It is still damn busy at the office although the pace is slowing down a bit because tomorrow is already the first day of Ramadhan, the moslem's fasting month. For 1 month, we will be fasting every day from dawn (around 04:30) until sunset (around 18:00). From 18:00 until 04:30, we are allowed to eat (I used to have friends abroad who thought that we absolutely don't eat the whole month! :P).
During the Ramadhan, of course we cannot do any product testing involving food/beverages because hey...in a country where the majority of the population is moslem, the odds of finding respondents who are not currently fasting to do the product test is quite slim.
But not only food/beverages, testing personal care products at respondents' homes are usually also postponed until after the Ramadhan. This is because people's habits change during the Ramadhan. For example, you are used to brushing your teeth after each meal. Thus before Ramadhan, you brush your teeth 3 times a day but during Ramadhan, you brush only twice. Conducting research during this period may not capture the normal consumption patterns.
So don't be surprised to see a change of pace in Indonesia during the Ramadhan. These are just a few you should be aware of :
- Schools / Offices may have changed their working hours
For example at my office, our working hours are usually from 09:00 - 17:30, however during the Ramadhan, it is from 08:00 - 16:30. This is to allow the employees some time so that they may be able to break the fast at home.
- Window restaurants are covered
Don't be alarmed to see your favorite restaurant's windows covered. The restaurant is not close, the windows are just covered so that you can't see the people eating inside. This is usually done by restaurants near the street. It is a form of respect to those who are fasting (we don't get to see the people who are eating, so we're not tempted to eat also).
- Clubs / bars are closed
Some clubs / bars may be closed or they shorten their opening hours. This is so that their employees have more time to join evening prayer.
- Restaurants are full in the evening
Where normally you are too busy to meet with friends/family, during the Ramadhan, many people make extra effort to meet & break the fast together. Therefore if you have any dinner plans, it is better to make an appointment first or otherwise eat later, around 20:00.
- Mosques are filled with people in the evening
During the Ramadhan, there are additional evening prayers. Avoid going by mosques around 21:00 because that is when the prayers are finished & the crowd goes home.
- Each tv channel has some kind of special tv show around 03:00 - 04:00
Before we start fasting, we eat first (of course, otherwise where would you get the energy to do all your activities during the day?!). This "morning breakfast" is called sahur. If you are living alone & you need to do sahur, don't worry that you will fall asleep because there are interesting & funny tv shows at this time. The shows usually also have quizzes where people who call-in can win a prize.
If you think it is weird that we change so many things just because we are going to fast for a whole month, well all those changes are made because this month is a big deal to the moslem community. Essentially, the Ramadhan is not just about "not eating", it is about restraining your desires of the physical world and remembering the afterlife. We are encouraged to avoid bad habits (such as loosing your temper) and to do more good deeds (pray to God, help other people in need). It is a month where we reflect upon ourselves and hopefully after the Ramadhan ends, we will still continue the good habits that we have gained during the Ramadhan.
So, for those who will be fasting, I want to wish you all :
Selamat menunaikan Ibadah Puasa!