Welcome back to another year of MUNdi!
After a long break, MUNdi will be returning this fall with more articles and analysis from the brilliant members of Arizona Model United Nations. We hope that both new and old readers will tune in for our news analysis and essays from abroad. Don’t forget to subscribe!
While our new regional correspondents prepare their first articles for posting next week, we will start off with a guest post from former MUNdi correspondent Aniket Maitra.
Tang in Bangladesh
Just a few days ago the Muslim festival known as Eid Al-Adha or “Feast of the Sacrifice” passed. A couple of months before that, the Muslim festival known as Eid Al-Fitr or “Breaking of the Fast” occurred marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
As I walked through Kuwait International Airport, I saw an average transportation hub with electronic signs announcing a mix of flights heading to other parts of the Middle East, Europe, and several parts of South Asia. I approached the gate with a flight bound for Dhaka, Bangladesh and saw a group of migrant workers commonly referred to as “labor passengers” waiting to go back home after spending some time with temporary work in the Middle East. Everything seemed typical but there was one factor that seems to stand out.
Heading towards the gate for my Kuwait Airways flight to Dhaka, I noticed a familiar logo. Many of these passengers were carrying a green lunchbox with painted white letters labeled “TANG”. It wasn’t just one passenger with a green lunchbox; it was a series of passengers carrying items bound for what I assumed were family and friends in Bangladesh. The green lunchboxes appeared to be holding containers of the powder. Tang, of course, is a commonly-known orange-flavored drink known to sweetly quench one’s thirst.
Within a few weeks of arriving in Bangladesh, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan had started. In this time period Muslims around the world fast from sunrise to sunset for exactly one month leading to the holy day of Eid Al-Fitr otherwise known as the breaking of the fast. In Bangladesh, the moment at which sunset arrives is a holy affair that brings together family and friends. As I walked outside on several occasions at dusk, a country of 160 million people seemed to be all indoors. Shops and restaurants made last minute preparations before closing to break fast.
There were several occasions on which I participated in this event. Each place has its own way of breaking the fast when the sound of the azaan, or call to prayer rang out. When the sound of azaan comes through the loudspeakers in the colorful historic district of Old Dhaka, everyone indulged in a sip of water signifying the end of the long day. On a small trip outside of Dhaka to Chittagong, Bangladesh, I went to an Indian restaurant (ironic, no?) that had prepared the traditional plates for the breaking of the fast. In the moments right before the fast was broken, the restaurant was silent as everyone waited to take the first sip of a drink. The clamoring of glass, plates, and forks began immediately after the sound of the azaan rang from a waiter’s cell phone. Most people took a sip of a drink and then proceeded to eat a date. As I started breaking the fast myself, I noticed an orange drink next to a glass of water and orange juice. One sip of the orange drink indicated the drink was in fact, Tang.
I noticed Tang was often used for the breaking of fast in this part of the world. It is in fact an interesting example of cross-cultural exchanges brought on by globalization. While Tang in the supermarkets in the United States is often ignored in favor of other powdered drinks such Kool-Aid or Gatorade, it is often the marker for a time of day in an important month.
This post reflects the author’s personal opinions, not the opinions of Arizona Model United Nations.