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Ramzan helps bring cultures together

At the Verlekar household, Sneha, 43, prepares rose kheer for her daughter Krutika Verlekar, 22, to take to her office for her Muslim colleagues, who are fasting for the holy month of Ramzan.

mumbai Updated: Aug 08, 2011 02:34 IST
Zahra Gabuji

At the Verlekar household, Sneha, 43, prepares rose kheer for her daughter Krutika Verlekar, 22, to take to her office for her Muslim colleagues, who are fasting for the holy month of Ramzan.

They cannot eat or drink water between dawn and dusk and can do their iftaar (opening the fast with water, dates and food) only at sunset.

Several young professionals who follow their religion but have to meet the demands of hectic work schedules are finding ways of helping each other and in the process are getting introduced to new cultures and traditions.

For Verlekar, sharing food with her Muslim friends at iftaar has taught her a lot about Islam. "We speak about various topics while eating together.They explained to me the concept of zakaat (charity), which is supposed to be given from a person's income. We also discuss traditional food recipes," said Verlekar, who works for a telecom company in Malad.

For her Muslim friend Farheen Dalwai, 25, this gesture is overwhelming. "We cannot go home for iftaar because of the late working hours and different shifts. So friends at work try to help out by getting home cooked food for us. There is so much variety on the table with chicken cutlets, phirni, fruits and poha," said Dalwai.

Jaipal Raskar, 29, has been making Maharashtrian dishes such as misal pav for his Muslim friend Zeeba Mortezai, for the past two years.

"Once Ramzan starts, I carry food for Zeeba because she is one of the youngest people in our salon. Sometimes she is unable to eat at iftaar since she has clients so I wait for her to finish and then we eat together. Taking part in each other's culture has dissolved the cultural boundaries for us," said Raskar.

Sonali Pande, 32, a resident of Kandivli has informed her maid that she will now have to cook extra food as Ramzan has begun. "Though our office hours are flexible, my colleague Amjad is usually travelling when it is time to break the fast. So I try to pack something, which he can have at office if he gets late or on his way back home," she added.

For Amjad Khan, 26, who is the only Muslim in the team, the colleagues' kindness has reaffirmed his belief in people. "Even if it is just food, it is a way of showing love, especially in a country like India, where a home cooked meal signifies love."