I cope.


Day 5: Wednesday, July 25th

Confession: I didn’t write anything this morning. I was in a rush to eat as fast as possible and fall back asleep while still in my fuzzy dreamy stupor. I did take mental notes though.

last night — stay up until almost 11p watching a ton of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series that I downloaded while still at school (Exitmusic, Yacht, Foster the People, Phoenix, Thao Nguyen, and Gaby Moreno) and reading The Help.

this morning…

3:10a: awoken by ibu. Rush out of bed, feeling just… blase. Not excited nor unhappy, just blah. I really just wanted to keep sleeping. I think the most difficult part of Ramadan for me is altering my sleeping cycle. Ohhhhwaaadum, Family asks if I’m cold. Feeling somewhat irritated, I tell them I’m not, that my body’s temperatures are set to a different climate, that I’m rarely cold here — in a polite way of course. I eat a bowl of oatmeal with honey and a banana. I had plans to go running and just not go back to sleep but with how sore my legs have been since yesterday, I decide that would be a stupid idea. I need to go to the bathroom, but I tell my body to hold it, Nis has been in there a while, and I cannot bear to wait any longer, so I go back to sleep.

5:50a: wake up and get ready for school. I look at myself in the mirror and I look.. tired.

11:17a: taught 4 different classes today and they all went very, very well. However, after a lot of talking and smiling, I am REALLY thirsty. I cannot wait to go home in a bit and chug some water. Wait, it’s ONLY 11:17a? Cray. Today is going surprisingly slow. I can’t wait to nap. So fatigue. Fingers are moving fast, eyelids are heavy, so so heavy.

Cassava! Yum!


Day 4: Tuesday, July 24th

2:56a: woke up naturally, rolled over to check the time on my cell phone. Fell back into a deep sleep for 20 minutes until ibu knocked on my door.

3:16a: out of bed, it wasn’t a battle this morning. I’ve been waking up nearly every single hour since the wee hours, I chugged so much water last night that I became the ultimate pee machine. It’s only day 4 and my family has stopped really paying attention to the fact that I’m up at this hour with them. It’s chilly. Loud speakers from the mosque are blaring: SAHUR SAHUR SAHURRRRRR SAHUR SAHUR SAHURRRRRRR. Man, that guy would never get away with that back home, waking everyone up like that. Speaking of which, yesterday morning when I was awoken by a drums, it wasn’t children, it was the police. That too would never happen back home. Ibu tells me she’s been up since 1a, washing laundry and the dishes. I feel bad, and I’ve offered to wash the dishes before but she insists I don’t. She tells me that she forgot she was boiling a big pot of water this morning (something I saw when I got up to pee and no one was around). I prepare oatmeal with some vanilla energen for some flavor accompanied by a hard boiled egg. This morning I’m trying an Indomart brand of oatmeal, its texture is way too chewy — QUAKER RULES!

my body — calves and thighs are aching in the ‘I’m lacking in vitamins’ way. Pretty sure it’s potassium — and even though I’ve upped the amount of vitamins, I still feel deficient in something, maybe my body’s still adjusting. Ibu says that every fasting month she loses weight, I ask how many kilos and she shrugs.

3:30a: host sister finally emerges, the baby and mas are still sound asleep. Nis returns to sleep in ibu’s room. Mbak Nur tells me that this year I’m tough. I’m happy. It probably takes me a little more than 5 minutes to eat my hard boiled egg. I take tiny bites and chew a lot. I bring an apple into my room, thinking I’ll eat it, but I’m too tired. With the rate my jaws moving, that could take an hour.

4:00a: leave room to refill water bottle, everyone is already sound asleep. I too return to sleep.

8:07a: actually get out of bed and get ready for school.

afternoon: at school, reading, nap


Day 3: Monday, July 23rd

2:01a: awoken briefly by neighborhood children banging on drums to wake everyone up for sahur (first meal taken before dawn).

3:16a: awoken from dreams of cruising around Sam’s Club on a search for a massive pack of Twizzler’s Pull ‘n Peel to bring back to Indonesia. I never find it. Slip on shirt that I just picked up from the laundry lady that I’ve managed to dribble toothpaste on several times now. Go eat. I have already managed to break the first rule of Ramadan. I lied to my ibu who sees my bowl of veggies, she suggests I add some rice so I don’t become hungry later. I say I already have some. WHY ELLE WHY.

3:46a: in the past thirty minutes, the bathrooms been occupied and I fear I could have a shitastrophe. To be fair, this was the first time since I came to site that I’ve eaten anything but oatmeal for my first meal. The intestines are moaning. Everyone’s spent this morning going into my host sister’s room, crawling into her and her husbands bed to check on the baby. It’s a unique occurance, really.

