Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims as they carry out their religious duties, but it also provides an opportunity for non-Muslims to observe the social and behavioural changes in the people around them during this month.
Being a multicultural country, expatriates in Qatar come from different cultural and religious backgrounds and while staying here, they experience the changes in Ramadan mostly in a positive way and take away the best they can.
Expatriates work in different areas from public sector to private sector. As Qatar has been putting a lot of effort to promote arts and sports, there are professional expatriates working in these fields in large numbers as well. Usually creative people related with any genre of art are deemed to be more sensitive than an average individual in the society.
Andrea Mereutza is a German-Romanian viola player. She has been a member of the musician team with Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO) since September 2008 and based in Doha since then.
Besides enjoying the creative and artistic atmosphere in Qatar, the string player has been witnessing the holy month for a long time now. She seems to have been touched by the calm and quiet atmosphere that takes over Qatar during Ramadan. “I have experienced the holy month of Ramadan many times. I have always enjoyed how the usually lively, buzzing, sometimes stressful city becomes calm and quiet throughout the day, with an almost mystical atmosphere. I loved gathering with my Muslim and non-Muslim friends for Iftar, discussing spirituality, religion, music, how all of that can unite people and how lucky we are to live in such a diverse, open-minded and colourful community such as in Qatar.”
Like other people, Andrea misses the usual gatherings of Ramadan. “Unfortunately this year all has changed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic that affects each and every one of us. It is however for our health safety that we have to stay at home.”
When it comes to stay-home orders, the musician thinks that she is affected more than others as she misses the opportunity to play at orchestras attended by people in large numbers. “Social distancing is hard for anyone but as an orchestra musician it is particularly difficult for me. We are used to interact with one another, play together, listen, react and be part of one big whole. Being isolated takes away from me the possibility to do what I love most, making music together with my colleagues.”
The German viola player, like her colleagues, has been enjoying the experience of playing music from her house balcony. “During the past weeks, like all of my QPO friends, I have played by myself during balcony concerts and recorded video performances which were a big success on social media channels, but it made me miss playing in the orchestra even more. Nothing can replace the feeling of performing at a concert in front of a live audience.”
Over and above, the musician has learnt many new and positive things while observing social distancing and spending time with her family. “But staying at home also brought some positive aspects. Like all other parents I started homeschooling my 6-year-old son and despite all challenges, I am enjoying doing something else for a change and getting out of my comfort zone. I am also teaching him the piano! My family is more connected than ever and we realise how lucky we are to have one another. Over the last weeks I have learned to embrace life as it is and to accept the situations I cannot change. Supposedly small things can make you very happy and it doesn’t need much to be a kind, balanced and positive human being.”
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