Twenty-nine days later. 29 long, hot, hungry days later. The end of Ramadan is here. And with it always comes a range of feelings. There's the excitement of having a normal breakfast at a reasonable hour again. There's the anticipation of socialising once more. There's also this nagging feeling that something special has finished for one year again.
In my first blog post I wrote about how Channel 4's decision to air the call to prayer made this year feel different. 29 days later and I stand by this claim. It's been a really different year and I hope I'm not alone in voicing that opinion.
This year has felt different because Britain has basked in its third hottest July since 1910. The sheer heat and humidity made the lack of water really challenging. That's not a bad thing and I'm certainly not looking for sympathy. The water is the one thing that most people I've spoken to have said they couldn't go without. It dries up your skin. It makes you tired and it gives you headaches. Why bother? Bother because it teaches you that if you put your mind to it you can forego anything. In the most extreme case it's water, but in the day-to-day it could be a habit you've been trying to kick or a new one you've been trying to start. You've just got to lean your way into it.
This year has felt different because it's the first time I've experienced non-Muslims around me voluntarily fasting in order to understand what the experience is like. In my last blog post I wrote about Lisa and Nihal's journey through their first day of fasting and whilst the high number of comments has been astounding it was very touching to write about their efforts and share that with others. It just made me realise that you don't have to be Muslim to take home some of the values and the ethos of Ramadan. The gratitude and the generosity that comes with it is universal.
On a personal note, this year has felt different because it's meant a massive change in my lifestyle for a month. Rather than going for weeks on end without seeing my family as many people do, I dedicated three weekends to my nearest and dearest. Rather than making a cup of tea at least three times a day, I've gone without and just focussed on work. Rather than heading out after hours I've headed home to recoup, meditate and pray. These may seem easy things to do to many reading this, but when you're in the day-to-day, especially when you're caught up in a career, it's hard to make a conscious change to dedicate time to something other than work and entertainment. That for me has been the biggest change and in fact lesson of this month. Forgoing food and drink has made me focus on something bigger than me.
I just wonder that as the sunsets on the final night and the Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations begin and continue into the weekend and next with the Mayor of London's Eid celebrations just how much of these lessons and changes I'll take with me.
Or will I get sucked back into the working world and all the tea, socialising and cake that goes with it? Time will tell. But what I do know is that Ramadan 2013 has been different. Good different.