Tuesday, 9 November 2010


It's one week to go until the big Eid holiday, which for expats is 3 days off work (praise Allah that it doesn't fall over a weekend this year!) and sheep get nervous when offered a ride home in a stranger's car. Thousands of sheep have been enjoying life in the country, then one day they're loaded into pick up trucks and get to enjoy the feeling of the wind in their faces as they're raced into town. Once here they stand around in makeshift pens, set up wherever the farmers damn well feel like it. These impromptu markets appear everywhere overnight and last until the final runt of the flock has limped away for a ride home in the back of a taxi or a family's Mazda.

Whilst Christmas typically dictates the devouring of a turkey or other fowl, the difference is that it's not a custom that every family attending a Xmas dinner would bring their own bird with them and slaughter it in the back yard. Sheep aren't cheap and yet it is important that everyone can provide one. As the male of his house, my driver will use pretty much his whole month's salary to buy a sheep , yet with only him, his mum and sister in the house, how long are they going to be munching mutton ? And as they live in an apartment, they will have to keep their sheep on the roof overnight until it's time for it to get the closest shave it'll ever experience. It's not uncommon for the more well off families to buy a cow or buffalo; even camels are reduced to handy steak sized pieces. Budding entrepreneurs set up grind wheels at the side of the roads to sharpen the blades of the once a year butchers.

Luckily, as a vegetarian and an atheist, I'm unlikely to receive any invitations to join in the celebrations. And this year we're escaping to Malta with a bunch of people from the Hash, much better to enjoy an Islamic religious holiday in a non Islamic country. I'll raise a glass to all the sheep.

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