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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?

A rant


I’m not a happy cookie. Just finished reading Alexander Mc Call Smith’s new book in the 44 Scotland Street Series ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Scones’. I love his writing, devour his easy-to-read gentle tales of Mama Ramotswe or the tales set in Edinburgh. But this has got me rattled.He has portrayed Glasgow in all its stereotypical awfulness. The character from Glasgow is ‘Lard O’ Connor’aka Aloysius Igantius Xavier O’ connor, a huge beast of a gangster, who asks for a pie and chips at the douce ‘Glass and Thomson’ where one could never order pie and chips, of course, just quiche and poor Lard has to make do with a double quiche with loads of tomato sauce!Lard dies of a heart attack brought on by his dreadful diet.Basically Glasgow is a minging place with gangster lowlife with a diet to match. E’burgh comes out as a gentle, civilised place as one of the characters is unable to drop peanut shells at the Long Bar at Raffles in Singapore as she was born and bred in E’burgh! Has he ever been to Pilton or other estates in E’burgh? It is a lot of Morningside piffle with Ian Rankin, Magnus Linklater and other Burghers of the Capital city making an appearance.I know I should not be berating Scotland’s greatly admired writer but this book really put me off. Sorry for the rant. Other Glaswegians have a read and tell me please if I’m wrong.

Poetry

My Writers Club had our annual poetry competition adjudicated last evening. I had not put in an entry, so it was good just to listen to other people’s work and the comments from the adjudicator.She had brought her own poetry pamphlets for us to see and quoted from ‘Ode Less Travelled’ by Stephen Fry, a great book that is a must for aspiring poets. This is so timeous, as I’m off to the Stanza poetry Festival at St. Andrews tomorrow and will hear wonderful poets and lectures on Lord Byron and other great poets. The Lit scene is so rich here. Aren’t we lucky to live in these times when words on a page can transport us away from the credit crunch and other real problems?

Here is a sentimental poem of mine, a shortened version :
Glasgow
Glasgow my adopted city,
Rainy, boggy, soggy.
The dear green place, minty
Sweet, the pubs make me groggy.


Glasgow my city, my home
Rained on, freshened, moist blue.
Victorian blonde sandstone, shiny new
Welcomes all with warmth so true.

Sorry to inflict my poem on you but I love the simple emotion that my city evokes in me.

My other hat

Here Iam plugging my book with my Indian friends. They are such a supportive group who listened to my reading and agreed that they could identify with much in the extract that I read. We reminisced about life in Glasgow in the 1970’s and had a good time remembering our youthful daysThat famous saying ‘you can take a girl out of Glasgow but can’t take Glasgow out of the girl’ came to mind. Our roots and heritage are so strong. They help shape who we are. In these days of the credit crunch, another topic that we did discuss all of us have a tendency to look for comfort in familiar things.

Glorious sunshine this morning. What a difference the rays of gold make to our day. Long may it last. I might even venture out for a long walk.

Aye Write

How do you convince someone to buy your novel in three minutes? Well I had a three minute slot at the Feds event at ‘Aye Write’ last evening and I’m pleased to say that all copies of my novel ‘Twice Born’ there were sold. Reading with passion is so imperative, making the characters alive so the audience could visualise the scene was important. A wonderful learning experience again.

The performance poets were fantastic, the Book Festival buzz was all around. Moir Hall looked magnificent.The compere VIV GEE lit up the evening with her humour.It was great to meet a pupil I had taught many years ago turning up to support me.