IMPIA ( Part 4 of 12 )
IMPIA (Part 4 of 12). I had told Alicia and Maria that this was a bad idea. There was no way the National Selection Committee was going to allow us into the pool with men, even if we could swim faster than them. We had been waiting for the coach for hours. Maria and Alicia were determined to ask for a race against the menâs team to show the Committee that we deserved a chance to compete on the world stage as well. But they wouldnât see us, because they had made it clear that they could only send a certain number of athletes and women did not make the cut. More time passed. We watched the men swim freely as we sat there waiting. One of the men, who I recognized as their star swimmer Juan, walked in late. As he lazily took off his clothes, he announced that women and dogs belonged at home, not in pools. He winked at me. I could feel my blood boiling. It had been hours of disrespect that day, but a lifetime of being denied. And it was starting to pile up. Just then, the head coach, who had been hidden away from us until then, came running to us. âAh, you must be Juanâs new water girls! You see the water dispenser at the other end of the pool? Please quickly pour him a glass of water and wait at the other side for him to finish his lap and come up for a drink,â the coach said. That was the last straw. I jumped into the pool, fully clothed, and raced Juan to the other side. Just as we were about to reach the end of the lap, I accelerated, jumped out of the pool, and ran to the water dispenser. By the time Juan came up for air at the end of his lap, I was already standing there. With his glass of water. I turned to the coach. âSo is this okay for how I do my water girl duties, or would you like to talk about who you can and canât send to the World Championships?â The coach smiled and turned to Alicia and Maria, gesturing toward the pool. Time for them to shine. In the mean time, I looked at Juan staring at me, open mouthed. I winked at him #LumSalutes
IMPIA ( Part 1 of 12 )
IMPIA (Part 1 of 12). âEulia! I know youâre in there!â Mama called. I held my breath. If she found me, she would make me cook again. Or worse â do my brotherâs homework! âDonât make me come in there, Eulia,â Mama called again. At least the water drowned out her voice a little bit. I could always count on it to hide my secrets and make me feel better. âOkay, letâs make a deal. If you come out now, you can sit with Papa and listen to half an hour of the sports,â she tried. I raced towards the shore. I loved the Games, and would give anything to be able to be closer to them. Even if it was just as a spectator. As soon as I surfaced, Mama pulled my ear and dragged me out of the water. I was soaking wet, but that didnât stop her from dragging me all the way to our house. âQue impia,â she whispered under her breath as she looked at the water trail I was leaving behind. I sighed as I passed by my father and brother huddled around the radio in the living room. It sounded like they were listening to a running match, but I couldnât be sure because Mama dragged me straight into the kitchen. When I protested and reminded her of her promise to let me tune in to the Olympics, she shook her head and said women only belonged in the kitchen; and that I should stop being so âimpiaâ â irreverent. I scowled and started cutting tomatoes for pico. Whenever Mama turned away, I strained to listen to the radio and all the magic of the sporting world. One day, I would be a part of it. One day, Mama and Papa and my abuelos would realize that we were their messages into the future. And I was going to make sure that they wrote them right #LumSalutes
Statue of Unity
The statue of Unity is the statue of Sardar Vallabhai Patel who was highly respected for his leadership in uniting India . It is 597 feet . Seeing the largest statue and the highest viewing gallery in the world left me totally dizzy with happiness that my country has built it . From the viewing gallery I could see the Sardar sarovar Narmada dam which stretches on and on . It was such a beautiful sight that it took my breath away .
Kumb Mela 2019
I was very lucky to be part of the Kumbh Mela this year with my family . This is the biggest religious meet in the world . There are about 10 million people who take a dip daily in the Sangam . The arrangements were par excellence . I feel blessed to be part it .
IMPIA ( Part 3 of 12 )
IMPIA (Part 3 of 12). I groaned and dragged myself out of bed. The girls had called for a longer practice than usual, for some special training our newest team mate Maria was putting together. The girls. Plural. I still couldnât believe that we had managed to find each other and decide to go down this crazy journey together. I snuck out of the window and ran to our meeting spot near the water. Judging by how bright it was outside, I would give us an hour to return home before people realized that we were missing. Maria was already sitting by the water when I got there. She was playing with some kind of blade contraption. I stared to prepare to get into the water when Alicia came in running. She was carrying what looked like the swim suits women on the telly wore. âYou found them!â Maria said excitedly. I was confused; and made no effort to hide that. âWell you see, before we can win like champions, we need act like champions. And to act like champions, we need to feel like champions. So we got new suits â â Maria, our darling physicist turned swimmer started. âBasically, I bought us new swimsuits,â Alicia cut in while turning to look at me, âwell technically you bought us new swimsuits since I used the money I stole from you when we first met.â âAnd I got us a razor, because we all know that hair removal makes you a better swimmer,â Maria said. A razor? No way. They were so ridiculously expensive. How could she even afford that? âI told Mama that I ran out of nylon for my dresses, and so needed this razor as my legs would show,â Maria said, as though she was reading my mind, âbut unfortunately I could only get one so weâll have to share.â Alicia sat down quietly next to Maria and stretched out her hand. I shook my head. This was supposed to be the first team of female swimmers to represent Mexico on a world stage. And there they were, essentially painting toe nails. âItâll enhance your speed, trust me,â Alicia said. I sat down hesitantly and waited for Maria to hand me the razor once she was done. For a bunch of women who were strangers until just a few weeks ago, we were far too comfortable with each other. âIâm sure little Svetlana in Russia is also getting her hair plucked everywhere,â Alicia said as she watched Maria, âlike everywhere everywhere.â Maria giggled. Alicia laughed at the sound of Mariaâs giggle. And then eventually, we were all laughing as we jointly endured the pain of hair removal, of dreams we were not allowed to dream, and of all the secrets we were keeping to keep those dreams alive anyway #LumSalutes
Diaries from Bali
I am on the way to Bali for a romantic getaway . Looking forward to reliving old memories and making new ones . Bali here I come .
