Monday, October 17, 2005


It finally rained in Algiers after several months of drought, on the day of my arrival. Mabrouk to all the farmers here who have been bearing the brunt of crop shortage. The view of the mountains nearby the airport was of exceptional clarity because the rain has washed away all the dust and smog.

This period is also the period of Ramadan, which means that people will stop eating, drinking, and smoking after sunrise and resume food-intake after sunset. I'm quite familiar with Ramadan because of the large population of Muslims back in Singapore. Unlike in Singapore and Lebanon, Algerians are more strict with their observance of Ramadan, so there is no food and drinks sales anywhere throughout the day.

Our group of visitors to Algeria decided among ourselves that we should probably observe the local customs as well. Which means for the Japanese, no alcohol at all, which is a big sacrifice for them! For the past few days, we have either skipped meals or reduce our food intake drastically to just a bottle of water or a piece of fruits for lunch. Today was my second day of full fledge fasting and I think it is doing me good because it is reducing my stock of fats which, I have been diligently accumulating. Since yesterday, I opted to begin eating only one meal in the evening for the entire day. Its nice to be able to observe the local customs to show one's respect I think. A good way of gaining local respect through genchi genbutsu.

Still three hours and a half to go until the official breakfast time at 6:30pm. Everyone looks hungry (locals included) and we were just a while ago discussing dinner plans at a local pasta restaurant at the hotel and the visit to the El Khaima (traditional Ramadan performance) after dinner. Pasta sounds very good indeed!

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