This is a link to an audio clip of an interview with Gordie Carle, a man who lives just north of La Ronge, SK (where I’ve been living and will return to after my maternity leave), whose house just burned down. A sad, beautiful interview – gives a sense of being a lifelong northerner.
We left Toronto on the train Tuesday night, and we just left Edmonton, getting to Jasper this afternoon. What does Kail see when he looks out the window? Whatever it is, he’s fascinated by it. Does he understand our shift from southern Ontario development to northern Ontario trees, snow, still frozen lakes, rivers caught mid-flow? Does the light interspersing through skeletal branches in the north look different than the light moving through the short grass of the prairies? Last time I came through the prairies by train the fields were soaked, the water that couldn’t fit in the ground resting on top, a reminder of crops not grown. Now winter forces that into memory, we’re moving on, there’s snow on the ground, a hope that a new cycle is beginning with less water next year.
Kail sat completely still as we listened to Willy Blizzard, the folk duo playing music on the train. It could have been the sound of the guitar that kept him motionless, or perhaps the plush voice of the man with the gray hair and moustache and railway cap with his gentle face and gently strumming fingers. It’s clichéd to say this train trip is quintessentially Canadian (seems especially odd for the daughter of immigrants to say that) – but yet, as I watch the sun filtering across the rolls of the Qu’Appelle Valley while the train’s shadow moves through the light and my baby sleeps to the waves of our movement, it does feel like we’re part of something historical.
Willy Blizzard introduced us to Ian Tyson’s song, “Navajo Rug”, and now I can’t stop singing it. Ai yai yai, Katy…shades of red and blue…ai yai yai…Katy…whatever became of that Navajo rug and you…
It’s been so long since I’ve written here that anyone who was kind enough to read this blog has likely long lost interest…but here I am again, in the midst of a completely new life adventure: motherhood.
Introducing Kailash Jyoti…aka Kail…for a few details about how he entered the world (other than the obvious) I’ve posted the letter I sent to friends and family before this post.
So for now I will give a quick synopsis (in the order that events enter my mind) of 4 months of existence of my little one who melts me anew every morning when he wakes up with a fresh smile:
…started life with ten days of thinking the world consisted of incubators and windowless rooms…overnight trained to the Gaspe Peninsula…hiked along the Atlantic coast…attended multiple conferences, protests, meetings, talks…volunteered for the provincial NDP…attended Blue Jays games; presented with stuffed Mickey Mouse in Jays outfit by large, loud, tattooed man who was ecstatic at a 3 week old’s first baseball game…handed between many, many loving arms…flew to Saskatchewan, cheered for the Roughriders…flew to Washington DC, cheered for the Ravens…went swimming…bought kale from farmer’s markets…rested in coffee shops…unfazed by the existence of dogs, cats…realized the existence of this world one piece at a time…lay under trees and watched the light dance…took baths…drank lots and lots and lots of breastmilk…sat in the lap of world-famous author Annabel Lyon…laughed joyously at self reflected in mirror…screamed joyously on subway trains…growled loudly on subway trains making complete strangers advise me that I should feed my baby…attended the launch of Canada Reads…sat in grandfather’s lap…had diaper changed by uncle who was changing his first diaper…stared up at photos of grandmother…lay head against my chest, closed eyes, slept…
I wanted to let you know that I’m starting the newest, biggest (but yet littlest) adventure of my life – as a mother. Kailash Jyoti Dutt was born on July 25th at 6:10 am. He began his journey to the outside world in the home of wonderful friends – Michelle and Lisa – who shared their space, company, popsicles, and love, and who generously played the Elvis CDs I brought. My midwife Helen was also amazing as she spent the day with me in what was going to be a home birth.
Plans changed, as they do, and we ended up heading to St. Joseph’s Hospital (Hamilton) where after a few complications my baby emerged through a ceasarian birth.
So I am in hospital as a patient until Friday and Kail will be here until next week – the exciting news is that his care is mainly precautionary and he is a happy, healthy, enthusiastically breastfeeding new human being in this world. He’s also told me how much he loves the Blue Jays, appreciated being welcomed by Elvis, and wants his first trip to be by boat through the Arctic.
Kailash is a snowy, majestic mountain in the Himalayas – it seemed fitting since Kail and I travelled to the Himlayas at birth minus 3 months – and because I developed an attachment to the nickname “kale” after working with a creative politician/cool human being who sent kale seeds to her constituents.
Jyoti means light in Bengali, and it is the name chosen by my mother. Most of you know that my mother died on June 9th, 2011 – she lives in on many ways: through her grandson’s name, through the baby blanket you see in one of the photos (made by Michelle’s mother out of pieces of my mother’s nightdresses), and through the memories that are constantly with me.
I will be in Toronto for my maternity leave so please let me know if you’re in the area. Please stay in touch from near or afar.
Being in a vehicle on an India road feels like being in a fast-paced video game, with rapid jousting and ducking needed to survive. The sense is heightened in an open-air autorickshaw, where I keep one bag trapped between my knees and my backpack firmly wedged against the seat to avoid them rolling out of the swerving vehicle.
Obstacles assail the driver constantly, some created by others moving forcefully ahead of him, others by him attempting to create a new lane and ultimately becoming further ensconced in traffic. There is the mildest semblance of order: cars on the left of side of the road go one way, cars on the other side go the other way – most of the time. Additionally, drivers somehow manage to convert one-lane roads into two and occasionally three-land thoroughfares, plus a pedestrian on each side.
There are other non-gas powered residents of the road. Traffic will be slowed by the man in thin sandals pushing his wooden cart which artfully carries arrangements of fruits and vegetables. There are also brave souls biking, sitting upright, on their rusted, squeaking, dust-covered bicycles.
Then there are the cows. Today there was a large, regal beast, calmly camped in the middle of one of the busiest roads in Dehradun. She was confident in the fact that traffic would adapt to her. I wondered what it was about that location that satisfied her – the vibrations from the ground? the chaos of engines and horn-honking? the pungent odour and residue of diesel and gas? Or simply the fact that she had the power to be there, and human activity was secondary to her needs.
Another calm being was a little girl, maybe three years old, seated between her father and mother on a motorcycle careening through traffic. None of the riders were helmeted, a common sight, although occasionally there will be a helmeted driver with a bare-headed passenger, usually a woman sitting side-saddle or straddling the seat. This little girl had her cheek resting on her father’s back, her eyes closed, her soft mouth slightly open, small curls of hair waving against her forehead. Her mother held her in place with her arms forming guardrails on either side, hands clenching the folds of the father’s loose green shirt. Despite the precarious reality, the little girl looked like she couldn’t be safer.