We’re a week into Ramadan, and now more than any other time being away, I feel disconnected. Most of you who know me know that religious is not a word I use to describe myself. Quite removed from a dogma of any kind, I have always felt the need to hover the fringes of the faith I was born into, not because I am convinced of its truth, but because it connected me to my family. And this Ramadan, more than any one prior, I feel particularly disconnected as it’s the first year I’ve decided to fast since my grandmother passed.
Religious is definitely a word that we could use to describe my gran, and because of that, one could say we were not close. Actually, more than one could say that. I often visited her out of obligation, and many of our visits were somewhat tedious and full of awkward silences. We may not have had much to talk about, but she kept me connected. If I struggled with Gujarati, or if I was uncertain about anything regarding Islam, she would calmly explain the logic, and never judge me for my lack of knowledge. She was so proud of me the first year I decided to fast, and praised me for my choice.
The last day I spent with her was probably my favourite. Bed ridden, she still could use that clicker so I spent the day in her room watching the news and other mindless television. We didn’t speak too much and I think she felt bad that I was just sitting there watching tv with her, but that was the day that I realized that she had grown to respect the person I had become. Mind you, I learned that only because she was trying to set me up (even on her deathbed! Seriously Mama!), but props to her for recommending someone that actually sounded like a decent match, even if it’s never going to happen.
Whether or not you are religious, perhaps you could keep her in your prayers or send some positive thoughts into the universe this Ramadan. She was proof that no matter how different we are, blood is thicker than water. Personally, I couldn’t care less who you pray to. Family is family, and in the end that’s all we’ve got. And I got a whole lotta family thanks to her!
Two years ago, almost to the day. There are about 10 people in my apartment and there’s anxiety. It’s the last day of the Vancouver Winter Olympics and we’ve been waiting YEARS for this day. It’s game day. As a Canadian, I can honestly say that my life stops for hockey. During the playoffs, Canucks’ jerseys are the only appropriate attire and this day was no different. Sporting my “I Raincloud Vancouver” (rather than “I Heart Vancouver”) shirt and everyone else dressed in red and white, the tension in the room is palatable. We’re down to the wire and we’re tied. We CANNOT give up the gold on home ice, and in our hometown no less! And then there’s the moment. This moment will be replayed as one of Canada’s proudest moments until the end of time. Our golden boy – our star who did absolutely NOTHING to contribute to the Canadian Olympic Hockey Team for 2010 – Sidney Crosby finds himself in the most opportunistic position and just pops that puck into the back of the USA net to win us the gold medal. There’s a YouTube video that came out just after the Olympics that year.It was taken from a boat out in False Creek and it was a view of the city.The point wasn’t to watch, it was to listen. What you would hear was the sound of the entire city erupting when that goal was scored. It was magical. More magical than Harry Potter catching his first snitch .I was part of that crowd. I was part of that eruption. I was Vancouver. Even more, I was Canada.
The concept of sports and athleticism has always fascinated me. I could never understand how people would get so wrapped up in the physical. What about all those people who are ridiculously intelligent? We don’t hold an international event every four years to celebrate MENSA, do we?
But I have to say that there is something to be said for what sport does for a community. My favourite memories of Vancouver involve hockey in some way. It’s the one thing that truly unites us. We can all put our cultural and socio-economic differences aside and be part of a team. So perhaps in the end sports do make sense. It encourages comaraderie not only amongst players, but amongst spectators alike. The rules can be taught to everyone down to lowest common denominator which is more than can be said for MENSA.
This being the case, I have made, what I think, is an interesting observation about Melbourne. There are lots of sports teams here (not the observation, Genius) – cricket, soccer, tennis, AFL, rugby – but there doesn’t seem to be that same energy as there is in Vancouver on a big game day. There doesn’t seem to be as much vested in it, but simply the enjoyment of sport itself. The appreciation of athleticism. It’s not at all bad. It’s quite remarkable, in fact. But it makes me wonder – what does bring this city together? What makes people proud to call themselves Melburnian? Or perhaps we just haven’t had a big game day yet and the best is yet to come.