There was a time when shops closed down at 23:00hrs, but the business hours were sliced by an hour to 22:00hrs by the state. There was also a time when selected shops, under permits from government, were able to stay open 24/7 without closing - for even a minute.
Restaurants and cafes have enjoyed extended business hours over the years. Usually closed down at 00:00hrs with some staying 'open' as late as 01:00hrs. These businesses had once seen the 24/7 routine too.
During a previous state administration, businesses received the green signal to operate for 24-hours. This hurled several food and beverage as well as retailer and a few wholesaler outlets to a spinning transition on their business operating hours.
Shift duty standards were formed, overheads expanded - just to cater for the increased business hours.
But it was too good to last and businesses were once again subjected to operate within a fixed window of time. However each year, regular operating hours for these businesses get an increase of one or two hours for approximately 30 days or so.
This time varies from year to year if one considers the Gregorian calendar; however would notice that it is always during the 9th month of the Hijri calendar.
Ramadan is that month where our livelihood goes through a major transition from the very first day it hits up until the last day. We suddenly stop eating during day-time hours and await patiently until the dusk before we allow sustenance to run down through our throats.
Those morning coffees we could not live without needs to be consumed at sunset or even later. Those break-of-dawn smokes needs to be felt at the tip of our mouths only after the dusk prayer's azan (call) is heard.
You would not be picking up your smartphone to dial your 'partner-in-crime' to ditch a few hours of the morning office routine for some freshly brewed coffee beans, delivered to you in any of your desired means.
Forget about taking your significant other for brunch or lunch during this month, when both of you can escape the corporate entanglements to enjoy a few hours of companionship and earnestness. You would have to wait it out until the dusk prayer.
Meaning everything we fashioned doing during the day-time hours have to be pushed to night; and that is the only option we get. No complains there since Ramadan also means a sacred month of prayer and devotion.
While you spend the day, hungry and thirsty you tend to get angry or lose track of your sense of sanity at times so it is therefore important to always find resourceful methods to control that anger or any other unpleasant emotion you may be engulfed in.
We resort to prayers for these reasons and we also seek ways to keep us entertained so as to avoid any upsetting situations while we are fasting. The holy month of Ramadan tests our virtues of patience and control on anger as well; but it also teaches us on how we can adjust our lives to a different routine even if it was for a month's time and we can go on by without complaining.
Ramadan also sees how we suddenly become 'nocturnal animals', staying up significantly late into the night. For different people the reasons to become nocturnal during Ramadan differs but with a single eventual reason behind it; you do not have to wake up for the usual hours for work.
Call it whatever you may, or even deny this fact. But if the working hours do not change then you probably would not be keeping yourself up that late into the night even if it was you to consume 'Suhoor' (late night meal, Muslims take during the month of Ramadan to cope with the day-time hunger). You would probably be sleeping after Taraveeh (after Isha prayers exclusively practiced during the month of Ramadan) and waking up around the late hours to consume food to prepare yourself to the following day's fasting.
But blessed art thou for you get to enjoy the services of food and beverage outlets later than conventional business hours, during Ramadan. That favorite grub spot for you that closed down awfully early during every other month suddenly extended their business hour to 02:00hrs and are you not glad about it?
The myriad of food presented to you during Iftar (the breaking of fast) hour energizes or renders you sleepy, but you a few dozes later you are good to go out and enjoy the night life.
Playing cards, chess or Uno with your gang or hitting up a restaurant with your buddies and staying there to chat or even play cards and you can be sure you do not have to be worried about sleeping early. Even if you felt like sleeping the night-life becomes crucial during this month since it is only after the sun sets across the horizon we crawl out from our cribs to socialize.
Either way you may perceive the month's actual benefits or how you make the most of it, but what is true and unchanged is how Ramadan transforms our livelihoods and everything associated to it. How you suddenly become uncomfortable buying a bag of Lays or Doritos during 11:30hrs during Ramadan but did not mind hitting the shop whenever you pleased for some snacks, is definitely a situation we all have lived and loathed. Perhaps even more than once.
There really is no doubt about the spiritual and physical benefits the month brings us and it is therefore on us to make the most out of a sacred month. Those who follows the practices and teachings of Islam meaning Muslims should seek to devote most of our time in prayers and supplication.
It is not just the month where how we live transitions into a routine conventionally not followed, but also how frequently we pray as well. But the perfect reality is how Ramadan always leave you adjusting to a routine which you might never wish to follow through during any other time of the year, yet you welcome the month every year with a smile.