Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

T’fadl(i), God Whispers

Arriving back in Doha, it’s Ramadan, and it’s like Christmas. Not the way Christmas is supposed to be, but the way Christmas sometimes brings out the very worst in us. At the grocery store, the very first indication is the parking – I suppose it might be this bad from time to time, but today it felt like everyone was in the ME FIRST mode. The parking lot was congested with guys just sitting and waiting for their riders to come back, and people afraid that the parking spot they had their eye on was going to be taken by someone else. There were moments of gridlock, and impatient honking.

It’s easier for me to handle than for those who are fasting.

Inside the store, the faces are stern and their is an air of desperation. Women are looking for new ways to provide special meals (imagine, having to come up with an entire month of special meals!) and I imagine the budgets are strained right now, especially with the big Eid coming up.

We all know that we are to humble ourselves and to give way to others. We are told to do more than just give way, but to give way willingly, and with grace, with a smile. It’s something our two religions share, the emphasis on humbling oneself to serve the greater good. The meaning of the polite Arabic t’fadl (to a man) or t’fadli (to a woman), it means, literally, you are to be preferred (over/before me). It is my spiritual exercise during Ramadan, when everyone else is pushing and shoving and grabbing and taking priority, that I am relishing deferring, elaborate politeness, and giving the hand sign for patience (palm up, fingers together, thumb on middle finger, pushing upward) to those who are honking at me while I wait for someone to back out of the parking space I don’t even need.

It probably doesn’t get me any points, spiritually, to be so aggressively polite; I am enjoying it too much.

September 17, 2009 - Posted by | Civility, Cross Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Qatar, Ramadan, Shopping


  1. The Patience sign is for the had to be pulling down gently

    Comment by daggero | September 17, 2009 | Reply

  2. LLOOLL Daggero! You see pulling down and I see pushing up and we are both right!

    Comment by intlxpatr | September 17, 2009 | Reply

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