Whew! The month of abstaining from food, drink, cigarettes, and everything else people enjoy during daylight hours is almost over.

Normally, we hear the call to prayer 5xs/day, but this month, in additional to the call to prayer, there are lengthy readings of the Koran and mullahs shouting something that sounds similar to “hell, fire, and brimstone” at all hours of the day. I’m not sure if they turned the volume up on the loud speakers throughout the city, or if the mullahs are simply becoming more animated as the month progresses. Whatever the cause, it has become much more difficult to tune out.

Another thing that changed during Ramadan is the tv. This month 75% of the channels depict a mullah reading from the Koran or doing some form of preaching. The remaining 25% of the channels are news or educational (like animal planet and discovery channel). Almost no music videos, no movies, no reruns of Law & Order…

Working hours have also changed drastically. Most government staff work until 1pm (and since many of them take buses, they are really leaving around 12:30), making it very difficult to get much work done. Most contractors work until 3 or 3:30. The national staff finish their day at that time, while the internationals go to other office spaces or work from home to finish out their required 8 hrs.

I’ve been able to keep from drinking/eating from breakfast to lunch while I’m in the office, but I feel dehydrated just doing that. It is particularly difficult on days that I present information or run meetings. The Afghans have definitely been crankier during this time, and there were a couple short fuses that blew up (feelings were hurt, people were offended, voices were raised). But now, with only a few days left, everyone is smiling (and no one is concentrating on work) because they are preparing for the big Eid holiday.