19th of April 2015: “This Is What 70 Looks Like”

For CONTEXT, part of a letter (in italics) I wrote  Gloria Steinem’s handler

I saw Gloria Steinem twice in January 2014: first,  in a small Indian airport, where we glanced at one another, then went back to our writing (Truth: she turned back to her iPad, I flipped open my laptop). Ignoring other westerners is a habit I’ve noticed in Asian and subcontinent airports, and besides I wasn’t entirely certain this was Gloria Steinem. I mean, wasn’t she about to turn 80?
The next morning I  walked into Char Bagh, the main tent of  the Jaipur Literary Festival , for the keynote address
Keynote Address, Jaipur Literary Festival 2014

Keynote Address, Jaipur Literary Festival 2014

 Afterwards, I  waited in lines that snaked out of  the tent towards the chai bar at the far end of the grounds, but had to leave before thanking her for what she has and still does  for women and humanity — all of which she hears many times a day, I think and hope.
A day or two later in Jaipur I caught her in Vintage Gloria Steinem mode ( FB and friends who don’t care much for her or what she says, may want to skip this clip).

I turn 70 on Sunday, 19 April, and unlike Gloria, who, I’ve read, expects her funeral to be a fundraiser, I prefer not to wait so long.  Consequently, to celebrate my birthday, I’m  holding  a fundraiser for the school which is near to my heart, BLESS School, Tamil Nadu. 
I have borrowed shamelessly from her “This is what 40 [and last year, 80!] looks like.”  Since I see nothing on her calendar for the w/e of 19 April, I am emboldened to ask if  she would consider visiting Minneapolis, where we expect the snow to be cleared in time for the celebration.
In fact,  the weather will be fine – like Jaipur and Delhi in January!
 Best regards,
Mary-Ellen Briel
Gloria will not make it, but I had  quite a lovely response  from her handler:
Thank you so much for writing and a very happy birthday to you! Unfortunately, Gloria is hard at work on her book manuscript and won’t be coming up for air before the 19th. She wishes you a big congratulations, as do we!!

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ann
    Apr 19, 2015 @ 08:07:04




  2. Leslie
    Apr 19, 2015 @ 16:54:00

    Mary Ellen – I enjoy reading your blog entries. I get to travel vicariously through you. What a splendid idea to invite Gloria Steinem for your 70th birthday fundraiser! Too bad she couldn’t make it.
    Happy Birthday!!!
    Leslie from Hague Ave



  3. mebtravelling - U.S. to India & Back (& Around)
    Apr 21, 2015 @ 19:43:11

    Anna, grazie!
    Leslie, yes — worth a try, since she, too, has India’s dust in her blood!



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