Diary: time to pray and not cry over the spilt soup

I had been letting the incorrect and overhyped image of Ramadan as a time of feasts get to me and, already, I had let half the month pass me by.

I had 56 minutes to go and my trembling hands were a clear indication that I would not be able to hold my panic in check for much longer. I had already burnt a wrist and sliced a finger open with a dull knife I assumed would be harmless. In attempting to move a pot, I had spilt soup on the kitchen floor, which sent me into a mopping frenzy. Only minutes earlier, I had dropped the salt shaker into the rice, forcing me to start the main dish from scratch.

The iftar meal - only 54 minutes away by this point - was not looking good for me, and the fact that it was the first Ramadan feast I had cooked, coupled with my overzealous idea to invite three friends to share the meal with my husband and I, meant that a nervous breakdown was imminent. The end product, though certainly edible, would not win any awards in a food competition and, unfortunately, was served 15 minutes late.

Preparing the iftar meal, with an non-negotiable deadline in place, makes me feel as if I'm a contestant on a TV cooking show, pathetically lagging behind the Stepford Wives who are able to whip up a meal in heels and pristine aprons, and have it steaming on a perfectly decorated table with time to spare. Cooking on a regular day is hard enough. Cooking during Ramadan, which commences as soon as I walk in the door after a gruelling day at work, is a different challenge altogether.

And so started an entire week of me attempting to juggle my non-existent culinary skills with obligatory fasting and a conviction that we will neither head out to an iftar buffet nor order in, no matter what. Practice surely makes perfect, I assured myself, and who can heat leftovers better than I? Not once in the past week has the food been ready by the time the Maghrib call to prayer was heard. My record time? Seven minutes late, at best.

Day after day, I think: "This will get easier." I reassure myself that today, I'll make a smaller mess in the kitchen. Today, my moody stove will work from the first try, without me having to grapple with the gas cylinder. Today, I won't groan in desperation when I am faced with the mountain of dirty dishes, pots and pans piled high on my limited countertops. Today, I'll have time to do what I'm meant to be doing while fasting: pray, not agonise over the menu. I'll have a few minutes to worship, I'll have an hour to finish that Surra that I started in the Quran when I promised myself I would read more from the Holy Book, I'll make time to contemplate my relationship with God, I'll engage in some charity work, I'll teach myself something new about my tolerant religion, as I have vowed to do daily.

None of that happened. What did happen after a week of trying to make Martha Stewart proud was a dash to the grocery store to buy paper plates, plastic cups and disposable cutlery, followed by a mad search for those takeaway menus that I had vowed to ignore all month long. I had been letting the incorrect and overhyped image of Ramadan as a time of feasts and gorging get to me and, already, I had let half the month pass me by without immersing myself in the spiritual cleansing to which I had been looking forward. Instead, I had been cooking.

Well, no more. I have two weeks left to learn how to make a simple meal suffice, and concentrate on the bigger picture. The Prophet Mohammed broke his fast with a date and a sip of water or milk, and always kept his meal light. Those are the kind of details I want to keep in mind while fasting, and not a mental list of groceries. Ramadan is the generous month of forgiveness, when we are given the chance to atone. I will start by asking forgiveness for being unable to find a balance - yet - between the kitchen and my religious duties.

