We are well into our winter months and while most of us shiver in the seeping cold I can’t help but really appreciate the cold season for it’s many characteristics. Sure I have had plenty of those typical winter moments where I have slipped on the road because of black ice, felt my hands close to falling off with numbness for forgetting to wear my gloves, wind that has rattled my forehead so much that I have felt light-headed and felt the need to sit down to regain my senses, and shoes that have proved quite pointless in protecting my near frostbite arousing feet! Slipping on a concrete floor due to black ice just tips the scale because it is easy to swallow physical pain silently then undergo the pain of public humiliation.
But I guess in hindsight these incidents seem rather funny, almost like a joke you can share with others for a laugh. One cannot feel entirely sympathetic towards carelessness thus one cannot blame the conditions solely on winter and its coldness. In fact there is something pleasing about winter that I cannot seem to feel in summer.
I can almost say this with confidence since I lived in Kuwait for eleven splendid years of my life. Just for background information about Kuwait, it is a country that borders Saudi Arabia and is indeed very cosmopolitan, enjoying the high life with its oil in plentiful supplies. Kuwait in its supreme luxuriance is also a country that is quite notoriously known to be one of the hottest countries in the Middle East. It is a little known fact that temperatures can get so high that the temperature gauge has to be controlled in order for the workforce, particularly immigrant labourers at the poorer end of the scale to carry on doing their job. While I do not want to take a more serious tone I would like to pay a special kind of tribute to those hard workers who trudge along in harsh conditions for their livelihood. There is a great mental and physical strength needed to carry on which I think is inspirational.
So having lived in such a hot country, though screened by Air Conditioners constantly, I came to understand how soothing the cold can be. In fact at night I would like to increase the Air Con speed so that I could feel colder and would then snuggle up in bed and sleep.
I think that is where my appreciation grew. I am not normally a very happy person when out in the cold and unguarded, however I’d like to say that the cold does come with its perks. To start off with the winter months bring with them a calmness on the earth in terms of the environmental activity that insects create. It is pure relief when you don’t find a spider on your bed, wasps flying around, moths that occupy your lampshade, and flies that circle your kitchen until you have a manic attack with your cloth in hand in order to shoo them away. All these are aspects of summer are thankfully missing in winter because the insects choose to willingly go in hibernation.
Then there are the warm, comfortable clothes you get to wear that give so much better a sensation than the icky feeling you get in summer when you want to stay in your shower all day. There is another kind of delight in layering up in warm clothes and feeling that inner warmth as opposed to that horrible sweaty feeling in summer.
I never knew that drinking tea could be such an enjoyable experience until I started drinking it regularly in winter. The warmth one feels after drinking a hot drink is inexplicable, in fact it is probably the only think you need when you are quivering after coming back from the cold. It is definitely the season of hot drinks, whether it is tea, coffee or soup. I love having soup and I get my money’s worth in winter.
Ultimately there is something about winter that is so fresh. The fresh air that blows over your face is appeasing and personally I do feel at one with the world where there is no stress, as if all life’s tensions are taken away with the wind. It is very much like a breath of fresh air and that is why I can safely say I prefer winter out of all the seasons. Now I’ll just sit back and have a cuppa, and enjoy a book in my pj’s!
What struck me the other day was talking to a friend about dressing at the work place while we discussed gender discrimination. This friend of mine happened to be a male who rather liked to voice his opinion about how it should be if we are ever to experience gender acceptance.
The topic itself is sensitive and one does not know what the primary cause is but this friend of mine judged it on appearance almost instantaneously. His idea of a remote progression towards gender equality in the workplace meant allowing for a merger to take place between male and female dress to form what we most famously call the androgynous look.
I then began to wonder how important appearance has become in today’s visual world where objectification has thus become necessary. While I do not condemn this very idea of progress and in fact was able see where my friend was coming from I do think that succeeding with merit has become a thing of the past. A lot more heartache is taken in to appearance in today’s age. Fashion magazines have in them instructions splashed out on how to dress better in order to win the attention of people at the workplace, particularly male. Personally I find that excessively confining. When we are in an era where feminism becomes part of every single woman’s identity there are contradictory elements that restrict this very notion.
It is not to say that every woman obediently follows fashion trends and falls into a cycle of aestheticising herself, however I do believe that in order to accomplish a thriving career most women succumb to the demand of looking the part.
