Meeting Friends After Some Time

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February 19th 2012
Published: February 19th 2012
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Me & IlabenMe & IlabenMe & Ilaben

Ilaben and I first met 47 years ago. Ila visited us in Sept. 2011, and now we meet in India again after eighteen years.
I first came to India in 1965 and last visited in 1994. From the beginning, most of my friends were about 10 years older than I, so they got their Ph.Ds, married first, had babies first, married their children first, and welcomed grandchildren, most of whom are now old enough to babysit my grandchildren. Nothing much ever seem to change between my visits, even from 1975 to 1994.

This visit is different, though. We are all older now, various creaks and pains. Our conversations are muted and focus on what our children are doing, our pride and joys. We don't discuss the glaucoma-induced blindness, surviving breast cancer, the creeping dementia that makes a mockery of any meaningful conversation...we do not talk about the things that we plan to do, because we have done what we planned to do.

Ilaben is different, though. Her next big birthday will be 80, in a few years. She doesn't spend time thinking about the future. Instead, she very much lives in the present. She write a weekly article for the Gujarati-language newspaper, is often asked to participate in literay functions (like today), organizes and attends protest rallies and press conferences...often about the injustnesses
Piraji SagaraPiraji SagaraPiraji Sagara

Piraji bhai is a nationally recognized artist I first met in 1965. He is now in his eighties and very foggy so he seemed distracted while we were there. He perked up a bit when I handed him a brown paper bag from the duty free shop though.
of the legal system, especially regarding women and the legal system. She is an active vice president of Women's International League of Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

Moreover, she has set in motion a transition for AWAG leadership from herself to Saraben, who, also, in turn, has trained Malini to preside over AWAG. Very definitely a role model for active aging. In other words, a fantastic role model.


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