@Email:hkhalaf@thenational.ae

Pearls on a Branch: Oral Tales
​​​​​​​Najlaa Khoury, Archipelago Books

Pearls on a Branch: Oral Tales
​​​​​​​Najlaa Khoury, Archipelago Books

Pearls on a Branch: Oral Tales
​​​​​​​Najlaa Khoury, Archipelago Books

Pearls on a Branch: Oral Tales
​​​​​​​Najlaa Khoury, Archipelago Books

Pearls on a Branch: Oral Tales
​​​​​​​Najlaa Khoury, Archipelago Books

Pearls on a Branch: Oral Tales
​​​​​​​Najlaa Khoury, Archipelago Books

Pearls on a Branch: Oral Tales
​​​​​​​Najlaa Khoury, Archipelago Books

Pearls on a Branch: Oral Tales
​​​​​​​Najlaa Khoury, Archipelago Books

Pearls on a Branch: Oral Tales
​​​​​​​Najlaa Khoury, Archipelago Books

Pearls on a Branch: Oral Tales
​​​​​​​Najlaa Khoury, Archipelago Books

Pearls on a Branch: Oral Tales
​​​​​​​Najlaa Khoury, Archipelago Books

Pearls on a Branch: Oral Tales
​​​​​​​Najlaa Khoury, Archipelago Books

Pearls on a Branch: Oral Tales
​​​​​​​Najlaa Khoury, Archipelago Books

Pearls on a Branch: Oral Tales
​​​​​​​Najlaa Khoury, Archipelago Books

Pearls on a Branch: Oral Tales
​​​​​​​Najlaa Khoury, Archipelago Books

Pearls on a Branch: Oral Tales
​​​​​​​Najlaa Khoury, Archipelago Books

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.5-litre V6
Transmission: six-speed manual
Power: 325bhp
Torque: 370Nm
Speed: 0-100km/h 3.9 seconds
Price: Dh230,000
On sale: now

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.5-litre V6
Transmission: six-speed manual
Power: 325bhp
Torque: 370Nm
Speed: 0-100km/h 3.9 seconds
Price: Dh230,000
On sale: now

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.5-litre V6
Transmission: six-speed manual
Power: 325bhp
Torque: 370Nm
Speed: 0-100km/h 3.9 seconds
Price: Dh230,000
On sale: now

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.5-litre V6
Transmission: six-speed manual
Power: 325bhp
Torque: 370Nm
Speed: 0-100km/h 3.9 seconds
Price: Dh230,000
On sale: now

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.5-litre V6
Transmission: six-speed manual
Power: 325bhp
Torque: 370Nm
Speed: 0-100km/h 3.9 seconds
Price: Dh230,000
On sale: now

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.5-litre V6
Transmission: six-speed manual
Power: 325bhp
Torque: 370Nm
Speed: 0-100km/h 3.9 seconds
Price: Dh230,000
On sale: now

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.5-litre V6
Transmission: six-speed manual
Power: 325bhp
Torque: 370Nm
Speed: 0-100km/h 3.9 seconds
Price: Dh230,000
On sale: now

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.5-litre V6
Transmission: six-speed manual
Power: 325bhp
Torque: 370Nm
Speed: 0-100km/h 3.9 seconds
Price: Dh230,000
On sale: now

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.5-litre V6
Transmission: six-speed manual
Power: 325bhp
Torque: 370Nm
Speed: 0-100km/h 3.9 seconds
Price: Dh230,000
On sale: now

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.5-litre V6
Transmission: six-speed manual
Power: 325bhp
Torque: 370Nm
Speed: 0-100km/h 3.9 seconds
Price: Dh230,000
On sale: now

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.5-litre V6
Transmission: six-speed manual
Power: 325bhp
Torque: 370Nm
Speed: 0-100km/h 3.9 seconds
Price: Dh230,000
On sale: now

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.5-litre V6
Transmission: six-speed manual
Power: 325bhp
Torque: 370Nm
Speed: 0-100km/h 3.9 seconds
Price: Dh230,000
On sale: now

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.5-litre V6
Transmission: six-speed manual
Power: 325bhp
Torque: 370Nm
Speed: 0-100km/h 3.9 seconds
Price: Dh230,000
On sale: now

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.5-litre V6
Transmission: six-speed manual
Power: 325bhp
Torque: 370Nm
Speed: 0-100km/h 3.9 seconds
Price: Dh230,000
On sale: now

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.5-litre V6
Transmission: six-speed manual
Power: 325bhp
Torque: 370Nm
Speed: 0-100km/h 3.9 seconds
Price: Dh230,000
On sale: now

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.5-litre V6
Transmission: six-speed manual
Power: 325bhp
Torque: 370Nm
Speed: 0-100km/h 3.9 seconds
Price: Dh230,000
On sale: now

Three ways to limit your social media use

Clinical psychologist, Dr Saliha Afridi at The Lighthouse Arabia suggests three easy things you can do every day to cut back on the time you spend online.

