In this edition of Ramadhan Around the World, we asked Noor Jannah Hakim, an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher in a public school in Zhengzhou, China about how Ramadhan is spent there. Jannah, a Singaporean, has been living in the Henan Province of Zhengzhou for three years now, migrating there for work in 2019.
“Ramadhan here is pretty much like any other day. There’s no difference to me because I don’t turn on the radio, I don’t know what channel would even have the azan for Maghrib. Sometimes I’d listen in to Warna when I missed hearing the azan back home.
I have a couple of other muslim colleagues, so in the past I’d go over to their house because he loves to cook up a feast. I love his food! After that we’d listen to Siti Nurhaliza for some of the Southeast Asia Malay raya vibes. He moved to another city now because this industry is so transitional. Good times!
Over here, I don’t usually wake up for sahur as it’s quite tough for me to manage my work schedule, but I’m trying to sort it out and make time for sahur because it’s much more ideal.
For iftar, I have the dates that my mom sends me from Singapore – she’d put almonds into our dates. Then I’ll go onto the food delivery app, either meituan or e le me (which is directly translated to ‘are you hungry’) and see what I fancy eating for the day. So this ranges from Xinjiang noodles with chicken pieces, dumplings, tu dou fen (like potato noodles), hamburgers, chicken wraps, salmon pizza, cheese pizza, sushi and sashimi, variations of pasta, squid bibimbap, hot pot, McDonald’s, Burger King, the list goes on!”
“Different regions here have different dishes. When I feel like having meat, I’ll go to Lanzhou La mian shops or beef noodle shops to have my fix of halal meat. Otherwise, I just go vegetarian which is pretty easy. I adore liang pi and re mi pi.”
“Iftar sessions honestly feel like just another dinner. I look at the mini program on WeChat for the buka time and then I’ll start eating. Sometimes I’ll have company when I go out for dinner with friends, I love going out for dinner. You can just terawih at home. I heard from my Ghanaian Muslim colleague that mosques are closed due to an uprise of Covid cases here. It’s pretty uneventful I must say.”
Lastly, what’s one thing you love about Ramadhan?
“I like when you sit down with your family and listen to the radio for the azan. It’s very heartwarming. And bazaar food, it’s so nice to hear that bazaars in Singapore are around again this year after the hiatus!”