3:54a: return to bed until I gotta be up for school.

SMS from PCV John: ‘2:20: Me hungry. Like that?’


Day 2: Sunday, July 22nd

3:16a: knock on door, interrupts my dreams. I sleep for 2 more minutes and force myself to get out of bed.

3:39a: ate two pieces of papaya, cup of oatmeal, one piece of tofu, one piece of tempe. Found it difficult to focus my eyes on something while I ate. My mind feels slow.  Host sis asks if I’m still sleepy. DUH. Can’t tell if bapak is praying in the dark or if he’s just fallen asleep sitting up. Wouldn’t put either one past him. Oh, he’s awake and eating.

Sounds — hissing from the boiling water on the stovetop, fuzzy speakers coming from mosque

3:46a: I’ve eaten 6+ pieces of papaya in the past 12 hours and yet my body isn’t responding as it usually does to eating that much papaya. Dear fiber, please do your thang. I worry about constipation. Going back to lay down.

4:46a: fall asleep once more

6:16a: zombie pee, return to bed

9:20a: I could have kept sleeping. Read, caught up with Erin, watched an episode of Sherlock. Every time I stand up, I get an intense rush of blood that blurs my vision and I must hold onto the door frame. Internal struggle not to break into my granola bar stash. I can just imagine crushing the sweet almonds between my teeth. Stop it. But the raisins!… Stop it. The family is moving slowly around the house doing their daily activities. I keep finding my ibu sitting, making these dreadful faces of of utter energy drainage. She looks absolutely exhausted and I often worry about her health.

2:15-3:15p: Nap time!!!!

4:00p: Ajeng comes over for TOEFL help. Never did I ever think I’d enjoy explaining English grammar rules, just this one time, to keep my mind off of my stomach.

5:30p: too tired for 2nd mandi of the day. This must be the first time in a year that I’ve skipped taking a 2nd mandi altogether at site. I’m no longer hungry. Just weak. My family’s just bought pecel! And ote-ote! Must eat!

6:25p: didn’t overeat but feel uncomfortably full. As always I’m the last one to finish my meal — everyone scarfs theirs down as if it’s a race. It’s eerily quiet outside. Not a moving motorcycle in sight.


Day 1: Saturday, July 21st

3:30a: why in the world is there someone knocking on my door? am I still dreaming?

what I ate: little over a cup of oatmeal with honey with a thick slice of papaya, a piece of tofu, and an apple. chugged a lot of water.

after eating — those last few bites of papaya were difficult. I kept stirring it around in my bowl, cutting it into smaller slices with my spoon, thinking that would make it magically appear in my stomach. But I feel good. I woke up and felt alive and awake. Mbak Nur (30, host sister) looked completely opposite of what I just described. My ibu had to yell her name several times until she emerged from her bedroom. She came out looking like she had just put an entire bag of Sour Patch Kids in her mouth. It was the ultimate stank face. The family scarfed their food down within a matter of seconds it seemed, their bodies moved slowly except for the spoon to mouth motion. I couldn’t get myself to produce any clear or comprehensive thoughts during that time except for these scribblings. Now, will I be able to fall asleep again?

4:46a: fell asleep once more after reading

8:16a: woke up to face the day. As I walked past my family’s prayer room on my way to the mandi, I found my bapak spread out all over the floor and prayer rugs, snoring like a big grizzly bear, mouth all open, palms up.

3:08p: spent all day at school, skyping and feeding my mind since I couldn’t feed my tummy. The stomach has been growling for a few hours now but I know I’ll be okay, only a few hours more until buka. Just took a sip of water (I’m occasionally allowing that) behind my door where Jay-Z looked me in the eyes (a magazine cover I taped the back of my door) where I read a sticky note that says ‘wake up and do yo’ damn thang’

5:27p: motorcycles are racing by. The increased revving a direct result of their stomachs on the prowl. It’s almost that time. I think my nose is beginning to hallucinate. I smell french fries… could it be, ibu, could it be? My host sister is playing an acoustic version of Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’ on repeat and I’m not sure if it’s the hunger, but I am IRRITATED and want to chuck her phone into one of the mango trees in our yard.


3 thoughts on “The Ramadan Diaries (Day 29)

  1. Pingback: The Ramadan Diaries | From Charlottesville to Indonesia

  2. Pingback: Ramadan 2012 « PC Indonesia Raya (Jay)

  3. Pingback: 90 Seconds Inside the Traveller’s Log | From Charlottesville to Indonesia

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