Saturday, April 6, 2013

can't be just the weather.... right???


Beautiful Alpine winter blooms at Wonderfall Chalet in Limone.... I saw them and my heart soared! Finally, a burst of colour....
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This appeared in The Week....
                            Is it just the weather…?
As women, we have our marvelously creative excuses for anything and everything. We need them! Women have always needed alibis, unlike men, who are born into privilege. No grudges on that front. But leave our hang ups and cover ups alone, you guys! I was thinking about all this during a long flight back from Europe recently. Around me were women with sad eyes and drawn faces. I had met quite a few during my short week there. The weather had been foul, for sure. But did the collective mood have to match it? I had watched well coiffed ladies, wearing fabulous jewels and clothes, as they walked in for a Gala night at the Opera, their floor length fur coats sweeping the carpet, while serious diamonds flashed on ear lobes, throats and fingers. But there wasn’t a smile in sight. And no colour! Those beautiful ladies were clad in  black. I wondered, when the atmosphere itself was this dull and grey, wouldn’t any person want to brighten it up a little with a pop of  bright colour? A vivid lipstick? Even a cheerful handbag? Clearly, not in this part of the world.
By contrast, here in India, we deal with gloom and doom more imaginatively. Holi is just over. Much as I dislike the Festival of Colour and never participate in the celebrations, I can appreciate the joyfulness behind the revelry. Women in different parts of our country, celebrate  Holi, adopting local customs that have endured over centuries. Essentially, it’s an exuberant way to greet Spring and pray that a bumper harvest follows in Summer. The colours used signify renewal and the eternal cycle of life. Revelers laugh and sing, even if their lives are not perfect. In Europe, most people, and women in particular, look permanently glum and in a perpetual state of mourning. Yes, the economy is doddering. And yes, there is no upswing in sight. But does that mean women can’t sport happier expressions or wear a cheerful scarf? I asked a less depressed European girl friend this question as we sipped  our coffees and stared at the steady downpour. She offered a perspective I found rather engaging. Women in Europe, she declared thoughtfully, had little to comfort them. They lived in a state of  relentless insecurity. Their biggest fear was that their boyfriends/ companions/ partners/ husbands would leave them. This was the overwhelming emotion that dominated all other emotions. Women still outnumbered men. Finding a good, responsible man was not easy. Money was tight. Men worked. Women worked. The future looked far from promising. What was there to smile about?  My girl friend laughed resignedly. I told her women in my part of the world have had it far tougher for centuries. But that hasn’t robbed us of our smiles and laughter. Our tears? Oh, those! We wipe them with our colourful dupattas and saree pallus… and soldier on. Just like generations of women before us. Don’t talk to us about discrimination at the workplace.In India,we struggle to be born! And once born, we are not sure whether we will be allowed to survive! Our daily lives require us to play multiple roles and assume many guises. We become acrobats and jugglers. Tight rope walkers and contortionists. Oh yes, we do!  Despite these daunting odds, we manage to grab life’s better moments. Raise happy kids. And , given  half the chance, raise the bar for ourselves. I invited her to visit India soon, before her own smile did the disappearing act. I wanted her to see our women and judge for herself. It really isn’t just about the weather, honey. Physical weather, that is. Often it is the storms that rage within, which affect women more insidiously. These storms are far more destructive than unseasonal blizzards. Women need to monitor the weather patterns of their inner lives more closely. Miss those signals, and you’re in trouble. By the time we finished our coffees, the rain had stopped and the sun was out. The Cote d’Azur lay at our feet, a shimmering sheet of blue and gold. We hugged each other. She touched the bright yellow and lime green scarf I had given her earlier. “Let me wear it,” she grinned, twisting it stylishly around her slim neck. Sad eyed women from adjoining tables stared at the two of us, as we said our goodbyes. The weather forecast was looking good. No need for alibis. At least for the next few days! What a relief….

5 comments:

Shwetha said...

Wonderful, you write SO well!
Yes, Ive also wondered about the dull colors, albeit VERY well cut outfits that the Europeans sport and was nice to see my thoughts come in writing :))

And yes, color does seem to tone down the glum some and if not anything bring a small smile if not anything else

Anita Jeyan Sandeep said...

I am so going to share this article on facebook. Women overseas tend to be glum and super serious - it could be sophistication that could be driving them to be like that. Oh they should come to India to know what they are missing !

Aditya said...

Wonderful
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