What my friend pointed out was rather worrying for me personally when he mentioned how in order for women to be taken seriously they will have to dress in a more manly manner. Naturally every work force is dominated by the male figure and the aim is to impress the majority of people folk at the office, yet I do not think that a female should forget her gender in order to do that. It is like saying you have to carry the persona of a man in order to do a man’s job and I find that eerily disturbing.
When I checked the definition of Feminism in the Oxford dictionary it said ‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes’, and if we were to adopt a manly manner this very definition would seem phony. It should not be the case that women should avoid dressing in this manner and indeed if it is what is most agreeable to them then there should be nothing to stop them doing so, however what I disagree with is being pressured into something which may even change their identity and femininity. My sister once told me about a time when she was training to be a doctor and she was being taught by a female Consultant doctor at a hospital. This very lady would be seen pacing the corridors of the hospitals clad in a simplistic sari, a traditional clothing of the Indian Sub-Continent, and never quite changed her style of dressing for however long my sister interacted with her. Though she had been in England for more than half of her life, had a married an Englishman and proved to become one of the most successful doctors in England, she chose to dress in what she was most comfortable with, without the need to change in order to appeal to others. I think this story is in itself so very telling about the nature of how intelligent a person can be without the guise of dressing for approbation.
In the end it just makes me wonder how both male and female are on an equal footing in terms of intelligence, and it is a matter of putting in the hard work to get where you want rather than relying on appearance which may give momentary triumph but in the longer run it can bring a lot of stress, not only because you have to prove in terms of skill, but also in terms of the physical exhibition.
I hope and pray you all have an amazing year ahead of you :)
- Spending the best part of the year in one of my favourite countries; Italy where I learnt to live aspects of life I would never imagine I could. This memory is marked in my heart and I am looking forward to tell my kids about my experience.
- Getting engaged to the love of my life and my best friend. I don’t know how cheesy or cliched it could get, but I never stop to say how improved I am as a person since his presence in my life. Thank you.
- Chattering away with my sister on a two hour Eurostar Train to Paris for a mini holiday we were going to spend together. It was after a long time I got to spend quality time with her and it was one of those moments where you are just content to have such amazing family around you to share thoughts, to say what you haven’t said for a while and to come closer.
- Having a beautiful kitchen made at my parents home where I live where we spend most of our time relaxing and gossiping. Food is what makes the world go round!
- Meeting a friend who became my closest and most cherished person in my life. She is my confidante and my shoulder to cry on when needed. Here’s to friends who never leave your side in times of happiness and sadness.
- Having a day of realisation where I felt I was buying things haphazardly without considering how much of a waste it is. Thus it became my new year mission that I would use up what I had already bought and continue like that. I can safely say it is the most liberating feeling to not be in a rat race of fashion. I am comfortable with what I already have and to have an excess of things is idiocy.
- Finding a hobby in art and design where I even designed a part of my room myself through an idea that struck me one day. Little did I know it was already a fad in the design industry, that being patchwork design.
- Also finding a love and interest in Photography which I never thought I could. I began to take amateur photos from my mobile and they were appreciated. Taking photos is a soothing pass time for me and I thoroughly enjoy it.
- Attending the Easter Chocolate Market with my Mum in Siena. It was a day of extreme chocolate and extreme fun. My mother and I ate chocolate from practically every stall there was in the Piazza del Campo at the heart of the city. The highlight of the day was my mum revealing a banana she had brought with her from her bag that she wanted to dip in the chocolate fondue. We had come to this market the day before she she had come prepared.
- Attending the Christmas Market in Manchester where I had the most delicious hot chocolate and waffles. At the same time I felt a little sad at how we would have to wait another year before these Christmas Markets would come back. There is another kind of delight about Christmas Markets, and everything seems nicer than normal.
Can you tell me what your fondest memories were of 2013?
Oh these images just wow me every single time. Makes me want to debate on evolution and Darwinism.
Surreal and tantalising. Click here to see more of Molloy’s amazing work.
When life turns a shade grey and hopes begin to shatter. When you almost give up on the thought of a life cherished with happiness and meaning, a sudden roar of the wind is heard outside your window in a quite residential area.
The leaves start rustling fervently as to defiantly confirm nature’s worth and lament at your ignorance at not being able to appreciate being.
Nature has its way of announcing to us quickly what we have purposely been avoiding.
It is this affirmation we get from the sounds of nature that explain why sadness in life is also part of a natural process, like the wind which goes from being at a calm state to unexpectedly bellow as if to complain
Yet you know that the wind will be rewarded again with eventual composure, in a similar way that sadness does not last forever. Nature is life itself. Once we grasp that idea we shall never let any sorrow take hold of our lives.