In My Hands Today…

The Wife’s Tale: A Personal History – Aida Edemariam

A hundred years ago, a girl was born in the northern Ethiopian city of Gondar. Before she was ten years old, Yetemegnu was married to a man two decades her senior, an ambitious poet-priest. Over the next century, her world changed beyond recognition.

She witnessed Fascist invasion and occupation, Allied bombardment and exile from her city, the ascent and fall of Emperor Haile Selassie, revolution and civil war. She endured all these things alongside parenthood, widowhood and the death of children.

Aida Edemariam retells her grandmother’s stories of a childhood surrounded by proud priests and soldiers, of her husband’s imprisonment, of her fight for justice – all of it played out against an ancient cycle of festivals and the rhythms of the seasons.

2022 Week 50 Update

Today’s quote is probably one of my favourite quotes because this quote has a beautiful lesson for us. It says that when we remain positive, it does not mean that things will become all right, but it means that no matter what happens and how things turn out, we will be fine. So this is the main lesson I am going to take with me into the new year.

Earlier this week, I saw a report that said that Mumbai’s air quality was so bad, it even beat New Delhi’s infamous winter air pollution. Mumbai’s overall air quality index or AQI surpassed 300, a threshold that qualifies the air as very poor, on four consecutive days from Dec 5 to 8 and certain days, Mumbai’s pollution levels were worse than Delhi’s. The bad air quality also saw hospitals having an increase in patients coming in with respiratory problems. The poor air quality was attributed to a lack of incoming sea breeze and unusually low wind speeds that have failed to disperse pollutants from key sources such as vehicles and industries, besides ongoing infrastructure projects and road dust suspension.

China has lifted most of its stringent COVID-19 measures and this has led to a massive outbreak which has forced parts of Beijing into voluntary quarantine, with hospitals overwhelmed, pharmacies out of cold and fever medication, and well-oiled delivery networks pushed to their limits. The rollback of curbs has not made everyone happy, with some saying the country is easing controls far too quickly.

GG has finished her mid-term exams and has holidays now till the new year, while BB has school until the end of next week, after which he will go on a break. We are thinking of doing something as a family during the break, so when things firm up, I will share.

That’s all for this week! Take care and stay safe…

In My Hands Today…

I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity – Izzeldin Abuelaish

By turns inspiring and heart-breaking, hopeful and horrifying, I Shall Not Hate is Izzeldin Abuelaish’s account of an extraordinary life.

A Harvard-trained Palestinian doctor who was born and raised in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip and who has devoted his life to medicine and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians, Abuelaish has been crossing the lines in the sand that divide Israelis and Palestinians for most of his life – as a physician who treats patients on both sides of the line, as a humanitarian who sees the need for improved health and education for women as the way forward in the Middle East. And, most recently, as the father whose daughters were killed by Israeli soldiers on January 16, 2009, during Israel’s incursion into the Gaza Strip.

His response to this tragedy made news and won him humanitarian awards around the world. Instead of seeking revenge or sinking into hatred, Abuelaish called for the people in the region to start talking to each other. His deepest hope is that his daughters will be the last sacrifice on the road to peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

Memories: Grandmother Tales 4 – The Travel Edition

I guess I get my love for travel from my paternal grandmother, my ammama. She used to take off as the urge struck her and has travelled the length and breadth of the country. There are three such stories which I remember even today, two in which I star in and one which I remember.

When my sister was born, I was about less than a year and a half and because my mother could not handle a newborn and a toddler, my grandparents took off to New Delhi with me. Her daughter lived there with her husband, who worked in the Indian Air Force and they must have lived in airforce quarters. This would a when India’s then Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi imposed a state of emergency in the country. I was barely eighteen months at that time, so don’t have many memories of that period, but I remember the name Indira Gandhi used to be used to evoke fear, especially among children. So when I refused to do something, say eat my food, or drink my milk, I would be threatened by Mrs Gandhi. It’s a wonder that I didn’t develop any irrational fear of the government and especially Mrs Gandhi. But kudos to my grandmother, who at that age, (she must have been in her late forties or early fifties) took a toddler with her and looked after her for a few months. We returned to Bombay about three months or so later and by this time, my mum and sister were back home from my maternal grandmother’s house where she had gone for her delivery.

The next story is also from my childhood. I must have been around 7 or 8 and we were travelling by train to our ancestral village in the Tirunelveli district in the Tamil heartland. We were travelling with my father’s cousin for his wedding. My grandparents were also travelling with us but in a different compartment. After we reached Chennai, my parents, uncle and we children were supposed to take an overnight train to reach the district headquarters of Tirunelveli and my grandparents were to take the overnight train to the same destination. My sister and I threw a tantrum at the station and insisted we travel with my grandparents and not our parents. They had to give in, my grandparents giving in to us was a huge reason, and so we took the train. We were ticketless and had nothing with us, which was with our parents. I remember my grandfather talking to the ticket checker to buy tickets in the train and scrambling to find space for us to sleep in. They found space and we managed to get to Tirunelveli in one piece.

The last story does not have either my sister or me in a starring role. Around the time I was around 6, after my grandfather retired, my grandparents decided to go on an all-India pilgrimage. I don’t remember the specifics after all these years, but I do know it was led by a tour leader and was aimed at mostly senior citizens. They would take the train and maybe also travel by road and visit many of the important places of worship. The tour also included a trip to Kathmandu in Nepal to visit the Pashupatinath temple and other places of worship in that city. I do know they visited the temples of Badrinath and Kedarnath and from the north went all the way down south to Kanyakumari. I remember them making a stop in Mumbai during the trip and we went to the station to meet them. I have a memory of my uncle taking me with him to the station and then because I was so upset of meeting my ammama and then getting separated from her, he took me out and we came home quite late, after eating ice creams and chocolates. I remember this was during our summer holidays and because we reached home so late, I overslept the next day and was still asleep when my friends came to call me to play in the morning. From Kathmandu, my grandparents got me and my sister a beautiful chain with a butterfly pendant which I treasured for many years.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of my grandmother’s tales. If you want to read more about my memories of my ammama, here’s part 1, part 2, part 3 and one about my maternal grandmother.

In My Hands Today…

The Choice: Embrace the Possible – Edith Eger and Esmé Schwall Weigand

It’s 1944 and sixteen-year-old ballerina and gymnast Edith Eger is sent to Auschwitz. Separated from her parents on arrival, she endures unimaginable experiences, including being made to dance for the infamous Josef Mengele. When the camp is finally liberated, she is pulled from a pile of bodies, barely alive.

The horrors of the Holocaust didn’t break Edith. In fact, they helped her learn to live again with a life-affirming strength and a truly remarkable resilience. The Choice is her unforgettable story.