City of Brass

City of Brass


a couch potato Ramadan

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The lighter side of Ramadan in the Arab world – soap operas:

Ramadan translates into big bucks for Arab satellite channels.
Millions of dollars are spent on special programming, much of it
comparable to Western soap operas, to entertain the masses during their
sunrise-to-sunset fasts.

One program, the popular Syrian
production “Baab El-Hara” — “The Neighborhood Gate” — offers high
drama focused on a family feud. A man and his pregnant wife are
separated as their mothers fight it out, with each mother-in-law trying
to teach the other a lesson.

The woman misses her husband and
wants to go back to him. The husband kisses his mother’s hand and
promises her he’ll do only what she wants.

The soaps showcase
social traditions mixed with melodramatic characters and enough twists
and turns of events to last the entire month of fasting.



  • Tom

    No offense, but from the standpoint of us western ‘contemporaries’, only one month of soaps seems rather skimpy. We make the screenwriters for our soaps work their fingers to the bone, churning stories that last at least a full season a year to remain competitive. One month is roughly equivalent to a mini-series. On the flip-side, however, the bulk of what we know about Middle-Eastern culture probably comes from the looney-tunes adaptation of 1001 Arabian Nights (with Bugs Bunny staring as the storyteller and Yo-Sammadi-Sam staring as the sultan holding him captive; reminds me of when John Wayne starred as Genghis Kahn in ‘The Conquerer’.)
    Maybe we need a Catholic screenwriter to churn stories for Lent each year. I got it! A wife and mother of two develops Parkinsons’ but her attractive female neurologist says that her only hope is regenerative embryonic-stemcell therapy. The husband and the physician discuss it over a few dinners and end up having a torrid love affair. He ends up loosing his religion but remains crypto-Catholic in lue of his strict, religious, domineering mother-in-law. Eventually he mustars up the courage to stand up to her and take his kids out of parochial school, leaving the afflicted wife and shacking up with the neurologist. Wow, this storyline could be stretched out to 3 or 4 Lenten Seasons. Too bad I let the cat out of the bag (there go thoes royalties!)

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