Someone asked me the dreaded question the other day – What do you DO with yourself here? I say dreaded because the answer isn’t as easy as saying “I work”.
My defenses prickle when I get this question – take a forensic look at an average day, the nitty-gritty details of a mommy life anywhere, and you will see the endless juggling. India adds its particular challenges.
The luxury of a mommy life, of course, is choice. Yes, part of my juggle includes yoga or running or an occasional adventure. The rest of the juggle is a string of boring, necessary routines that keep this family fed, organized, enriched.
This year I shook things up when I became a supply teacher at the American Embassy School. Some weeks I don’t work at all, last week I worked three days, this week one, next week two. Despite an unpredictable schedule, it’s a great gig. I teach mostly in the middle school.
And then the projects. I’m highly selective when I commit my precious time. The opportunities to volunteer are endless, as are the requests. My rule is to avoid anything that takes me beyond my capacity to enjoy it. If it stresses the schedule it falls into this category.
Sometimes there are projects that feel “right” and the commitment becomes an opportunity to stretch the day effortlessly. I compare it to falling in love – the details simply don’t matter.
Meet my latest love: Seven.
Seven is a play that I saw performed at a leadership conference for women last fall. It gives voice to seven women from seven countries who have extraordinary stories to share of challenge and conflict and ultimately, triumph. The women in the play find the courage to fight oppression and the strength to lead and empower women worldwide.
I left the theatre deeply moved by the performance and for weeks couldn’t stop thinking about the stories. The conference provided scripts of the play and I took one home with me. I don’t have any theatre experience beyond sitting in an audience but I knew that I would do something with that script.
It takes a bit of serendipity to make what’s “right” work. Chatting one day on the sidelines of Eddie’s baseball game, I met a dynamic woman with a theatre background. I put the script on her desk – She read it – It haunted her, too…
Now, we are in the middle of pulling together a staging in March. We will donate the proceeds to a group working with women in Delhi and let the organization discuss with the audience the particular challenges facing women in India.
There’s still lots of work – a clichéd labor of love if I carry the theme. The actors have the toughest job, though. These are not easy stories to slip into. If I get permission to share, expect more on these incredible women as we near the performance.
I have a three house guests this week: My mother, my stepmother and a family friend. “How does that work?” someone asked me. She was referring to the mother-stepmother combination. Admittedly, I goofed somehow in sharing everyone’s travel plans. The combination isn’t ideal but I am blessed with extraordinary women in my life. I figured it would take care of itself. There was proof of that the other night when I was in the kitchen cooking dinner listening to my guests laughing heartily. It made me smile.
The third house guest Kiki, was a diplomat here. She has life-long connections to India, a daughter who is half Indian, and many friends dotted across the country. Two men about my age whom she has known for 40 years stopped by the other night to take Kiki to dinner. One of the men, Zafar Sareshwala, told me something very interesting. We had been talking about his family business, Halal restaurants in Delhi, a particular story by Jim’s colleague…. when the conversation turned to Zafar being interviewed once for a story in the NYT. It appeared last September at the height of the controversy about a mosque being built near the site of the fallen towers in New York. Zafar recalled praying many times in a mosque on the 17th floor of the South Tower.
The beauty and sadness of a mosque housed inside the tower speaks for itself. This is what Zafar had to say in Samual Freedman’s column on religion:
“It was so freeing and so calm,” Mr. Sareshwala, 47, said in a phone conversation from Mumbai, where he is now based. “It had the feel of a real mosque. And the best part is that you are in the epicenter of capitalism — New York City, the World Trade Center — and you had this island of spiritualism. I don’t think you could have that combination anywhere in the world.”
Walking for Life:
Sleeping on the job:
Barbara and I having a good ‘ol drink-up at wine club. (Clueless on the guy…)
My mother with A-Boy-Named-Penny, our adopted street dog. She wants to take him home but I don’t think he could adapt to a life confined to a house and yard. He spends his days free from fences, roaming the neighborhood and checking-in with his various caretakers.
That’s Kiki on the couch and Jim and I having our “How was your day?” debrief: