Saturday, August 14, 2010

hira: staying fresh

location: the mountain home (19 days until departure for italia!)

week in review: ramadan has arrived, my house is buzzing with family and friends, decorations, and special treats that only make an appearance during this month. every year, ramadan starts about 10 days earlier than the previous year--all based on a lunar cycle, so it starts with a new lunar month. for the past two years, it has occurred mostly, if not entirely, within the school-year. while fasting from food and water is much easier during those times when i am too busy running around to class and meetings to focus on hunger, it is not the space nor time for any real spiritual progress. this year, i am grateful to be at my family home for the first 20 days of ramadan (the latter 10 will be spent in torino, italia) and i have set some goals for myself:

1. eat in the morning. during ramadan, one is permitted to eat/drink until just before dawn---so about 4:45 am these days---and i have neglected to eat anything at this time during previous ramadans.

2. instead of stumbling back upstairs and sleeping, i plan to stay awake to say my morning prayers, read, write, whatever inspires me that particular day.

3. i will incorporate naps into my daily routine, life permitting.

4. i will take long walks on the mountain and not stress over a lack of gym routine.

so far, so good.

this week, i've been thinking about my relationship with food and how it has evolved from a rushed, impure lust to a pure and deep love. since i am allowed the luxury of time here on the mountain, i spend some mornings and afternoons in the kitchen, experimenting with flavors and textures, working to create a delectable dish. my family doesn't complain. these experiences are much more meaningful to me because i am blessed to be able to use only the freshest fruits, vegetables, and herbs from my gardens and trees in my backyard. i just love going out in the morning and collecting some tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and zucchini. basil, rosemary, peaches, cherries. eggplants, banana peppers, kale. its easy to appreciate food when real food lays in front of you, textures, colors, and smells engulfing you in a foodie trance. honestly, i think this simple pleasure of slow food, being able to experience my food, has led me to falling in love with the mountain. it does bring good things.

i can feel it becoming a part of me, a part that doesn't stay with the mountain when i leave, but travels with me wherever i go---to university, to italy. italy is the birthplace of the 'slow food movement' and strives to retain a traditional sense of a meal and how it is prepared (i.e. something worth eating and meant to be savored). i look forward to the farmer markets and being immersed in a culture so focused on cuisine.
at school, though exams and stress have led me down roads built on refined carbs and sugars, i still have a strong community present that reminds me that, well, it all means nothing if you don't enjoy it. i love the UMD co-op and the people that come with it who have become my friends. i love that i can just swing by the student involvement suites or the co-op and run into someone reading, talking about something more meaningful than the latest iphone (which is pretty important as well, don't get me wrong). these people assure me, they remind me of what is important. makes me a bit hesitant about life after university ha ha.

new goals for this week: no eating after iftar (the dinner that breaks fast during ramadan), eating my salads and vegetables first during mealtime, stretch more and take more walks---been stiff as of late.

current obsessions: homemade frozen smoothie pops, muted grays and navy solids, chilled soups, homemade greek yogurt, lychee and mangos.

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