I was on a holiday with my family in Salzburg, Austria recently. On one of the evenings, my son was insistent on a boat ride in the Salzach river. Being a tourist season, we had to wait in a queue to get in. Standing just next to us were two young Tamil-speaking couples. I say young, because they looked recently married and did not have any children with them.
My husband once observed that I ascribe my bad behavior and unpleasant physical changes to the ‘woman’ baggage I carry. There is always something happening in my life - sometimes it is pre-menstrual, other times post menstrual symptoms; pregnancy blues or postpartum depression; fatigue and irritability because children were young, or panic attacks that they are all grown now; full house stress and empty nest pains. He claims I seldom have normal days, and I blame my mood swings, weight loss/gain, changes in skin/hair, even attitude on hormonal issues.
You are a gender-sensitive Indian male who believes in equality for women and treats women with dignity and respect. You are progressive. You assert vehemently (and mean it) that you do not view women as chattel, that you would never beat your wife, that you participate in childcare and household chores, that you are supportive of the girl child, of a woman's right to voice her opinions freely. And you walk the talk. You are better than your father, because unlike men of his generation, you treat women as your equals.
International Women's Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. The day, which falls annually on March 8, has been celebrated in the United States since 1909, and has spread around the world. This year’s theme is “Make It Happen,” a call to action for the numerous issues facing women today. #MakeItHappen.
The first time I heard of Valentine’s Day was in 1981/82. That was the year American Sikhs (those who wore white clothes, white turbans and had Sikh names) joined my school in Mussoorie. I remember being fascinated - there was actually a day that you confessed your love to someone, gave them cards and gifts, and went out on dates! What a far cry from my all-girls school, where you were not allowed to talk to boys, and the only way to get through to any boy was to tie a rakhi on his wrist!
Christmas is everybody’s favourite time of the year these days, even those who do not understand the true meaning of Christmas, thanks to the commercialization of the ‘Holiday season’ as it’s come to be known!
More often than not, we are caught up in all the material aspects of this festival – new clothes, gifts, expensive food and drink, Christmas trees & Santa Claus – that we forget that above all, Christmas is a season of Love! Jesus (whose teachings are the foundation of Christianity) taught that Love is the only way!
Here in Nice, we celebrated Thanksgiving this past weekend with family who rescued Maeve and me when we got stranded in the countryside after a sheep festival. Every year, 1000 sheep run through the village of La Brigue on their return from a summer of grazing in high mountain pastures, and the village holds a festival to celebrate the event.
Friends and family called, they came home, talked to me, holding me, comforting me. They knew I was suffering. Then one day a friend draped a length of new fabric around my shoulders, saying: this is what your mother did for us when I lost my father, this is our ancient custom she had explained to us, the way our people moved on, recognizing, accepting that the cycle and rhythm of life must continue. Take it as her blessing. I broke down crying. She hugged me and then suddenly told me to write, express all that I feel, venting my grief, unburdening it.
This has been my first Deepavali back home with parents in several years! I was looking forward to a ‘typical’ festival with parents. But I seem to remember things slightly differently, celebrating as a child as opposed to celebrating as a 25 year old. Here’s a blow by blow:
Child: Creep out of bed for the sixth time in an hour, hoping one of your parents wakes up, because you have to be the first to light fireworks in the neighborhood on Deepavali day.
Adult: Snore in deep REM sleep.
Tiffany* walked into the clinic. Her tie-dyed skinny jeans and neon yellow manicure were no stranger to this office, nor to me.
She had come into the clinic one week prior, for what she called a “girl problem.” While in the exam room, waiting for me, her mouth filled to the brim with all the words she was waiting to express. Once I walked in, it barely took a second for that volcano of emotion and words to overflow and bubble. I remember her ebullience, how eager she was, how much she needed to just talk to someone.