Monday, March 07, 2011

Back from a City of Women

I come back from a 4 day holiday and realize I remember it by the women I met. Yes, I did go to just unwind and sit in the sun so there was no sightseeing or shopping or eating out or partying – just some serious sitting in the sun and the shade and strolling around the club and mending even as I unraveled. And yet when I return and rewind and tell them back home what my trip was about I find myself talking about the smiling eyes of the woman on the train who I befriended even before we spoke to each other in the last ten minutes of our journey - a woman who had worked and created a life for herself and got tired and stopped working and enjoyed the days of leisure only to discover that she needed to work again to redefine her relaxation – so, why didn’t the world get slower and companies not offer flexible jobs to women who would anyway give it their all – in 4 hours or 9? I smiled – this was my territory.

Then there are these two young girls at a salon where my friend has blocked me for a manicure and a pedicure – such indulgence. Its an all-women space, they are expecting us on time (surprise!), and we begin without fuss but with great care – a cup of coffee? Water? A magazine? Not too much talk, thank god; gentle firm hands massaging my arms and legs with soothing lavendar oil, de-stressing all those reflex points, sweeping me away in healing wax and fullers earth and warm aqua without any signs of wanting to stop, no hint of ‘your hour is over’ and then calmly colouring my weary nails so that they look almost new, almost pretty. No hanging around for a tip, a soft towel, a quick payment, a shy smile and we’re out. And I want to go back again to ask where they live – these small, slim, strong women who you could easily miss and who blend into the background - are they married, who looks after their children and do they have to cook and clean when they reach home and then who will massage their tired arms and legs shyly, gently yet firmly with healing? And I want to go and say thank you once more, and mean it some more.

We walk and drive past stores and boutiques and bookshops and restaurants owned by Dolly and Neelam and Sahiba and …, and my friend tells me stories of the women who own these places, and who they are and why they do what they do, and they all have lives which sound full of – well, life. Not just their work, but full-bodied families and errant or good husbands, and children, and laden tables with recipes they exchange over the phone, and dogs that romp around abundant homes, and gyms they frequent and golf games they play, and old parents they care for and who are demanding of their time, and the active god-fearing life of community. I am awed and made little – in this city of women with an appetite for life. In a nice sort of way.

march 2011


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