Another cold, harsh day. I can’t believe I’ve actually committed to doing this walk for the entire year. A part of me is resisting it, while the other part, my spirit, is feeling great about it. I walked to the reference library and met my friend Gillian for a very late lunch at Jack Astor’s. She is the co-director of a documentary about Phoolan Devi.  We chatted about her recent trip to India where she worked on the editing of the film and also received an ayurvedic treatment to improve her overall health and well-being. The film is her passion and she wishes to get the story of Phoolan out into the world, to inspire and address the global issue of violence against women, and provide a story that shows that anything is possible. As I’ve said before, this woman lived nine lives in her one short life. And she underwent an amazing transformation. She transcended her pain. Unspeakable pain. Pain that most people cannot even comprehend. Gillian showed me pictures of where Phoolan used to meditate, in a valley in India, while she was on the run.

After our meeting, I read for a bit at Balzac’s. There was an interesting article in the Star about Indian brides-to-be navigating through matrimonial websites, trying to find honest men with good intentions. Ha good luck! There are a lot of frauds on the sites as well as men that use them for harassing women. There was an interesting passage which captured the ideal Indian bride:

Whether advertised through Sunday classifieds or matrimonial sites, finding a partner has always been a family business in India. The most sought-after-bride is one who is demure, traditional, light-skinned, respectful, as well as educated and working. The groom is a catch if he works for a multinational company or is an engineer, a doctor, or a bureaucrat. If he works abroad, he scores higher. The man and woman have to be from the same caste and religion, and horoscopes will be matched by an astrologer.

It’s so interesting how we have these requirements for the opposite sex. What is the ideal woman in our society? And the ideal man?

After Balzac’s I went to an author talk at the library: Gabrielle Hamilton. She is a renowned chef (she owns a restaurant called Prune in New York) and writer. She recently wrote a memoir about her life – it sounds so interesting, I will have to read it and tell you more about it. The interview was great, she is so funny and brutally honest. She talked about her viciously sad marriage and how disconnected she felt. The interviewer, Ian Brown, asked her how she was able to be so honest about it, and whether her ex had a reaction to the material. She said that there is nothing else to do but be honest, that it would be beneficial to all if everyone spoke their truth, especially about troubles in their relationships and marriages. It’s true. No one really likes to talk about it, yet when someone does it really piques our interest. There is something about a good love story that we all can relate to, and also to a relationship that falls apart, betrayal, heartbreak, and grief. He asked her about how hard writing is and she said that it is the hardest thing in the world, to write truly, without all the bullshit, without being concerned what people will think, just laying it all out on the page the way it is meant to be. That something takes over and it’s almost like it’s happening on its own. I know what she means. Kind of. I’m still pretty self-conscious about what people will think of what I’m writing, and also there is only a certain level of my personal experience that I’m willing to share. She said that it takes awhile to find your Truest voice (Truest with a capital T). What is that voice? It is the voice unhindered by fear. The voice that comes from the deepest part of you, that says what needs to be said.

After that I walked all the way home, through St. Mary’s College, down University, and through Nathan Philips Square. I just love walking through there at night, watching the skaters and listening to the Top 40 music, seeing people so happy and enjoying the cold winter. It brings me so much peace and happiness.

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