The Muslim fast starts with the new moon of the last month of the Lunar Calendar- the month of "Ramadan". New moons are frustratingly unpredictable, so no one could say when Ramadan would start exactly. But when they failed to spot the divine crescent on Sunday night, every one knew they would be fasting on Tuesday- as the following night would surely bring the new moon. Ramadan officially started on Monday November 27th, at sunset.

Monday night: Usual busy streets, people crowd down narrow alleys for shopping or evening strolls. No real change except for the general discussion around and about Ramadan. And the anticipation of tomorrow's early rise, before 5:39 when the sun makes its appearance, signaling a long period of waiting for every fasting soul. As I walk about the streets, I am still debating whether or not to follow the local custom in the days to come. Only a very small fraction of the population does not fast here- and you can surely sense the evil eye cast upon those who eat or drink publicly. All cafes close, so do restaurants during the day. So, for sure, I won't be munching about the streets as I usually do, but will I push this respect for local customs as far as depriving myself from nutrients in my own home?

Tuesday morning: I catch the last minutes of a dramatic sunrise, casting rays of red light through the steamy dew of an Oudaya morning. The fast has long begun. I go back to sleep. I awake, and drink before class. I'll try to hold off on the food, but I'm allowing myself the luxury of drink for these first days. It's not about religion for me, but the need to feel everyone else's nervousness and bad moods. I hit the streets expecting to see a procession of sorry faces and tired bodies. Nothing of the sort- all shops are open and streets filled with the regular activity. Much less cigarette smoke though…

Tuesday afternoon: Just as I was about to give in and sneak a piece of bread through my famished mouth, Aisha walked in. I don't think she expects me to fast, but I am not about to eat in front of her. She will be here for a large part of the afternoon, so I sit back at my desk, hoping that Leo Africanus will be strong enough to distract me from a growling stomach. We shall see.

Before 5: Aisha left at 2. As the sun sets around 5, I was faced with only a few more hours to wait before enjoying Ramadan treats. It didn't seem that hard. I passed the time with more research, a long stroll on the beach and an endless shower. By the time my hair had dried it was time to heat up the soup, take out the dates and talk to neighbors. We ran out to the roof to watch the setting sun. At 5:30 sharp the muezzins yelled all across town and the legendary canon shot its redemption call: feasting is now allowed…. Amy and I ran down the steep stairs from the roof to our kitchen and bit into the first thing we saw. It felt good, and almost forbidden….

Tuesday night: So I did it! My one day of Ramadan… For most Moroccans, this is just one mark in the 29 slots they have to fill between now and Aid- the end of Ramadan festivities. Exemptions are made for days of sickness and travel- you can eat then, but you have to make up for these corrupted days by fasting again later in the year. Women are exempt during their period. The typical Ramadan 'fast breaker' consists of Harira soup, dates, peanut paste, pancakes and an enticing selection of cookies and cakes. Aisha had her daughters bring us a sampler of each of these delicacies and we staged a quiet Ramadan meal in an empty living room. The city felt oddly quiet - and we knew everyone was crowded around lively tables- busy with foods and relatives.

Later in the night, these once famished, now replete beings will hit the streets of Rabat- for a long night of entertainment and festivities. The long month of Ramadan has now begun.