Life between prayers

30 May

So… just last week Olaf was on his way home from ORDERING HIS NEW CAR (details, pictures, photos of happy car owner to be published as soon as he gets it) when he called me and said, “As it is close to dinnertime, would you like me to pick up a Steakhouse Burger from Burger King on the way home.”

“YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS please”, I answered.

“Well what time is the next prayer as I am only leaving the car dealership now so I may not make it to Burger King before it closes,” stated Olaf.

And that got me thinking about how one has to adjust to living in a country that shuts down completely for half an hour 5 times a day. Thought a little insight into how life needs to be fitted in between prayers may be interesting for those of you not living in the The Land of Sand. As you probably already know, according to the Holy Koran, Muslims should pray 5 times a day. The times for praying are set but vary slightly according to the time that the sun rises.

Today’s prayer times are:

3:35am

11:55am

3:14pm

6:32pm

8:02pm

When it is time to pray in Saudi Arabia the call to prayer resonates throughout the whole city as the Imam at each and every mosque makes the call to prayer over a loud-speaker system. Fortunately we have double glazed windows so we are completely unaware of the first prayer of the day, unless we have not yet gone to bed which happens frequently over weekends for most of the gang we tend to “hang” with. But I digress

For all the rest of the prayers, everything and I mean absolutely everything comes to a complete standstill for half an hour over prayer time. If you are doing your weekly grocery shop, you park your trolley in the aisle and leave the shop. It is locked up and opens again later for you to continue. Some shops lock you in and you can continue shopping in the dark as all the lights are usually turned off, others warn you a few minutes before closing and then chuck you into the street.

You seriously have to get your timing right in Saudi as you can have a very disruptive shopping or dining experience. Olaf and Andy, an ex-collegue, once ate an entire meal in complete darkness in a steakhouse. No music, no service, nada!  

It makes a difference in the little things, like popping out to pick up a takeaway, or needing to fetch medicine at the pharmacy on the way home from the doctor or having to do the hundred meter dash, in long black abaya, from the till point to the shop exit before the gates come down and lock you in for 30 minutes even though you have finished and paid for your shopping. And the ultimate frustration, when you make it out of the grocery store in time only to find that the friend who came with you is still on the inside. And you can’t even buy a cup of coffee while you wait for them!

One thing is for sure though, we always have a watch on.

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5 Responses to “Life between prayers”

  1. Fay May 31, 2010 at 9:28 am #

    Allahhhhhhhhh Akbarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr ;-)))
    It’s the only country in the world when ALL and EVERYTHING is closed during prayers. Been there, done that but it rules your whole schedule which is pretty nasty!

    The biggest frustration I had was that once I had to wait outside……with abaya, in the heat…..48 celcius or so……

    Take care and keep us posted! Great to hear stories which are sooooooo familiar for us. Fay xxx

    • dustbusting May 31, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

      That has to be the worst, being stuck outside in the heat whilst you wait for the shop to open. We have hit the 48C temps over the last few days and you never remember just how hot it gets.

  2. Fahmeeda June 1, 2010 at 3:12 pm #

    Assalamu-alaikum Olaf

    It seems like you have adjusted just fine to Saudi life..I saw the Saudi football team on TV the other day against Spain..and thought about you..Who are your favourites for the World Cup this year??

    Keep in touch please

    • dustbusting June 1, 2010 at 8:18 pm #

      Hello Fahmeeda, kief halek habibti ??

      Great to hear from you – glad you like Pip’s Blog. I read it often and love it (she’s a good woman and quite creative as well).

      I bought tickets for the 2010WC – one game Cape Town, other 3rd/4th playoff in PE – BUT, ain’t flying back. My family in Safreeka will enjoy on my behalf 😦

      To win? Germany might make the Final, Italy could be a surprise but I’d put a litlle moola on the Netherlands, beating Spain in the Final. 2-1.

      It’s 38 degress outside, 23h17 is the time and I’m off to bed.

      God bless and speak soon, insha2 allah Fahmeeda.

      Masalama

      Olaf

      • Fay June 6, 2010 at 11:08 am #

        Hi Olaf, it is nice to hear that your favorites are the Dutchies ;-)))) Well lets wait and see…..because when it comes to the finales the Netherlands are not that great ;-( or 😉
        Take care with and in the heat and big hug for the 3 of you! Fay x

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