My Ramadan with Tamtam: Experiencing the Holy Month in Los Angeles

Tamtam relocated to Los Angeles as a teenager, where — after finishing her education — she pursued her dream of a music career. (Arab News)
Updated 29 May 2018
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My Ramadan with Tamtam: Experiencing the Holy Month in Los Angeles

  • Singer-songwriter Tamtam recounts her experience of Ramadan in the city of angels
  • She moved to LA to pursue her dream of a music career

LOS ANGELES: Born and raised in Riyadh, singer-songwriter Tamtam relocated to Los Angeles as a teenager, where — after finishing her education — she pursued her dream of a music career. Her greatest musical inspiration was Michael Jackson, whom she describes as a storyteller with a voice she found emotive and moving. Her own music could be classified as pop, but lyrically Tamtam tries to ensure her songs carry a message of some kind, rather than following generic trends.

Read on to experience Ramadan in the city in her own words...


When I was growing up in Riyadh, Ramadan was my favorite time of year. I would look forward to family and friends getting together and, most importantly, I always felt that the city was so at peace during the Holy Month.

One of my favorite moments during Ramadan is breaking the fast. I love the combination of the taste of laban, dates and Arabic coffee. Perfect. But then my least favorite part, when I’m in Saudi anyway, is how I feel after iftar, because I always feel so tired and full after eating so much food. Every time I have iftar at home in Saudi, I tell myself that, this time, I will listen to my body; but it’s kind of hard to do that when your brain is telling you that you haven’t eaten all day and you see rice, chicken, lamb, perfectly baked or fried sambousak, mulukhiyah, bamia, jareesh... You get the point.

Ramadan in Los Angeles is very different, but I always make sure to have dates in the house for when I break my fast. I’ll head down to the Jordanian supermarket in Westwood to get laban and other foods that remind me of home, like zaatar, Turkish coffee, Arabic coffee… I may have a little coffee addiction.

What I miss most when I’m in LA is having a community of people who are fasting with me. Mostly, I miss my family and breaking the fast together. Of course, while I’m here, I’m also working, so that’s a really great way for me to not focus on the hunger, and concentrate on mind over matter.

When I record music during Ramdan, I always schedule my studio sessions after sunset so that I have time to break my fast. Although I miss my family and the feeling of community, I honestly love Ramadan in LA because I feel like I am doing Ramadan correctly. I work all day while I’m fasting, and the point of Ramadan is to be able to feel the discomfort that comes with hunger as you are going about your everyday life. When I’m in Saudi, I feel like I’ll sleep longer and I don’t feel the hunger as much as I do when I’m in LA. I always listen to my body when I am breaking my fast here, because I’m not going to have a feast on my own, so I end up doing the cleansing part of Ramadan correctly. Instead of overeating and feeling sleepy, I feel more energized as the days go by.

I don’t usually go to a masjid in LA. I pray at home instead. Although there are differences between fasting in Saudi and fasting in LA, the most important thing they have in common is learning to be more patient with yourself, your body, your life, and other human beings; being thankful for the lives that we are living because, at the end of the day, it’s the little things in life that make the biggest differences. I am grateful to be able to learn this lesson more and more every year.

Fact Box:
Age: 25
Profession: Singer-songwriter
Earliest fajr this year: 04:18
Latest maghrib this year: 20:06
Fasting tip: Reading the Qur’an really helps me whenever I’m super-hungry. It makes me forget about the hunger. If you’re having a particularly difficult day, go to the movies. The time will fly.
Favorite restaurant for iftar: Mantee Café in Studio City, which serves Lebanese and Armenian cuisine.
Best Ramadan dish: Jareesh and mulukhiyah


Turkish photographer Ara Guler, the Eye of Istanbul, dead at 90

Updated 18 October 2018
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Turkish photographer Ara Guler, the Eye of Istanbul, dead at 90

  • Ara Guler died of heart and respiratory failure late Wednesday
  • Guler, from Turkey’s minority Armenian community, was born in Istanbul in 1928

ISTANBUL: Ara Guler, an acclaimed Turkish journalist and photographer known as “the Eye of Istanbul” for his iconic black-and-white pictures of the city and its residents, has died. He was 90.
The Florence Nightingale Hospital in Istanbul said that Guler died of heart and respiratory failure late Wednesday.
Guler, from Turkey’s minority Armenian community, was born in Istanbul in 1928. In a career that spanned several decades, he worked for Magnum Photos, Paris Match and Germany’s Stern among other organizations, interviewing and photographing politicians and artists, including Winston Churchill, Dali and Picasso.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Guler “one of the greatest names in the art of photography raised by Turkey.”
Erdogan said that “great artists continue to live through works they leave behind.”
His funeral was planned for Saturday.