I’ve returned from a fabulous holiday filled with happy memories of being with family and friends. The warmth of their love and the Indian sun has rejuvenated me and I hope to complete my ‘Family Memoir’ quite soon and start working on Novel number three.
Jaipur Literature Festival was the start of my holidays and it is one I would recommend all bookworms to experience. The weather is cool, (need a sweater/jacket in the evening), the sunlight during the day highlights all that is great about the venue, ‘Diggi Palace’ the tents and gardens. Of course this year the hype about ‘Oprah’s visit’ and the controversy over Salman Rushdie’s being forced to cancel his event overshadowed what was a superb festival. The bookshop was busy and I foolishly bought six books which I found difficult to bring back with only 23 kgs of allowed baggage. I got The Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi, The Folded Earth by Anuradha Roy and ‘The Monk who sold his Ferrari’ by Robin Sharma etc. I have to buy that Kindle soon. Don’t miss the photograph of the Rajasthani Piper!
One of my friends looked at the photos of my holiday and asked me why there is not any photo of the slums and poverty in India. A valid question but my answer is simple. I think that there is enough of that on TV in the West. India still has enormous number of poor. On the other hand maids, drivers, vegetable vendors, shopkeepers (in tiny shacks not the air-conditioned malls, some twice the size of Braehead) and most urban people have a mobile phone. Their standard of living has risen; there is no doubt about that. India ‘Shining’ has a long way to go to be on par with the West but it has made great strides in the last decade.
The ashram was a calm and serene place after the hectic cities of Chennai, Jaipur and Bangalore. Free education from primary to University to Post Graduate level for the poorest, the super speciality hospital providing even heart transplants free to the poorest is so impressive, as is the total commitment of volunteers, who donate and serve in any capacity that suits them, with their time and effort.The last two photos are of the hospital and school at the ashram. I am proud of my sister and brother-in-law who have dedicated their lives to serving the needy at the ashram.
The constant question I was asked was about my new book ‘Bombay Baby’. There were so many wanting to buy it in India, so the few copies that I had for the family is now doing its rounds in Chennai. My family in USA, Canada, Oz are also desperate to read it.I had no idea that there were so many people looking forward to my second book. I am grateful them for their support and interest.
Now that I am back home it is good to get back to the routine of writing. The ‘Aye Write’ Festival is on and there are so many literary events to look forward to. The weather is better, the sun shines here most days, it is brighter and spring is in the air. What more do I need?