Fasting away from home can take a little getting used to for young professionals and students in Hyderabad

Anyone who does not live with family is bound to miss the familiar flavours of home-cooked food. During the month of Ramadan, which is as much a time to celebrate food and family as it is a time for fasting, young Muslims living away from home feel this absence more than ever. From waking up early in the morning and cooking up a hasty meal for sehri to an iftar spent alone in your apartment, for software professionals and those working in MNCs, Ramadan in the city is quite different from Ramadan spent at home.

“I do fast here, but it’s quite erratic,” says Zihan Ahmed, an employee at a multinational company. “Preparing food for sehri is the tough part and waking up is even more difficult! At home, someone ensures I wake up. The office arranges food for me during iftar.”

While breaking the fast at sundown is easy, it is eating in the mornings that most people find difficult. However, not everyone is as lucky as Zihan. Most offices do not provide food at all hours and some observers have to break their fast with biscuits and snacks before they go home and have a good meal. Students who stay in hostels with fixed meal times have the same problem. “We are given dinner at the usual time but have to buy bread or cereal to eat in the mornings,” said a student of St. Francis College who resides in a hostel nearby.

For Farhan Nizar, a call centre employee who works a night shift, it doesn’t feel like Ramadan at all. “My timings are from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. so rather than stay at home after breaking my fast, I head to work, come back, eat sehri and sleep,” he explained.

People who work at odd hours do have a hard time adjusting their biological clocks, but if they are fortunate, as is Hassan Mustafa, a software professional, they are allowed to opt for day shifts during Ramadan. Others, like Farhan, fast periodically. “Sometimes I take a day break from fasting but continue with my prayers. The first few days can be tiring but your body gets used to it after a point,” he says.

What can they do to make the month more enjoyable? Getting together at different friends’ homes for iftars will mean better food and good company. Whether cooking at home or ordering in, food always tastes better when shared. Getting together for sehri is impractical but you can take turns to give one another wake-up calls.

Despite these odds, Farhan and others do not think twice about fasting during Ramadan but they do miss the luxury of staying home. Fortunately for them, the city comes alive during this month and a trip to the old city and a helping of haleem go a long way in allaying the urge to go back home.