Archive for the 'Marriage and Relationships' Category


Marcel Marceau at the Anganwadi Daycare Center

I went to the anganwadi alone on Thursday. That meant my communication with the teachers would be limited to my elementary Tamil. It is a double anganwadi which means there are two teachers. These teachers are incredible. I couldn’t do what they do. They are my heroes.

As I approached the door, I heard unusual disruption. There was an inordinate amount of crying and screaming. It made me think of the song, “Mama Said There’d be Days Like This, My Mama Said.” So I knew I needed to pull a rabbit out of the hat. I entered singing the time-honoured song, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”  I wish I could sing it as well as this Indian lady. We kept singing it until most of the angry feelings had left.

Then I did what I haven’t done for many years: mime. When my husband and I were living in Paris, we got to see Marcel Marceau perform. He did David and Goliath, the Mask–which I modified for training exercises, and Adam and Eve. He was so incredibly inspiring. My husband and I actually dating while doing street theatre and mime. We used Marceau’s mime, “Adam and Eve.” (I wish I was as talented as this lady.) I can still do a pretty good snake with my arm. But one mime really struck me that he did–the box mime–it’s a mime where the victim finds himself caught in an invisible box. He bangs his fists furiously, trying to get out.

My husband and I did mime in various countries in Europe. In fact, I got my job working for Air France as a Concorde ground agent doing mime during the interview. In France, when we would put the white face on and start performing, hauty-looking people would suddenly change into impressionable children. You don’t know the French until you perform mime on the streets of Paris in front of the Sacre-Coeur. On the other hand, when we did mime at Colchester Castle Park, it went over like a lead balloon, and we became very self-conscious.  I think it may have had something to do with our next-door neighbour recognizing us and just saying, “Oh, hello.” and kept on walking.

In Italy, everyone already does mime when they talk, so it is one of the best places to do mime. One of the most rewarding places was in Helsinki, Finland. Finnish people the opposite of Italians–they aren’t what you’d call demonstrative. But when we did mime, crowds would come and we felt they were totally withus. In India, we don’t need make-up. We have white faces.

So years and continents later, here I was in a government pre-school with 40 unhappy kids and two tired teachers. So I started doing the mime. It is safe to say that these kids probably have never seen mime. It is sort of an abstract art. You have to concentrate to get it. I was taking a chance. The Twinkle warm-up was good, but would I lose my audience by trying something too high-brow.

These kids got it! They laughted at all the right places. Finally I motioned to one bright little girl to turn the “knob” on the other side of my “door.” She set me free!

Yes, these kids are always setting me free from the banalities of adulthood.  With them, you fly faster and higher than with the Concorde.

P.S.  I got to meet Marcel Marceau.  He was a passenger on the Concorde.  I must admit, I had fun giving him his boarding pass in a Marcel Marceau fashion.  He was very kind about my performance but did not insist I quit my day job.


Ten Signs that Showed Columbus He Wasn’t in India

Over 500 years ago, if Christopher Columbus had observed these signs, he would have known he wasn’t in India.

1. There was no sign of the British Raj. There were no pink men going around in tin hats speaking bad Hindi.

2. He saw women. The women of India would have been in purdah. The women he saw were wearing something like today’s  beach wear at Club Med. The women in India were/are wrapped in saris.

3. There was not the smell of curry. But to be honest, chilies hadn’t reached India either.

4. There was no Bollywood music blaring from a loudspeaker. But then in the West Indies, they would have had reggae music, no?

5. The beach wasn’t littered with trash from last night’s snack and drink like at Marina Beach.

6. When he got off the boat, there weren’t cab drivers offering him the scenic route and places to buy carpets.

7. No one tried to get him married to their brother’s sister cousin.

8. No one insisted that he and his crew come to their house for a masala dosa on a palm leaf (although they had the palm leaves).

9. There was no Keralite selling tea at a tea stall.

10. There were no off-shore IT businesses trying to recruit his crew.


28th Wedding Anniversary: An Accomplishment?

preparingTwenty-eight years ago, we made our vows for life in a drafty church in the UK.  We’ve since lived in the USA, France, and now India.  We have become home to each other.  We’ve learned to fight effectively and learned when to stop.  We’ve learned what we can change about each other and what we can’t.  We’ve learned that we will always have something to learn about the other.

How many people think that being married for 28 years is an accomplishment next to having a super job, being beautiful, or writing a best-seller?  How many famous people whom we envy are married to the same people of their youth?  How many have seen their present spouse change from youth to maturity?

Marriage is taken for granted, a business proposition, or a status symbol.  But to this smaller and smaller group of us who have been married for most of our adult life to the same person, we can tell you–it’s a lot more.  Of course it takes being married to the right person.  But many times, the “right person” becomes right when the spouses just don’t give up on each other.

No matter how much today’s young women think they are different than their great-grandmothers,  they still dream about that white cloudy wedding dress.  Their biggest event in their heart is not the corner office, the Broadway hit, or bagging a whale account but their wedding day.  They put away all the feminist books and when no one is looking, they turn to the bridal magazines.

In these economically challenging times, many will find what really makes them happy and what’s really important.  It’s not the big house, the two cars, and the sushi.  It’s having someone around you that knows you better than you know yourself.  It’s having someone around you that won’t take you so seriously but still has respect.  It is someone who has decided to be there for you–has made the commitment.

Fortune 500 companies cannot make a life commitment to their employees.  Many work families are breaking up–for some people, the only families they had.  All that is shakable is being shaken.  All that is not real will fall off and be blown by this financial wind.  Many will learn about what they really had all along.

A spouse is someone who makes a commitment without blood-related obligations.  It’s sacrificing other viable options that are present and future.  There is amazing security when locked in the arms of someone who is not planning to leave.  Most of the richest and most famous people do not have this luxury.  If you do, be grateful. Know that you have accomplished something that many very successful people have failed at.   You won’t be on Oprah.  You won’t win a million dollars.  I almost said, “not many will care,” but a good marriage affects all who are around this couple.  It gives an example, it gives stability in the group, it may give the love to people of a father and mother that they never had.  It gives one of the best feelings of accomplishment if valued properly.