“Welcome to the parallel universe” they told me as I took the ship into Bayonne, New Jersey.
What was once a bustling terminal in New York Harbor for Uncle Sam’s cargo was now a small suburban outfit. Most everything went in and out of Norfolk, Virginia; jet fuel and Navy beans. In Nee Jersey, you did things differently. “Going downtown” meant a fast ferry ride to Manhattan, instead of a 15 minute drive south on Hampton Boulevard. Your Uber driver knows where “Naval Station Norfolk” is, but would be hard-pressed to find the government pier in New Jersey.
Such is the feeling that I approach my first Ramadan in the Middle East. We’ve made some accommodations to cultural necessities: When preparing lunch, we settled for chicken, since there were both Hindus and Muslims working on the team (no beef, no pork). Muslims traditionally abstain from food,beverage, and water during Ramadan’s sunlight hours. The temperature is 100 degrees, Fahrenheit. Abstaining from water flies in the face of every health lesson in hydration. Then I thought about it more: before the days of desalination, water was a rare commodity in the Gulf States. Abstaining from water trains they body to do with less, a survival skill in harsh climates. I’m hesitant about it occurring in my workplace, though. Will see how it goes.