Every year when it comes to Ramadan, I find myself answering the same questions to curious ears.
I have become accustomed to the look of astonishment when I confirm that it does indeed mean a month of no food or drink during daylight hours, regardless of how long they may be.
But there is a real sense of satisfaction and achievement that all Muslims feel when they take part in this annual practice, and until you have done it, perhaps you cannot fully understand what I mean.
So fellow colleagues Robert Cumber and Poppy Bradbury thought they would stop asking and try it themselves for just a day, to see how easy, or not, they would find it.
Rob, 31, who works on our Hounslow edition, joined in as he thought it would be interesting to see what so many people go through during Ramadan, to take part in another culture, to try and understand why people do it and to find out how easy or hard it is. But he was worried about not being able to drink, especially in the heatwave.
He said: “It was difficult first thing when I woke up with a dry mouth but then it was okay for most of the day because I was busy and wasn’t thinking about it too much. I think I worked more because I was trying to find something to occupy my time.
“It was a bit difficult at lunch seeing people eating and the worst part was when I left the office and went out into the heat. But food tasted twice as good when I broke my fast.
“It’s such a mental challenge, putting mind over matter. It does make you realise how we moan if we have to wait an hour for lunch. It’s made me think more about the many people in this country who take part in Ramadan but also what poor people who do not have a choice to make go through.”
Rob said that managing to do something that he had predicted would be harder makes him wonder what other small things we could easily do without.
Poppy, 25, a reporter on our Fulham paper, said she understands the reason for fasting now, but still could not have done it for a month.
She said: “I can’t believe people do it for a whole month. It’s amazing. It shows the determination that Muslims have. It felt very detoxifying and if I was busy it made the day go quicker. I found I could not eat loads when I broke the fast, I just wanted something really fresh.
“It made me think how easy it is to get water just from the tap, so readily available. Some people don’t have water for ages and I was moaning because I didn’t have it for a day.”
I thought both Rob and Poppy did extremely well. Apart from a brief mid-morning panic, the two of them were patient, calm, determined and persevered until the end.
I appreciated the interest they took in my religion and I think it helped them to empathise with what my days are currently like.
For me, Ramadan is not as hard as people expect. There are days when I am tired, lacking energy and struggling, but there are more days when I cope absolutely fine, feel positive, pure, healthy, dedicated and more focused at work.
Ramadan, the fourth of five pillars of Islam, reminds Muslims around the world of the suffering of the poor.
The ninth month of the Islamic calendar is also a time for Muslims to give up bad habits, try and become better people, learn self-discipline, self-restraint and generosity.
Certain people are exempt from fasting, for example children, the sick, the elderly, people on a tiring journey, pregnant women or anyone who would be putting their health at risk.
One of the nicest things about it is the way it brings families and friends closer, as they come together to share in an evening feast every night.
The holy month culminates in a big celebration called ‘Eid-ul-Fitr’ during which Muslims spend time with friends and family, dress in their finest clothes, give presents to children and give a set amount of money to charity to help poor people so they can celebrate as well.