So, the time has come. The mid-point of bulan puasa is here. This holy month is a time for peace, reflection, connecting with our faith and aspiring to be the best version of ourselves. It’s also a time for a repeat of the same old challenges us working Muslims face every year.
Without further ado –
1. Messed Up Biological Clock
I don’t know about the rest of you, but my biological clock is at it’s worst during bulan puasa. Waking up at 4.30am only to go back to sleep at 5.40am and then attempting to wake up around 8.30am to get ready for work seriously screws up my system.
So, what do we do to combat this? We aim to be proactive! In the days leading up to Day 1 of bulan puasa, I tell myself that this is going to be the most productive month. Oh yes – I’m going to wake up for sahoor, cook and eat a healthy breakfast, and then I’m going to immediately start my day so I can finish early and have a short nap before buka puasa and terawikh prayers.
This works… For about 2 days. And then, I realise that I get seriously hungry by 11am if I don’t go back to sleep for a couple of hours after sahoor. So, I revert to the old ways of sleeping a few hours after sahoor, which no doubt means that I’m going to have immense trouble waking up again for work and I’ll end up showing up late for the next 28 days.
2. No Caffeine
For you strong people who don’t need coffee to function, I salute you! I don’t know how you do it. Personally, I drink at least 1 cup every morning to get my day started. Coffee fiends, I know you feel me.
However, during bulan puasa, I skip coffee because I go back to sleep after sahoor. Also, coffee makes me want to drink a lot of water and I don’t need anything making me thirstier than I already am while fasting.
The result is that I spend majority of my day in a daze and smelling my non-Muslim colleagues’ coffee around the office makes my heart hurt. It also means that the first week or so of bulan puasa comes with caffeine withdrawal headaches… I guess I should take that as a sign to quit caffeine for good but have you tried Coffea Coffee’s Maestro blend??
Anyway, here are some tips on how to keep going through the work day WITHOUT CAFFEINE
3. Late Meetings
You know how long afternoon meetings suck all of the life out of you? Yeah, imagine that but double the life sucking effect due to the absence of food and water. Fasting is easiest when you’re completely immersed in doing other things like executing your tasks. Meetings require more thought and energy – this usually comes from food!
Meetings also have a tendency to get dragged longer than planned, which means that we need to rush like crazy to make it to buka puasa plans with our family and friends. And trust me, bulan puasa is when we Muslims are the most social at night!
A simple way to avoid this situation is to schedule meetings to take place earlier rather than later. Easy peasy!
4. Traffic Lah!
Given that the majority of Malaysians are Muslims adhering to the rituals of bulan puasa, it’s not surprising that everyone around can see and feel the affects of the timing adjustments that we make during this holy month.
Typically, we head out to buka puasa plans with family and friends anywhere between 4-6pm to beat the crowds fighting for parking slots and tables in restaurants. This means that during those hours, traffic on the road is crazy! Road etiquette is also basically non-existent during these hours so be patient, brothers and sisters, we don’t want to batal our puasa so close to the finish line! #cubaan
If you’re heading to a location relatively nearby for your buka puasa, I personally advise you to leave at 6.30pm. Trust me, the traffic has died down a lot by then and you still have about 40 minutes before buka puasa time. If you’re worried about making orders in time, I suggest heading to buka puasa buffets – here’s a list for you to choose from!
But hey, it’s all worth it in the end because what’s better than spending time with family and friends?
Okay, in all seriousness – bulan puasa isn’t bad at all. In fact, bulan puasa is one of the most beautiful months for the Muslim community. It’s easy for us to forget why we fast in the first place, many of us do it because we were told we have to. Fasting is not meant to be easy, it’s about learning how those less fortunate suffer.
We are lucky that all we have to do is refrain from eating and drinking during daylight hours for 30 days. Many people don’t have a choice and are unable to feast as soon as the sun sets. We have the luxury of fasting in comfortable environments: air conditioning, nice warm showers, comfy homes with comfy beds, choice of what to eat every night.
Bulan puasa is also a time when many Muslims come together every night for terawikh prayers. In no other month of the year do you see that many Muslims in a mosque after dinner. It is truly beautiful to see so many people willingly spend that much time in peaceful reflection and connecting with faith.
So, let us embrace bulan puasa and it’s challenges with open hearts and open minds. Ramadhan kareem!