1. Put the social media app in a folder on the second or third screen of your phone so it has to remain a conscious decision to open, rather than something your fingers gravitate towards without consideration.

2. Schedule a time to use social media instead of consistently throughout the day. I recommend setting aside certain times of the day or week when you upload pictures or share information. 

3. Take a mental snapshot rather than a photo on your phone. Instead of sharing it with your social world, try to absorb the moment, connect with your feeling, experience the moment with all five of your senses. You will have a memory of that moment more vividly and for far longer than if you take a picture of it.

Three ways to limit your social media use

Clinical psychologist, Dr Saliha Afridi at The Lighthouse Arabia suggests three easy things you can do every day to cut back on the time you spend online.

1. Put the social media app in a folder on the second or third screen of your phone so it has to remain a conscious decision to open, rather than something your fingers gravitate towards without consideration.

2. Schedule a time to use social media instead of consistently throughout the day. I recommend setting aside certain times of the day or week when you upload pictures or share information. 

3. Take a mental snapshot rather than a photo on your phone. Instead of sharing it with your social world, try to absorb the moment, connect with your feeling, experience the moment with all five of your senses. You will have a memory of that moment more vividly and for far longer than if you take a picture of it.

Three ways to limit your social media use

Clinical psychologist, Dr Saliha Afridi at The Lighthouse Arabia suggests three easy things you can do every day to cut back on the time you spend online.

1. Put the social media app in a folder on the second or third screen of your phone so it has to remain a conscious decision to open, rather than something your fingers gravitate towards without consideration.

2. Schedule a time to use social media instead of consistently throughout the day. I recommend setting aside certain times of the day or week when you upload pictures or share information. 

3. Take a mental snapshot rather than a photo on your phone. Instead of sharing it with your social world, try to absorb the moment, connect with your feeling, experience the moment with all five of your senses. You will have a memory of that moment more vividly and for far longer than if you take a picture of it.

Three ways to limit your social media use

Clinical psychologist, Dr Saliha Afridi at The Lighthouse Arabia suggests three easy things you can do every day to cut back on the time you spend online.

1. Put the social media app in a folder on the second or third screen of your phone so it has to remain a conscious decision to open, rather than something your fingers gravitate towards without consideration.

2. Schedule a time to use social media instead of consistently throughout the day. I recommend setting aside certain times of the day or week when you upload pictures or share information. 

3. Take a mental snapshot rather than a photo on your phone. Instead of sharing it with your social world, try to absorb the moment, connect with your feeling, experience the moment with all five of your senses. You will have a memory of that moment more vividly and for far longer than if you take a picture of it.

Three ways to limit your social media use

Clinical psychologist, Dr Saliha Afridi at The Lighthouse Arabia suggests three easy things you can do every day to cut back on the time you spend online.

1. Put the social media app in a folder on the second or third screen of your phone so it has to remain a conscious decision to open, rather than something your fingers gravitate towards without consideration.

2. Schedule a time to use social media instead of consistently throughout the day. I recommend setting aside certain times of the day or week when you upload pictures or share information. 

3. Take a mental snapshot rather than a photo on your phone. Instead of sharing it with your social world, try to absorb the moment, connect with your feeling, experience the moment with all five of your senses. You will have a memory of that moment more vividly and for far longer than if you take a picture of it.

Three ways to limit your social media use

Clinical psychologist, Dr Saliha Afridi at The Lighthouse Arabia suggests three easy things you can do every day to cut back on the time you spend online.

1. Put the social media app in a folder on the second or third screen of your phone so it has to remain a conscious decision to open, rather than something your fingers gravitate towards without consideration.

2. Schedule a time to use social media instead of consistently throughout the day. I recommend setting aside certain times of the day or week when you upload pictures or share information. 

3. Take a mental snapshot rather than a photo on your phone. Instead of sharing it with your social world, try to absorb the moment, connect with your feeling, experience the moment with all five of your senses. You will have a memory of that moment more vividly and for far longer than if you take a picture of it.

Three ways to limit your social media use

Clinical psychologist, Dr Saliha Afridi at The Lighthouse Arabia suggests three easy things you can do every day to cut back on the time you spend online.

