AFTER more than 14 days of fasting, there are still groans and moans from those who have yet to adapt to the practice.
The first three days are usually the worst but during the fourth day, some will even delay breaking fast since it somehow feels cool to experience a moment when you can just bite into your murtabak at your own time.
You are supposed to feel calm and at ease during the holy month. You may also spend less on food so that you can have more for Raya clothes.
You will even learn to be more patient while constantly being bombarded by advertisements on food -- or fast food, to be precise -- occupying a prominent part of a page in your favourite newspaper.
And then there are the bazaars, where hives of food traders will -- once a year -- come up with their best delicacies and even variations of a simple nasi lemak dish.
We shall now take a closer look at the Ramadan bazaar. For the uninitiated, Ramadan is somehow equivalent to a food fest in this country.
Everywhere, food traders setting up stalls at a bazaar will adorn their tables with a variety dishes, spicy or herbal, and meatier too than the usual fare in any other month.
The crowd, as usual, will be drawn to such set-ups like a group of children mesmerised by luminous toys. In the end, the people, driven by temptation, will buy more than they can finish.
For example, why would you buy five packets of kebab, two grilled beef burgers, two packs of nasi goreng kampung, a whole honey-roasted chicken and three litres of that oddly pale-green kathira drink for a buka puasa for two?
Are you preparing for a zombie invasion or expecting some kind of global disaster which will see the disruption of food supply?
Now, I hate to be breaking this to you, but this year's Johor Baru bazaars have been disappointing.
Chef Gordon Ramsey's veins would pop in anger upon sampling the quality of many of the food items being offered at ludicrous prices. And pray that the globetrotting chef Anthony Bourdain will not come to Johor Baru at this time of year.
A mutton briyani packed in that white polystyrene box, for example, is being sold for around RM8! People would understand if this price was found in restaurants, due to the overhead costs and the foreign waiters the owner had to hire.
However, if such price is being touted at a stall under a white cheap-looking canopy and the food is only for take-away, someone is obviously taking advantage of a month when one should be ethical in all ways, no?
As for nasi campur aficionados, will you pay for a spoonful of fried anchovies and thin slices of beef sauteed in soy sauce for RM3?
And that is only the tip of the iceberg; spoilt food items are also being sold at certain bazaars to unwitting customers in a hurry back from work to feed their families at home. Now, that is downright unacceptable.
There have been numerous complaints from those who discovered that their soggy chicken rice "smelled and tasted funny". The roasted chicken was also dry and with a sourish aftertaste too.
Others fume upon opening their wrapped ikan bakar to discover more eggs of flies than the chilli seeds used for its sambal spread.
I am not going to mention which bazaars all these complaints are coming from, but to all the traders out there, here's a friendly reminder: please have a speck of decency or a shred of honesty when running your business.
And where are the health inspectors? I was informed that almost none made the rounds this year. No wonder spoiled food are being sold to the masses.
If there are any inaccuracies in what I have written, I apologise unreservedly in the spirit of Ramadan, the same spirit which spurred this commentary.
Anyway, selamat berpuasa if you are still fasting while reading this column, selamat berbuka if you are breaking your fast right now and Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri if you reading this during Hari Raya and this page is being recycled as the wrapping for your lemang.