Thursday, February 22, 2007

The winter of my discontentment


Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.

~ Kahlil Gibran

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sagaalgan, Festival of the White Moon



Raisa Sidenova, my Fulbrighter friend from Buryatia, Siberia invited us to celebrate Sagaalgan! And what fun we had!

Sagaalgan (from the Buryat "White Moon") is a holiday signifying the beginning of New Year and coming of spring. It is celebrated in February and provides a good opportunity to visit friends and to taste white dairy food for the whole month. Sagaalgan symbolizes purification, the beginning of the new life and experience of pure feelings and emotions.

In ancient times, the Buryats started the celebration with ritual visits. They visited the yurt of the oldest and the most honored man of the neighbourhood. Guests gave presents – a blue silk scarf, milk, various dishes, tea, shawls, candies. In return, hosts endowed them with sweats, frozen meat, tea, butter, silver coins. Kids were presented with a newborn lamb or calf with wishes of wealth and growth of head of cattle.

Raisa (Raya) cooked traditional Buryat food, although some of the desserts we brought were American! The Buryat festive menu includes only "white food" – sublimated milk skins, homemade cheese, sublimated curds, sour clotted milk, buns, dairy cookies, pozy (big meat dumplings), milk-based vodka "tarasun". Milk is a sacred drink for the Buryats, a symbol of fertility.

Sagaalganaar! Happy New Year!

Snow! Salji! La niege!




Monday, February 05, 2007

Princesses Oubliees (Forgotten Princesses)



I was privileged to have met Dr Wangari Maathai (2004 Nobel Peace Laureate) up close at the "Leaders of Practice" lecture at Lehigh University last Thursday. She has so much passion, dedication and humility! Her speech inspired me to continue to "care beyond self" and pursue my dreams no matter how long and difficult the road may be. The female Nobel Laureates remind me of Lechermeier & Dautremer's Princesses Oubliees (Forgotten Princesses) - unknown beauties who contributed in their own silent way.

These female Laureates have indeed achieved a common goal - to inspire and give hope to millions of women to strive, albeit the obstacles and the mockings of others. I too aspire to be in the same league. God willing, I may one day stand tall alongside Mother Theresa, Dr Maathai & those wonderful doctors of 'Medicins sans frontieres' and be an inspiration to others.