With the holy month of Ramadan well underway we are all settling in to new habits that make this month more meaningful. Many dedicate more time to their faith, others towards connecting with family members, and some on their health and wellbeing, using this as a month to reset their diets and fitness programs. Whatever it is, most is in the spirit of betterment and improving their lives. 
There is however one trend that comes about every year during the holy month that which I feel goes against a lot of what Ramadan stands for, “Ramadan Tents”. Namely hotels put up lavish and luxurious tents where guests can enjoy overpriced Iftar, Suhoor, snacks, or shi-sha. These tents are very popular with tables booked through weekend, and waiting lists that could have you standing around for a good couple of hours.
I used to be a regular at these tents, and would often wait for publications to release the reviews on what tents were worth visiting. My friends and I would sit around for hours on end in tents that always seemed cold with an uncomfortable touch of humidity and order fruit platters that were enough to feed a soccer team during half time. We would then leave in the early hours of the morning, too late to do anything constructive with the rest of our evenings, and often too late to get a proper sleep before our fast the next day.
This year I have decided to go ‘tentless’, and do everything I can to avoid Ramadan tents, Why? Because I gain nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, from visiting them. Let’s think about it for a second, I over pay for everything, I can barely hear my friends speak with the Oud player’s speaker on full blast, and I am always fighting a cough the next day from the thick layer of shi-sha smoke that takes up most of the tent.
Sure I catch up with friends, but we can catch up anywhere. I personally would prefer to go out to places that don’t force me to pay a significant minimum charge, a place where I can truly connect, and reconnect with people, a place that truly symbolizes the essence and spirit of Ramadan. These include our very own homes, cultural centers, lectures, and community events.
Some people may argue that the Ramadan tents are a sign of culture, please stop. Some of the food might be, the oud player sure, but it pretty much ends there. Visiting family and friends during Ramadan is a sign of culture, inviting guests and non-muslims for Iftar in your home to learn more about the holy month is a sign of culture, giving to charity and community projects is a sign culture.
All in all I realized I was losing more spiritually, physically, and financially by continuing to visit Ramadan tents, so five days in I am yet to visit a tent. So far I have spent the evenings with family coming over to my house for Iftar or Suhoor, teaching my kids about Ramadan, reconnecting with friends, and sleeping early. I feel healthier, happier, and a lot more centered, which I feel represents the changes I want to see in my life during the holy month, and avoiding Ramadan tents seems to be helping.