1. Put the social media app in a folder on the second or third screen of your phone so it has to remain a conscious decision to open, rather than something your fingers gravitate towards without consideration.

2. Schedule a time to use social media instead of consistently throughout the day. I recommend setting aside certain times of the day or week when you upload pictures or share information. 

3. Take a mental snapshot rather than a photo on your phone. Instead of sharing it with your social world, try to absorb the moment, connect with your feeling, experience the moment with all five of your senses. You will have a memory of that moment more vividly and for far longer than if you take a picture of it.

Three ways to limit your social media use

Clinical psychologist, Dr Saliha Afridi at The Lighthouse Arabia suggests three easy things you can do every day to cut back on the time you spend online.

1. Put the social media app in a folder on the second or third screen of your phone so it has to remain a conscious decision to open, rather than something your fingers gravitate towards without consideration.

2. Schedule a time to use social media instead of consistently throughout the day. I recommend setting aside certain times of the day or week when you upload pictures or share information. 

3. Take a mental snapshot rather than a photo on your phone. Instead of sharing it with your social world, try to absorb the moment, connect with your feeling, experience the moment with all five of your senses. You will have a memory of that moment more vividly and for far longer than if you take a picture of it.

Three ways to limit your social media use

Clinical psychologist, Dr Saliha Afridi at The Lighthouse Arabia suggests three easy things you can do every day to cut back on the time you spend online.

1. Put the social media app in a folder on the second or third screen of your phone so it has to remain a conscious decision to open, rather than something your fingers gravitate towards without consideration.

2. Schedule a time to use social media instead of consistently throughout the day. I recommend setting aside certain times of the day or week when you upload pictures or share information. 

3. Take a mental snapshot rather than a photo on your phone. Instead of sharing it with your social world, try to absorb the moment, connect with your feeling, experience the moment with all five of your senses. You will have a memory of that moment more vividly and for far longer than if you take a picture of it.

Three ways to limit your social media use

Clinical psychologist, Dr Saliha Afridi at The Lighthouse Arabia suggests three easy things you can do every day to cut back on the time you spend online.

1. Put the social media app in a folder on the second or third screen of your phone so it has to remain a conscious decision to open, rather than something your fingers gravitate towards without consideration.

2. Schedule a time to use social media instead of consistently throughout the day. I recommend setting aside certain times of the day or week when you upload pictures or share information. 

3. Take a mental snapshot rather than a photo on your phone. Instead of sharing it with your social world, try to absorb the moment, connect with your feeling, experience the moment with all five of your senses. You will have a memory of that moment more vividly and for far longer than if you take a picture of it.

Three ways to limit your social media use

Clinical psychologist, Dr Saliha Afridi at The Lighthouse Arabia suggests three easy things you can do every day to cut back on the time you spend online.

1. Put the social media app in a folder on the second or third screen of your phone so it has to remain a conscious decision to open, rather than something your fingers gravitate towards without consideration.

2. Schedule a time to use social media instead of consistently throughout the day. I recommend setting aside certain times of the day or week when you upload pictures or share information. 

3. Take a mental snapshot rather than a photo on your phone. Instead of sharing it with your social world, try to absorb the moment, connect with your feeling, experience the moment with all five of your senses. You will have a memory of that moment more vividly and for far longer than if you take a picture of it.

Three ways to limit your social media use

Clinical psychologist, Dr Saliha Afridi at The Lighthouse Arabia suggests three easy things you can do every day to cut back on the time you spend online.

1. Put the social media app in a folder on the second or third screen of your phone so it has to remain a conscious decision to open, rather than something your fingers gravitate towards without consideration.

2. Schedule a time to use social media instead of consistently throughout the day. I recommend setting aside certain times of the day or week when you upload pictures or share information. 

3. Take a mental snapshot rather than a photo on your phone. Instead of sharing it with your social world, try to absorb the moment, connect with your feeling, experience the moment with all five of your senses. You will have a memory of that moment more vividly and for far longer than if you take a picture of it.

Three ways to limit your social media use

Clinical psychologist, Dr Saliha Afridi at The Lighthouse Arabia suggests three easy things you can do every day to cut back on the time you spend online.

