Monday, November 5, 2007

The Friday Ritual

FANAR Center Here in Doha, the weekend comprises of Friday and Saturday. Friday is the Muslim Sabbath, a day when Muslim’s go to a distinct afternoon prayer called Jumaa (which literally means Friday) at their local Mosque (or Masjid in Arabic). Though it is recommended that every able bodied man attend all 5 daily prayers at the Masjid, there is a great significance for the Jumaa prayers. These payers start with a Khutbah (or sermon), which lasts about 20-30 minutes. After this the traditional prayer takes place. The topic of the Khutbah can range from many diverse subjects, though they always adhere to strict Islamic guidelines. We regularly go to the Qatar Center for the Presentation of Islam, also known as the FANAR center, since the Khutbah’s are in English.

Caravan RestaurantPrayers end at about 12:30 pm. Afterwards we frequently go to a Friday lunch/brunch buffet, held at many hotels & restaurants. We have gone to many places, but our perpetual favorite is called the Caravan. It is mainly an Indian restaurant but they also serve a few Chinese, Thai, Filipino & Japanese dishes. The food is good, but we go there mainly because it is extremely family friendly, with a comfortable dining room and exceptional service. Someone spill something? No problem, always cleaned up with a smile. A wants more bread after the bill is paid? A fresh basket appears. With 3 kids, these things are very important to us. Like many restaurants here, they also have a separate dining room designated for families only. The clientele is diverse, and the prices are reasonable.

Gulab Jamun We don’t eat much breakfast on Fridays since we want to do justice to the buffet. When we get there, H makes a beeline to the dessert table. Ever since coming here, he has developed a tremendous sweet tooth for Indian desserts. His preference is the perennial favorite, the Gulab Jamun, of which the Caravan provides him with a copious supply. Due to its excessive sweetness, I personally can not eat more then one.

I start with the soup, chicken-corn which I spice up with the chili/vinegar mixture present at the table. Then I progress my way towards the appetizers and main dishes. The buffet itself is extensive, with various soups, salads, appetizers and a wide variety of curry’s, both vegetarian and non vegetarian. There are also, as aforementioned, many Southeast Asian dishes as well. In order to please all palates, the food is not terribly spicy. My favorite items are the chicken curries such as Kashmiri Chicken cooked in a mild cream sauce and lentils called Daal Makhani. Fresh baked Naan continues to be replenished at the table. A, who is on a minimalist diet these days, is content with bread and plain white rice. But since his older brother was eating dessert, he also expressed is desire to try “Pulam Jamoo”. After taking one bite he said “that’s enough”. After lunch we usually go straight home. K and I then fall into a food induced coma, while the kids occupy themselves with their various electronic games or watch TV. In the evening we may go out, sometimes to see friends or just window shop in one of Doha’s many colorful and diverse neighborhoods.

These days however, our Friday routine is in hiatus. H has joined baseball and the games start right after the prayers. But when baseball season ends, we shall resume our ritual with great gusto.

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