I am currently reading Wintering by Katherine May. It is about downtime in hard times and isolation as an opportunity. I look forward to it every night. At this point the book feels like a friend comforting me. And unlike with my friends, I can touch the book.
I learned of Wintering from my friend Nitasha Manchanda, a voracious podcast listener and producer. Nitasha is the creator and host of The Indian Edit podcast where she talks to innovators in design, culture and entrepreneurship building a creative bridge to India. She lives the multi-cultural life many of us do - grew up in India, married a Frenchman, and now lives in Boston.
As we trudged through our life-size snow globe, we discussed staying warm and occupied in the winter.  In Wintering, May writes of Iceland and Finland where the cold seeps into every part of life.  She describes the Swedish festival of lights honoring St. Lucia on Dec 13. Girls wear wreaths with burning candles, a combination of pagan ritual and Christianity. She describes Druid celebrations related to solstices and equinoxes all directly related to the position of the sun.

Image: Rick Steves

On Holi, which is supposed to celebrate the arrival of spring, rather than happily throwing colors on loved ones, I’m often sadly staring at snow. Last year, my usual gang came over for Diwali. We stood shivering around a fire pit. It was a pagan celebration - just felt more similar to the converted rituals of medieval northern England than fireworks and dancing, wearing sequins and mirror work in India. 

My ‘festive wear’ was full outdoor winter gear paired with Artem Rockstar Jhumka and a bindi. I’d like to thank Nitasha for naming this collection which will launch once we are closer to going to parties.

Culture and location are interwoven. Language, cuisine, and dance can travel intact. Warm breezes and the way colors look in equatorial sun cannot. For those of us who straddle both, who do we become? I posed this question on our next snowy walk. Nitasha said in the summer she is Indian and in the winter Scandinavian. Annika, also Indian, said she connects winter to her Swedish birthplace. 

In a few weeks, I have an Artem photoshoot. Suddenly, I will need to wear something other than dirty-hair ponytail, mysterious-stain sweater and black leggings. How do I bridge the colors and the grey, the continents and centuries, into a couple of outfits? We’ll find out. Until then, I’ll  sit on my back deck and embrace winter.

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