1. Put the social media app in a folder on the second or third screen of your phone so it has to remain a conscious decision to open, rather than something your fingers gravitate towards without consideration.

2. Schedule a time to use social media instead of consistently throughout the day. I recommend setting aside certain times of the day or week when you upload pictures or share information. 

3. Take a mental snapshot rather than a photo on your phone. Instead of sharing it with your social world, try to absorb the moment, connect with your feeling, experience the moment with all five of your senses. You will have a memory of that moment more vividly and for far longer than if you take a picture of it.

Three ways to limit your social media use

Clinical psychologist, Dr Saliha Afridi at The Lighthouse Arabia suggests three easy things you can do every day to cut back on the time you spend online.

1. Put the social media app in a folder on the second or third screen of your phone so it has to remain a conscious decision to open, rather than something your fingers gravitate towards without consideration.

2. Schedule a time to use social media instead of consistently throughout the day. I recommend setting aside certain times of the day or week when you upload pictures or share information. 

3. Take a mental snapshot rather than a photo on your phone. Instead of sharing it with your social world, try to absorb the moment, connect with your feeling, experience the moment with all five of your senses. You will have a memory of that moment more vividly and for far longer than if you take a picture of it.

Three ways to limit your social media use

Clinical psychologist, Dr Saliha Afridi at The Lighthouse Arabia suggests three easy things you can do every day to cut back on the time you spend online.

1. Put the social media app in a folder on the second or third screen of your phone so it has to remain a conscious decision to open, rather than something your fingers gravitate towards without consideration.

2. Schedule a time to use social media instead of consistently throughout the day. I recommend setting aside certain times of the day or week when you upload pictures or share information. 

3. Take a mental snapshot rather than a photo on your phone. Instead of sharing it with your social world, try to absorb the moment, connect with your feeling, experience the moment with all five of your senses. You will have a memory of that moment more vividly and for far longer than if you take a picture of it.

Three ways to limit your social media use

Clinical psychologist, Dr Saliha Afridi at The Lighthouse Arabia suggests three easy things you can do every day to cut back on the time you spend online.

1. Put the social media app in a folder on the second or third screen of your phone so it has to remain a conscious decision to open, rather than something your fingers gravitate towards without consideration.

2. Schedule a time to use social media instead of consistently throughout the day. I recommend setting aside certain times of the day or week when you upload pictures or share information. 

3. Take a mental snapshot rather than a photo on your phone. Instead of sharing it with your social world, try to absorb the moment, connect with your feeling, experience the moment with all five of your senses. You will have a memory of that moment more vividly and for far longer than if you take a picture of it.

