Thursday, 19 November 2009

Almost winter

It's getting colder, the kids are wearing coats and hats to school, the cold water in the tap is cold, there's a cool breeze in the evening, the shops are full of winter clothes, we can now walk outside later in the day. It's lovely out, Al Jahili Park is full of picnics, laughter and friendships with the kids playing together while the adults lay about watching, chatting, enjoying each others company.

Eid and National Day are fast approaching and it looks like Christmas here, the decorations are up all green and red reflecting the colours of the flag. The houses have fairy lights, the neighborhoods competing for the most lit up house. The children are having special celebrations at school, celebrating their strong culture and heritage.

I was reflecting on this with others yesterday. In my country we have lost this sort of celebration of who we are. Our national day on 6 February is one of conflict as it is marking one culture's colonisation of another, perhaps of good intentions by most of a treaty between peoples that mean equal partnership. Not a real celebration for everyone while grievances are still being redressed. There have been suggestions that we change the day, not one that has been taken up by the powers that be.

The others came from the UK and Canada, such is the mix here. The UK are like us, no real whole country celebration and a sensitivity to what might be perceived as culturally insensitive. Canada has a day of celebrating all cultures, a non denominational day of celebration. I was wondering where their indigenous culture fitted into that.

More reflection is needed to find some sort of solution, if there is one to be had. ANZAC day is big in NZ with many people taking the time to celebrate our war fallen, many take the trip to Galipoli to remember our fallen, many visit the war grave yards in Belgium and France. I know I have and felt the fingers of time reach towards me, telling the story of a time of loss and strength, of young men going on an adventure never to return to Aotearoa, regardless of culture.

We got the news yesterday that we have a longer holiday so the trip I've booked to another place where New Zealander's contributions have been appreciated can be extended. I can't wait to get to Kathmandu, to see Mt Everest and meet the people who took our Sir Ed into their hearts. I might even get to go trekking, will need to visit the shops to get some warmer clothes and those tramping boots.

The photos are from my Belgium trip, the sculpture park in Antwepen.

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