Uwi and Kay ( Part 5 of 6 )
UWI AND KAY (Part 5 of 6). I rolled my eyes, but was secretly glad on the inside. The Hutus were not going to show up to a âpeacefulâ secret brainstorm session about how we could seek international aid. Twenty minutes later, they showed up in a massive contingent filled with some dangerous killers. And Kay. I walked past him to welcome the Hutus in, trying to be indifferent. Only he could see me failing. Thirty minutes later, the âdiscussionsâ began as the spies and assassins on each side glared at one another, ready to attack at the drop of a hat. I avoided eye contact with Kay, but kept my eyes fixed on the woman next to him so he remained in my field of vision. Forty minutes later, I received a note from one of the neutral negotiators with instructions to go to a deserted part of the nearby compound. Kay. Or so I hoped. I hesitantly excused myself and made my way to the designated spot. Kay was standing there, with his back toward me. I stood behind him for a few seconds, and finally mustered up the courage to tap his shoulder. He turned around slowly, with tears in his eyes. In that moment, I knew he felt exactly what I felt â that all hope was lost. For any sort of an agreement â for us â and for Rwanda. His eyes woefully traced my new scars as I tried to slip off my copper wire. Unable to look at his face, I quickly shoved it in his hand and walked away. As soon as I was five steps away, I couldnât take a single more. I ran back to him, gave him a tight hug, and let the tears flow around what we almost were, and what we could have been #LumLoves
Uwi and Kay ( Part 4 of 6 )
Trigger warning: Violence UWI AND KAY (Part 4 of 6). Gahi and Duku excitedly opened up their bags to show me their loot for the day. I tried to drown out their commentary as I read about how we could get an international organization to intervene and stop this insanity. âShe was hot. But also stupid,â Duku said. âYeah who gives up all their money and diamonds to hold on to a copper wire,â Gahi snickered. I looked up from my reading. âWhat did you just say?â I asked, careful to control my blood pressure. I hadnât hurt a single person in the war so far, and I certainly didnât want to start with my âfriendsâ. âOh she was smoking hot. We scored her in our Hutu land, probably on her way to that stupid mosque hospital. She gave us everything and wanted to leave without trouble, but then Duku saw this worthless copper wire ring and asked for that. Thatâs when she lost her mind and started attacking us. So we pinned her to the ground and made her pay appropriately. Wasnât easy thought. She had a lot of fight in her,â Gahi said. I could feel my blood boiling. âGive me the copper wire,â I breathed. They looked at me, clearly confused. I had never asked for any of their spoils before. âGive. It. To. Me,â I repeated. I was so angry that I felt all my senses beginning to numb. A few hours later, I threw Duku and Gahiâs tied up bodies onto the door of the mosque. It had taken every last bit of my self control to leave them breathing, but I knew that they would only survive long enough for Uwi to arrive and see them take their last breaths. I then drove into the Tutsi camp, straight to Uwiâs house. I climbed up into what I hoped was her room, and saw her lying down motionlessly. My heart broke as I placed the copper wire ring on her dresser as quietly as I could. âKay?â she mumbled, clearly fiddling around for the light switch. I ducked out of the window before she turned on the light, jumped down, and ran into my car as quickly as I could. I think she came out to her balcony to look for me. I accelerated. I didnât have the courage to see her, or to let her see what I had turned into that night #LumLoves
IMPIA ( Part 5 of 12 )
IMPIA (Part 5 of 12). I looked at all the women piling out of the buses covered with their flags. Breath taking. âTheyâre beautiful,â Bash said under his breath as we pulled up to the arena. He had generously offered to drive us to the American Womenâs International Invitational after Coach decided that he would only back our bid to Worlds if we medaled at the Invitational. âTheyâre also strong and brave and fierce. Make your compliments worthy of the people you give them to,â Maria said, shaking her head as she pulled out her bag. I walked into the arena and looked at the champions around me. The Russians. The Americans. The Japanese. The Australians. The Canadians. All with their coaches and spotters and supporters and years of practice. Meanwhile, we had Bash. And about two days to finish swimming and complete the 31 hour drive back home before our families would get suspicious about our âpicnicâ for the long weekend. Before we knew what was going on, we were at the starting line. I had never felt so small â both because some women had more muscles in their arms than I had in my whole body; and because these women had an air of confidence about them that was flat out intimidating. But we were about to enter my turf, where I knew everything would be fine. The gun went off. We dove in. It took all the mental energy I had to not turn to look at the people swimming beside me. It took all the physical energy I had to keep pushing forward after the pain flared up in my core from pushing through the first 50 meters. One minute and ten seconds later, it was all over. We had made it, just by an inch, to third place. And to Worlds, if everything went through as promised. I was elated, and wanted more than anything to stand on that medal stand with our flag above us. But I also knew that we needed to get out of there and get home ASAP if we wanted to survive to live through Worlds #LumSalutes
