The Iftaar Party Scene – By A. Ali

I felt my sense of humour igniting as I stood like a typical Lucknow girl at what appeared to be the start of a buffet line at an Iftaar gathering at a club. There were about 10 minutes left in Iftaar and Amir Liaquat was on a television set plugged nearby. The people were ready to dive head first into the dishes in an attempt to secure the largest and most bloated Dahi Phulki.

 

Where do table manners go at Iftaar parties? Some begums would like to answer by carelessly commenting ; as they tie their duppattas behind them and prepare to squeeze through the cue, that table manners are for the table! Not the buffet line.

 

Securing a position at an Iftaar buffet cue is a skill. I found the auntie in front of me jammed at her heels for the next 5 minutes as she refused to lay down the spoon. She was helping the several members of her family empty the dish as fast as she could.

The fact that all eateries, clubs and restaurants lower there rates to an incredible extent for Iftaar add to the agony. The line of relatives and friends behind one “spoon securing” auntie is endless! To make matters worse, once they are done filling their plates to dangerous levels they untie their duppattas and begin with their chit chats. The kind of pushing and bumping that happens in the cue is alien to them.

As I tried to make my way up as decently as possibly to the dish and catch the spoon I hear the gossips:

Amir Bhai is so good naa?
Ya! Did you see his kurta yesterday?
Array I tell you that is from Humayun Saeed

Before I could listen to the comments on Humayun Saeed, another lady, a senior citizen this time caught hold of the spoon. I did not mind this as there were about 5 minutes left in Iftaar and she was about my grandmother’s age. I thought I was hallucinating because of the hunger pangs in my stomach when this Dadee Jee, after loading her plate with the Dahi Phulki, ate a huge Phulki spilling the yoghurt on her saari and said:

Namak kum hai aaj.

Passing me a decent smile, she made her way down the cue and some who were similar to me made way for this senior citizen.

As the famous ad series started displaying on the famous Ramazan channel “Geo” people gathered around the TV set to watch the Ramazan clock. I seriously wanted to question the need of seeing the clock when the Iftaar was in the open and the Azaan could very well be heard. But I chose to help myself with some food instead. At times like these, silence is gold.

I observed as I broke my fast that some fine gentlemen had not seated themselves and my question why was answered when they approached the buffet table to refill their halfway finished plates. I thought Ramazan was supposed make people consume a bit less? I really fail to understand why everyone has to eat all the way up to their throats! There is the Sehri and then there is the Iftaar, as it is they are eating five meal equivalent in one day!

Speaking of etiquettes again, some respectable men had greedily taken out cigarettes and cigars as if they had been doing God a favour all day long keeping the cancer sticks away. It felt as if in a jiffy, every second person was smoking out there and I am pretty sure I saw someone sipping a Jack Daniels! So probably we are supposed to resist temptation from dawn to dusk and later they can proceed for payers with Jack Daniels in their intestines.

What we are simply doing here is skipping a meal in between and decently breaking our fast when the sun sets, why are people in such a hurry? I was resisting the urge to photograph a lady who was picking up spoons, as if she was a retail seller, in both hands. Had there been no men around, she would have stuck a few in her shoes as well.

There was an arrangement for prayers to one corner. While I tried to remember my prayers some ladies were chatting about Eid shopping exactly over my head besides the prayer aisle.

Fouzia nay chamak walay jootay khareeday hain.
Wo to purani baat hogayee, Irshaad bhai London se chappal laye hain wo dekhna.

It was really not my fault that I can still recall Fouzia and Irshad Bhai. Forget the table manners, where are the prayer etiquettes? Aren’t we supposed to stay quiet when someone else is praying?

I really do not know what kind of an Islamic Republic are we living in where people do not respect religious occasions. What is the harm in a little decency. If not for the religious spirit, do it for your Amir Bhai who preaches so well each day about the same thing!

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