The nine articles of the 50-Year Charter

1. Dubai silk road

2.  A geo-economic map for Dubai

3. First virtual commercial city

4. A central education file for every citizen

5. A doctor to every citizen

6. Free economic and creative zones in universities

7. Self-sufficiency in Dubai homes

8. Co-operative companies in various sectors

­9: Annual growth in philanthropy

The nine articles of the 50-Year Charter

1. Dubai silk road

2.  A geo-economic map for Dubai

3. First virtual commercial city

4. A central education file for every citizen

5. A doctor to every citizen

6. Free economic and creative zones in universities

7. Self-sufficiency in Dubai homes

8. Co-operative companies in various sectors

­9: Annual growth in philanthropy

The nine articles of the 50-Year Charter

1. Dubai silk road

2.  A geo-economic map for Dubai

3. First virtual commercial city

4. A central education file for every citizen

5. A doctor to every citizen

6. Free economic and creative zones in universities

7. Self-sufficiency in Dubai homes

8. Co-operative companies in various sectors

­9: Annual growth in philanthropy

The nine articles of the 50-Year Charter

1. Dubai silk road

2.  A geo-economic map for Dubai

3. First virtual commercial city

4. A central education file for every citizen

5. A doctor to every citizen

6. Free economic and creative zones in universities

7. Self-sufficiency in Dubai homes

8. Co-operative companies in various sectors

­9: Annual growth in philanthropy

The nine articles of the 50-Year Charter

1. Dubai silk road

2.  A geo-economic map for Dubai

3. First virtual commercial city

4. A central education file for every citizen

5. A doctor to every citizen

6. Free economic and creative zones in universities

7. Self-sufficiency in Dubai homes

8. Co-operative companies in various sectors

­9: Annual growth in philanthropy

The nine articles of the 50-Year Charter

1. Dubai silk road

2.  A geo-economic map for Dubai

3. First virtual commercial city

4. A central education file for every citizen

5. A doctor to every citizen

6. Free economic and creative zones in universities

7. Self-sufficiency in Dubai homes

8. Co-operative companies in various sectors

­9: Annual growth in philanthropy

The nine articles of the 50-Year Charter

1. Dubai silk road

2.  A geo-economic map for Dubai

3. First virtual commercial city

4. A central education file for every citizen

5. A doctor to every citizen

6. Free economic and creative zones in universities

7. Self-sufficiency in Dubai homes

8. Co-operative companies in various sectors

­9: Annual growth in philanthropy

The nine articles of the 50-Year Charter

1. Dubai silk road

2.  A geo-economic map for Dubai

3. First virtual commercial city

4. A central education file for every citizen

5. A doctor to every citizen

6. Free economic and creative zones in universities

7. Self-sufficiency in Dubai homes

8. Co-operative companies in various sectors

­9: Annual growth in philanthropy

The nine articles of the 50-Year Charter

1. Dubai silk road

2.  A geo-economic map for Dubai

3. First virtual commercial city

4. A central education file for every citizen

5. A doctor to every citizen

6. Free economic and creative zones in universities

7. Self-sufficiency in Dubai homes

8. Co-operative companies in various sectors

­9: Annual growth in philanthropy

The nine articles of the 50-Year Charter

1. Dubai silk road

2.  A geo-economic map for Dubai

3. First virtual commercial city

4. A central education file for every citizen

5. A doctor to every citizen

6. Free economic and creative zones in universities

7. Self-sufficiency in Dubai homes

8. Co-operative companies in various sectors

­9: Annual growth in philanthropy

The nine articles of the 50-Year Charter

1. Dubai silk road

2.  A geo-economic map for Dubai

3. First virtual commercial city

4. A central education file for every citizen

5. A doctor to every citizen

6. Free economic and creative zones in universities

7. Self-sufficiency in Dubai homes

8. Co-operative companies in various sectors

­9: Annual growth in philanthropy

The nine articles of the 50-Year Charter

1. Dubai silk road

2.  A geo-economic map for Dubai

3. First virtual commercial city

4. A central education file for every citizen

5. A doctor to every citizen

6. Free economic and creative zones in universities

7. Self-sufficiency in Dubai homes

8. Co-operative companies in various sectors

­9: Annual growth in philanthropy

The nine articles of the 50-Year Charter

1. Dubai silk road

2.  A geo-economic map for Dubai

3. First virtual commercial city

4. A central education file for every citizen

5. A doctor to every citizen

6. Free economic and creative zones in universities

7. Self-sufficiency in Dubai homes

8. Co-operative companies in various sectors

­9: Annual growth in philanthropy

The nine articles of the 50-Year Charter

1. Dubai silk road

2.  A geo-economic map for Dubai

3. First virtual commercial city

4. A central education file for every citizen

5. A doctor to every citizen

6. Free economic and creative zones in universities

7. Self-sufficiency in Dubai homes

8. Co-operative companies in various sectors

­9: Annual growth in philanthropy

The nine articles of the 50-Year Charter

1. Dubai silk road

2.  A geo-economic map for Dubai

3. First virtual commercial city

4. A central education file for every citizen

5. A doctor to every citizen

6. Free economic and creative zones in universities

7. Self-sufficiency in Dubai homes

8. Co-operative companies in various sectors

­9: Annual growth in philanthropy

The nine articles of the 50-Year Charter

1. Dubai silk road

2.  A geo-economic map for Dubai

3. First virtual commercial city

4. A central education file for every citizen

5. A doctor to every citizen

6. Free economic and creative zones in universities

7. Self-sufficiency in Dubai homes

8. Co-operative companies in various sectors

­9: Annual growth in philanthropy