IMPIA (Part 2 of 12)
IMPIA (Part 2 of 12). âBash hurry up, hurry up! Weâre going to miss the race!â I said as I dragged him through the forest. We had to find a safe place where nobody would see us, so that we could enjoy our race in peace. I took one look at Sebastian. It was easy to see that he was exhausted. It was not so easy to see why he agreed to come along with me. As long as he brought along his fatherâs radio, I was not about to complain. I stopped as soon as we reached my favorite part of the riverbank. Close enough to get signal; far enough to not get caught. I settled down on the grass and turned up Bashâs radio. Just in time to hear about Australia and USA going head to head for the womenâs relay gold. I listened to the commentator detail every stroke of the competitors; and silently guessed all the parts the poor connection stole. Magnificent â what we all aspired to be some day. Heartbreaking â knowing that I could not turn this dream to reality if I were the only one who dreamt it. I must have been pretty lost in the race because I absolutely totally did not notice my bag being stolen. Bash seems to have been lost in something as well, because he only noticed his missing watch when a stream of policemen ran past us; presumably chasing whoever took things from us â and several others, by the looks of it. Half angry and half bored, Bash and I joined the chase. Within a few minutes, we were leading the pack. Boy, our policemen had work to do in the gym. Anyway, Bash had almost caught hold of our thief; when she quickly took a side turn and jumped into the water. Perfect. My turf. I immediately jumped in after her, ready to bring her to justice. It would be a matter of milliseconds before I caught up to her. A minute later, I was still trailing â and her lead was increasing. Could it be? Had I found someone better than me? Someone who could help me form a Mexican womenâs team one day? Someone who had given me permission to hope for the impossibleâ my name next to all those swimmers I so admired? I accelerated, trying to keep up. After all, my potential new team mate, cash, and dream were all slipping away #LumSalutes
Uwi and Kay ( Part 6 of 6 )
UWI AND KAY (Part 6 of 6). I ran out of my house. It was almost sunrise. By the time I reached the mosque, I was panting. I wasnât as fit as I once used to be. I stood in my usual spot by the giant tree, tucked away in the hustle of everyday Rwanda right outside the mosque. I had no way of knowing if I had arrived in time, so I waited patiently. I was getting better at waiting without complaining. I felt like Iâd had a lifetime of practice. Thirty minutes later â and a full fifteen minutes later than usual â my sunshine walked out of the mosque. She sat by the marble staircase and looked at my reflection in them. Just like she had done every day for almost twenty five years. That day was the 25th anniversary of our engagement. I closed my eyes. Uwi was walking towards me. Just as she passed me, she âtrippedâ straight into my arms. I quickly whispered âhappy 25th anniversaryâ to her as I helped her straighten herself back up. She smiled, said thank you, and walked away â knowing full well that I could live out another twenty five years in the warmth of that embrace. I opened my eyes. Uwi was still sitting on the staircase, looking at my face in the marble with tears in her eyes. I shook my head and smiled at her. She smiled back through her tears. We didnât have much time â probably another second before people would begin to notice. In that second, we locked our gazes in the marble and smiled as we saw our lives pass by. All those moments in the lab. Those stolen kisses at university. The proposal. The future we dreamt about. The reality we came back to. The hope we watched die. And the love we silently held on to. Nadine walked out of the mosque. Our time was up. And then they both walked past me without even looking at me, as they did everyday â knowing full well that I could live out another twenty four hours in the second we had just shared; and that I could live out an entire lifetime in the memories of those few seconds I spent an eternity waiting for each day #LumLoves
Kumbh Mela 2019
A beautiful picture clicked by a very close friend . The Kumbh Mela was mesmerizing in the evening with thousands of lamps lit along the sides of the Ganga . The reflection of the full moon in the water has such a calming effect to the mind and soul . This is a memory etched iny mind forever .