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Monday, July 30, 2012

My 30 Days of Ramazan - Day 3

At 7:25pm at the end of Day 2 I heard the call to prayer and my ice cold water was ready. I had it in the freezer in 1.5 liter plastic bottles, frozen. At 4 pm I had taken out the frozen bottle and put it on the shelf at 95F indoor temperature. By the time 7:25pm rolled around about half of it was water, the other half still ice. Nice, I thought. When you are thirsty and time is moving slowly you have lots of time to plan. But I didn’t realize how thirsty I would be. I drank half of the bottle and then cursed when the remaining water was still frozen. It didn’t thaw fast enough and I wanted more. I immediately went to the freezer and took another 1.5 liter out to thaw while I waited for the ice to melt. Every few minutes I drained the icy water from the bottle. One bottle helped but my mouth was still dry and my throat was still parched but my belly was full of water.

The ice thawed fairly quickly and in the next three hours I drank three liters of water. When you first drink water after a fast, you are dehydrated and it has been hot, it is amazing how, within less than 15 seconds it seemed, your body releases this wave of water entering your body as a wave of sweat. My body poured of sweat from the water I drank. I was wiping it off of my face, neck and underarms with a towel and it was still dripping down my sides. Tomorrow, I thought, I better take the frozen water out at 3 pm, not 4pm!  I have an infrared temperature gauge with me for measuring surface temperatures. I wonder what my body temperature was? My body must have shut down in a reaction to dehydration. With this wave of water coming in, it released it in an attempt to reduce my body heat. It worked and my body was cool from the evaporation. I will take a shower before I go to bed, this additional cooling will help me to sleep.

I enjoy their round bread but after awhile it gets a little old and you do yearn for a Western-style sandwich. I found chunky peanut butter, covered in a layer of dust, tucked away in a back shelf of a food store not too far from where I am staying. (I have been here now three months and I am still not tempted to call it home…. yet.) There are plenty of jams and jellies and honey. I also found a toaster for $8 in a local store and a square loaf of bread at a store that catered to Khaariji (foreigners). So I cut off two slices of bread, put them in the toaster, buttered them with a good layer of butter, peanut butter and jelly. It went down very easy and filled me quickly. My confidence returned! I didn’t need to get up at 2:30 am to drink water and eat! Ha! I will be fine! I decided to retire early and continue to read the book I downloaded for my Kindle, “Lions of Kandahar”. My belly was full and I fell asleep.

The Third Day. My alarm went off at 5:00am since I didn’t need to get up early this morning. When I awoke I could feel my mouth was dry. Not a good sign this early in the morning I thought. Maybe I should have set the alarm for 2:30. After getting the staff on target for the morning I was headed into the bazaar to pick up some agricultural chemicals and a sprayer. I tried to dress as inconspicuously as possible by wearing local clothes. My staff told me I looked local. I had tested it one day by having staff follow me and observe how people reacted when I walked through the busy bazaar and outside the mosque. The staff told me no one noticed but two boys who stared at me. I asked them if they knew why. My staff told me it was because I was fat and laughed. Thanks guys. I will never totally blend in but if I can move around in crowds drawing as little attention as possible I feel much safer. My white beard, now about three inches long, helped. It is relatively safe where I am but you never know who is out there in a community of 300,000 people. Kidnapping is the biggest threat and there is always a bounty on Khaariji (foreigners).
While in the store and looking at agricultural chemicals an older man, a customer, started talking to me in Dari. That is a good sign. He thought I was local. The shopkeeper was young, maybe 30. I had a white beard and I was looking at the chemicals. This customer was going to get advice from a “white beard”, not a boy. Age commands respect in this culture. The shopkeeper boy explained what this farmer wanted and I helped direct him to the right chemicals (the same ones the boy was telling him to buy.) I could hear a sigh of relief come from him when I told him which one to use for melon fly. The shop boy and I were now friends.

I bought my chemical and sprayer and headed back to the office, cutting through the crowd of vegetable and fruit vendors, about 100 meters, to my beatup Toyota Corolla. With my eyes straight ahead I watched through peripheral vision and no one looked at me except the vendors yelling to me what they were selling and the price. It was now about 10 am and already breaking 100F I guessed. The sun was very hot and my mouth was very dry. I drove to the government building for a meeting but I could see that they were already starting to break up for the day. With a quick meeting, it was 11am and I could feel that my body was getting tired and headed back to the office. At the air conditioned office we rested and I talked with my staff. They were very appreciative that I was fasting with them and we shared what we were feeling during the fast; tired, dizzy, lack of concentration… all were signs of dehydration. The staff disappeared during prayer time; prayed and rested. I told them to go home at 2pm. I needed to lie down and rest. Instead they stayed until 430pm and worked. It was probably the A/C but I also like to think that we have a very good team.

I rested and read in my book. I could not concentrate for very long. I glanced at the clock numerous times. It never was so slow in my life. I heard the Mullah. I got grabbed a now unfrozen (I got it out at 3pm) liter of juice. It was too warm! I downed it anyway. I cooked up two eggs and two pieces of toast. My stomach was shrinking. I could hardly eat it all. This time I am putting a 1.5 liter of water next to my bed and setting the alarm for 3pm.


  1. At this rate, you won't be "fat" for long. Be careful, Bob!

  2. You are right. The pounds are shedding in this fast. And this is one of the many health benefits local Afghans tell me about with fasting. Of course they attribute that to the wisdom contained in the religion. I am not sure of the wisdom of no water in 115F temperatures for 16 hours....