Ramadan 2021

Ramadan 2021 in UAE: I miss my mother's cooking at Iftar, Suhoor, says Pakistani delivery rider

suneeti@khaleejtimes.com Filed on April 22, 2021

Hamza buys dates and water an hour before Iftar, and sits somewhere for a meal after prayers.

Hamza Tariq, who grew up in a small town in northern Pakistan, never had to worry about his Suhoor or Iftar meals during the holy month of Ramadan, which started on April 13 this year.

Typically, an elaborate meal would be laid on the table before his doting mother would call him and his siblings out for food during Suhoor or Iftar.

Now, Hamza's life has come full circle. He has been living in Dubai for the past three years and works in a food delivery company as a rider.

The cosy comforts of his home during Ramadan only linger on in his memory and mind's eye.

Hamza has rejigged his life because of new ground realities.

He reaches a restaurant between 3am and 3.30am to ensure he gets his Suhoor meals on time. His 12-hour work shift starts from 5pm onwards, covering both Suhoor and Iftar.

“For sehri (Suhoor), usually, I eat a stuffed or plain paratha, along with vegetables or keema. It depends on what’s readily available. Lassi and yoghurt is a must, as it doesn't make me feel thirsty during the day,” said Hamza outside a restaurant, where he was waiting for a food parcel to be delivered at Dubai Land.

“I’ve been a rider for over three years. I like what I do and one of the biggest incentives of working for this company is that it allows us to choose our own shifts and day offs. We get paid well too; hours are flexible — no complaints on that front. But I do miss home, especially during Ramadan. I miss my mother's home-cooked food. She is an amazing cook and would pamper us with her culinary skills while showering unconditional love on us. She is acutely aware of our favourite dishes. Now, I’ve no option but to eat what’s readily available,” said Hamza with a glint of sadness in his eyes.

Asked if the 12-hour work schedule is punishing for him since he is fasting, he said: “Usually, I buy a bottle of water and dates an hour before Iftar, deliver the orders and say my Maghrib prayers and sit somewhere to have a meal.”

Unlike back home, where all his family members gather together for an Iftar meal amid a good laugh and light-hearted banter, Hamza has no such luxury in Dubai. His weekly off day is the only downtime, when he gets to bond with his fellow rider colleagues.

“Each neighbourhood has two-three riders. We might not know each other, but we often sit together and eat. Some company is better than nothing. No matter how close the friendship is, or how good the company of a stranger is, there is nothing that can make up for the time I’ve with my family back home during Ramadan. But I’m grateful for what I’ve. I get to talk to my mother daily. I've a job that I enjoy doing. I've food, and water. These are Allah’s blessings,” Hamza signed off amid a mad rush to deliver his next takeaway parcel.



Suneeti Ahuja Kohli

Suneeti Ahuja-Kohli has been in Dubai long enough to call it her spiritual home. She loves to travel but plans to settle down in Koi Samui, Thailand eventually to spend her sunset years by the sea. For now, she writes frequently on personal finance, retirement planning, business news and features, health and almost anything assigned by her editor. Her sojourns can be followed on instagram (suneetiahujakohli), news and views on Twitter @suneetiahuja, and for the rest, there’s a Facebook account.

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These prayer timings are for Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman. For Abu Dhabi, add four minutes. Deduct four minutes for Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain, and six minutes for Fujairah.

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