A pink taxi

A pink taxi

December 28, 2011

Ambara Salaam's Spirit

It is the Reardon in me that makes me strive for an athletic lifestyle. I think of the brio of my American grandmother, mother of ten, who swam, practiced aeorbics and followed her children's sports activities. I look towards my aunt, in the same bikram yoga studio as me, and know that she does so much more, that she could be a professional kite surfer!

On my paternal side is the iconic Ambara Salaam whose story and accomplishments have featured on this blog. With her heritage in mind, I stand firm and resolute to march foreword in my ideas and actions. As an example, she has struggled to "remove the veil" and I refuse to forget her progressive efforts. I will never personally endorse the "wearing of the veil". I will always discourage it as a regressive step, one that impedes a woman's movement.

My great aunt Ambara was a thinker. She demanded to be educated, she studied with appetite. At the ripe age of 32, she married for love and her husband was from an intellectual family. At the age of 40, she translated the Iliad and the Odyssey. She corresponded with writers, of which the famed philosopher Gibran Khalil Gibran.

It recently dawned on me that she was my age when she lived this rich intellectual life, when she produced and exchanged her ideas. More important, I respect her bold steps, her confidence. She interacted with male counterparts and befriended them, while retaining an intact reputation. She appeared conservative, yet she had a liberal philosophy that offered her a rich intellectual development. My great aunt was born 70 years before me and she was avant-guard, as she played an active role in social development, well documented by Albert Hourani in History of the Arab People. She was a role model and her spirit invigorates me today.

Intrepid, she lived by her philosophy. And I pledge to live by mine.


  1. Difficult not to comment when the subject is so dear to my heart."Sit Ambara" was a special lady in her intellect and character,an example for the family girls who looked upto her.She was engaged to one of the Lebanese Martyrs of May 6 during the Ottoman rule.She delayed her marriage to her husband and raised a family at a late age considering the times.
    She lived in London with her family in the 1920s for five years,getting exposed to the Western way of living,keeping the high tea tradition to the end of her life.
    She defended women rights when she did away with the veil when she gave a public speech.She always said that a women's veil is in her eye,not in her covered body and face.

  2. This grand symbol of elegance and intellect is not only an inspiration to women but an example to all men and women alike!

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